By Irina Pino

Photo: Caridad
Couple at the University of Havana. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — The first words out of her mouth were: “I slept with a black man.” That direct phrase left me speechless. After all, it wasn’t like my friend to say such things. I wanted to know more, but I noticed she wasn’t comfortable talking about it.

A few weeks later, I ran into her at an exhibition in a gallery in Old Havana and invited her to a cup of hot chocolate. While the steaming cups cooled a bit, I decided to ask her about the incident. This time, she dredged up the courage to talk about her experience.

They had met during the recent Havana Film Festival. They had a chat before going to see a movie and after it ended. She told me the conversation was interesting and that they had similar tastes in movies and art in general. They had identified with one another.

She had begun to kiss and embrace the young man, but something in her head was telling her that was wrong. She would ask herself how she could possibly like this man when, her whole life, at home, her family had filled her with hatred towards the black race. Whenever she had invited classmates to study at home, her mother had asked if all of them were white, like she was.

The seed of discrimination had been firmly planted in her mind and, even though she felt no hatred towards blacks, she never seriously considered a romantic relationship with a black man – not even with a man of mixed race. She didn’t know what to do, whether to give in to passion or allow her prejudices to take root even more firmly.

They had agreed to see each other and had had two or three dates afterwards. In one of them, they were alone at his place and the thing she had avoided all her life happened. She had sex with a black man. She had been disconcerted by the fact she experienced pleasure – as though she were with a white man, that the difference in skin color had no say in anything, that it was something completely spiritual.

Later, when they had caught the bus together, he had tried to hug her, stand close to her, but she had instinctively pulled back, looking out of the corner of her eye at the people around her, worried about what they might think about that relationship of “theirs.” She avoided his calls and meeting with him in the days that followed. She erased him from her memory, as though the experience had not been real.

I’ve tried to avoid arriving at any conclusion about this story. I only wish to express how much damage our parents, our families, the media and even our schools can do us. Segregation has never ceased to exist, but love should know no segregation of any kind. After all, do souls have color?

 

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

3 thoughts on “Interracial Love in Cuba

  • Moses, I know how you feel…and totally believe your true story. My novia in Cuba comes from mixed race parents, long since separated….but her padre is negro, and her mamita is blanca. My novia is as white as snow…it’s difficult for some to instantly know she is cubana when we’re together…until she opens her mouth of course…which is often. lol But her hermana who was born of the same parents is negro. When we’re all out together, it’s obvious to me that her younger sister is treated differently…until some understand that her sister’s novio a yuma. When others realize the significance of our relationship, she then instantly acquires the same preferential treatment and status…people falling all over themselves full of compliments for her. But I think it’s all about the money of course…which is at the root of all evil in this world. If you don’t have any…or if your wrongfully preceived to not have any because of the colour of your skin, even in Cuba, you’re at a distinct disadvantage due to racism.

  • Do you live in Cuba now? Or did you move back to the states? I haven’t been to Cuba in about 5 years, or more. I am Latino, born in Los Angeles, CA. Never tried finding a wife.

  • When I first began dating my “mulatta clara” wife, her colleagues at the Buenos Dias Morning national news program engaged in a whisper campaign about the “negro” my wife had been seen cavorting around Havana with. Because of her visibility and the fact that I am an African-American, we had to be careful where we went together but the secret finally got around due to “Radio Bemba”. Here’s the funny part: At first, when all that her colleagues knew was the color of my skin, they were critical of her choice. Given her beauty and her celebrity, people wondered why in the world would she date a black guy when she could have dated any number of white suitors. But when they found out that I was a foreigner, not to mention an American, then everything suddenly became OK. One coworker even said so to my face. She said she thought I was “un negrito de Guantanamo pero cuando hablaste, todo esta bien” True story.

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