Cuba Is a Multicultural and Multiracial Country

Dmitri Prieto

A theater set. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — “Cuba is a multicultural and multiracial country,” said a journalist for Cuba’s midday news while reporting on an activity organized for an anniversary of Havana’s Arab Union.

I’m glad someone’s finally realized that the concept of a “mixed race” is obsolete and dangerous.

Obviously, we can’t expect this new take on things to become official overnight, but the reporter’s words were music to my ears.

At the very least, the official media discourse ceased being monotonous for an instant…

In my opinion, trying to reduce Cuban identity to a series of stereotypes about its “national sport” (baseball, but, why not soccer?), “national dance” (danzon, but, for many young people, it is reggaeton) and “character” (eternal happiness, but, aren’t Cubans also entitled to be sad once in a while?), is extremely dangerous.

As regards the issue of “multiculturalism”, I have maintained a personal and friendly polemic with one of the leading authorities of Cuban socio-cultural anthropology, who claims there’s only one Cuban culture as such.

I doubt my arguments will help solidify an opposing viewpoint (in fact, I am immensely wary of the now fashionable concept of “multiculturalism”), but, the mere fact that I am part of a fairly neglected diaspora within Cuba leads me to think that we need a free debate about how diversity (understood as all of the dimensions of being human) is part of Cuba’s culture/s.

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

17 thoughts on “Cuba Is a Multicultural and Multiracial Country

  • December 6, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Given the internal embargo and the lack of political freedoms, I think there are many other reasons far more potent than the partially-enforced embargo to discourage immigration to Cuba. Falling buildings isn’t exactly a ‘welcome wagon’ for prospective emigrants.

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