Speaking of Skin Colors in Cuba

Nonardo Perea

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — In Cuba, there is a well-known popular phrase that goes like this: “If you’re not part Congo, you’re part Carabali” (meaning that everyone has a drop of African in their blood).

Reading my friend Yusimi Rodriguez’ post, Cuba: Blatant Racism or Reasonable Doubt?, I could not help but write something about the issue of racism in our country myself, as this phenomenon is becoming more and more patent in our daily experiences.

Racism exists in Cuba: it’s sad to have to admit it, but it’s the truth. The worst part is that even black people say they want to “get ahead racially.” This means that the great majority of black parents wish for their children to procreate with people of white skin, so that they will “get ahead racially,” as they put it. “I don’t want to comb that hair,” is another comment I’ve heard people make in countless occasions.

A few days ago, I was standing in line at a pharmacy, where I was waiting for my turn to buy the medication I take for my blood pressure.

Standing in line was a black man who was keeping an eye on his 5-year-old daughter (who had a much lighter skin tone). Suddenly, a very dark-skinned young man appeared and the child, laughing her head off, went over to give him a hug, as though she’d known him all her life. Seeing the girl’s gesture, the only thing the father said was:

“Look at that, she likes black guys. Hey, don’t go for blacks, go for whites, I already got you ahead. Look how friendly she is, and with a black guy she doesn’t even know!”

He spent the entire time in line talking about skin color and his girl’s overly friendly attitude towards the black man. The nicest part is that the people there merely laughed, as though it were merely a candid remark, and even the black teenager the man was referring to, completely ignorant of race issues, seemed to join in on the joke.

I looked at them with a serious look on my face, rather put off.

I, a white person, felt indignant over those racist comments, spoken by a black man, in a line where people were also predominantly black.

This makes me think that racism is on the rise, that it is spreading, and that we don’t notice this many a time. To be able to notice, as I’ve written elsewhere, one has to be black and feel the magnitude of the problem first-hand.

I don’t consider myself either white, black or any color. I am quite simply a person. I live with a black man, and many of my previous partners (and there haven’t been that many) have also been black men. Most of my best friends are also black. In short, I love black people. I also love white people. I love people regardless of the color of their skin.

What matters most are one’s values, the way one is and behaves as a human being. We are all people, it doesn’t matter what our skin color is. There are white people who are very good persons, but there are also black people who are even better. In short, race does not determine whether one is good or bad.

Hitler was white and he was a despicable being. Had he been black, we’d be hearing comments like “it had to be a black man,” or, “what a black man doesn’t do on his way in, he does on his way out.” I happen to know a lot of white people who have done bad things “on their way out.”

So, please, let’s leave the issue of skin color alone, because it’s irrelevant – don’t you agree?

Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.

9 thoughts on “Speaking of Skin Colors in Cuba

  • February 11, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Malcolm X said that the worst thing about racism was not segregation or the humiliations or the pointless murders – but that “black” people were taught to hate themselves. THINK about that for a moment! The good news is the “european” vision of the world is coming to an abrupt end very soon. Then it will be impossible for the “european” to describe people of color in Their terms and make them believe it. Their party at the expense of the majority of the world’s people is almost over.

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