May the Good Ones Excuse Me

Veronica Vega

Photo: Jarno Nevala

HAVANA TIMES — A friend suggested I write about a comment one of his acquaintances made: “Black and shit is the same; may the good black people excuse me.” 

If I had been the other person in that conversation, I would have turned my back on him, because with such a precedent, the likelihood of having a reasonable debate would be zero.

When I was a young girl, I remember how listening to assertions like this used to rouse me to rebellion: If a man cheats on a woman it’s just in his nature, but if a woman betrays her husband she’s a whore.

Of course, the person making the statement was a heterosexual and machista male. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to turn these arguments into anything healthy.

However, I am going to make an exception today for my friend and rummage about this filth.

If you-know-who put the value of ALL Afro-descendants at zero and then added an exception, he is contradicting himself by saying there are “good black people”. Therefore, it’s not a sweeping generalization, but a statement born out of resentment.

I don’t know if my life has been unusual, but if we’re talking about disappointments, I can’t be sincere and differentiate on the grounds of race.

Foto: Mabel Nakkache

So, we could learn from this man and take his statement one step further:

– Being a person and shit is the same thing or isn’t it?

And I have to add a “but” again. Because if we’re talking about shared happiness, I can’t be sincere and differentiate on the grounds of race.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had black friends. We weren’t taught in my home to be especially open, but racist sentiments weren’t promoted either. I had the freedom to accept the world as I saw it with my own eyes, life, just as it unfolded itself.

I do remember in summer and back during the Special Period crisis, immersed in the belly of the “camel” (the packed tractor trailers that were used as buses), groups of young people coming back from the beach would make the only mode of affordable transport a more than inhospitable place. They would shout out curse words, hit the doors, throw objects out of the windows at cyclists or passers-by. Without exaggerating, these groups were nearly in their entirety made up of black and mixed race kids.

I remember seeing white people take a step back and being afraid in the face of those acts of vandalism. Keeping their annoyance quiet out of fear of a beating, because negative reactions were invariably carried out by the group, even if it was just against one of them.

However, this memory isn’t a statistic. In spite of the “whitewashed” image that is exported of Cuba, when you take a look at the crowds on its streets, the majority are black, mulatto and mestizo.

Those groups that disturbed others on the bus came from the poorest neighborhoods. Marginalization of the Afro-Cuban population in economic, political and social spheres is a well-known fact.

It’s also a well-known fact that the Revolution made education accessible to everyone, but with teaching founded on ideological indoctrination, not on racial and sexual plurality teachings; not on independent thought. The phrase “the Revolution made Blacks people,” used to go around and I’m sure it continues to go around some government circles even still.

It’s a fact that the Revolution itself incited vulgarity by calling for disrespectful expressions against other governments, hate crimes against our fellow countrymen. It encouraged the phobia of anything “different” and promoted a lack of compassion, ethics and unawareness.

Foto: Juan Castañeda

A young person carried out a survey among his friends and discovered that, on the whole, what is meant by rejecting black people is something more or less along the lines of the rejection of “black attitude”, that is to say, the marginal.

I know many people who don’t go to the beach because of these marginal groups who create a tense atmosphere and tend to be violent. Although, I see more danger in groups who drink alcohol and these are multi-racial.

Hate doesn’t have a race. Kindness doesn’t neither. A growing tendency that is being encouraged by all political systems, even under different premises, is the lack of kindness.

I have seen videos of people helping animals and they have moved me; of animals helping other species of animals and they have moved me; unlikely friendships between a cat and an owl, a lion and a dog, a tiger and a pig… Playing, showing affection going beyond their instinct.

An animal protector told me:

– At least in my opinion, human beings have yet to show me their “humanity”.

I had to admit that, generally-speaking and taking history into account, our species hasn’t proven that it is worthy of being called “human”.

But, let us learn from the phrase that inspired this article and let us add the following: “With respect for the good ones…” Because there are still some, of all races, gender and species.

In spite of all our bitterness, this is something that saves us.

2 thoughts on “May the Good Ones Excuse Me

  • Cuba like Ireland and dozens of countries has had it’s people exploited over the centuries, now before you all gang up on me and say Rubbish, the only difference today is that the Cuban people are still being exploited, so let us hope and believe that come 2018 we will start to see a difference, where people will look at each other and see another human being who is not a threat to them, let us make or at least attempt to make 2018 the year that people buried the past and started to work together for a better tomorrow starting today!

  • The history of slavery in the Western hemisphere insured that the African would be the most exploited, the most degraded and most vilified member of society. How else could that level of inhumanity be rationalized?

    But that was then. What has or hasn’t happened in Cuba that allows the ugly head of racism to rise up and find expression in everyday life? I know the North American reasons and history, but what of Cuba?

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