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Dr. Jason Johnson Hosts: Professor Amalia Dache
on Cuban Protests

Amalia Dache Gerbino

Associate professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Education. Areas of interest: Postcolonial studies, Community and student resistance, Urban geography, College access, AfroLatina/o/x studies. Featured as the voice of AfroCubans on J11 in Politico, Foreign Policy, NPR, MSNBC, and Slate. Advises several democratic politicians. Advocates a tightening of the embargo, which most Cubans reject as very harmful to their health and wellfare.

"What does this have to do with race? Biden is thinking about doing remittances again. Well, [studies have] demonstrated that Afro-Cubans have less access to remittances, because they have less family in the United States. And they're in the most marginalized neighborhoods, which means they’re farther away from food, they’re farther away from medical sources. When you think about policy, like remittances, you have to think about the racial question, because darker Cubans won’t have access, like light-skinned Cubans do, to remittances. So hence, that’s not a good policy to put in place right now."

"¿Qué tiene que ver esto con la raza? Biden está pensando en hacer remesas nuevamente. Bueno, [los estudios han] demostrado que los afrocubanos tienen menos acceso a las remesas, porque tienen menos familiares en los Estados Unidos. Y están en los vecindarios más marginados, lo que significa que están más alejados de la comida, están más lejos de las fuentes médicas. Cuando piensas en la política, como las remesas, tienes que pensar en la pregunta racial, porque los cubanos más oscuros no tendrán acceso, como los cubanos de piel clara, a las remesas. Así que, por lo tanto, esa no es una buena política para poner en marcha en este momento ".


"Amalia Dache is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She studies the complexities of the role race plays in Cuban culture and speaks out against what she sees as a perpetual “invisibilizing” of Black Cubans’ contributions to the island’s justice movement.

She was born in a Havana tenement before fleeing Cuba with her family to the United States during the Mariel boatlift in 1980. Dache is now one of the premier voices on the plight of Black Cubans, which includes briefing several House Democrats on Capitol Hill this week about how the regime has failed at addressing racism.

We chop it up about President Joe Biden’s approach to Cuba, the controversial statement from Black Lives Matter showing solidarity with the Cuban regime and why she says restoring remittances to the island would only marginalize Afro-Cubans even further." --

"Amalia Dache es profesor asociado en la Escuela de Educación de la Universidad de Pennsylvania. Estudia las complejidades del papel que desempeña la raza en la cultura cubana y habla contra lo que ella ve como una "invisibilización" perpetua de las contribuciones de los cubanos negros al movimiento de la justicia de la isla.

Nació en una vivienda de la Habana antes de huir de Cuba con su familia a los Estados Unidos durante el Mariel en 1980. Dache ahora es una de las voces premieradas en la difícil situación de los cubanos negros, que incluye informar a varios demócratas del Congreso en Capitol Hill esta semana sobre cómo el régimen ha fallado en abordar el racismo.

Hablamos del enfoque del presidente Joe Biden sobre Cuba, la controvertida declaración de Black Lives Matter que muestra una solidaridad con el régimen cubano y por qué dice que la restauración de remesas a la isla solo marginaría a los afro-cubanos aún más." --

Amalia Dashe is reputed by colleagues to be an intelligent person and she has valid things to say about the current Cuban educational system and about the Cuban Census, which our research validates but which many scholars do not get right. However calling for a tightening of the embargo is clearly extremist and highly dualistic, characteristic of European colonialism. She blames communism for the shutting down of the many AfroCuban organizations that existed prior to 1959, when in fact this was republicanismo, something hard for people brought up in the American world view to understand.


Don’t Let Cuba’s Protest Momentum Evaporate  7/30/2021 Foreign Policy: by Amalia Dache - "What do protesters want? They want an end to food shortages, which the regime has weaponized, delaying the distribution of staples like bread. They also want access to COVID-19 vaccines. The regime has so far refused to join the COVAX program providing shots for developing countries, and the rollout of Cuban-made vaccines has been significantly delayed. They want access to routine health care. I found the regime’s selective rationing of care has meant only those with U.S. dollars can be sure to get the treatment they need. This leads to women regularly giving birth without anesthesia and people dying of preventable deaths."

Afro-Cubans on the brink  7/30/2021 Politico: by Amalia Dache - "The Cuban census states that its population is about 35 percent of African descent [Black and Mulatto combined] and that its population of whites is about 65 percent. But U.S. stats and folks who have researched Cuba, say that it’s actually the opposite. In painting your country as predominantly white, it allows people outside of the [the island] to think that the leadership is representative. We know the people in power in Cuba, in the military elite, are predominantly white. [In the U.S.] we still have these conversations, like, Cuban Americans are all white, they all look like Marco Rubio, Gloria Estefan and Andy Garcia. But it invisiblizes people like myself and people, like Celia Cruz for example."

Internet crackdown in Cuba frustrates families, friends in the U.S.  7/28/2021 Florida Phoenix: "The Cuban government’s curtailment of internet access —and thus social media—is what helped fuel many protests across the island, which were led predominantly by Afro-Cubans, said Dache. The protests, first sparked by shortages of food and COVID-19 vaccines, began July 11 in one of the most marginalized Afro-Cuban neighborhoods in Cuba, San Antonio de los Baños. From there, the protests rapidly spread to 62 cities across the country and by the end of that day it was 100, Dache, who conducts research on the Afro-Cuban experience, said. “These are predominantly Afro-Cuban areas that have high poverty,” she said."

Afro-Cubans Come Out In Droves To Protest Government  7/25/2021 NPR: by Amalia Dache - "So I've been working on a study since 2018 talking to Cubans in Havana. I collected narrative history interviews. One of the main things that came out was how race plays a role in how they access education, for example. So Afro Cubans would mention that, you know, they live in poor - the poorest areas. They really can't access higher education because they have to have access to American dollars or tourism in order to buy food to go to school. And this came out, of course, for white Cubans. But Afro Cubans were the ones who mentioned the living conditions where they were worse off, especially in Havana."

‘We need to focus on the Cuban people’s struggle’  7/17/2021 MSNBC: "Cubans and Americans protesting in solidarity are entering their second week calling attention to the need for basic necessities for Cubans and demanding an end to the communist regime. Amalia Dache, Associate Professor for the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, joins American Voices with Alicia Menendez to discuss the humanitarian crises fueling the movement and explains why this moment is different from the past."

Fear of a Black Cuban Planet  7/17/2021 Slate: by Amalia Dache - "Listen to this: Afro-Cuban people, Black people in Cuba, have not been able to engage in their own history since 1959. Since 1959, the Cuban government, the Communist government, has wiped out, off the face of the Cuban planet, all Black political associations, all Black organizations. Cuba before 1959 had 200 Black societies. These Black societies survived colonialism. You hear me? Colonialism. They were completely disbanded in the early 1960s because the Communist government said that it had eradicated racism. So you can’t even engage in Black history in Cuba. The Cuban curriculum cannot engage in these conversations because it’s not part of the revolution. It’s counterrevolutionary to talk about Black history in Cuba, to engage Black history. Black Cubans don’t know their history. They don’t know about Black resistance. They don’t know about how Black Cubans and Afro-Cubans during the Republic, between 1901 and 1959, were a part of changing the Cuban society, the young Cuban society."

Mysteries at the Bottom of the Ocean: Afro- Cubanismo and Highter Learning  4/13/2021 Vimeo, Penn Alumni 

Dr. Amalia Dache - Critical Internationalization Studies Network Meeting  5/15/2020 Critical Internationalization Studies Network: "In this geographic study, I will explore the educational trajectories of Cubans living in Havana. Employing an Afro Latin American hemispheric analysis (Hooker, 2017), theories on Latin American and Black American political thought on racial equity will be explored through qualitative data. How political and racial ideologies contribute to the economic and educational trajectories of Havana Cubans, is under researched in the field of higher education. During the Cuban Revolutionary period - 1959 to present - Cuba’s higher education system has been widely recognized as a leader in equity and opportunity as well as having one of the best postsecondary educational systems in Latin America. Yet, very little research has been conducted on Cubans’ educational experiences during this period. Cuba is a country of predominantly African descendants; this inquiry may provide data on the intersections of racialized and politicized educational experiences of Cubans living in Havana."

Teaching a transnational ethic of Black Lives Matter: an AfroCubana Americana’s theory of Calle  7/8/2018 International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education: by Amalia Dache - "The material conditions of populations in the Global South are interconnected with the material conditions of Black working-class urban communities in the U.S. Through this multi-scalar construction, I put forward a theory of Calle – a transnational ethic of ethno-racial-spatial solidarity. Set within stages of dual geographies, my AfroCuban American cultural and familial history are paramount to understanding the landscapes that shaped my scholarly identity and pedagogy. As a researcher of the Ferguson movement while at the University of Missouri, I learned that Ferguson student-activists led several campus movements: Occupy SLU at St. Louis University (fall 2014), University of Missouri (MU) for Mike Brown (fall 2014), and Concerned Student 1950 (fall 2015) both at the University of Missouri. This residential foundation served as a site of liberation, inquiry, and pedagogy. In this article, I aim to disrupt the binaries of community/classroom, teacher/student, and engage in dialectics centered on the literal and figurative streets of Ferguson, Missouri. This rooting of a racial bone memory aligns with Black Lives Matter (BLM)'s tenet of globalism, which elevates a solidarity between all people of African descent on the continent of Africa and in the diaspora."

Links/Enlacestop  Areas of Expertise: Postcolonial studies, Community and student resistance, Urban geography, College access, AfroLatina/o/x studies

Citations on Google Scholar:


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