Cuban Race Relations Essay

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Cuban Race Relations

I. Introduction- Retracing a History of Racial Scorn in Cuban Society:

The study of race relations in contemporary Cuba indelibly requires an understanding of the dynamic history of race relations in this ethnically pervasive island of the Caribbean. Cuban society, due to its historical antecedents of European colonialism and American imperialism, has traditionally experienced anguished and even tumultuous race relations. Racial disharmony has plagued Cuban society ever since the advent of the Colonial institution of the plantation system. Thus, in order to acquire some understanding of Cuba’s dynamic race relations one must study and investigate the evolution of racial tensions and the quintessential
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Although Afro-Cubans made up nearly half of the Cuban population during Cuba’s colonial period Spanish culture, trends, and biases were the dominant ideology. Thus, due to the dynamics of the Spanish colonial rule in Cuba compounded by a Spanish inherent belief of cultural superiority, Afro-Cubans experienced a long history of repression. Aline Helg, comments on the oppressive nature of the Afro-Cuban existence during the Spanish colonial rule by stating:

Deep in their memory was the experience of slavery, no doubt the most repressive human condition. But they also shared the recollection of bloodily crushed slave rebellions. Even more traumatic was the memory of the suppression of the alleged Conspiracy of la Escalera (1844), in which hundreds of slaves and free people of color were tortured to death, formally executed, imprisoned, or banished during what was remembered as the Year of the Lash.1

Consequently, because of the severe racial discrimination Afro-Cuban’s experienced in an existence where social upward mobility was frustrated by Spanish colonial biases, Afro-Cubans embraced the war for independence against Spain as an attempt to accomplish a social revolution.

Racial tensions and discourse, however, continued to polarize Cuban society during this tumultuous period leading to Cuba’s decisive victory over
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