Maria Matienzo Puerto
HAVANA TIMES — Adela’s in-laws are a typical Cuban couple of their generation…an elderly pair with shared hatreds. The mother-in-law still hasn’t forgiven the father-in-law for his infidelity committed with a black woman way back during their first years of marriage.
She brings it up every chance she gets, but he’ll say nothing. Still, Adela told me that that the black woman was the love of his life but that the relationship didn’t go forward precisely because of her being black. What was his family going to say?
That was the thinking of many white men of that time (at least I thought so). Black and mulatto women were only “chosen” as mistresses, but never as wives, though there were plenty of anomalies of course.
How terrible, right? Given the already disadvantaged social position of women, being black or mulatto was yet another — let’s say — “subcategory.”
I had thought these social constructs had been left behind in the distant 20th century when another friend, Elena, started telling me about what happened to her in a relationship that ended a few weeks earlier.
After a several weeks of “passionate” lovemaking, the guy — a white man emerging as one of Cuba’s nouveau riche — decided they shouldn’t continue because he was falling in love and that such a relationship was going to interfere with his plans.
She was devastated, while he never realized that the feelings might be mutual. Nonetheless, Elena understood and consoled herself thinking that for her, too, a relationship at that time could have been counterproductive.
But, as the old saying goes, “Lies have short legs.” Less than two weeks after the breakup “European social style” — without tears, pleas or an excess of heartbreak — there came the news. He was engaged to a gorgeous blonde.
There were no complaints from Elena…there was really nothing to complain about. She was left with a bitter taste in her mouth for having been rejected, tossed to the side like a piece of old furniture, livestock or who knows what else.
These personal stories that seem drawn from old-fashioned melodramatic novels continue on in modern times.
I don’t know how things are in other parts of the world, but here the issue of race has no end. When you think some things have progressed a little, you realize that others have slipped backwards I don’t know how many steps.
And if we add to this the fact that education here isn’t aimed at making people more assertive in seeking needed changes in our society, I really don’t know where we’re going.