It is not productive to fight prejudice with prejudice; yet, this is the very approach for many, representing one of the most serious problems for the struggle against discrimination in Cuba, and especially the movement against racial discrimination. Regardless the reasons, every other publication with a formal circulation in Cuba, devoted to the issues of racism and discrimination, skims the surface of Afro-descendant experience, thus evading the depths and complexities that today’s descendants of Cuban slaves endure in contemporary Cuba.
For example, when explaining the current socio-economic disadvantages of Afro-descendants, these other publications all refer to the collapse of the European socialist bloc and Cuba’s ensuing Special Period, thus completely ignoring any discussion of the rule by the Revolution; a half-century was more than enough time - and yielded more than enough resources - for the regime to effectively dissolve the dregs of our slave legacy. On the other hand, or perhaps for the very same reason, all such publications hold back from fully defending this principle (a foundation of dialectics, at that): an authentic emancipation of those of suffer discrimination will never be possible under a dictatorship such as we have.
Given the enormous shortcomings of official as well as “alternative” (note the quotes) publications on these and other related matters, I believe it is providential that IDENTIDADES now circulates among us. And, as it is better to show up on time than to wait for an invitation, this publication could not have come at a better time, in the midst of Cuba’s present-day circumstances: “In its growing rejection of government stagnation and struggle for democratization and respect for human rights, civil society in Cuba is discussing the subject of economic, social and cultural inequalities more and more every day,” elucidated by Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Juan Antonio Alvarado, in the fourth issue.
In fact, this fourth issue of IDENTIDADES —“hot off the press”—is evidence of the substantial gravity with which the journal has resolved to address these matters, and just how well it is bearing this responsibility.
From the new problems that the reestablishment of relations between the regime and United States may bring black Cubans, to an analysis of the ethnic economy of subsistence and ethnic market of marginality that Raul Castro’s reforms have created - an effort his technocrats call ‘a modernization of the Cuban model’. From regionalism as a political strategy orchestrated by the revolutionary government’s power since its earliest years, to the way in which today’s official (governmental) anti-racists transition from silence and/or public justifications to lukewarm reactions. From the current misfortunes of black women, to the way Cuban rap and hip-hop have become—at great risk—a complex genre with the authority to participate in the Pan-African dialogue on Negritude.
Nor do the contributors and editorial crew limit the exploration of discrimination to Cuba alone; indeed, IDENTIDADES incorporates analyses of the Cuban reality as others see it. Articles by United States authors in the fourth issue, including Robert Cavalier (“Pittsburgh Goes to Cuba), and Bonita Lee Penn (“Looking at Cuba from the United States), are representative of this. The same can be said about a number of Latin American analysts who contributed with their observations of our respective realities, ranging from women and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, to Negritude in Argentina as well as in Peru.
IDENTIDADES is sponsored by the Platform for Cuban Integration, a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose goal is to defend the rights of Afro-descendants - and all who suffer some sort of discrimination - on the island, as well as support efforts to recover their history of active participation in the creation and development of the Cuban nation and its culture.
Havana, January 21, 2015
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