Essay on Perceptions of Race in Cuba Before and After the Revolution

Essay on Perceptions of Race in Cuba Before and After the Revolution

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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 ...

... middle of paper ...

...rcus, 2013, p. 44), through several aspects such as socio-economic status, power and social status. Race remains but racism and racialism has reduced remarkably with respect to Afro-Cuban’s prestige, success, and living conditions.


De La Fuente, A. (2008). The new afro-cuban cultural movement and the debate on race in contemporary cuba. Journal of Latin American Studies, 40, 697-720.

Marcus, A. (2013). Racism as a transnatioanl process. In C.R. Menzies & A. Marcus (Eds.), Anthropology for a small planet (2nd ed.) (p. 37-56). Vancouver, BC: New Proposals Publishing.

Roland, L. K. (2011). Cuban color in tourism and la lucha: An ethnography of racial meanings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Roland, L. K. (2013). T/racing belonging through cuban tourism. Cultural Anthropology, 28, 396-419.

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