Young Cuban Students

Race in Cuba

Cuba's soul is mestizo (half-breed),
and it is from the soul, not the skin, that we derive our definite color.
Someday it will be called "Cuban color." - Nicolas Guillen, 1972

Cubans share a unique historical struggle for racial unity, and whatever progress they've made is not because they're particularly enlightened on these matters, but because they have worked hard at it, not surrendering this ideal to the empires that would inflict a racist ideology on them. Cubans are stubborn that way, and they've learned to throw out whatever doesn't work for them. Not to imply, of course, that they've conquered racism. They've just taken longer steps than their Northern neighbors. Nor do I mean to suggest that Cuba is the racial paradise that some pretend it to be, as we notice that most Cubans "with dollars" are not dark skinned.

This is not an easy topic to approach, but a necessary one if we're to explore the bigger mysteries and the larger truths that Cuban history represents to the modern world.

More young students in Cuba

This section features articles about the end of slavery in Cuba, the so-called Race War of 1912, the uses of Race Fear to separate Cuban society and much more.

You'll also come across portraits of Martín Morúa Delgado, President José Miguel Gómez, Quintín Banderas, General Donato Marmól and others.

The extraordinary vigor and captivating originality of Cuban music is a mulatto creation. Today, the whole world dances to Afro-Cuban music.
- Fernando Ortíz

Features

Introduction | End of Slavery | The Meaning of Cuban Sugar | After the War of Independence | On the Importance of Oriente Province | Race War of 1912 | Race War Timeline | Race Fear in Cuba | President José Miguel Gómez

Notes On:
Martín Morúa Delgado | Fernando Ortíz | Julián Valdés Sierra

My Race, by José Martí (from Patria, 1893) | Fernando Ortíz on the Phases of Transculturation (from a speech in 1942)

Excerpts from
A Preliminary Essay by J.S. Thrasher
in The Island of Cuba
by Alexander Humboldt

An excerpt from The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861, by Robert E. May, Louisiana State University Press

Excerpt from
"Election and Selection" in the first issue
of Previsión, August 30 1908
by Evaristo Estenoz

Tengo (I Have)
A Poem by Nicolás Guillén
in English and Spanish

Juan Gualberto Gómez | Excerpt from Race, Nation and Revolution, by Ada Ferrer | On Racism - An excerpt from Terrence Cannon's Revolutionary Cuba

Bibliography


Partido de Color cartoon Partido Independiente de Color

In this cartoon from Prevision (March 30, 1910), a fictional character named José Rosario (on horseback) confronts Cuban President Gómez.

José Rosario was created by Julian Valdes Sierra, a black Cuban who fought at the side of Maceo in the Western Invasion. In 1910 Sierra was charged with conspiracy by the Cuban government. A jury in Havana found him not guilty.


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Without the black, Cuba would not be Cuba.
- Fernando Ortíz


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