A street performer moves through the streets during the Carnavales celebration of Santiago de Cuba.

News Roundup: Race in Cuba and Obama’s visit

I’m always interested in race and racism. Cuba isn’t exactly the same as the US – but it’s not that different, either. So in Cuba I see a lot of the same racial dynamics I’m used to in the US.

My first glimpse of this was police harassment of a Black Cuban colleague, who was presumed suspect when the rest of us (including a bunch of lighter-skinned Cubans) were left alone. I’ve also seen attitudes among Cubans devaluing Black beauty, like calling kinky hair “bad hair” (pelo malo) or saying, “Oh, I’m not attracted to Black men” like it’s no big thing.

And of course, if you do a web search, there’s plenty out there about racism in Cuba – even in English. (In Spanish there are options and options and more options.) A great place to start is Henry Louis Gates’ Black in Latin America, which dedicated an entire episode to Cuba.

To the surprise of no one, race in Cuba correlates to wealth and education… to who’s in visible leadership roles… who’s most represented on TV… and so on and so forth. Nothing new, if you pay attention to racism in the US. And if you talk to Cuban anti-racists, their work to dismantle racism also sounds only too familiar.

Over the last couple days, I’ve seen a ton of articles exploring what Obama’s visit means specifically for Black Cubans. Fascinating stuff… Enjoy!

What President Obama’s Visit to Cuba Means for Cubans of African Descent РDevyn Spence Benson at Huffington Post

For Afro-Cubans President Obama is a source of pride and inspiration – Michael Weissenstein, AP

What Obama’s visit means for Cuba’s national conversation about race – Kate Linthicum, LA Times

President Obama to Visit Cuba: A Hope for Black Cubans? – Black Matters

If you’ve seen other articles on this, please mention it in the comments, and I’ll add them to this list! Thanks.

Also – regarding the picture at the top of this post: I didn’t want to just use a pic of random Black Cubans to personally illustrate the idea of Being Black In Cuba. So I dodged the question by picking someone blue. Smart, huh?

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