HAVANA TIMES, June 27 — The civil rights organization Cofradia de la Negritud* (the Negritude Brotherhood) has just released an action plan to fight racism in Cuba. The plan, released on June 23, consists of 48 points that are detailed on the blog of the Critical Observatory Network, a group within which the Brotherhood participates.
The program suggest measures for implementation by the Cuban government and civil society that are directed at changing institutional conditions and prejudices that foster the persistence of racism in this country.
With the explicit purpose of “promoting the principle of equal opportunities for all citizens in a real and effective manner as a high-priority social objective within the country’s policies,” the measures include: public audiences and commissions specializing in racial problems, modifications in the educational system for the sake of achieving more equitable and respectful treatment of differences between people, proportionality in access to education and employment (including factoring in people coming from poor families and marginalized territories), actions of a community character and the promotion of greater visibility in the media of the less privileged groups.
In fact, the emphasis on aspects of social disadvantage and community participation are a distinctive feature of this initiative that — instead of the traditional emphasis on skin color and ethnic origin — suggests prioritizing human groups from the lowest income communities of Cuban society.
The proposal keeps in mind that these populations consist of a larger proportion of people of African descent, but it also includes people of “white” and Asian origin. In that context, it calls for “putting in place practical mechanisms and appropriate procedures that allow for the improvement of economic opportunities for poor families based on their initiative and capacity.”
Likewise, the Brotherhood suggests making all aspects of the racial problem more visible, including a wide public debate in the media and the preparation of personnel proficient in the analysis of such issues. Training and preparation should include ideological functionaries and police officers.
The plan also takes into account the need for affirmative budgetary treatment of the country’s provinces as an approach to reducing socio-economic inequalities between these regions. Attention is also paid to the problem of the population in correctional facilities.
The Negritude Brotherhood calls for the reintroduction of anti-racist Cuban thought and the growth of African traditions as well as the diversification of relations with the “Dark Continent” and its diaspora.
Current organizations of civil society are being called on to include on their agendas the problems of racism and discrimination. In addition, an appeal was made for the setting up of new associations that would “permit the institutionalization of African-based religious systems by those who wish to do so.”
The plan even calls for “promoting the sale of beauty care products and services that take into account the physical specificities of the black and mixed population.”
In a wide ranging and inclusive assessment, the action plan considers it indispensable to “consider that the concept that consistent respect for diversity can be an appropriate road to foment national unity” and to “establish short-term paths and appropriate measures that limit expressions of inequality that exist today in the attitudes and behavior of the Cuban young generation.”
(*) The Negritude Brotherhood is a self-managed socio-cultural initiative organized by citizens of African descent. It has spent several years setting up forums, debates and involving itself in activism related to the racial issue in Cuba.
NOTE: Havana Times will post the 48-point plan in English later this week.