Afro-Cubanos Find Pride In POTUS' Visit
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President Obama and his family recently took a trip to Havana, Cuba after the U.S. restored diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The people of the country, more specifically the Afro-Cuban population felt a form of elation and pride when they heard the President of the United States-- a Black, African-American man-- was coming to visit the island. It was definitely a beautiful site to see as Obama, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia processed out of their plane onto Cuba’s soil.
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What many people do not realize is that the island, much like any Caribbean island, has deep seeded culture, cultural values, and discrepancies. One major issue faced by many inhabitants of African descent is that of racial discrimination. With approximately sixty-two percent of the population being of black and mixed heritage, it is astounding that such an issue still persists.
According to peoplesworld.org, slavery was abolished in Cuba in 1886, with many of the slaves coming from West Africa. Meanwhile, Cuba’s culture is made up of West African and Spaniard influence. That goes to say that the music and dances are strongly rooted in African culture.
However, Black Cubans continue to face remnants of slavery through discrimination. It is not often discussed out in the open, the blatant and subtle racial biases. For example, darker skin workers are not hired for jobs in hospitality and in restaurants, states the Associated Press. Lighter skin, mixed-raced or white patrons are given these opportunities.
It is interesting how Cuba has dealt with racial politics in that many influential African Americans and Black people visited the island in the 1960s and 1970s during the time of the Civil Rights movement, states Devyn Spence of huffingtonpost.com. Many continue to visit the island, often for a short period of time, but never get a good look at the how their Afro-Cuban counterparts are treated when it comes down to issues such as being “discretely barred entranced from tourist hotels,” states Spence. As stated in Spence’s article, Cuban activists do not have the access to media outlets to make their voices heard about these problems. With that said President Obama’s visit to Havana gives many a reassuring outlook. According to the Associated Press, some Black Cubans refer to the President as “El negro” or (the black guy) as a term of endearment. Thus, people of color in Cuba are happy to have such a public figure with status come to their country who shares that bond of being Black.
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(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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