The Power of Race in Cuba: Racial Ideology and Black Consciousness During the Revolution

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2020-06-24 21:32Z by Steven

The Power of Race in Cuba: Racial Ideology and Black Consciousness During the Revolution

Oxford University Press
2017-07-31
272 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780190632298
Paperback ISBN: 9780190632304

Danielle Pilar Clealand, Associate Professor
Department of Politics and International Relations
Florida International University

  • Shows how the economic crisis that followed the Soviet Union’s collapse changed race relations in Cuba
  • Examines the official narrative of race in Cuba, contrasting that with black and mixed race Cubans’ identity and lived experience
  • Explores how discrimination creates divergent opportunities for black and white Cubans
  • Provides personal, informal perspectives from many walks of life in in Cuba, drawing a portrait of black identity through interviewees’ lives

In The Power of Race in Cuba, Danielle Pilar Clealand analyzes racial ideologies that negate the existence of racism and their effect on racial progress and activism through the lens of Cuba. Since 1959, Fidel Castro and the Cuban government have married socialism and the ideal of racial harmony to create a formidable ideology that is an integral part of Cubans’ sense of identity and their perceptions of race and racism in their country. While the combination of socialism and a colorblind racial ideology is particular to Cuba, strategies that paint a picture of equality of opportunity and deflect the importance of race are not particular to the island’s ideology and can be found throughout the world, and in the Americas, in particular.

By promoting an anti-discrimination ethos, diminishing class differences at the onset of the revolution, and declaring the end of racism, Castro was able to unite belief in the revolution to belief in the erasure of racism. The ideology is bolstered by rhetoric that discourages racial affirmation. The second part of the book examines public opinion on race in Cuba, particularly among black Cubans. It examines how black Cubans have indeed embraced the dominant nationalist ideology that eschews racial affirmation, but also continue to create spaces for black consciousness that challenge this ideology. The Power of Race in Cuba gives a nuanced portrait of black identity in Cuba and through survey data, interviews with formal organizers, hip hop artists, draws from the many black spaces, both formal and informal to highlight what black consciousness looks like in Cuba.

Table of Contents

  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Todos Somos Cubanos: How Racial Democracy Works in Cuba
  • Chapter Two: De Aqui Pa’l Cielo: Black Consciousness and Racial Critique
  • Chapter Three: Marti’s Cuba: Racial Ideology and Black Consciousness Before 1959
  • Chapter Four: Institutionalizing Ideology: Race and the Cuban Revolution
  • Chapter Five: “I’m not a Racist”: Anti-Racialism and White Racial Attitudes
  • Chapter Six: The Power of a Frame: The Characterization of Racism as Prejudice
  • Chapter Seven: Todos Somos Cubanos, pero no Somos Iguales: How Racism Works in Cuba
  • Chapter Eight: Uncovering Blackness and the Underground: Black Consciousness
  • Chapter Nine: The Seeds of a Black Movement?: Racial Organizing and the Above Ground Movement
  • Conclusion
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What Obama’s Trip To Havana Revealed About Race In Cuba And The U.S.

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-05-06 01:56Z by Steven

What Obama’s Trip To Havana Revealed About Race In Cuba And The U.S.

African American Intellectual History Society
2016-05-04

Devyn Spence Benson, Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies
Louisiana State University

During his groundbreaking visit to Havana last month, President Barack Obama suggested that the embrace of U.S.-style democracy and capitalism would “help lift up” Cubans of African descent. Following the speech, former Cuban President Fidel Castro reminded Obama that the Cuban Revolution had already eliminated racial discrimination in the 1960s.

The contemporary state of racial inequality casts doubt on both men’s assertions: black and brown North-American youth still face police brutality (murder), voter suppression, and low graduation rates, while Afro-Cubans have less access to the emerging tourist sector than ever before. “Democracy” or “socialism”—despite the propaganda and good intentions of our leaders—does not naturally uplift people of African descent.

The symbolism of a black U.S. president eating at one of Havana’s few black-owned restaurants and talking about Afro-Cuban access to the new economy should be celebrated. Missed, though, was the opportunity to reestablish coalitions and activism between people of African descent in both countries. Instead, debates about which country had been most successful in battling racism abounded. Similar to previous interactions between Cuba and the United States, this event showed how both countries invoke celebratory histories that reinforce national racial mythologies, rather than the controversial present…

Read the entire article here.

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Amid sweeping changes in US relations, Cuba’s race problem persists

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-08-16 21:58Z by Steven

Amid sweeping changes in US relations, Cuba’s race problem persists

Al Jazeera America
2015-08-13

Julia Cooke

In 1959, Fidel Castro said he would work to erase racial discrimination, but inequality is still widespread

Official Cuban census figures say black and mixed-heritage people are about 35 percent of the island’s population, but a quick stroll around any Cuban town will provide visual confirmation of just how many Cubans of color deem themselves “white” when the government is asking. That may not be surprising, given that race is not an objective scientific category, but rather an organizing principle of political power — both before and after the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

The black and mixed-heritage share of Cuba’s population is closer to a two-thirds majority, according to other sources, including the U.S. State Department (which puts the figure at 62 percent), the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (also 62 percent) and Cuban economist and political scientist Esteban Morales Domínguez (who says it may be as high 72 percent). Most of these assessments break down the population into roughly equal blocs of white, black and mixed.

Even the dominant Cuban terminology signals the issue’s knotty intricacy: the decidedly un-PC term mulatto is used tenderly in conversation, defiantly on official documents, and derisively by the concerned neighbor who asks what color skin a robber had.

Now, as the country enters a new era of fast and sweeping change, a long-taboo political conversation about race is on the table as never before in art, music, film, and writing; in both official and dissident narratives; and in diverse circles across the socio-economic strata…

Read the entire article here.

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Market-style reforms widen racial divide in Cuba

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Economics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-05 15:32Z by Steven

Market-style reforms widen racial divide in Cuba

Reuters
2014-09-02

(Reuters) – Cuba’s experiment with free-market reforms has unintentionally widened the communist-led island’s racial divide and allowed white Cubans to regain some of the economic advantages built up over centuries.

Under President RaĂşl Castro, who took over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008, Cuba has expanded its non-state workforce, loosened travel restrictions and promoted private cooperatives and small businesses.

As the communist government relinquishes its once near-total control of the economy, inequality has widened, undoing some of the progress seen since the 1959 revolution.

Much of the funding for new businesses such as restaurants, transportation services and bed-and-breakfast inns – targeted at tourists, diplomats and dollar-earners – comes from family members who emigrated to the United States over the last 50 years, especially Miami.

They sent almost $3 billion to relatives back in Cuba last year and, as they are mainly white, their investments put black and mixed-race Cubans at a disadvantage as they try to set up their own businesses…

…Before Castro’s revolution, education was largely off limits to blacks and mestizos and they were shut out of universities and jobs that involved interacting with customers. Whites had their own social clubs, beaches and private parties.

As soon as he assumed power, Castro eliminated segregation and attempted to abolish inequality by giving all Cubans access to free education and health care. The government hails those as among the revolution’s greatest accomplishments.

Today Cuba is largely a mixed-race society, though one in which lighter skinned Cubans still enjoy advantages in all but sports and entertainment.

Many Cubans are of ambiguous racial heritage, and a panoply of names exist to people of various hues. The terms are more descriptive and not considered offensive.

Some Afro-Cubans say they have not experienced racism under the revolution, advancing in education and careers without impediment.

Echevarria, the sandwich shop co-owner, said he was content with his humble business and not too bothered by inequality. “Racism exists. Not like before, but it exists.”

But other black and mixed-race Cubans say they feel racism, and experts say whites still have better access to good jobs and higher education…

Read the entire article here.

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