The average Afro-Cuban on the street today will often name being Cuban first, and black, mulatto, or white second.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2016-08-02 20:24Z by Steven

In Cuba since the 1960s, revolutionary ideology has emphasized a national unity that transcends race and discouraged racial identification. The average Afro-Cuban on the street today will often name being Cuban first, and black, mulatto, or white second. Cuba’s national racial identity is confounded by the fact that there is no accurate way to measure its demographics, especially when using the blurring mixed-race category of “mulatto,” which in Cuba is interchangeable with the term “mestizo,” a self-selected label easily applicable to more than half the island. While the National Office of Statistics stated in 2012 that Cuba is 36 percent nonwhite, Morales claims a more accurate figure is between 60 and 70 percent, largely because many Cubans suffer an internalized racism that makes them publicly deny blackness. I observed this subtle negation one night along the seaside Malecón when a roving guitarista approached the dark-skinned Afro-Cuban poet, hip-hop writer, and activist Carmen Gonzalez Chacon, and tried to flatter his way into 5 pesos by serenading the “beautiful mulatta.” She quickly corrected his misidentification.

Erik Gleibermann, “Where Hip Hop Fits in Cuba’s Anti-Racist Curriculum,” The Atlantic, August 1, 2016.

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Where Hip Hop Fits in Cuba’s Anti-Racist Curriculum

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-08-02 20:13Z by Steven

Where Hip Hop Fits in Cuba’s Anti-Racist Curriculum

The Atlantic

Erik Gleibermann

The country’s education leaders confront deep-seated discrimination in the classroom through rap.

I was sitting with the Afrocentric rapstress Magia López Cabrera in her modest Havana walk-up in June when Cuba’s prominent black-history scholar Tomás Fernández Robaina showed up for a café con leche. Her tiny living room was filled with African folk art and images of women with 1970s-style Afros. It felt like the Cuban equivalent of Cornel West dropping in on Queen Latifah. Two nights later at an anniversary celebration for López’s rap-duo Obsesión, Fernández Robaina sat discussing racial profiling in the U.S. with Roberto Zurbano Torres, widely known in the U.S. for his writing on Cuban racial issues.

Since arriving in Havana several weeks before to investigate Cuba’s work to eliminate racism, I had discovered a collaborative, tight-knit movement that’s gone largely unpublicized in the U.S., including in its six-time-zone, decentralized academic world. In Havana, community artists like Lopez, academics like Fernández, and members of the National Ministry of Education are collectively exploring how to integrate Afro-Cuban history and related gender concerns into the primary-through-university school system. It’s hard to imagine a U.S. parallel, such as Secretary of Education John King officially asking teachers to teach students a song like “Le Llaman Puta” (They Call Her Whore)—López’s critique of how Afro-Cuban women are driven into prostitution—to fulfill the Common Core standards.

Efforts to combat racism in Cuba—which is widely believed to be majority nonwhite—through education have emerged quietly over the last several years. The National Ministry of Education officially leads the way through the Aponte Commission, where Fernández has served, exploring how to remove traces of racially denigrating language and imagery from, and include more Afro-Cuban history in, school textbooks. But the bold efforts are coming from below. A few semi-independent universities in Havana, and regional centers like Matanzas, Santiago de Cuba, and Camagüey, are taking the initiative, along with grassroots educators and activists involved in a hip-hop movement spearheaded by Obsesión…

Read the entire article here.

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