My mother asks me, after reading something someone posted, what feminism is. I explain. She, who is 80 years old, looks at me, and before getting up from the armchair, she tells me in a casual tone: “Son, here, since 1959, we call it Revolution”.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Author: Ernesto Estévez Rams | email@example.com
February 3, 2021 00:02:34 AM
She confessed to me several times that she danced rock ‘n’ roll. The white variant, which was the one that became popular in Cuba, that of Elvis Presley. When she told me that she danced rock ‘n’ roll, she meant that she used to get her hair disheveled dancing to that devil’s music. She spun around, jumped, was lifted up and thrown to land again to the rhythm of the music. A neighborhood policeman, intolerant and arrogant, came with a lemon in his hand, and made the men drop the lemon inside their pants to see if it would roll down one of their legs. If you didn’t fall, you were in trouble. For the ladies, a tape measure with a visible red mark. Measuring the length of the skirt above the knee, if it was below the scarlet line, you were in trouble. Those were times when you couldn’t talk much with the police.
At that time, she sewed with her mother and sisters to earn a living and took a course in interior design as a way to improve her skills. She was the face in the ECLO of an American food brand. Standing up, smiling, she showed the products and offered samples for consumers to taste the wonders of what was advertised. Her luck wasn’t the worst either. If she had been black, she was useless as an image. For those of black complexion, their lucky destiny was to be a maid, or a servant, whatever you prefer to call them.
Then the Revolution triumphed. She enlisted as a volunteer teacher and was a compañero of Conrado Benítez. Despite her youth and inexperience, she was put in charge of several boarding schools. They were entire neighborhoods converted into schools, once run by the bourgeoisie or their cronies. Now, a school for poor women, peasant women, urban women, humble women.
Her sister also enlisted as a literacy volunteer and became a literacy teacher. The other sister, the eldest, the same luck, and what luck! They became teachers, they taught. They learned. She, the director of the school, knew all of La Lisa, La Coronela, Playa. The houses of the officers of the defeated army became schools, she became the teacher of other women. In the photos, the microphone higher than her physical stature. Speaking, guiding, directing, raising her arm in harangue, waving her hand.
She was a delegate, president of the CDR, militia member, company leader, Party militant. She was white, she married a black man from Guantanamo. A black man who fought in the underground, a black man who became a university student. A black man who is still by her side today. He was a teacher, a cane cutter, a company leader, founder of the Party. And along the way, at some point, they had time to have children. They, the two of them, neighbors to anyone, not unlike so many others in the same place, in the same circumstances.
My mother asks me, after reading something someone posted, what is this feminism. I explain. She, 80 years old, looks at me, and before getting up from the armchair, she tells me in a casual tone: Son, here, since 1959, we call it Revolution.