The Racial Struggle of Afro-Cubans Essay

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The Racial Struggle of Afro-Cubans


Afro-Cubans struggled to no avail for racial equality between the years 1886-1912. The slaughter of protesting blacks in 1912 shows that the battle cries for equality of Antonio Maceo and José Marté during the war for independence had dissolved. What was left was a unequal Cuban society, divided racially and fearing a black revolution. Aline Helg speaks directly to this issue in her book Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912. The aforementioned period was one in which the nation’s formation was taking place, thus the unsuccessful attempt at equality has left difficult remnants of racial inequality buried deeply in the fabric of the nation.

The Unique
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A facade was created by the white military leaders which falsely associated Cuba’s independence with the end of slavery, and thus helped recruit large numbers of blacks. Thirdly, Helg discusses the high level of organization and mobilization of the black community in Cuba. Between the existence of century-old urban-rural networks and that of new networks established during the wars for independence, black mobilization and organization was well developed at this time.

The forth aspect of the Afro-Cuban experience which Helg mentions is the formation of the first black political party in the hemisphere, which, as I will address later, was destroyed between 1910-1912. When it is finally destroyed in 1912, official antiblack violence is what destroys it, and Helg shows that as the fifth particularity of the Cuban case. Lastly, Helg discusses the reconciliation of the "democratic ideologies versus racist practices" contradiction in Cuba for her final aspect of uniqueness. This last characteristic which Helg mentions played a huge role in the maintenance of racial hierarchies in Cuba.

By creating the myth of racial equality, white Cuban elites were able to force blacks into a passive role where they could not be equal and patriotic at the same time. With the myth of racial equality, the blacks had no one to blame but themselves for their lower social position, and the concept of racial inferiority was
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