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 Pasaj yon jenn AYISYEN lan MIZE ISTWA ak KILTI AFRO-AMERIKEN

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Joel
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Date d'inscription : 24/08/2006

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MessageSujet: Pasaj yon jenn AYISYEN lan MIZE ISTWA ak KILTI AFRO-AMERIKEN   Dim 2 Oct 2016 - 8:24

Youn lan MOUN ki responsab enplemantasyon MIZE sa a ,se yon bon ZANMI FANMI ARISTID lan ,ki te lan AVYON ki t ap retounen l de AFRIK DISID an2011;se GWO ENTELEKTYEL AFRIKEN-AMERIKEN WOTPOT ki se Dr JAMES EARLY .

Se te pou PWOTEJE FANMI ARISTID lan ,anka ke ZOT ta gen LIDE SABOTE AVYON an.
Ou pa janm konnen.
SWA DI AN PASAN ,tankou BLAN yo di.

Pou LISTWA ,MIZE sa a koute 450 MILYON DOLA ;mwatye FON PRIVE ,MWATYE FON LETA!



Toussaint Louverture au nouveau musée afro-américain





Le week-end écoulé a marqué un autre tournant dans l’histoire des Afro-Américains aux États-Unis. En effet, le samedi 24 septembre 2016, le président Barack Obama a inauguré le « National Museum of African American History and Culture », le plus grand musée du pays consacré à l’histoire afro-américaine. Le NMAAHC a misé sur 40 000 mètres carrés, et des milliers d’objets collectés au cours des 13 dernières années et répartis en 6 étages pour retracer l’histoire des Noirs aux États-Unis, tout en tâchant d’allier les souffrances et péripéties de ces derniers à ce qui fait leur force et leur fierté. Haïti, première République noire, y a, bien sûr, trouvé une place. Ticket vous invite à faire un tour dans ces 400 ans et plus d’histoire des Noirs à travers le regard d’une jeune haïtienne.  



10017 il y a 3 jours  Publié le 29 septembre 2016
mbassadeur Altidor et John Carlos et sa statue à l'inauguration du NMAAHC
Courtoisie Ambassade d'Haiti à Washington

       
           
 
           
              « Je suis Haïtienne ! » Cette petite phrase, j’ai envie de la crier encore et encore tandis que les visiteurs s’arrêtent aux pieds de la statue de Toussaint Louverture, curieux de savoir qui est cet homme dont l’effigie côtoie celles de Thomas Jefferson et de Benjamin Banneker. Je voudrais pouvoir tout leur dire de mon héros. J’en sais bien plus que ne dit cette plaque qui mentionne la révolution haïtienne et comment elle a servi de catalyseur à la rébellion contre le système esclavagiste. « The Founding of America », peut-on lire sur le mur, à côté d’extraits de l’acte de l’indépendance des États-Unis. Toute à ma fierté, je tente de capturer, sous tous les angles, tout ce qui est montré sur cet homme que nous, haïtiens, appelons le précurseur de l’indépendance. Je savais déjà que cette statue était disposée au National Museum of African American History and Culture, nouveau musée de la Smithsonian consacré à l’histoire des Afro-Américains. J’en avais même vu une photo. Mais les sentiments qui me traversent maintenant que je suis sur place, sont bien plus forts et me servent de guide dans ma visite du musée.

Ma traversée de l’histoire des Noirs débute 70 pieds sous terre. Dans le sous-sol du musée, je refais connaissance avec les puissances coloniales du début du 16e siècle, vois de plus près le cauchemar des négriers, ces bateaux qui transportaient les Noirs d’Afrique, et me fais une meilleure idée de l’esclavage aux États-Unis, puis de la ségrégation qui a suivi. Chaînes, fouets, autant d’instruments qui rappellent comment les Noirs étaient traités dans le passé, tandis que j’entre dans le système esclavagiste aux États-Unis même. La collerette d'Harriet Tubman, esclave qui avait aidé bon nombres d’autres à s’évader ; des pièces provenant du « São José Paquete Africa », navire transportant des esclaves qui avait fait naufrage en 1794 ; la robe que cousait Rosa Parks le jour où elle a été arrêtée après avoir refusé de céder sa place à un passager blanc dans l'autobus à Montgomery ; la lettre de Toussaint Louverture à Charles Humbert de Vincent ; un wagon de voyageurs datant de 1918 avec des sièges réservés aux Noirs… Il y a tellement de choses à voir !

Je peine à laisser le sous-sol. Je crains de rater certaines choses, tout en sachant clairement qu’il me faudrait des heures, sinon des jours pour apprécier pleinement ces pages d’histoire. La preuve, j’ai effectivement appris plus tard que j’avais raté quelques objets majeurs. Le premier cercueil d’Emmet Till, jeune Noir assassiné dans le Mississipi pour avoir osé flirté avec une blanche, en fait partie. J’ai bien vu la photo de ce dernier, mais ce n’est que sur Internet que j’apprends que le cercueil dans lequel il avait initialement été enterré faisait aussi partie de l’exposition. Difficile de croire que j’ai pu louper un objet d’un tel poids, tant matériel qu’historique, que ce cercueil au couvercle de vitre… C’était justement en anticipant ces manquements que je me suis promis, en prenant l’escalier vers le premier étage du musée (il faut faire la queue pour l’ascenseur), de revenir dès que j’en aurais la chance. Je laisse derrière esclavage et ségrégation. Il est maintenant question du mode de vie des Noirs, de leurs coutumes, de leurs accomplissements et de l’expression de leur culture.

En haut, l’atmosphère est plus légère. Au deuxième, j’admire l’exposition de photos de Noirs dans différents moments de leur vie et de leur évolution, m’arrête dans une salle où une dame parle d’arbre généalogique et des moyens de retracer sa famille. Peut-être qu’un jour je me lancerai dans cette aventure et tenterai de retrouver mes ancêtres… En attendant, je continue à voyager dans la vie des Noirs aux États-Unis. J’ai une pensée spéciale pour mes proches qui ont rejoint l’armée américaine tandis que je passe par la galerie où sont exposées les prouesses des Noirs qui, de la révolution américaine à la guerre civile ont contribué à assurer la protection des États-Unis, malgré les discriminations dont ils étaient l’objet. Je m’assure de storer sur mon smartphone un souvenir des poings levés des athlètes afro-américains Tommie Smith et John Carlos aux Jeux olympiques de 1968 à Mexico. Et bien sûr, je fais une pause photo auprès des gants du boxeur Muhammad Ali, décédé en juin dernier, aux côtés de la légende du basketball Michael Jordan,  puis, bien placée au milieu des deux statues qui représentent les sœurs Williams, Serena et Venus.

Au dernier étage de ce musée pour lequel a aussi travaillé Joanne Hyppolite, conservatrice de musée d’origine haïtienne, je m’imprègne encore plus de la culture des Afro-Américains. Musique, danse, cinéma, littérature… on y retrouve un peu de tout. C’est d’ailleurs là que je croise l’auteur haïtien Félix Morisseau-Leroy. Le poète, qui s’est surtout fait connaître par son combat pour officialiser la langue créole, est décédé en 1998, soit deux ans après avoir reçu le prix Carbet pour l’ensemble de ses œuvres. Mais son travail demeure éternel. Dans le coin qui lui est consacré au NMAAHC, une note rappelle la constitution de la diaspora et les liens qui unissent les descendants d’Afrique, qu’ils soient Afro-Caribéens, Afro-Américains ou encore Afro-Latinos. Dans une vitrine, on peut voir des exemplaires d’ouvrages  de Félix Morisseau-Leroy « Haitian and Oddities », « Wa Kreyon », traduction créole du classique grec « Antigone » et « Dyakout ». Un peu plus loin, « Boat People », un texte de cet auteur qui, jusqu’à sa mort, a toujours défendu la culture haïtienne, est aussi exposé dans ses versions créole et anglaise. Je m’accroche un moment à ce petit bout d’Haïti inséré dans l’immensité de la culture afro-américaine.

Puis, me voilà au bout de mon pèlerinage dans ce  musée lourd d’histoire qui, allant au-delà des traditionnelles pièces disponibles dans les autres musées, a réussi à réunir un assemblage d’objets inédits. Mais l’histoire ne s’arrête pas à la fin de la ségrégation, ni même à l’élection d’un Noir à la présidence. Elle continue de s’écrire tous les jours, alors que la lutte pour l’égalité se poursuit, réveillée par des événements comme la mort de Trayvon Martin et le  mouvement « black lives matter » qui, eux aussi, trouvent leur place dans ce nouveau patrimoine des Afro-Américains. « Jamais, je n’ai été aussi fière de mes origines ! », me dis-je, alors que je prends à nouveau l’escalier pour descendre au premier étage. Mon dernier arrêt est au magasin de souvenirs, car – bien sûr – mes nombreuses vidéos et mes multiples selfie ne suffisent pas. Il me faut encore plus pour immortaliser cette rencontre ô combien intéressante que je viens de réaliser avec l’histoire. Il me faut des souvenirs papables de ce lundi 26 septembre qui demeureront longtemps après que le hype autour du musée sera retombé.

Logé au cœur des mémoriaux et musées qui fondent l’identité nationale américaine, le « National Museum of African American History and Culture » résulte des plans de l’architecte ghanéen David Adjaye. Dressé en forme de couronne traditionnelle yoruba, l’une des ethnies majoritaires du golfe de Guinée, il retrace l’histoire des Afro-Américains, de l’esclavage à l’élection d’Obama, sans oublier les troubles raciaux actuels. Gratuits pour le moment, les tickets d’entrée au musée s’arrachent comme des petits pains. Il se dit que certains devront attendre le mois de décembre pour pouvoir enfin y accéder. Moi, j’ai rejoint la vague des curieux chanceux qui, des années plus tard, pourront se targuer d’avoir été des premiers à visiter ce mémorial que les anciens combattants noirs de la guerre civile réclamaient en vain depuis 1915.

Consciente du privilège dont je bénéficie, j’ai donc calmement fait la queue toutes les fois que cela a été nécessaire. 30 minutes pour rentrer au musée, 12 minutes pour aller à la toilette des dames, 60 bonnes minutes dans l’escalier qui mène au sous-sol, là où commence l’histoire des Noirs au musée, 3 à 5 minutes pour arriver enfin à prendre mon selfie avec la statue de Michael Jordan, 45 minutes pour rentrer dans le magasin de souvenirs, puis ces 3 dernières minutes pour payer mes achats. Je crains bien d’avoir passé la majeure partie de mes 3 heures et 30 minutes au musée dans des files d’attente.  Mais ça ne peut que me motiver à planifier pour bientôt un autre rendez-vous avec l’histoire !            


Daphney Valsaint Malandre


daphneyvalsaint@ticketmag.com - See more at: http://lenouvelliste.com/lenouvelliste/article/163841/Toussaint-Louverture-au-nouveau-musee-afro-americain#sthash.QwNJsRL2.dpuf
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MessageSujet: Re: Pasaj yon jenn AYISYEN lan MIZE ISTWA ak KILTI AFRO-AMERIKEN   Lun 3 Oct 2016 - 7:56

Pou nou kontinye sou SIJE JAMES EARLY an ,ke nou pa konnen lan MONN ki pale a ekri FRANSE an.

Se limenm ki te responsab KOLEKSYON lan SMITHSONIAN ,sou ISTWA ak KILTI AFRIKEN ak AFRIKEN AMERIKEN.
Pi fo KOLEKSYON lan MIZE ki fet BATI an se JAMES EARLY ki te kolekte l.

Mwen te pale tou de ZANMITAJ ant JAMES EARLY ak FANMI ARISTID lan.

JAMES EARLY te ap travay ak 2 ARISTID yo lan think tank THABO MBEKI an ki rele "AFRICAN RENAISSANCE" "RENAISSANCE AFRICAINE"
Se MILDRED ARISTIDE ki te responsab PIBLIKASYON REVI "THINK TANK" sa a.

THINK TANK sa a te gen ladan l ou kontinye gen ladan l pami pi GWO SEVO ou ENTELEKTYEL lan MONN ak DYASPORA AFRIKEN an ,de LAFRIK a ETAZINI ,BREZIL elt..

JAMES EARLY telman ENFLIYEN ke le misye te kesyone AVANSMAN DESANDAN AFRIKEN yo lan KIBA ,e se yo ki lan MAJORITE,ke GOUVENMAN KIBEN an santi li te dwe REPONN.
GOUVENMAN KIBEN an paka chwazi pou yo ALYENE de MOUN tankou JAMES EARLY ak CORNEL WEST ki gen yon seten SENPATI pou REVOLISYON KIBEN an.
Men tou ZETWAL sa yo ,le se lan DEFANS LAFRIK ak DYASPORA l lan ,mesye sa yo pa bay CHANS.

http://tavissmileyradio.com/guests09/121809/CornelWest_JamesEarly.html
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MessageSujet: Re: Pasaj yon jenn AYISYEN lan MIZE ISTWA ak KILTI AFRO-AMERIKEN   Lun 3 Oct 2016 - 9:14

Akoz de LAJ FIDEL ak RAUL ki destine pou yo pa gen LONTAN anko;KESYON RASYAL lan lan KIBA destine pou l soti anba TAPI an ke FRE CASTRO an te mete l lan.

Se te yon KESYON MALOUK lan KIBA.

Gouvenman AMERIKEN an te mete l ak PLANTOKRASI KIBEN an pou yo reprime DESANDAN AFRIKEN yo.
Sa te kilmine lan MASAK 1912 lan ,le GOUVENMAN AMERIKEN an asosye ak GOUVENMAN KIBEN an ,te dekapite LEADERSHIP AFRO-KIBEN an.
Se LEADERSHIP sa a ki te fe GE ENDEPANDANS KIBEN an.
AMERIKEN yo ak PLANTOKRASI an te touye yon ESTIME 12 a 15000 desandan AFRIKEN.

Yon ti pyes ENTERESAN sou AFROCUBAWEB.
NEG tankou CORNEL WEST ak JAMES EARLY elt..ap di ke ke se pou DYASPORA AFRIKEN AMERIKEN an komanse OGANIZE pou pote APWI ak KOUZEN nou yo lan KIBA:

There is an increasing focus on race & identity in Cuba, from both within and outside the island. Here we present some resources and references on identity issues relating to AfroCubans as these are complex and often poorly understood.

Some observers estimate that over 70% of the Cubans inside Cuba are of African descent. Both the Cuban government and analysts at the US State Department and the CIA used to agree on a number around 63%. In the 2002 census, the proportions were reversed, which any one walking down the streets of Cuba will find absurd . Yet these numbers are used to justify racial mixes in many settings, such as professional schools or in the tourism business, where light skinned Cubans hold the preponderance of jobs that pay in hard currency. A much smaller percentage of Cubans abroad are of African descent. In Miami, some estimate that over 97% of Cubans are of Spanish origin. At the very least, 85% of them describe themselves as being white in a recent survey. In New Jersey, there are more AfroCubans among Cuban exiles there.

The very term Spanish Cuban tends to hide the fact that Spaniards themselves have a strong African heritage, the result of being next to North Africa and receiving African culture over the millenia, including the 8 centuries the Moors and the Almoravids occupied southern Spain, from 710 AD to 1492 AD. This gives rise to a famous quote from Simon Bolivar, himself of mixed race who was often held in contempt by "pure blooded" Spaniards: "We are no longer European just as Spain is no longer European, because of its African blood, character and institutions."

Cuba inherited its ideas about the Republic from 1789 France. This includes the notion that ethnic identity is not of interest, only citizenship. As in France, in practice this means that the dominant white identity is assumed and the rest are deprecated. As in France, the ultimate solution, presaged in the "dos puntos de vista" quote above, is race mixing to whiten all the others and subsume their identity into a "Cuban" identity which is largely Spanish in character.

AfroCubans have become increasingly vocal about racial issues. Some suggest this goes against the Revolution. However, it would be more accurate to see this trend in the context of how AfroLatins across South and Central America are becoming more vocal and getting better at defending their rights.

Cuba has a Chinese community, centered around Havana's "Barrio Chino." Many Chinese were brought into Cuba towards the end of the last century as it became more difficult and less profitable to kidnap and import Africans. Historically, they sided with the Africans in their struggles against the Spanish Cubans.

There is a very small, but still surviving Indian community, mostly in Oriente and consisting of Taino people, related to the Taino of Puerto Rico. According to Cuban researchers working over the past 20 years, Native Cubans survived in far greater numbers to a much later date than was commonly accepted: part of the continent wide myth of the "vanishing red man". See Native Cuba.

There is a Jewish community which has been reconnecting with Jews outside the island.


Resources on AfroCubaWebtop

The Exiled Plantocracy and Race

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MessageSujet: Re: Pasaj yon jenn AYISYEN lan MIZE ISTWA ak KILTI AFRO-AMERIKEN   Lun 3 Oct 2016 - 11:10

Joel

Nap suiv w tre byen e map pwofite remesye pou w dokiman sa yo.
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MessageSujet: Re: Pasaj yon jenn AYISYEN lan MIZE ISTWA ak KILTI AFRO-AMERIKEN   Mar 4 Oct 2016 - 8:30

Wi MAK;

Se pou nou konnen e konprann ISTWA VWAZEN nou yo ki sanble e ki gen  ENFLIYANS sou ISTWA lakay nou.
Nou pa genyen e nou pa dwe genyen pwoblem RASYAL lakay nou;yon peyi ke omwens 98% popilasyon AN GEN RASIN AFRIKEN.

GWO ENTELEKTYEL AFRIKEN AMERIKEN yo ki gen yon seten SENPATI pou REVOLISYON KIBEN;paske yo rekonet ke SISTEM APARTHEID ki te genyen lan KIBA anvan 1959 pa la ANKO ,men PWOBLEM RASYAL lan pa REZOUD.
Le CASTRO te de PASAJ lan NOUYOK an 2000,misye te envite KOMINOTE ENTELEKTYEL AFRIKEN AMERIKEN an.
Mesye yo t ap mete PRESYON sou MISYE pou gen plis PWOGRE,apre tou 2000 se plis ke 40 AN apre REVOLISYON 1959.
M ap souliye pou wou yon PASAJ lan DISKOU an;ki di anpil.
An 2009 RAUL CASTRO te fe yon DISKOU pou l di ke PREJIJE RASYAL ekziste lan KIBA toujou:

November, 2000

Dr. Fidel Castro’s speech at the Riverside Church on September 8, 2000 provided the leader of the Cuban revolution the opportunity to again publicly take an official stand on the question of race in revolutionary Cuba. He spoke about the current social conditions of the people of African descent living in that Caribbean nation.

I have been observing official Cuban policies and positions with regards to blacks in that country for over 30 years. I say Dr. Castro again took a stand because this was not the first time: he also did so on several other occasions, including the Third Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in1985, where I personally participated as an official guest. There he openly admitted that racial discrimination still existed in his country and that measures needed to be taken against it. Unfortunately, his speech was not published in the final report. This is contrary to the practice of other Congresses before and after this one, where the reports were published in booklet form. I don’t know what conclusion ought to be drawn out of this experience of sheer omission. This type of carelessness could strengthen some critics who say that the leader of the revolution is occasionally being censored by certain retrograde elements who are serving him as advisors.

Marginality

In September, 2000, the President of Cuba again raised the topic of racial discrimination and marginalization, admitting that the Revolutionary process is not a perfect model that has solved all problems of inequality and injustice. In itself this was a victory by Fidel Castro over all those tendencies surrounding him who seem to wish to silence the dialogue on this issue. His words were as follows:



"….I am not claiming that our country is a perfect model of equality and justice. We believed at the beginning that when we established the fullest equality before the law and complete intolerance for any demonstration of sexual discrimination in the case of women, or racial discrimination in the case of ethnic minorities, these phenomena would vanish from our society. It was some time before we discovered that marginality and racial discrimination with it are not something that one gets rid of with a law or even with ten laws, and we have not managed to eliminate them completely in 40 years….."

When the Cuban President speaks of ethnic minorities, he refers to the peoples of African descent and other nationalities, perhaps the remnants of the Indigenous Tainos, the Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Arabs, etc. On the other hand, there must be a so-called ethnic majority, which could be the Iberian Spanish immigrants in Cuba.

There is much to be said concerning this categorization in terms of numbers: majority and minority. The very first question that should be raised is by what criteria can one determine that the Iberian Spanish element, in racial terms otherwise classified as "whites," are in the majority in Cuba? Vague concepts like this create tensions before any discussion gets underway and obstruct a positive evolution of the assessment and definition of official policies with regards to existing ethnicities in Cuba. Emphatically, I want to say that the official circles responsible for defining the guidelines in social and political practice in Cuba need to take this matter very seriously and reflect on this matter of the percentages. This is especially true of classifications commonly employed such as "whites," "mulattos," and "blacks."

Some official documents consider a "mulatto" as being "white". Other documents define Chinese as "white" and yet on other occasions as "black." One can find still other sources, such as the Ministry of External Affairs, that include black and mulattos on the same side of the list resulting in a 63% figure for the segment of African descent, an estimate one also finds in American sources, both governmental and scholarly.

Percentages that are sometimes officially applied, such as whites 70%, blacks 19 %, mulattos 11%, are clearly inadequate. These likely come from the 1980-1981 census, where people were asked to identify themselves along ethnic lines, and are disregarded by most Cuba scholars. Such percentages necessarily lead to partial policies followed by inequality in proportional social relations as a result. Consequently, leading figures directing major policy-making bodies need to accommodate themselves on these patterns of visions and in order to be inspired to have a critical and self-critical attitude when addressing themes regarding the position, participation, and mobility of the people of African descent in the Cuban society.

Dr. Fidel Castro continues saying:



"…There has never been nor will there ever be a case where the law is applied according to ethnic criteria. However, we did discover that the descendents of those slaves who had lived in the slave quarters were the poorest and continued to live, after the supposed abolition of slavery, in the poorest housing.

There are marginal neighborhoods; there are hundreds of thousand of people who live in marginal neighborhoods, and not only blacks and mixed race people, but whites as well. There are marginal whites, too, and all this we inherited from the previous social system….."


Certainly, blacks and whites co-exist in marginal neighborhoods with difficult material conditions such as deficient housing, limited urban infrastructure, and episodic transportation. The President has made a bold statement and has exposed the matter with openness and frankness. It is clear that people of African descent still face marginality in housing conditions in the traditional urban quarters of the capital of Havana -- in areas such as Jesus María, Belén, Colón, Canal, Los Sitios, Pueblo Nuevo, Cayo Hueso, San Leopoldo, Pogolotti, Romerio, to mention a few -- or in others across Cuba such la Marina in Matanzas, La Loma del Chivo in Guantanamo, or Los Hoyos and La Maya in Santiago de Cuba.

Cultural Marginality

But housing is just one part of the story. At present the most burning question remains cultural marginality as a consequence of the supremacy of the Iberian-Hispanic values and norms in education, culture, economics and politics.

In the Pedagogia 99 Congress that took place in Havana in February 99, Dr. Castro stated:



"We thought that to decree absolute equality and civil rights would have been sufficient to wipe out these traces. However, today we still observe that poorest sectors are still those descendants of slaves.

Before the triumph of the Revolution, there existed on the island a culture of poverty and wealth, where the middle class was fundamentally white and were better prepared and had better material conditions. People with a better educational level influenced their children because they taught them, they looked over their homework, and they demanded of them. In the same way, poverty was transmitted.



For all that everyone was made equal under the law, for all that assistance was rendered, the best grades came from those families headed by professionals. This does not mean there were no advances in these years, but that despite the equality in opportunities for all, it is difficult to carry out a revolution because it implies a change of the society."

Dr. Castro is indicating that there are less favorable results among the students who are of African descent as compared to those of Iberian – Hispanic origin. In several discussions with professionals on this topic wondering why these results are obtained by the students of African descent, I was told that "será porque los negros son más brutos," meaning, maybe because the blacks are more stupid. Sincerely, I do believe that expressions of this type are a consequence of a lack of awareness by those who have expressed them. A wider look in the Caribbean area shows us that extensive studies sponsored by the UNESCO have been carried out to address the "eurocentric" character that typifies the content, aims and objective of the educational system in various countries. The same situation has been looked at in anglophone, francophone, and germanophone countries, where language differences and a focus on European cultural values and norms have caused serious lags in the education of youths of African descent with consequent high dropout rates.

To tackle this problem we must admit to ourselves the eurocentrism that exists in education in Cuba and define policies directed to acknowledge the multicultural manifestations of the entire society. Efforts ought to be made to meet the student of African descent from within his and her own life experience. This method is applicable for education programs in both intra and extra mural projects, as well as for adult education.

Socio-economic marginalization has to do with the fact that people of African descent do not participate fully in all types of job opportunities, especially in the recent reorganization of the economic system whereby new job opportunities have been created in the privileged ‘dollar market’. When speaking of the dollar market, I am referring to the hotel sector and the commercial sector that depend on foreign currencies for their operations, and any other work site that legally handles foreign currencies. These will deliver some economic interest to the worker who is active in that sector and who thus will be able either directly or indirectly to have access to revenues in foreign currencies. This situation is creating social tensions and sentiments of disgust among broad sections of Cubans, naturally, but especially among those of African descent as they feel excluded. It is also the visual part of the problem with which foreigners and friends from abroad are confronted when they come and visit this Caribbean island and notice that the representation of blacks in hotels and business corporations is extraordinarily low. This is the case even in provinces like Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, where the African portion of the society is the highest in comparison to all provinces of the island. Let me illustrate this with one example out of many.


In the summer of 2000, I had the pleasure of leading a Carnival Group from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to Santiago de Cuba’s Carnival. The major criticism of the Caribbean and North American visitors, who were then lodged at Hotel Santiago, was that the only Sub-Saharan African Cuban worker that they had seen that day in the lobby of the hotel was a young woman sweeping the floor in her uniform. The group asked question on top of question and I as the ‘host’ had the difficult task of answering them!

Another concern to many is the fact that it is plain to see that people of Iberian – Hispanic descent has more access to the now free dollar market, which gives these citizens a remarkably privileged position. This is partly explained by taking into account that they receive financial support from relatives abroad.

As far as financial support on an organizational level, it is worthwhile mentioning that those organizations and institutions that clearly represent cultural manifestations related to the Iberian – Hispanic segment of the Cuban society, for example, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, can easily count on donations from Spain. On the other hand, organizations of people of African descent, such as the Ballet Folklorico Nacional, are facing dire financial circumstances due to lack of resources.

As we continue our discussion of cultural marginality it is necessary to point out that the constant struggle between Europe and the Africa that we find in all societies that have known the plantation economy is also manifest in Cuban society. The methods imposed to find a solution to this conflict has been the assimilation of the African component to the values and norms of the European component. This has meant that African cultural manifestations either had to make way for new concepts or be considered folkloric. This has been the case with African religions, the Rumba manifestation, and the Son rhythm – complex in popular dance music.

Religious expressions of Yoruba, Bantu, Calabar and Arará origin have survived all adversity and are now openly performed. The eurocentrism of official cultural policies caused African religious manifestations to be regarded as "exotic" therefore folkloric, and so we witness these manifestations being used for tourist consumption in bars and nightclubs. Naturally, this is an offense to the religious sentiments of the people of African descent, who do not express their opinion, but nevertheless observe and reflect. This is a typical African way of responding to such social manifestations.

As the Rumba complex, comprised of the genres Yambu, Columbia and the Guaguanco, is lived out in popular quarters by dancers and musicians predominantly of African descent, this complex has suffered a lot of threats towards its disappearance. It was not to the taste of the elite before the revolution and neither to certain sectors after the triumph of the revolution. At the same time, Theatre Rumba, which was already well developed before the revolution, continues to exist as entertainment in nightclubs, theaters, and tourist resorts. Whatever criteria there could exist to justify the disappearance of popular rumba, still people of African descent have experienced another "no" to one of their authentic cultural manifestations.

The problem of cultural marginality is complex. For example, how can one explain why the ‘SON’ rhythm - complex was neglected or almost destroyed by measures taken early on by the revolution? The Cuban ‘SON’ is one of the highest expressions of African rhythms fused with hispanic melodies. What explanation could be given as to why the African sound and timbres had to disappear in the newly created musical styles, such as nueva trova, to benefit Iberan - Hispanic tastes? How is it that certain music producers on radio-stations, all of them of Iberian Spanish descent, could have gone so far in downgrading the musical styles of Arsenio Rodriguez, Chappottin, and Estrellas de Chocolate as being "musica de negros" ("suena muy negro") and therefore to be eliminated from the air? The SON – rhythm complex began in the 19th century and is comprised of the genres: changui, nengon, guiriba, guajira, guaracha, danzon, danzonette, mambo, son montuno, charanga, and the cha cha cha. Its roots are in the War of Independence against Spain, one of the greatest slave revolts of this hemisphere.

Buena Vista Social Club and the international success of SON is a triumph of African flavor with the sound and timbre of the most authentic representation of Cuba’s cultural identity. It is also an important warning to all those forces inside Cuba who have once intended to falsify history by destroying the African component of the national cultural heritage of Cuba.

The State of Self - Awareness of Blacks in Cuba

How do blacks in Cuba react to eurocentric manifestations which provoke cultural lags?

Cuba’s history is rich in the experiences of slave and maroon revolts in the Colonial period, of which Aponte’s uprising in 1810 was one of the more significant.

In the twentieth century the rebellion of 1912 whereby the leaders of the Partido Independiente de Color along with 6,000 other blacks were slaughtered should never be forgotten. It had a determining effect on black self esteem and on black white relations.

Upon all these pages of struggle written by blacks in Cuba, the question arises whether Cubans of African descent are conscious of their African origin and how do they see their society. This has been a question that many visiting friends have been posing over and over again to black Cubans. They received astonishing responses, sometimes much to their annoyance.

Many individuals still agree with Jose Marti’s statement saying ‘more than black and more than white, we are Cubans’. This statement of Marti intelligently bypasses the nationality question and leaves the Africans in Cuban society without an answer to 500 years of severe psycho-social problems caused by European colonialism. Today, a black Cuban can still tell you he or she is not black nor African. A black Cuban can easily tell you "nuestros antepasados, los espanoles," meaning, our ancestors the Spaniards. A Cuban man or woman of African descent on many occasions can think that it is logical and better to marry a white person in order to "adelantar la raza" meaning advancing the race. So many a times, a black person can address the other as "negro," which anywhere else in the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe will immediately cause severe conflicts. Naturally, the praise of European somatic features above African ones is still common among blacks in Cuba. Women straighten or process their hair and blacks many times call each other and think of themselves as "feo," ugly. Cuba’s borders have been closed to the influences of the Black Power movement and the entire Black Awareness Movement which was so active in the sixties. That’s why it should not be a surprise to many observers to know that while the problem of self-hatred and internalization of European values and norms by people of African descent has found a solution in other countries of the region, in revolutionary Cuba this problem has yet to be solved on a significant scale.

We need to be optimistic for there is a growing movement in Cuba of people of African descent in cultural matters around Africa and the African Diaspora. The African survivals in Cuba are among the strongest in the hemisphere and have been taken up by the younger generation, though not always with the rigor that their elders wish for. A significant number of youth are admirers of Bob Marley, the Rastafari, and the Reggae movement. Over the past two to three years, Hip Hop and Rap music exchanges have been promoted between the USA and Cuba. The Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, even declared that Rap was part of the national patrimony, making evident what was already a major movement among Cuban youths.

Plastic Artists are successful in promoting Black consciousness but face resistance from certain sectors who even try to dismiss them by nicknaming them ‘black fundamentalists’. Their experience is of great interest as their exhibits, such as the Queloides exhibit in la Habana in 1999, turn into group dialogs on race. One of their observations has to do with the difficulties in getting whites to discuss these issues and overcome their state of denial. So long as the discussion centered on white racism, no headway was made, but when a discussion of racism and self hatred on the black side was engaged, then the situation became more fluid.

Ongoing dialog between Fidel Castro, Caribbeans, and Americans

President Fidel Castro Ruz has on numerous occasions successfully circumvented his own advisers and dealt directly with the problems of race and the status of Cubans of African descent when addressing foreigners, including Americans. Still more attention needs to be given to this matter and more talks undertaken concerning the racial situation based on a cultural perspective right across present day Cuban society.

We need to take into account important historical factors such as the fact that Cuba was the penultimate country on the American continent to abolish the system of enslavement of Africans in 1886. After Cuba became independent in 1898, the neocolonial era, introduced and supported by segregationist United States ruling cliques, knew several moments of racial tensions and upheavals like the 1912 massacre which cost the lives of over 6000 Cubans from African descent. Around the same time as this 1912 massacre, the neocolonial Cuban governments, backed by transnational corporations such as the United Fruit Company and others, decided to import thousands of immigrants from the Caribbean islands as a further step against Cubans of African descent. These workers came in from Haiti, Jamaica, Tortola, Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, Saint John, Jos Van Dyke, Anguilla, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Martin, Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba. This process was initiated around 1910 and lasted up to the early fifties. Those immigrant workers were subjected living in subhuman conditions worse than in the days of slavery.

While listening to Dr. Castro’s September speech, it became clear to me that many friends and visitors from the United States have been talking with the leader of the Cuban revolution on the situation of blacks, people of color or simply Cubans of African descent. We know that prestigious organizations of African Americans such as TransAfrica and the Grass Roots Malcolm X Movement, along with representatives of the Black Caucus in Congress, have met with the leader on several occasions and the topic of race has appeared on the agenda.

As already indicated earlier in this article, I personally have had the pleasure of leading a significant number of visitors from the Caribbean and the United States to Cuba, who were amazed at what they observed in terms of race – relations. And we have spent many hours discussing the race situation in revolutionary Cuba on many occasions, in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Las Tunas, Sancti Spiritus, and Matanzas. The topic is of great interest to a wide range of friends of Cuba. Up to now there has been little official approach or answer to the question of race or of the social status of Cubans of African descent from a cultural perspective. The official position thus far has mostly been a denial of racism in Cuba and the insistence that there are no blacks or Africans in Cuba, but that "we are all Cubans." This position in itself has created more harm and has contributed to raising the suspicions of analysts, scholars, and friends of the Cuban revolution from other countries with a great deal of experience in this matter, such as Jamaica, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Antigua and the United States itself among others.

The policies of generalization aiming at unifying the society against outside political aggression, mainly the United States, has had severe consequences for non-Iberian Hispanic sectors. This was possible since from a cultural perspective, those policies were of a Eurocentric, Iberian – Hispanic nature. In order to illustrate this statement, I will narrate two examples. The first one is of an association of descendents and residents from the Canary Islands which is active in the province of Villa Clara. It so happened that in the summer of 1998, I was covering a yearly Caribbean Trade Fair in the eastern Cuban province of Santiago de Cuba. In a conversation with the leaders of a delegation representing the cultural heritage of the Canary Islands, these personalities were asking me to participate in my "Section on the Cultural Identity of the Caribbean", which is aired every Sunday on Radio Progreso. The reason why they placed that application to me was that according to them, in the first place they are being considered as Spaniards in a crude way, and moreover their specific case as Canarians was neglected or subordinated in order to fit into a general cultural plan in the nation. Indeed the Canary Islands has a different historical experience than Spain, who colonized this archipelago located off the northwestern coast of Africa.

The second example occurred on a work-visit to Caimanera in Guantanamo, when a high-level cultural officer explained to me the harm that the imposed generalized unifying policies caused to residents of Portugal, among others, who reside in this once very active neighborhood. Many were ruthlessly considered as Cuban and had to suppress or neglect their origin, in this case Portugal.

The official position which over-emphasized the "Cuban" citizenship of the citizens has estranged the immigrants of "white" color as well as "black" color as in the case of Haitian, Jamaican and other Caribbean and African nations.

Dr. Fidel Castro in his September speech at Riverside Church was engaged in an open dialogue with those friends of Cuba who had these concerns. This was a cordial gesture to those who have repeatedly express their sincere concern on race matters in revolutionary Cuba. The well being of the masses inside the Cuban revolution is and should be a matter of concern to forces both inside and outside of Cuba. All doors and windows should be opened up for honest, frank, and sincere dialogue among those who want to promote peace, equality and social progress.

Yet I still would want to emphasize that this positive process of dialogue should be continued, only more rigorously. Meaning to say that visitors, observers, and friends from abroad, on the one hand, as well as the leadership of the Cuban revolution on the other hand, ought to address this question with ever more depth of vision. None of us should be too soft with our own history. There is no need for shyness, since we are not responsible for having created these problems ever since the colonialists sowed their seeds on our lands and pastures.

With this knowledge of the historical processes that preceded and determined the revolutionary processes that started on January 1st of 1959, it is good to insist on an urgent attention to these matters especially by the leader of the Revolution. This cannot be the prerogative of any other sector inside the Cuban society without a guidance similar to that which he has given on the changes in the economic realm to counteract the crisis that resulted from the US blockade and the disappearance of the entire European socialist camp. The changes in the socio-economic profile of Cuba since 1990 have caused the emergence of a new social group that has occupied strategic positions in economic and political life. These descendants of Iberian – Hispanics are over-represented in the socio-economic-cultural and political profile of present day to day life in Cuba.

A diligent attention to solve this problem is required before the result of the above changes linger on too much and certain negative speculations with regards to the future of Cuba become more evident. The future of Cuba has to be determined and tailored now, with the presence of Dr. Fidel Castro, the sole uniting figure who has the confidence of the masses, in particular of the people of African descent in Cuba.

This process of change is needed urgently to safeguard the revolution in the long run. The economic blockade could be lifted and money could start to pour into the island again by the millions. There is no doubt about that, but the concern among the ‘wretched of the earth’ is: will the conditions of quasi-slavery ever be re-established in Cuba as they existed prior to 1959?

Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz asks us to be hopeful when he concludes his speech by saying:



"…I told you that our country is on its way to a new era. I hope someday to be able to speak to you of the things we are doing today and how we are going to continue to do them.

We do not have the money to build housing for all the people who live in what we could call marginal conditions. But we have lots of other ideas which will not wait until the end of times and which our united and justice loving people will implement to get rid of even the tiniest vestiges of marginality and discrimination. I have faith that we will succeed because that is the endeavor today of the leaders of our youth, our students and our people.

I shall not say more, I am simply saying that we are aware that there is still marginality in our country. But, there is the will to eradicate it with the proper methods for this task to bring more unity and equality to our society.

On behalf of my Homeland, I promise to keep you informed about the progress of our efforts."

The dialogue on this matter must continue both inside and outside of Cuba. Other countries of the Caribbean area have also known the plantation economy system dating back to the 17th, 18th and the 19th centuries. Consequently, those societies count with the presence of peoples of African descent in significantly high numbers such as in Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles. Talks on matters related to the history and social position of the people of African descent have encountered severe resistance from certain sectors in those societies which are intimately loyal to colonial and retrograde ideologies on both a cultural and political-economic level.

In this light, we should refer to the visit of Fidel Castro to Barbados in August of 1998, when he was invited by Dr. Owen Arthur, the Prime Minister. This coincided with the celebrations commemorating the abolition of slavery in the British territories. On that occasion, Barbadian officials, along with the Seraphine Cultural Center, called for extending the Pan-African movement and called on Fidel Castro to include Cuba into this movement. The call is just right as it takes into account that Cuba is the home of a significant number of Africans in the diaspora.

Conclusion

We need to be hopeful and wait for the ‘other ideas’ that the leadership of the Revolution would want to expose in the near future, with regards to the improvement of material and non-material living conditions of the people in Cuba who descend from Bantu, Yoruba, Benin, Calabar, Igbo, Mandinka, Wollof lands, Abyssinia and other lands in Mother Africa.

The history of these sons and daughters of the rich continent of Africa is the anti-history of the eurocentric portions of the Cuban, therefore Caribbean society. History has blessed us with the shining example of Antonio Maceo y Grajales, who in 1878, in his ‘Protest of Baragua’ had made clear to General Arsenio Martinez Campos, representing Spanish rule and eurocentric sectors of Cuban society, that there will be no independence without the total abolition of the system of enslavement of Africans…

The history of liberation in our continent has shown us that some elements among us were and still are prepared to break a little bit with colonial Spain, France, Britain, The Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, in particular, and colonial Europe in general, but not entirely, especially not culturally! And that is precisely where our nations, even though independent or semi-independent, have to continue persisting in reflecting on and talking about our situation along with Cuba and find a way together in order to deal with the globalized world.

Eugene Godfried
Caribbean specialist
Cuban radio - journalist
Radio Havana Cuba – Radio Progreso


The views expressed herein are those of Eugene Godfried and not necessarily those of Radio Havana or Radio Progresso

This article first appeared on The Black World Today (http://tbwt.com)
in several sections:

© 1997 AfroCubaWeb, S.A.
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