Race, Class and Gender: An African Experience in Cuba, Lecture, 4/20/02
Digna Castañeda Fuertes
|Lecture by, Professor Digna
Castañeda Fuertes University of Habana, Cuba
National Museum of American History, Thursday April 20, 2000
3:00 PM--West Conference Room, 4th Floor--
The African experience in Cuba began with African slavery, which - as in other Caribbean colonies - illuminates out all aspects of the colonial system. Likewise, slavery played a pivotal role in the establishment of an inseparable relationship between race, class and gender.
It is black women then - and their experiences as slaves - who provide the best example of Cuban colonial society. It is they, who bore the ultimate brunt of the colonial slave system; as merchandise, as part of the labor force and as sexual property. Because of this, they, unlike their male partners, tell us the most Cuban history.
The importance of slave women to Cuban history has not been fully recognized and investigated by Cuban, Caribbean or Latin American scholars. Therefore, their remains much work to be done both theoretically and culturally in this field. Most significantly, without the study of slave women, "gender " as a conceptual category will never be fully evolved. Thus, this work is crucial to the very development of gender studies and our understanding of gender, race and class in the construction of both colonial and modern society; the impact of which continues to be realized today.
My work is an attempt to bring together newly collected and hitherto unknown data on the lives of specific slave women and to analyze their lives within and against the context of evolving gender, class and race theories.
Professor Digna Castañeda Fuertes received her Ph.D. from the University of Havana and the Instituto de America Latina. She teaches History of the Caribbean and Cuba at the University of Havana, Cuba. Dr. Castaneda recently co-edited the book Between Race and Empire: African -Americans and Cubans before the Cuban Revolution (Temple University Press, 1998). The book and essays look at the relationship between African Americans and Afro-Cubans from the abolitionist era to the Cuban Revolution of 1959.
Please plan on attending this interesting and thoughtful look at the roles and relationship of slave women in Cuba.
Call 357-3180 or 786-9057 for more information. Sponsored by NMAH, Division of Cultural History and The Center for Latino Initiatives.
L. Stephen Velasquez
Between Race and Empire :
African-Americans and Cubans Before the Cuban Revolution
by Lisa Brock, Digna Castaneda Fuertes (Editor)
List: $22.95 Amazon.com Price: $18.36
Click here to order ==>
CARMEN MONTEJO ARRECHIA
NANCY RAQUEL MIRABAL.
DAVID J. HELWIG
JUALYNNE E. DODSON
LISA BROCK AND BIJAN BAYNE
CARMEN GOMEZ GARCIA
DIGNA CASTAÑEDA FUERTES
|Reconnecting Cuban lies
By Lori S. Robinson
Between Race and Empire: African-
Americans and Cubans before tbe Cuban Revolution Edited
This volume of academic essays, written with accessible language,
delves into topics such as religion and protest poetry. Layers of history are peeled back,
building an understanding of political and racial dynamics between the darker citizens of
the United States and Cuba.
"Despite the inevitable interactions that took place between the two communities, Afro-Cubans preferred to distance themselves socially and politically from African-Americans." Also at the turn of the century, the U.S.-based African Methodist Episcopal Church attempted to expand to Cuba, but reached English-speaking Caribbean immigrants more effectively than Cuban nationals because of differing expectations, writes Jualynne Dodson. Afro- Cubans expected the church to help them out of poverty and the denomination expected Black Cubans to be self-sufficient and to contribute to the church.
The chapter on segregated baseball, a prime form of recreation when options were few
for Africans-Americans, effectively explores the extent of Black North American-Cuban
interaction. "The integration of Cuban teams into American Black baseball was
thorough. Major Black newspapers reported on Cuban players and their teams as regularly as
they did any team of North American Blacks. Havana was often a stop on the Black
circuit," write Brock and essay co-author Bijan Bayne.
And several essays address Afro-Cuban and U.S. independent journalism from the 1 800s.
"Most clearly pro-Castro among the Black newspapers and magazines were the
Baltimore-based Afro-American... the Amsterdam News, and the weekly magazine Jet,"
writes Van Gosse.
Hopefully, Jets current disassociation from Cuba is not representative of the greater African-American community. Just a few decades ago, African-Americans understood that Cubans, particularly Afro- Cubans, were oppressed by a mutual foe.
Between Race and Empire informs readers about a shared history we should know. Writes Castañeda in the epilogue, "In this historical moment, we hope that this book, by looking into our common past, will help us negotiate a common future."
|Between Race and Empire: African-Americans and Cubans
before the Cuban Revolution, edited by Lisa Brock and Digna
Castafleda Fuertes (Philadelphia: Temple University Press
1998). Softcover, 298 pages, $22.95. Nonfiction
For nearly two centuries, African
Americans and Cubans have influenced each other in a number of ways, as shown in this
collection of eleven essays. Brock writes, "Although racism and empire thrust
African-Americans and Cubans into each others assigned physical spaces, it was who
they were before and after segregation and exploitation that most influenced their
The most fruitful connections were made through sports, specifically baseball. Brock and co-contributor Bijan Bayne reveal in the essay "Not Just Black: African-Americans, Cubans and Baseball" that the name of the first African American baseball team, in 1885, was the "Cuban Giants," that African Americans and Cuban teams played against each other in the United States and in Cuba, and that American blacks even tried to pass as Cubans.
Just as African Americans asserted themselves in the Harlem Renaissance of the
twenties, Cubans, who also looked to Harlem as a Negro mecca, also articulated their
African heritage and quest for equality through the written word. Gustavo Urrutias
forceful column, "Ideales de una Raza/Ideas of a Race," ran in the Havana
newspaper Diario de la Marina from the late twenties to the thirties and urged
racial pride, as did the like-minded writings of Pldcido, Regino Boti, and Regino Pedroso.
Nicol6s Guillén, whose "Motivos de Son/Son Motifs" became a classic of Cuban
literature, enjoyed a fruitful friendship with Langston Hughes, who influenced and
encouraged his work.
- Eugene Holley, Jr.
Between Race and Empire:
African-Americans and Cubans Before the Cuban Revolution.
The 40-year political conflict between the United States and Fidel Castros Cuba has camouflaged a history of relationships between the two countries that was significant and important. Part of mat history is the little-known but revealing interactions between the Afro communities of the two countries. That relationship was intellectual as African Americans looked south for support and justification of their ideas; cultural, as Cuban music influenced by the rhythms of Africa had an important role in the evolution of American jazz; and social, as baseball players and other Cubans came to the United States and experienced a racism dissimilar from that in Cuba. These essays mark an Unusual collaboration between American and Cuban scholars and attempt to show a pan-Afro racial kinship that went beyond national borders and centered on common experiences shaped by slavery and prejudice. The book is valuable for American and Latin American academic collections as well as public libraries with Cuban andlor African American patrons. - Mark L. Grover Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT
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