Sam:

I really appreciate your detailed statement about racism in Cuba.  The problem at least initially appears to be as deep in Cuba as it was here in the US, as were and are the problems of sexism and homophobia.

I have a request.  A number of us on the list have been calling on Michael Balter to tone down the rhetoric.  Would you please do that as well?  Your anger at Michael is not subtle, e.g., "…folks like Mr Balter do a FoxNews style of exaggeration…" and "…[y]our statement falls into the same bag as the Tea Party folk and Donald Trump declaring Obama a non US Citizen…"

As a contributor to some of the invective myself, I am going to try.

Thanks,

Larry

From: S E Anderson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, 17 May 2011 08:06:00 -0400
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Clarification Regarding Lingering Racism In Cuba

SftP Folks,

My mention of lingering forms of racism inside of Cuba was not to equate their forms of racism with that of the US as Michael Balter has asserted:

I would say that Sam's description of the depths of racism in Cuba was quite shocking. I hope he is wrong, because it would be pretty depressing if after 50+ years of "socialism" Cuba was still as racist as the United States or even more so.

The quest to completely paint Cuba as one of the most horrible places on earth, folks like Mr Balter do a FoxNews style of exaggeration of your statement to mesh your views with their desired views.

It is not depressing when you contextualize the struggle against racism that has had a 500 year head start grounded in the material basis of society and embedded within ones language and worldview. 

1959 saw Cuba with a deep and virulent form of racism that was propped up by its semicolonial status with a de jure segregated US racist imperialist (redundancy for emphasis). Black and Brown Cubans were almost nonexistent as professionals of any type outside of sports and entertainment. Internalization of racist beliefs of inferiority was widespread (but not necessarily the norm among Black & Brown Cuban). Hence, the Revolution leaders- mainly white -had the initial misconception that by the mere eradication of the capitalist material basis for racism, racism would disappear and that the peasants and workingclass of Cuba would starting developing Cuba within a postracial context.

Their fundamental error was to misunderstand the profundity and complexity of racism as something that the quest for capital spawned yet has developed a life of its own within minds of people- independent of class and gender. Over the past 5 decades many Black Cubans loyal to the Socialist Revolution struggled inside and outside of the Communist Party to get antiracist policies and practices enacted. Much discussion and lots of essays written ensued to eventually convince the leadership that the question of racial inequity is a real problem even within a society that is trying to become a socialist one.

The first thing Cubans have slowly come to realize is that you cannot erase vestiges of 500 year-old racism/white supremacy in 50 years. You merely BEGIN the process of undoing racism by first recognizing that it still exist in the hearts and minds of many Cubans (marry a lighter skinned person to "improve the race"; the "good hair"/"bad hair" myth; the well dressed young Black-as-pimp-or-prostitute; the darker you are the less intelligence you have and the more physical you are...). They are getting it now that they do not live in a postracial society as was proclaimed back in the late 60s and 70s.

In the past 50 years, the Cuban have made greater strides towards the eradication of racism and white supremacy than what we have made inside the US. Look at its political leadership, its labor leadership, its medical and education leadership, its scientific leadership.... Then look at the paucity of Black and Brown faces in these very same areas in the US. In 1971 or 1981 I could not say this about Cuba because they were just creating that very first generation of Black and Brown intellectuals and skilled workers: men and women whose parents never thought they would see a Cuba where its African and Mestizo descendants could be not only in positions of political power but also in positions of science, engineering, skilled work and administration.

The Cubans have learned that building Socialism Cuban Style means that, among many many things, you no longer gloss over or simplify complex problems like racism/white supremacy or sexism that are at the very core of your society. The Cuban women's struggle against sexism, for example, has laid the foundation for its current struggle to eradicate antigay ideas and practices. This was unheard of back in the 90s much less at the beginning of the Revolution.... They are taking up the antiracist fight starting simultaneously from within Black Cuba and the government. It is not pretty, but it is also not about doing treasonous work or wishing for capitalism. The real thing about Cuba is that today and tomorrow it is a mainly Black and Brown nation coming to grips with the idea of "race" and its meaning within a society figuring how to build socialism in a world dominated by all forms of virulent but dying capitalism.

So, Mr Balter, there's no way in Hell that Cuba "is still as racist as the US or even more so." Wherever you are on the planet, your arrogant but ignorant statement objectively helps to reenforce the globalization process of white supremacy. Your statement falls into the same bag as the Tea Party folk and Donald Trump declaring Obama a non US Citizen: they know they can say this outright lie because it is coming from a white mouth and will be spread by the deeply racist corporate media. And they know that the white US citizenry is presently so dumbed down and infused with racism that anything coming from any white person must be truer than what any Black man has to say- even if he's the president of the US!

But, here among SftP Folk, I know the vast majority of us see straight thru you to your disdain for people actually struggling for socialism on the ground.

In Struggle,

Sam Anderson