We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2017-11-18 00:56Z by Steven

We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family’s Search for Home Across the Atlantic World

Oxford University Press
2014-12-01
224 Pages
32 illustrations
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780199978335

Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History
University of Pennsylvania

This colored Creole story offers a unique historical lens through which to understand the issues of migration, immigration, passing, identity, and color-forces that still shape American society today. We Are Who We Say We Are provides a detailed, nuanced account of shifting forms of racial identification within an extended familial network and constrained by law and social reality.

Author Mary Frances Berry, a well-known expert in the field, focuses on the complexity and malleability of racial meanings within the US over generations. Colored Creoles, similar to other immigrants and refugees, passed back and forth in the Atlantic world. Color was the cause and consequence for migration and identity, splitting the community between dark and light. Color could also split families. Louis Antoine Snaer, a free man of color and an officer in the Union Army who passed back and forth across the color line, had several brothers and sisters. Some chose to “pass” and some decided to remain “colored,” even though they too, could have passed. This rich global history, beginning in Europe–with episodes in Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana, and California–emphasizes the diversity of the Atlantic World experience.

Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter I: Becoming Colored Creole
  • Chapter II: Becoming Americans
  • Chapter III: Family Troubles
  • Chapter IV: Fighting for Democracy
  • Chapter V: Becoming “Negroes”
  • Chapter VI: Opportunity and Tragedy in Iberia Parish
  • Chapter VII: Mulattoes and Colored Creoles
  • Chapter VIII: Just Americans
  • Chapter IX: At Home or Away: We Are Who We Say We Are
  • Epilogue: Becoming “Black”
  • Notes
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Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 21:03Z by Steven

Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”

Remezcla
2016-12-22

Yara Simón, Trending Editor


Photo: Emily Jan/NPR

In the world of American ballet, Misty Copeland is the exception. As the first black woman to become a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland knows what it’s like to be one of the few women of color to break through. That’s why when President Barack Obama asked her to visit Cuba as part of a sports envoy program designed to further strengthen relations between the United States and the Caribbean nation, Misty felt struck by the number of brown bodies she saw at the prestigious Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

“Just the imagery of seeing a room full of Cuban women and men with brown skin, doing classical ballet, and it’s not even a question for them,” she told The Undefeated. “It’s like, ‘No, this is what we do and this is what we look like.’ That’s something that will forever stick with me.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Misty Copeland En Pointe

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 17:30Z by Steven

Misty Copeland En Pointe

The Undefeated
2016-12-14

Kelley L. Carter, Senior Culture Writer

Photographs by Brent Lewis
Videos by Lois Nam, Senior Digital Producer

America’s most famous prima ballerina heads to Cuba to represent female athleticism. (Yes, athleticism.)

HAVANA, Cuba

Misty Copeland is at the barre.

She’s demonstrating a battement tendu to a group of ballerinas at a dance magnet school.

The dancers — all girls ages 15 to 17, all in black leotards, white tights and pointe shoes, and all with their hair pulled up into impeccable topknots — listen intently.

All eyes are focused on her. Copeland is speaking in English. The teen dancers only understand Spanish.

There is a language translator — Maria Luz Pereya, a former dancer herself, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina — and she offers at one point to bring a corded microphone toward Copeland and translate. Copeland quickly shakes her head, declining her assistance in this moment. This is, after all, Havana, the capital of Cuba, an island in the northern Caribbean where, as they say, the three languages spoken and understood by all are: Spanish, baseball and dance.

And Copeland, a groundbreaking ballerina — as well as author, and newlywed — who made history last year when she became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history, happens to be fluent in the art of motion. “Sport and art and dance unify people,” Copeland said later, sitting on the rooftop of Havana’s The Saratoga — the same place Beyoncé and Jay Z spent their 2013 wedding anniversary. “It’s a language and a culture that people from everywhere, all over the world, can relate to, and understand, and come together for.”…

Misty Danielle Copeland got her start in ballet on the basketball court…

Read the entire article here.

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Colorism And Privilege: An Afro-Cuban American In Havana

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-11-25 00:30Z by Steven

Colorism And Privilege: An Afro-Cuban American In Havana

FEM: UCLA’s Feminist Newsmagazine Since 1973
2016-04-28

Graciela Barada

My father, born in Cuba at the end of Castro’s Revolution, migrated to the United States in 1980. He was a young, black, Spanish-speaking political refugee who left his wife and months-old daughter behind in hopes of building a better life for himself. A “Marielito,” my father braved the 115-mile stretch of the Caribbean sea to Florida under President Carter’s pardon of Cuban refugees. My mother is a white Spaniard who moved to Washington, D.C. in 1989 for graduate school at Georgetown University. An unlikely couple, my parents met at my father’s Cuban nightclub, a hub for Latino culture, music, and dance. Although my siblings and I were born and raised in the U.S., we have been fortunate enough to travel to our parents’ birth countries in order to familiarize ourselves with their respective cultures…

..In Cuba, the Communist Revolution is often portrayed as the “great equalizer,” not just economically but also in respect to race relations. In many ways, this has been true: people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have access to education, jobs, transportation, healthcare, and other social services. Regardless, there are traces of racial hierarchy and a colonialist mentality which are deeply entrenched in Cuban society. As far as I know, all of my Cuban relatives are black. The majority of them are dark-skinned; when asked, two of my male cousins expressed that they do not feel hated because of their African ancestry and darker pigmentation. Still, they are well-aware that their roles within society are informed by Cuba’s history of racial hierarchy and discrimination…

Read the entire article here.

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Author and Professor Devyn Benson Speaks on Her Book “Antiracism in Cuba”

Posted in Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-04 02:12Z by Steven

Author and Professor Devyn Benson Speaks on Her Book “Antiracism in Cuba”

Block Report Radio
2016-07-14

Antiracism in Cuba: The Unfinished Revolution” by author and professor Devyn Benson is an impressive study on the history of racism and Black organizing in Cuba prior to the 1959 revolution and right after it. This book is very important because there are very few that I have come across in the U.S. that document Black history on the island as well as exchanges between the Afro-Cuban and U.S. Black communities.

The historical narrative and the current day government of Cuba propagates an image of the island as a mixed race nation. That’s different from the U.S. historical narrative, which propagates that if you have a drop of Black blood, you are Black. I talked with author Devyn Benson about these racial nuances as we discussed Black Cuban history. Check her out in her own words in this exclusive interview.

Listen to the interview here. Read a transcript here.

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The average Afro-Cuban on the street today will often name being Cuban first, and black, mulatto, or white second.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-08-02 20:24Z by Steven

In Cuba since the 1960s, revolutionary ideology has emphasized a national unity that transcends race and discouraged racial identification. The average Afro-Cuban on the street today will often name being Cuban first, and black, mulatto, or white second. Cuba’s national racial identity is confounded by the fact that there is no accurate way to measure its demographics, especially when using the blurring mixed-race category of “mulatto,” which in Cuba is interchangeable with the term “mestizo,” a self-selected label easily applicable to more than half the island. While the National Office of Statistics stated in 2012 that Cuba is 36 percent nonwhite, Morales claims a more accurate figure is between 60 and 70 percent, largely because many Cubans suffer an internalized racism that makes them publicly deny blackness. I observed this subtle negation one night along the seaside Malecón when a roving guitarista approached the dark-skinned Afro-Cuban poet, hip-hop writer, and activist Carmen Gonzalez Chacon, and tried to flatter his way into 5 pesos by serenading the “beautiful mulatta.” She quickly corrected his misidentification.

Erik Gleibermann, “Where Hip Hop Fits in Cuba’s Anti-Racist Curriculum,” The Atlantic, August 1, 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/08/where-hip-hop-fits-in-cubas-anti-racist-curriculum.

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Where Hip Hop Fits in Cuba’s Anti-Racist Curriculum

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-08-02 20:13Z by Steven

Where Hip Hop Fits in Cuba’s Anti-Racist Curriculum

The Atlantic
2016-08-01

Erik Gleibermann

The country’s education leaders confront deep-seated discrimination in the classroom through rap.

I was sitting with the Afrocentric rapstress Magia López Cabrera in her modest Havana walk-up in June when Cuba’s prominent black-history scholar Tomás Fernández Robaina showed up for a café con leche. Her tiny living room was filled with African folk art and images of women with 1970s-style Afros. It felt like the Cuban equivalent of Cornel West dropping in on Queen Latifah. Two nights later at an anniversary celebration for López’s rap-duo Obsesión, Fernández Robaina sat discussing racial profiling in the U.S. with Roberto Zurbano Torres, widely known in the U.S. for his writing on Cuban racial issues.

Since arriving in Havana several weeks before to investigate Cuba’s work to eliminate racism, I had discovered a collaborative, tight-knit movement that’s gone largely unpublicized in the U.S., including in its six-time-zone, decentralized academic world. In Havana, community artists like Lopez, academics like Fernández, and members of the National Ministry of Education are collectively exploring how to integrate Afro-Cuban history and related gender concerns into the primary-through-university school system. It’s hard to imagine a U.S. parallel, such as Secretary of Education John King officially asking teachers to teach students a song like “Le Llaman Puta” (They Call Her Whore)—López’s critique of how Afro-Cuban women are driven into prostitution—to fulfill the Common Core standards.

Efforts to combat racism in Cuba—which is widely believed to be majority nonwhite—through education have emerged quietly over the last several years. The National Ministry of Education officially leads the way through the Aponte Commission, where Fernández has served, exploring how to remove traces of racially denigrating language and imagery from, and include more Afro-Cuban history in, school textbooks. But the bold efforts are coming from below. A few semi-independent universities in Havana, and regional centers like Matanzas, Santiago de Cuba, and Camagüey, are taking the initiative, along with grassroots educators and activists involved in a hip-hop movement spearheaded by Obsesión…

Read the entire article here.

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Uniting Blacks in a Raceless Nation: Blackness, Afro-Cuban Culture, and Mestizaje in the Prose and Poetry of Nicolás Guillén

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2016-07-04 21:01Z by Steven

Uniting Blacks in a Raceless Nation: Blackness, Afro-Cuban Culture, and Mestizaje in the Prose and Poetry of Nicolás Guillén

Bucknell University Press
May 2016
274 pages
Size: 6 x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-61148-758-9
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61148-759-6

Miguel Arnedo-Gómez, Senior Lecturer
Spanish and Latin American Studies Program
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

The Cuban writer Nicolás Guillén has traditionally been considered a poet of mestizaje, a term that, whilst denoting racial mixture, also refers to a homogenizing nationalist discourse that proclaims the harmonious nature of Cuban identity. Yet, many aspects of Guillén’s work enhance black Cuban and Afro-Cuban identities. Miguel Arnedo-Gómez explores this paradox in Guillén’s pre-Cuban Revolution writings placing them alongside contemporaneous intellectual discourses that feigned adherence to the homogenizing ideology whilst upholding black interests. On the basis of links with these and other 1930s Cuban discourses, Arnedo-Gómez shows Guillén’s work to contain a message of black unity aimed at the black middle classes. Furthermore, against a tendency to seek a single authorial consciousness – be it mulatto or based on a North American construction of blackness – Guillén’s prose and poetry are also characterized as a struggle for a viable identity in a socio-culturally heterogeneous society.

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Race and Nation in Modern Latin America

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-06-18 23:11Z by Steven

Race and Nation in Modern Latin America

University of North Carolina Press
March 2003
352 pages
5 illus., notes, bibl., index
6.125 x 9.25
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8078-5441-9

Edited By:

Nancy P. Appelbaum, Associate professor of History
State University of New York, Binghamton

Anne S. Macpherson, Associate Professor of History
State University of New York, Brockport

Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, Associate Professor of History
Unversity of Maryland

With a foreword by Thomas C. Holt and an afterword by Peter Wade

This collection brings together innovative historical work on race and national identity in Latin America and the Caribbean and places this scholarship in the context of interdisciplinary and transnational discussions regarding race and nation in the Americas. Moving beyond debates about whether ideologies of racial democracy have actually served to obscure discrimination, the book shows how notions of race and nationhood have varied over time across Latin America’s political landscapes.

Framing the themes and questions explored in the volume, the editors’ introduction also provides an overview of the current state of the interdisciplinary literature on race and nation-state formation. Essays on the post-independence period in Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, and Peru consider how popular and elite racial constructs have developed in relation to one another and to processes of nation building. Contributors also examine how ideas regarding racial and national identities have been gendered and ask how racialized constructions of nationhood have shaped and limited the citizenship rights of subordinated groups.

The contributors are Sueann Caulfield, Sarah C. Chambers, Lillian Guerra, Anne S. Macpherson, Aims McGuinness, Gerardo Rénique, James Sanders, Alexandra Minna Stern, and Barbara Weinstein.

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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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