Cuba is Not Free of Racism

Carlos Fraguela

manos-coloreadas-004HAVANA TIMES — Refusing to acknowledge something is one thing, hoping that our problems will go away if we simply ignore them is quite another.

Taking the call that Cuba’s current president recently made as my point of departure, I am going to prove, on the basis of some personal experiences, that racism does exist in Cuba. It is my hope that, by acknowledging its existence, we can begin to work together to make this evil disappear once and for all.

I believe the truth can set us free.

If you’re the type of person who can afford gasoline and has a car to drive home in when you get off of work, you probably haven’t been exposed to the racism one runs into in Havana’s public buses. If you don’t talk to your neighbors that often, you probably haven’t heard the racist attitudes that abound in our neighborhoods either.

A friend and workmate of mine told me that he recently went out with his current girlfriend and, by chance, ran into a girlfriend he’d had over six years ago.

His former girlfriend, bold as brass, told him it was disgusting he could stoop so low as to go out with a mulatto girl.

Taken aback, he began to insult her, telling her she was an idiot. He had to hold back his current girlfriend, who lunged towards the cretin to hit her.

Two of my uncles married people of mixed race. My grandmother, despite having raised her 13 kids in a tenement building where my parents were the only white people, did everything in her power to keep my uncles from brining their spouses home.

Sometimes, my own mother tells me about her day and specifies the skin color of the people she mentions. I always ask her why she feels the need to specify such details. As though unable to understand what the problem is, she continues to do this inappropriate thing.

I have a friend who always asks about the skin color of any person I speak about whom he doesn’t know. It is a bad habit that justifiably bothers those who do not understand this behavior.

A cousin of mine of mixed race fell into a heavy depression some years ago as a result of the discrimination he felt from some people around him. Apparently, it really got to him. He was a teenager, and that’s a bad time to feel rejected.

I had to have very serious conversations with him to raise his self-esteem. I reminded him that he was a good, noble person and that’s what truly matters, to ignore those who felt superior to him.

13 thoughts on “Cuba is Not Free of Racism

  • Umm… tons of racism in Mexico against the indigenous people not to mention a clear advantage always given to the whiter shades of white.

  • in old mexico there used to be racism, but now we are just mexicans, no mater were we go we still mexicans, and proud to be mexicans. i’m sorry some cubans have racism, still in the usa there is racism. racism is for weak countries, poor countries. when you remove racism in a country it makes it stronger, and it grows a soul. but when you keep racism in a country it grows soulless, and then revolts tend to happen.

  • Not every European. That actually is your own brand of racism. The best thing to do is get a quality education, and keep learning about real things, like Psychology, Sociology, Ecology, and Engineering, besides starting businesses. In fact, the US has Historically Black Colleges, and many African Americans are getting college educations. The United “Snakes” is a great nickname, but it is not about all Americans. The message of the Nation of Islam has been in part to seek economic self-reliance. That’s not just their own “racial” discovery. That is the discovery of anyone and many seeking social and enviromental justice. Fair Trade was developed in Holland in the 1980s, for example, based on the co-operative, member-owned business model which was invented by UK workers in the 1840s. That’s the model of economic democracy that can help any people develop economic self-reliance to show the real problem. The World Social Forum is based on basically the same principles, and already took place in Nairobi and elsewhere in Africa and the world, and is a good movement to follow.

  • When i travel home to Cuba each month i am never surprised at the level of racism via europeans which has arisen since Pres Obama has been at the helm in the United snakes
    Europeans have always been this way in Cuba, and its simply because they like euros everywhere they want to wipe the Afrikan off the face of the earth But guess what? Its not happening

  • As Mr. Moses Patterson stated correctly, there is no comparison between racism in the US and Cuba. Nevertheless, re-discovering that racism was alive, well and growing in Cuba in the early 1990’s shocked many, who assumed foolishly that by decree, this social scourge was eradicated in 1959.

    The only way Cuba will rid itself of racism and it must, if that country is to survive, is through education, culture, history, equality and the strict enforcement of laws.

    When people are at the same social, economic, cultural or educational levels, racism becomes less relevant. I could care less, what the guy next to me think about me or vice versa.

    Cuba greatest hurdle today, is that many unnamed people in decisive positions, have profound anti-black prejudices and have been able to manipulate, distort, control, hide Afrocubans incredible history and accomplishment, while heightening those of other racial groups, creating a mental gap and supremacist beliefs.

    It have worked for a while, but with the mass of educated black Cubans who are increasingly aware of this heinous crime, their days are numbered. Their are too many Maceo’s, Mariana, Jesus Menendez, Quintin Banderas etc., in Cuba, to be cheated out of the sweat, tears and blood that went into the making of that country.

    Therefore, every honest, goodwill and sincere person willing to help us overcome this scourge, defeat this plague and rid the country of this illness, please refrain from mixing this tragedy with any confrontational political views of the Cuban government. Do not afford proven undercover racists in Cuba with an alibi, excuse or basis to keep this wicked, segregationists measure in place.

    Down with Racism in Cuba Now or Never!!

  • While racism in Cuba on its worst day pales in comparison to the racism which continues to persist in the US despite all of our advances, Cuban racism is equally dangerous because there exists few institutional mechanisms which will acknowledge, let alone combat its existence. As a result, a racist boss can continue to show racial preferences among his white and mixed-race employees in Cuba and there is no official recourse to be taken. People can open express racist views and face little more than a frowned face from those few around them who disapprove. Racism is alive and well in Cuba.

  • i havent heard of caucasian tourists being stopped unless they are with a cuban female and then it is the latter who is harassed. is the situation described below new?

  • I am a caucasian male and have had the same experience while I visited Cuba. I was in Cuba last year from July 16 to July 30. I was stopped by police so many times that I felt harassed. On this occasion I was there during the July 26th celebration and it may be due to this that I was stopped so many times but on other occasions I have also been stopped several times. In Cuba, the state has e very heavy police presence and they harass both foreigners and Cubans of what ever shade.

  • This really disappoints me. I wrongly believed racism had largely been overcome in Cuba since the revolution. However considering that Cuba remains a patriarchal and largely homophobic society (gays still are not really openly accepted and I think gay marriage is not legal) the persistence of racism is entirely predictable. The Soviet system, except in the very first years of the USSR, never facilitated real progress on these issues.

  • Racism is alive and well all over the world. It must never allowed to enter the law of the land or it will never be eradicated. Why skin pigment should matter is difficult to understand at an intellectual level. We have always feared “the other”

  • Racism is global whether it be overt or covert but PC manages to sweep it under the carpet as and when required.

  • i went to cuba with an african american friend of mine. he was interested in seeing the social advances of the revolution. however, after having been stopped a number of times by police asking for ID, he cut his trip short. a white foreigner is not bothered. if one is not white however there is harassment. the prevalence of white cubans in the tourism industry, except for room cleaners and kitchen help, is yet another indication of racism. i asked a cuban why this is so after so many years of socialist rule. he told me “you have to understand, we cubans know that not all negroes are ladrones, but all ladrones are negroes”. seemed to sum it up.

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