HAVANA TIMES — When I was a child, I wouldn’t have accepted anyone telling me that there was racism in Cuba. In school, it was instilled in us that in our country there was no prostitution, poverty, drug addiction or racism.
Unfortunately, I experienced the years of the Special Period crisis and saw the emergence of those first three and I found out that the last one had never ceased to exist.
Not even my parents (she an elementary school teacher and he a carpenter) ever talked about the legacy of racism here.
Unfortunately, racism still lingers on our island, and this isn’t only determined because blacks are relegated to second-class jobs and generally don’t hold important positions in Cuban society.
Sometimes racist remnants are more easily perceived in ordinary situations, like in what happened to me and my little girl recently.
My daughter and I were leaving the nursery heading for home, but halfway there I decided to first visit a sick friend who lives near the school.
I talked for half an hour with the patient and when I was getting ready to leave my daughter Gissel made the curious comment: “Mommy, look how black Eduardo is! He’s just like Angela.”
I was taken aback by my child’s comment, because we’re a typical Cuban family where you can just as easily find members who are black, jabao (light-skinned), or olive complexioned – just about every color except completely white. So the fact that Eddie’s dark color caught her attention was beyond my understanding.
What I do know is that my friend got really upset and said: “Yes Gissel, Eddie is very dark, but he has the same rights as you.”
At first I felt a little embarrassed about the situation my daughter had created and I replied without hesitation: Yes, “mimi,” he’s as dark as Angela, and also as dark as your uncle Fabian, your cousin Lina and a few other members of the family.
Although my first thought was to believe that my daughter was going to be a racist, then I asked myself if she was actually half racist or whether my friend was half stupid.