Goodbye Manning Marable, 4/6/2011 (en español)
Color Cubano: working groups on the multi-racial identity of Cuba
La Guerrita del Doce, noventa años después
Gisela Arandia is an author and researcher on issues of race and society based out of
UNEAC, the Cuban Union of Artists and Writers. Some of her works are reprinted with
permission on this site. She manages the UNEAC end of the Concha
Mocoyu Yoruba Cultural Center, an innovative project which brought foreign funding
down to the neighborhood level in Havana in order to support a critically needed
self-apprenticeship of the African roots. The program name for this is Cultura
Gisela Arandia has visited the US on a number of occasions and is willing to give presentations on her work. During her trip to the US, Gisela Arandia presents the following themes:
Here is her curriculum vitae:
|La Habana, abril 6 del 2011.
Por Gisela Arandia
El pasado lunes 1 de abril falleció en la ciudad de Nueva York el destacado intelectual afroamericano Manning Marable. Con este acontecimiento la comunidad de estudios afrodescendientes acaba de perder a una de sus más destacadas figuras. Su desaparición física resulta sorpresiva y penosa ya que había manifestado su deseo de visitarnos próximamente para presentar su último libro sobre la vida de Malcom X.
Fue profesor y director del Departamento de Estudios Negros de la Universidad de Columbia en Nueva York, por muchos años. Como filósofo, politógolo, editor, escritor, documentalista y activista social, su vida y obra constituyen un ejemplo del intelectual comprometido hasta las últimas consecuencias en la lucha por la justicia social, equidad racial y contra el capitalismo.
Amigo de Cuba Manning visitó la Isla por última vez en 1999 y preparó un dossier, para la revista Souls, que fundó y dirigió donde recoge importantes análisis de un grupo de personalidades como James Early, Lisa Brock, Clarence Lusane y otros destacados intelectuales, su ensayo titulado “Raza y Revolución en Cuba: perspectivas afronorteamericanas”, trataremos de publicarlo en breve.
También estamos traduciendo su ensayo “El problema de los estudios étnicos” publicado por la revista Renacimiento Negro del año 2000, editado por la Universidad de Nueva York.
Su visión de unir los estudios académicos al compromiso político lo llevo a ser una de las personalidades destacadas de la Tercera Conferencia Mundial contra el Racismo y Discriminación, realizada en Durban en el 2001, donde tuve la oportunidad de dialogar con él y me expresó como siempre su enorme admiración por Cuba.
En la actualidad tenía la ilusión de compartir con nosotros, su obra más reciente, una exhaustiva biografía sobre el líder negro Malcom X, en la cual estuvo trabajando por más de dos décadas, donde plantea una relectura del ideario político de ese importante luchador, asesinado mientras que pronunciaba un discurso en Organización de la Unidad afroamericana, el 19 de febrero de 1965.
Con la muerte de Malcolm X, explica el Dr. Marable las corrientes burguesas de derecha pretendían borrar y desarticular el movimiento de liberación nacional del pueblo afrodescendiente. En su libro el escritor argumenta con testimonios de primera mano que el asesinato a Malcolm X fue un crimen político, diseñado para impedir el acceso generalizado de la población afroamericana a espacios de equidad social, particularmente de la clase obrera negra.
En su ensayo “Raza y Revolución en Cuba” 1999 Manning Marable dice:
Este Manning Marable es la persona que estamos hoy diciendo adiós, aunque sabemos que será en realidad sólo hasta luego, porque sus ideas seguirán viviendo en la lucha común por la emancipación social. La triste noticias de la pérdida del Dr. Marable, con solo 60 años, establece el compromiso ya previsto de ante mano de publicar su ensayo de 1999 sobre Cuba y otros textos.
Gisela is in Harrisburgh, Cincinnati, NY, Washington, and Miami this March, giving talks on her new projects with Color de Cuba
The Institute for Policy Studies
Invites you to another stimulating brown-bag (lunch time) lecture and discussion forum on:
"Colors Cubano; Race Relations In Cuba"
Featuring Gisela Arandia Covarrubias from the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, (UNEAC)
When: Wednesday, March 28 at 12:30
Where: IPS, 733 15th St. NW, Ste 1020, W.D.C.
About the speaker:
Gisela Arandia Covarrubias is a Graduate in Journalism at the University of Havana and a member of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, (UNEAC)
She began work on Race Relations in Cuba in 1989, where she had the opportunity to do in-depth work on Cuba’s racial situation. In 1995 Ms. Covarrubias participated in a seminar at the School for Higher Studies in Social Sciences in Paris, with professor Elikia M’Bokolo focusing on African Civilization. Ms. Covarrubias is currently director for the Havana Community Project focusing on the areas’ black and mulatto families and is project leader for “Cuban Colors”, funded by UNEAC.
About Colors Cubano:
The project “Cuban Colors” is a project in discussion with Cuban citizens and government officials. This project is exploring the concept of "multi-raciality" in relationship to the definition of national identity in Cuba and in the context of the Cuban Revolution. The discussion with Gisela Arrandia Covarrubias provides an opportunity for North Americans to better understand concepts and policies about race in Cuba and how Cuban citizens and the Cuban government address these issues and establish policies.
For more information call IPS at (202) 234-9382 ext. 229
Gisela Arandia presented her work at the September 16th and 17th Conference on Afro-Cubans in Cuban Society: Past, Present and Future at the Center for International Policy in Washington DC. She remains in DC until the end of the month unless called upon to give a presentation elsewhere. She then attends an international symposium, "Slave Routes: The Long Memory," to be held at NYU and other sites in the New York metropolitan area from Tuesday, October 5 through Saturday, October 9, 1999. She will be in a panel, "The Impact of the Slave Trade on the Social, Spiritual, Political and Economic Development of Europe, the United States, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean" from 6 to 8 PM.
Ms. Arandia has very interesting presentations:
Her schedule so far is as follows:
Oct 4 - 9: NY, Slave Routes Conference
Oct 11: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Oct 13: Salem State College, Salem, MA
Oct 14: UMass, Boston, Department of Africana Studies
Oct 20-30: Puerto Rico, dates available
Oct 31-Nov 14: Miami, dates available
AfroCubaWeb strongly recommends issuing her an invitation to come and give a presentation. Interested parties can contact acw_AT_afrocubaweb.com [replace _AT_ with @].
Gisela Arandia at Rutgers
|Gisela Arandia will be giving a talk on Cultura Comunitaria and grass
roots AfroCuban organizations in Cuba.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus
Douglass College Center
Meeting Room B, 7 PM, Oct 11, 1999
corner of George and Nichols
Free and open to the public
Gisela Arandia in Boston
|RACE RELATIONS IN CUBA
UNEAC AUTHOR AND
RESEARCHER ON RACE AND SOCIETY BASED ISSUES WILL SPEAK AT SALEM STATE COLLEGE ON WEDNESDAY
Presentation begins at 10:45 A.M. at Bates Complex Meeting Room, South Campus, Salem State College.
| By Ricardo Chavira
The Dallas Morning News
Government panel studying problems
HAVANA - As a young man in the early 1950s, Clinton Adlum once made the mistake of walking through Miramar, a residential enclave of gated mansions and verdant gardens.
"Because I'm black and that's where the wealthy white people lived, guards stopped me and asked what I was doing there," Mr. Adlum recalled recently. "I had to leave."
Such stories were common in the virulently racist Cuba of those years. But with the triumph of Fidel Castro's revolution in 1959, blatant discrimination was supposed to have been swept away.
Reality, says Maria Fragua, is something else. Ms. Fragua, a black historian, married a white man a few years ago and moved to his neighborhood.
"I was the only black person there. So, when my relatives and black friends came to visit, our neighbors wanted to know who they were and what they were looking for," she said.
What the two stories illustrate, say Cuban authorities, is that while Mr. Castro and his government greatly improved the lives of blacks by ending official discrimination, informal racism survives in this heavily black nation.
Only now, they say, is the mostly white Cuban leadership coming to grips with that reality. A special commission is assessing the problem.
"There is no official racism here anymore," said Mr. Adlum, a retired diplomat. "But there is still a culture of racism. The mistake was to think that just by having everyone integrated, racism would fade away."
African slaves were brought to Cuba for three centuries, and slavery wasn't abolished until 1886. During those years and beyond, blacks were barred from white schools, neighborhoods, social clubs and other institutions.
Afro-Cubans endured high unemployment rates, and when they found work were relegated to the lowest-paying, most arduous jobs.
Early attempts by blacks to gain recognition were crushed. In one notorious 1912 incident, government troops killed about 3,000 blacks in fighting that erupted after an Afro-Cuban political party was declared illegal.
Just months after taking power in 1959 the revolutionary government outlawed housing and workplace discrimination, banned all-white country and social clubs and, perhaps most significantly, granted free universal access to higher education.
Mr. Castro, signaling the changes, announced that "in the schools white and black children must be together so that later the white man and black man will be in a position to earn their living at the same workplaces."
Pablo Diaz, a black foreign ministry official, said never before had a government so directly taken on racial discrimination. "You can't overestimate the positive impact that had on blacks," he said.
"My family was very poor, and before the revolution, nobody even dreamed of attending a university. Today, we have engineers, economists and doctors in my family. And there are many, many other black families who experienced the same change," Mr. Diaz said.
Rafael Belicer, 56, credits the revolution for changing his fate.
"I'm an educated black man who can speak four languages - English, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish," he said. "I have a degree in civil engineering, and I'm driving a French Peugeot. . . . The revolution has been very good to black people in Cuba."
Gisela Arandia, a University of Havana researcher, said that blacks weren't entirely singled out by race but by circumstance. "Because they were so marginalized, blacks and mulattoes made great advances in the early years of the revolution," she said.
In a more controversial undertaking, the Castro government sent thousands of troops and advisers to African nations. About 70,000 African students were brought to Cuba for free educations.
But many here say the government have made no further moves to root out subtle, intractable racism. Some blame the government's Marxist bent.
"The socialist commitment and strictly fair nature of the new regime would eventually assure the gradual and spontaneous resolution of the racial question," wrote Osvaldo Cardenas, a former Cuban official.
Further, as long as Cuba maintained hostile relations with the United States, "it was officially determined that any reference to race relations represented a threat that could divide the population along racial lines," according to Mr. Cardenas.
Even today, said Ms. Fragua, government-issued documents don't specify race.
Ms. Arandia said that practice stems in part from the centuries-old tradition of distinguishing between blacks and persons of mixed white and black ancestry, or mulattoes.
"You have many people here who are don't think of themselves as black, [but] who in the United States would definitely be black," she said. "So you don't have anything like the level of black consciousness that you do in the United States. It also means you limit the possibilities that race will be discussed frankly."
Ms. Arandia, who is black and has studied race relations in America, said that Cuban racism shows itself in many ways.
There are, for example, no blacks among the most important leadership posts, and only six of 24 top Communist party jobs are held by Afro-Cubans.
In the burgeoning tourist industry, management jobs mainly have gone to nonblacks, say many Cubans. Blacks largely are relegated to menial jobs, such as kitchen helpers and hotel maids.
"Just look around here," Ms. Arandia said as she sat in the patio of the luxurious Hotel Nacional. "All the people working behind the counters are white."
Black actors and actresses frequently find themselves playing the role of servants or slaves, as in the current popular soap opera, Echo of the Stones.
Said Ms. Arandia: "We see these racist images that don't reflect reality. We have thousands and thousands of black professionals who are not portrayed in the media."
While no statistics are available, experts here say most of those imprisoned for criminal offenses are black.
"The army is heavily black, but blacks get only so far in rank," Ms. Fragua said. "There is just one general."
The crushing economic crisis that has engulfed Cuba since 1989 has hit blacks disproportionately hard, many here agree, because most emigrants are white. "Relatives abroad send home dollars, and few blacks receive them," said journalist Marta Rojas.
Some white Cubans harbor anti-black sentiments, attitudes often openly expressed.
At a dinner gathering here a few years ago the white host, a retired factory worker, lamented his neighborhood's ramshackle state. "It was beautiful until Fidel let all those blacks from the countryside move here," he said angrily. "They didn't care to keep up their apartments."
Roberto de Armas, a foreign ministry official, offered a different view in a recent interview. Some blacks who had lived in poverty, he said, had no idea how to care for their apartments."
"Merely changing their social situation is not enough. You have to educate them," said Mr. De Armas, who is white.
For all the evidence of racism, visitors to Cuba often are struck by how fully integrated Cuban society seems to be.
Cubans of all hues mingle in public and socially, and intermarriage is not unusual. "In that regard, we are further along than the United States," Ms. Arandia said. "There, blacks and whites generally don't sit down together. I've had African-Americans visit here, and they just don't understand how this happens."
And popular Cuban culture - especially music and dance - is strongly rooted in West African traditions. Santeria, an Africa-derived religion, rivals Catholicism in number of followers.
Only now, and at the insistence of black intellectuals, is the Cuban government quietly reassessing the state of race relations. The commission formed to study the situation is expected to produce a report sometime next year.
Whatever the report's conclusion, many blacks say, the ultimate solution lies in changed attitudes. "In truth, 1959 to today is a very short time to cure an illness that is centuries old," Ms. Arandia said. "Cuba, and every other country on Earth, has to get beyond race. If we do, there will be no problem."
© 1998 The Dallas Morning News
Writer Studies American Society by SUSAN FERRISS, © 1997
San Francisco Examiner
SAN FRANCISCO, May 16, 1997 -- Ask Afro-Cuban writer Gisela Arandia her first impressions after she arrived in the United States to research black life here.
She pauses, then frowns, and tries to be diplomatic.
"Well,'' she says in Spanish, "it was surprising to me that just to be around black people, I had to get on a bus in Miami and travel to a very specific place.''
"I'm not saying Cuba doesn't have problems,'' she adds, trying to avoid outright criticism of de facto
segregation in America. "But it was surprising.''
Arandia was here Thursday
as part of a tour sponsored by Sister to Sister, a San Francisco group that advocates
breaking the U.S. embargo on Cuba and arranging meetings between Cuban and American women.
For the rest, see http://www.latinolink.com/art/art97/0516awri.htm
Mucho queda todavía por indagar acerca de nuestra república neocolonial, antecedente inmediato del proceso revolucionario.
A las deformaciones estructurales de la economía, a la dependencia del imperialismo, al saqueo del tesoro público por parte de los políticos de la época, se añade una dolorosa herencia de agudizados conflictos sociales, con su consecuente influencia en complejas relaciones interraciales.
En efecto, la lucha independentista cubana, con la decisiva participación de negros y mulatos, fue una vía para el logro de una progresiva democratización. La disolución del ejército mambí y la intervención norteamericana frustraron, a un tiempo, el logro de la verdadera independencia nacional y la formación de una república "con todos y para el bien de todos".
Como quien elude el roce del candente hierro curativo con una herida recién abierta, hemos querido olvidar, durante noventa años uno de los más vergonzosos episodios de nuestra historia, conservado en la memoria colectiva con el nombre de Guerrita de los Negros o Guerrita del Doce. El diminutivo siempre presente revela el tono despectivo asumido por la sociedad cubana en su afán de reducir al mínimo las repercusiones del acontecimiento.
A los diez años de promulgada la república, los negros y mulatos, atrapados en el rejuego de los partidos tradicionales —liberales y conservadores— no habían encontrado un espacio político donde canalizar sus reivindicaciones sociales y económicas que correspondían, en su conjunto, a las demandas de los sectores más preteridos. Con vistas a las elecciones, Estenoz e Ivonnet se proponen crear el partido de los independientes de color. La ley Morúa prohibía la inscripción de partidos políticos organizados en torno a una raza o a una clase social. Cerrado el camino de la legalidad, los promotores optaron por la rebelión.
La represión alcanzó una violencia extrema. Las investigaciones realizadas hasta el día de hoy, no han podido precisar la cifra exacta de las víctimas. Según los escasos testimonios que han llegado a nuestras manos, el color de la piel era razón suficiente para ahorcar a los hombres.
Al cumplirse noventa años de la Guerrita del Doce, el proyecto Color Cubano de la UNEAC patrocinó un seminario sobre el tema, abordado desde una perspectiva interdisciplinaria. Historiadores y científicos sociales, en conferencias y mesas redondas analizaron los contextos epocales y las repercusiones del hecho, visto también mediante la memoria afectiva con un documental de Gloria Rolando, tuvo como cierre un recital de Rogelio Martínez Furé. La presencia de un público muy participativo demuestra el interés existente por un tema poco debatido hasta ahora, indispensable para entender los complejos procesos que intervienen en la formación de la conciencia nacional y para consolidar la imagen de nuestra propia identidad.
While in Cuba:
San Lazaro #156, Apto 4 E/Aguila y Crespo La Habana, Cuba
Fax: 011 53 7 66.64.50 Label: "Para Gisela y Rafael"
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