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Sunday, January 4, 2015

For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun



On my résumé, I proudly list my University of Havana's Spanish-language intensive training. Employers have asked, why Cuba to study Spanish (i.e. versus other Spanish-speaking countries). I explained to them that I am a salsa dancer, and Cuba is where salsa music has its roots. 

Upon my arrival in Cuba, I felt so much at home with its large black population and its abundance of salsa and Afro-Cuban music that I immediately set out to make successful connections with members of the Afro-Cuban community. 

Unlike other Latin-American countries I've visited, it was a good feeling to see blacks working in shops, hotels, at the airport, in public transportation, as police officers, and not to mention as engineers and doctors. It was a pleasure to see black faces on the campus of the University of Havana.

I have to give Fidel Castro credit for being the only Latin American leader to openly address racism in his country versus sweeping it under the rug and pretending that it doesn't exist. Castro, instead, articulated a vision for the elimination of institutional racism and attempted to dismantle it. He admitted, however, this was not as successful as he'd hoped. 

Fidel also sent troops to support several wars of liberation in Africa. He arranged free training of medical doctors from the African continent through Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine and, in recent years, extended scholarships to the school through the Congressional Black Caucus to U.S. students from under served communities.

However, I was not on the island of Cuba long enough to witness or even experience the hidden racism in Cuban society. Even many of the black Cubans gave me the impression that racism had come to an end in Cuba. However, Roberto Zurbano, an Afro-Cuban writer and reporter, wrote the following article in the New York Times...