Perceptions Of Race In Cuba Before And After The Revolution

1621 words - 6 pages

For hundreds of years, Cuba experienced ongoing severe inequality and slavery on the basis of race. Historically, the Spanish who brought slaves from Africa colonized Cuba from which the Cuban race was socially and economically constructed. The Spanish rulers were of the elite while the African servants were of the lowest social class (Marcus, 2013). Ever since these early days, Afro-Cubans—Cubans with African ancestry, are labeled solely upon their skin color, which defines their position on the social hierarchy. Blackness is associated with slavery (Roland, 2011). Thus, the lighter one’s skin, the further away from slavery. Afro-Cubans who are dark skinned realize that despite being Cuban, their skin color differentiates them from lighter skinned Euro-Cubans (Marcus, 2013). However, hope starts to emerge for the Afro-Cubans when Fidel Castro becomes the government’s leader in 1959. Castro embarks on a revolution (Marcus, 2013) that dramatically alters the lives of the black citizens socially and economically. Through time, globalization, and the revolution, meanings and perceptions of race and race relations in Cuba changes, specifically in education, job opportunities, and social status.

Before the revolution, Cuba operates under a capitalist system (Marcus, 2013), which leads to an extreme segregation in education, in the job market, and in marriage laws. Racism is evident in all aspects and areas of life and the black Cubans are racialized. Education systems deem that private schools are only reserved for white citizens (Marcus, 2013). This suggests that whites are regarded as not only more capable of being educated but also deserving of the education, unlike the Afro-Cubans who are left uneducated and illiterate (De La Fuente, 2008).
Aside from education, there is also inequality in employment practices. Before the revolution started in the 1960s, Afro-Cubans earn lower income levels compared to Euro-Cuban workers (De La Fuente, 2008). Income is not given based on effort or capacity. To the eyes of the Euro-Cubans, the Afro-Cubans are simply not entitled to the same income because they are considered to be on a lower end of the scale of humanity. Professional and managerial jobs are also limited to the whites (De La Fuente, 2008). Blacks are considered in Cuba to be the inferior race and thus incapable of handling important job positions. Business and political interests of the United States are catered to only by Cuba’s elite and whiter classes (Roland, 2013).
Furthermore, Afro-Cubans do not have equal recreational opportunities as Euro-Cubans because they have restricted access to certain hotels and beaches (De La Fuente, 2008). These places are reserved for the upper class, which is associated with being lighter skinned; more socially admired, accepted, and worthy. For instance when an African American tours Havana with her white American friends, her mojito is watered down, she is mistaken for...

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