HAVANA TIMES, April 3 — Though the 2010 Cuba International Book Fair concluded a few weeks ago, I didn’t want to fail to mention the presentation of a work I consider vitally important to all Cubans, all races, all generations and to all ideologies.
It’s titled the Antologia de Raza y Racismo (Anthology of Race and Racism), from Editorial Caminos publishers of the Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The presentation of the book took place in the Complejo Morro Cabaña, the main site of the fair.
That being said, the book was presented for the first time on December 8, 2009 at the headquarters of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), coinciding by sheer chance with the publication in the Miami Herald of news concerning a letter by US Black intellectuals accusing the Cuban government of racism.
I’m not being sarcastic when I use the phrase “by chance.” This anthology is the result of a compilation of texts that appeared in the magazine Caminos, in two complete issues devoted to the issue of race and racism, and in other writings that now appear in book form.
One of the most attractive aspects of this anthology is that the authors of the individual segments are people of diverse generations and fields; and accordingly, they approach the issue from different perspectives.
The book is divided in four parts appearing immediately after the forward by the editors. The first is titled “Thought and Society,” the second “History”; the third “Documents,” in which the writings of General Antonio Maceo appear, as well as pictures and documents of the Partido Independiente de Color (the Independent Party of Color, or PIC); and the last one is “Poetry,” in which the verses of recognized poets are included in addition to a discussion on hip hop.
For a moment I thought the anthology might not be of interest to foreign readers due to their general unawareness of some of the themes discussed, such as the Independent Party of Color or the black Abakua group that tried to prevent the execution of eight medical students on November 27, 1871.
Yet, the fact is that Cuban readers don’t have a great advantage since these are issues that have remained long in obscurity and have little if any space devoted to them in our school history texts. Consequently, readers on the island will themselves be surprised to find writings in which people who have occupied privileged places in our history are shown to be racists and pro-slavery.
It was the interest of the editors that this anthology on race and racism constitute a modest contribution to this important debate in our national life and to reflections concerning the centennial of the Independent Party of Color and the massacre of 1912.
This anthology, with an edition of 6,000 copies, constitutes the second publication of the materials by Editorial Caminos publishers. Keeping in mind that the magazine quickly sells out and doesn’t reach as many people as its editors would like, they decided to publish a selection of the magazine’s past articles in book form.
The first edition, which came out last year, was dedicated to the first 40 issues of this magazine founded between 1995 and 1996 – almost nine years after the establishment of the Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.