And if We Weren’t Genetically Mixed Race?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive on 2014-01-22 03:38Z by Steven

And if We Weren’t Genetically Mixed Race?

Havana, Cuba

Luis Toledo Sande (Translated by Dayamí Interián)

To effectively fight racism, it’s necessary to know everything about it and expose its tricks. Otherwise, we run the risk of getting trapped by them, since they are powerful, able to “innocently” camouflage themselves in the interstices of language, which isn’t a simple code of signs but the natural medium – the easiest and most regular, together with behavior – for expressing the conscience. The mentioned tricks have an effect even when opting for “the equality of the human races,” because these terms imply accepting the existence of races within the species, and this is central to the heart of the deception. The name of the evil, racism, reinforces prejudices, even when it’s used to fight the reality it designates, because it originated from the erroneous imposition of racial divisions on the human race and carries it implicitly.

Cuba has a special and honorable responsibility in cultivating an enlightening legacy – there have been some – the one that José Martí bequeathed to this country and to the world as part of his thinking, more than a hundred years before science proved, with discoveries related to the human genome, that humanity is one only, regardless of external differences among its members. In Nuestra América (Our America), an essay published in January 1891, Martí categorically and with good reason denied the existence of races among humans. This opinion has been cited countless times, but the persistence in the world and the country of the fallacies he repudiated confirms the urgency of reiterating it more often, as the revolutionary concept it is:

“There is no racial hatred, because there are no races. Puny, arm-chair minds string together and reheat the library-shelf races that the honest traveler and the cordial observer seek in vain in the justice of Nature, where the universal identity of man leaps forth in victorious love and turbulent appetite. The soul, equal and eternal, emanates from bodies that are diverse in form and color. Anyone who promotes and disseminates opposition or hatred among races is committing a sin against Humanity.”…

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“Our America” That is Not One: Transnational Black Atlantic Disclosures in Nicolás Guillén and Langston Hughes

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2012-08-26 17:12Z by Steven

“Our America” That is Not One: Transnational Black Atlantic Disclosures in Nicolás Guillén and Langston Hughes

Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture
Volume 22, Number 3 (Fall 2000)
pages 87-113
DOI: 10.1353/dis.2000.0007

Monika Kaup, Associate Professor of English
University of Washington

In the past two decades, discontent with the exclusions operative in nationalist frameworks of American and Latin American Studies has placed issues of transnationalism, hybridization, and a diasporic view of cultures at the center of attention. As a provisional academic base for this desire to think more globally, scholars have invented a new tradition, so to speak the transnational and burgeoning field of hemispheric American Studies. Thus, the recent collection, José Martí’s “Our America”: From National to Hemispheric Cultural Studies, calls for such a change of paradigms. In their introduction, the editors single out Cuba, the birthplace of poet and revolutionary José Martí, as a fertile location for their project:

For Cuba lies at the intersection of Our America’s two principal transnational cultural formations: the geocultural system we have come to know as the Black Atlantic and the complex region of interactions among the Spanish, Native American, and English peoples (extending from the Caribbean to California) that we have come to call the Latino Borderlands. (Belnap and Fernández 11)

Cuba’s nationalism, from José Martí and Cuba’s late-19th century Wars of Independence to post-1959 formations under Castro, has always been a mestizo and mulato nationalism. One reason was that in Cuba abolition was not a consequence, but a condition of independence (Sommer, Foundational Fictions 125): in contrast to the U.S. and most of Latin America with the exception of Puerto Rico, Cuba achieved independence only in 1898, thanks to the full participation of Afro-Cubans in the anti-colonial wars against Spain, whose investment in Cuban independence was motivated by their desire for racial justice. Indeed, Cuba’s population in the modern era, “slightly over half Spanish in origin and slightly under half black or mulatto, with a small number of Chinese” (Bethell 20), suggests an encounter of the two distinct NewWorld diasporas known as the “Black Atlantic” and Martí’s Spanish-speaking “Our America” on equal terms.

While the discourse of mestizaje and racial amalgamation nourishes Cuba’s nationalism, and while the notion of cubanidad is built on the myth of racial synthesis, this symbolic reconciliation has repressed actual and continuing conflicts of race and their memory. Indeed, 20th century Cuban history, culture, and literature bear testimony to the uncanny reassertion of resistant diasporic black voices sublated into the dominant mestizaje nationalism. One major purpose of this essay is to examine the relationship between the Black Atlantic and José Martí’s “Our America” cultural formations intersecting in Cuba, as pointed out in the passage quoted above as a troubled and unstable one. Whereas “Our America” stands for the homecoming of Blacks in the interracial nationalism of Martí’s Latin America, the Black Atlantic stands for the continuing homelessness of Blacks in the Americas, and the memory of exile, displacement, and the violence of the Middle Passage

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