Introduction to
Race and  Ethnicity in Cuba

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Race & Ethnicity Introduction | Black Cuba | White Cuba | The Cuban As He Is

The Book The Crime of Cuba By Carleton Beals is the source for the information in this portion of Kalamu (now IPOAA) magazine. The book, which was published in 1933, was a critique of United States policy and practices in Cuba. The Crime of Cuba is out of print and Carleton Beals, who was was born in 1897, is deceased.

Although The Crime of Cuba was written many years ago, it provides an informative look into the the roles race and ethnicity played in pre-Castro Cuba. The term pre-Castro is used because Fidel Castro outlawed racial discrimination and acts of racism—acts which were the norm which was the norm until he assumed power. And although Cuba, like all countries, still has a variety of problems and racism, as in many other countries, still exists among some members of the populace, it is erroneous and shortsighted to paint it as a place with no redeeming qualities.

Unknown or ignored by many people in the United States, the Miami Cubans in "Little Havana" maintain traditions based on the racist and segregation practices mentioned in Beals' book. And any African-American or other person of African descent who wishes for a return of the days before Fidel Castro, is favoring a return of events and situations that many people fought and died to eliminate in this country during the Civil Rights era.

Thus, it is no accident that dark skinned or Afro-Cubans, as they are commonly called, were rarely seen among the many photos of the protesting citizens in Little Havana during the Elian Gonzalez affair. Beals' book clearly explains why. And it is interesting to note that significant numbers of African-Americans do not have have the same negative image of Cuba as the one portrayed in the mainstream press, and any negativity they do possess does not approach the vehemence expressed by some politicians and the Cubans in "Little Havana."

Also, although I find many of Beals' general, broad stroke, behavioral and attitudinal categorizations offensive and/or narrow, that does not diminish the value of the other parts of his writings.

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