Fear of Blacks and Gays

Alfredo Fernandez Rodriguez

Kissing in Havana.  Photo: Caridad
Kissing in Havana. Photo: Caridad

Today I want to speak about two fears that are somehow found in each one of us.

A few days ago, when concluding a departmental meeting at my job (The Carlos J. Finlay National Museum of the History of Science), a black female co-worker who recently graduated in history expressed with no qualms her indignation for the repeated appearance of homosexual relationships on Cuban television.

As an example, she cited the rage produced when she was watching television with her eight-year-old sister.  At an inopportune moment they saw a scene of girls kissing, which compelled the youngster to question why.  Desperate, my co-worker resorted to more than subterfuge; she outright lied to the minor about the evident relationship.

As can be expected in a macho country, my co-worker was backed up by almost everyone there on the job, especially by another colleague – who is also a young black woman.  This person said she didn’t have anything against homosexuals, but that she didn’t agree with the promotion they seemed to be receiving lately in the Cuban media.

Regrettably, many parents educate their children to conceive of there being only one type of relationship between couples in Cuba: the heterosexual one.

I’m a mulatto or “jabao” (according to whoever is judging), and among my weaknesses I include heterosexuality.  I couldn’t take any more. I lit into my co-workers saying, “If you look, you’ll see that those arguments aren’t so different from those that some white people raise against having black people on Cuban TV, and much less interracial relationships in our soaps.

From these low-intensity racists, one can hear a range of arguments to justify their position, for example: “Jesus, why do they have to show blacks with whites on TV; that’s why my daughter’s going with a black guy; it’s killing me,” or “If they keep putting so many blacks on television, my kids are going to end up wanting to hang out with them.”  Contradictorily, they conclude, “But I’m not racist!”

And though I can’t say that I gave any lesson to my co-workers, I succeeded submerging them in a deep silence.

As a social scientist, I think the question of prejudice runs deep in this society, to the point you have to ask yourself what are five years of university studies worth if we end up thinking the same as our parents?

One thought on “Fear of Blacks and Gays

  • Good for you, Alfredo, for having the courage to confront the prejudices and stereotypes of your co-workers! Although the results of your efforts may seem too slow, attitudes and consciousness among your compatriots are changing, as they are up here, too. Backward attitudes are difficult to overcome, especially when inculcated over a lifetime by family and culture. ln my six+ decades of life, I still find myself overcoming preconceptions. For example, “unconsiously,” perhaps, I had still associated gay men with the artistic and cultural professions. A few years ago, however, I met two gay loggers, “Woodchucks” (i.e. native Vermonters) who live in the house they built themselves in the wilds of the “Northeast Kingdom,” (an especially isolated region of Northern Vermont). This is the equivalent of meeting to gay guajiros at their homestead in the Sierra Maestra! Love, whether hetrosexual or homosexual, Platonic or carnal, or both, blossoms everywhere, under all condition!

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