Last Sunday, a panel discussion and debate took place on “education as the decisive factor in the struggle against inequality, prejudice and racial discrimination.”
The forum was organized by the La Cofradia de la Negritud (The Negritude Brotherhood) and was held in the La Ceiba Community Center in Havana.
La Cofradia de la Negritud is an organization that for several years has sought to highlight issues related to racial prejudice and discrimination in Cuba.
The panel consisted of Dr. Lydia Turner, the honorary president of the Association of Cuban Educators; Dr. Esteban Morales, a professor at the University of Havana; and Rodrigo Espina, a researcher with the Juan Marinello Institute of Cuban Cultural Research.
All those present reaffirmed the idea that the problem of racism is palpable in our society and that no campaign undertaken since the beginning of the 1959 Revolution has been able to eradicate this disease.
Racism in Cuba is something that one notices from their earliest years in school. Jokes are made, such as when someone does something wrong they’re asked why they don’t “do it like a white person,” since it’s assumed that blacks do everything poorly.
In the teaching of history, white figures are placed on pedestals while little importance is given to black leaders of our independence struggle, just as there’s little discussion of movements headed by blacks – such as El Partido de los Independientes de Color (the Independent Party of Color).
Many of those in attendance agreed that Cuba is a society that’s seen as white, despite the fact we’re a Caribbean country with a high percentage —if not a majority— of black and mestizo residents.
In present day Cuba there’s a struggle to rescue our Hispanic roots but at no time is there mention of rescuing our Africanism.
Likewise, the presentation on the radio, television or in the press of works relating to this issue are at best rare.
It was concluded at the forum that the problem of racism in Cuba should begin to be dealt with in the heart of organizations such as the National Assembly, the Communist Party and others like the neighborhood-based CDRs (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution).
Some —such as the Dr. Esteban Morales— saw the need to struggle against the problem by first raising the consciousness of blacks and mulattos on the island to the fact that they live in a racist society. Others, however, believe the problem will only be solved with changes in the nation’s educational system as well as in the existing social system.