Historian and political scientist
Many realities had to be faced within the dynamic and segregationist structures and ways in the U.S., but they are not very much correlated with the interracial relationships in Cuba, especially with the very unique characteristics of diversity and social life throughout our history. The enormous demographic weight of Africans and their descendants since the colonial era, the decisive role played by the Afro descendants in all economic areas and in all political confrontations, as well as in the cultural process of nation-building, make Cuba different from most countries of the Western Hemisphere, where generally the Afro descendants are a minority or have been territorially, culturally and socially cornered, and even excluded and even turned into invisible population segments. Nevertheless, there are important elements identified by Stuparitz that have clear and permanent impact in Cuban society, where the hegemonic and supremacist power has kept African descents in conditions of inferiority and always away from the access to powers, privileges and recognition regardless of historical eras or junctures, and political colors. The author accurately notes the notable absence of clear references to the oldest structures and racist practices in texts and curricula nowadays. It will seem very familiar for Cubans such a statement like "What I received was a disinformation teaching me neither to speak nor to ask nor to address more seriously or deeper that issue. Thus, since I can remember, white silence has been nourishing my desire to unlearn racism and white supremacy." Precisely this has been one of the burdens or shortcomings historically suffered in Cuba. Although the Cuban Penal Law punishes both the crime of Apartheid and the offenses against the equality, here are no effective preventive or punitive mechanism against racial discrimination. In addition, the very issue is off the public agenda, lacking of rigorous intellectual and academic discussion and carrying the burden of a very meager African descent representation in the symbolic, corporate, and commercial imaginaries. The historical and sociological particularities in Cuba predetermine that racism is not characterized by violent confrontation, unless at specific and limited circumstances such as the execution of national hero José Antonio Aponte and his fellow sufferers (1812), the bloody repression of the so-called conspiracy La Escalera [The Ladder] (1844), the slaughter of members of the Independent Party of Color (PIC) and innocent people (1912) or the judicial murder of three young African descendants (2003) who hijacked a passenger ferry without fatal consequences. In such cases, power exercises the most cruel and racist violence allegedly in order to avert the risks to the integrity of the supremacist and exclusive hegemony. Racism and discrimination are mostly exercised through exclusion, contempt and social inequality, always tempered by denying merits, spaces, and opportunities to the African descendants. However, as Stuparitz rightly explained, it is precisely in the mind and mentalities where most of these images and racist references have become entrenched and more difficult to remove. Together with the absence of a debate on the issue and the lack of civic and public voice of African descendants to defend their interests and values, the normalization of patterns and racist criteria is the main obstacle in Cuba to achieve the integration and the equality promised so many times in political speeches and always broken in everyday life. The American author also asserted awareness and humanist sensibility are the ideal weapon to promote equality in law practical by embracing criteria and assessments designed to fight the persistent racist mentality, silences and concealments that distort history. She made high-value considerations about the importance of awareness and participation of whites in the multiracial societies with a slave past and a vocation of modernity. In the long and difficult struggle for equality and justice, she recalled how important was the involvement of white people in the anti-racist movements of the U.S. and South Africa, where institutionalized segregation lasted too much. She posed a question that implies a transcendental concept: "Why is it so difficult to recognize that both the trauma and terror of racism and its manifestations and violence hurt not only African Americans and people of color? Racism is a worldwide aggression. It also hurts me as a white person." The present and future are seriously compromised by the inequalities and polarization that still persist and place Cubans of African descent in a serious situation emerging from the new socioeconomic correlations. For Cuba it is essential and crucial that all citizens without exception take part in the struggle for building racial equality and respect for diversity and identities as principles that provide the meaning of life and irreplaceable means to achieve personal growth and social harmony. This is important because the racist mentality has been standardized in the references and visions of the majority, to the extreme that even the very victims of racism often reproduce these patterns and are incapable of perceiving the daily manifestations of discrimination in all social areas. The history provides unequivocal lessons. Over a hundred years ago, one of the costly mistakes of the PCI leaders was abstaining from popularizing that white people were also among the militancy and from appointing some of them to prominent posts in order to avoid the accusation of racism. The latter was widely used to justify the disproportionate repression and we can hear such an accusation even today in the ruling academic spaces. Our society is obliged to direct its inevitable fight against racism from the perspective of racial integration. Together with the self-esteem, identity and self-recognition of the African descendants, the racial integration must transform the long common history of all Cubans in another one of balanced coexistence and equal opportunities. For such a purpose, we need to activate all educational, intellectual and propagandistic mechanisms to add white Cubans with greater sensitivity and commitment to the recovery of historical truth, the public debate and active fight against the manifestations of racism and inequality. Unfortunately, besides the obvious manifestations and racist attitudes of the Cuban rulers, some kind of institutional racism remain in certain areas of the society along with a deplorable discriminatory bias against African descendants in some regions of the country. José Martí, known as the Apostle of the Independence and named so after the African American patriot Rafael Serra, said the ideal of a free Cuba was a union with all and for the good of all. However, it will be an unfulfilled dream while discrimination and inequality exclude or marginalize a segment of society that contributed so much to the nation building. In recent years, the Cuban independent anti-racist movement has brought together citizens from all backgrounds and origins in order to demonstrate that the struggle for equality and historical and social justice is an effort by both white and blacks Cuban committed to the ideal of a nation fully integrated and free of privileges and exclusions.