De Marti, Maceo, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X y Mandela

Vicente Morin Aguado

Cafeteria
Havana cafe. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — “Being black does not make the black man inferior or superior to any other man. The white man who says “my race” is as redundant as the black man who says “my race.” Everything that divided men, everything that specifies, separates or drives men to a corner is a sin against humanity,” wrote Jose Marti.

When Nelson Mandela was about to proclaim his country’s new constitution, he delved into the issue of the human races. The scientific answer he came upon is still considered valid today: we are all the children of a primordial Eve born 190,000 years ago, probably near the great African lakes, and of a primordial Adam of similar origins, who roamed the Earth 50 thousand years later. Human beings, in fact, share more than 99% of their genetic makeup. There are no races, or, better, there is but one race: Homo sapiens.

In his book Hombradia de Antonio Maceo (“The Courage of Antonio Maceo”), Raul Aparicio tells that, one day, when the Bronze Titan (as Cuban independence leader Maceo was known) fully recovered from his war injuries, a party was held. Maceo did not drink or smoke, and he made a habit of speaking in a low tone of voice, using no curse words. People started dancing and Quintin Banderas, a corpulent, courageous, proud black man who was something of a womanizer, was hounding a fair-skinned peasant woman for a dance, unsuccessfully. The scorned combatant then approached the generals’ table. “What’s the matter, General Banderas?” asked Maceo. “General Antonio, you’ve been witness to how much I struggle and risk my life to end slavery and for freedom.” “I appreciate all that, Quintin, but, what’s that have to do with anything?” “Well, a lady, a white lady, won’t give me this dance, most likely because I’m black.”

General Maceo frowned, smiled and quickly and drily replied: “General Banderas, as far as I know, any lady has the right to choose who they wish to dance with. If she won’t have you, try your luck with another, see if they will. You may go.”

Few anecdotes offer us as clear a lesson on the universal issue of racism. The Bronze Titan, a man every bit as proud and courageous as the eternal warrior Quintin Banderas was, bequeathed us an undying example to follow. Combatting racism entails a serious commitment that is immune to vanity and which steers clear of that danger known as demagogy.

Paladar
Havana cafe. Photo: Juan Suarez

I now turn to another, extremely intransigent combatant, whose difficult life helped shape his political maturity, whose life was cut short by those who were unable to step beyond the narrow margins of their religious fanaticism. Below is an account narrated by Malcolm X, reproduced by his brilliant friend (a black Muslim like him), Alex Haley:

“Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant — the one who wanted to help the Black Muslims and the whites get together — and I told her there wasn’t a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I’ve lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of arguments. I did many things as a Black Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then — like all Black Muslims — I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man’s entitled to make a fool of himself if he’s ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years.”

The charge against the actions of political zombies demands our undivided attention. Every day, the media bombards us with news about different forms of discrimination. Cases directly related to skin-color abound, particularly in the United States, a country that, despite its proclaimed democratic spirit, required nearly a century following independence to formally abolish slavery, and another century of blood, sweat and tears to bring about equality of civil rights, a process that cost Martin Luther King Jr. his life.

Malcolm X was able to shake off the condition of political zombie, though he did not get to live much after that. Martin Luther King Jr., the Baptist reverend, like Marti, Maceo and Mandela, struck that difficult balance between personal pride and crucial common sense, indispensable if one wishes to make history.

I wish to conclude with a statement by the brilliant US orator that invites us to reflect on these issues:

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”
——
Vicente Morín Aguado: morfamily@correodecuba.cu

4 thoughts on “A Warning about Political Zombies

  • Good stuff Mr. Goodrich.
    I have a son-in-law who is a Cree Indian but whom although he could claim status and avoid taxes behaves in the same way as the immigrant based population and contributes his taxes, which as he is successful are substantial.
    A few years ago I introduced him as my son-in-law to a Mormon friend of mine in Lethbridge, Alberta (north of Cardston where they built the first Mormon temple outside the US).
    The next time I met my Mormon friend, he enquired: “What is Mark” (I have substituted the name)
    I responded: “He’s a Canadian.”
    “Yes” he replied “but what kind of Canadian.”
    My response was”
    “He’s a Canadian Canadian.”
    Yes, as originally a Northern Scot, I am aware that Neanderthal blood has been found in the DNA of folks there – maybe accounts for my shorter legs!
    I met the head of the Edinburgh University genetics research team in 2007 in Orkney. His team took the DNA of all 30 odd thousand of Orcadians living on the mainland of Orkney and were at that time sampling the DNA of those living on the smaller islands – but having difficulty in doing a sample of 1,000 as they were viewed with suspicion. What they found was in part expected – virtually all the native islanders had DNA from Norway – but 3% had female Norwegian forebears, an indication that the Vikings took some Norwegian females with them on the longboats.
    I have in the past said to my wife of pure African descent, that my blood is tainted with that of the Neanderthals but she has been kind enough to accept it.
    Long ago in 1955, I was driving along a rural road on the east side of the Rhine river between Dusseldorf and Duisberg when coming around a corner there was a road sign that read:
    NEANDERTHAL
    A tiny place, on the north side of the road there was a small cliff with caves. So those of us who are descendants came from small beginnings!

  • About our ancestry:
    I recently took part in the National Geographic Human Genome project .
    They take a DNA sample from a cheek swab and trace each person’s lineage .
    What it showed:
    1) That humanity nearly died off some 50-60 thousand years ago and the remnants were down to a few tens of thousands in central Africa.
    2) That all humans now alive are descendants of those people.
    3) That all humans who migrated through Europe- which is all except Africans who remained in Africa -interbred with both Neanderthals and Denisovans; two sub-human races that co-existed with Homo Sapiens (us) but which subsequently died off..
    NOTE: this means that the only pure human (homo sapiens) blood is to be found in Africans.
    All others have some 1-3% Neanderthal and/or Denisovan DNA which makes all us non-African folks something less than fully human.
    This is a serious setback for those white racists who claim that blacks are the inferior ones : people like all Mormons.
    Lastly, humans evolved from a common ancestor we have with chimpanzees.
    It was neither human nor chimpanzee.
    Chimpanzees have one more chromosome than do humans.
    That chromosome ( chromosome 2 -look it up on the internet) is comprised of one half human and one half chimpanzee chromosome structure and is structured head-to-head in the fashion that scientists say it would have to take to prove that we and chimps have a common origin.
    That human/chimp split took place some 250,000 to 100,000 years ago depending on varying and present estimates.

  • Despite both Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo bravely fighting the Spanish occupiers and despite all that Vincente Morin Aguado writes, in Cuba the Castro family regime perpetuates racial difference.
    2012 Official Cuban Census
    Question 6
    What is the colour of your skin
    White
    Metiza/mulato
    Black
    The regime then published their analysis reporting that the number of blacks was down from 10.2% in the 2002 census to 9.9% in 2012.
    The obvious and significant question is why did they deem the question necessary?. Fidel and Raul Castro’s father immigrated to Cuba from Galicia when the then Cuban government was trying to encourage white immigration as it was concerned about the rising percentage of blacks in the population – obviously old habits die hard!

  • I have seen no other reference to Alex Haley which identifies him as a member of the Nation of Islam. Please cite your source. It is easy for whites to insist that victims of racism move past the indignation of racism. As Vicente puts it, “shake off the condition of political zombie”. It is quite another task altogether to do so, especially when racism persists. Vicente, whom I suspect is a white Cuban should first ask himself how bad racism must be to make one a ‘zombie’ in the first place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *