Racism, whose historical cause lies in the pursuit of the most brutal exploitation as a means of enrichment, is also in its essence and necessarily a cultural phenomenon. That is why it does not end with the elimination of the economic bases that sustain it.
By Ernesto Estévez Rams
July 5, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The kidnapping of the black from the white is not exclusive to a single country with a slave-owning or slavery-like past; rather, it is the rule. In Cuba, it can even be sought from what is sometimes considered our first literary work, Mirror of Patience, written by an acriolated canary. [from the Canary Islands]
The story, in the words of Eduardo Torres-Cuevas, is an aesthetic recreation of a lie and, at the same time, the creation of a myth. The first, associated with the fact that the work tries to hide the context of smuggling that causes the events portrayed; the second refers to the intention of enhancing the heroism of the Bayamese Creoles.
But it can also be read in other ways. In the work, black appears, fundamentally in the figure of Salvador Golomón, an “Ethiopian worthy of praise”, who puts an end to the unfortunate life of the buccaneer Gilberto Girón, kidnapper of Bishop Cabezas de Altamirano. With this courageous action, the black man achieves his freedom. Salvador’s virtue, in the eyes of Silvestre de Balboa, author of the poem, is to have served the white masters courageously in a battle for commercial reasons – for a traffic from which he did not benefit at all – in which he was only a participant in his condition as a slave. Black was seen through the eyes of white, this time in his utilitarian function.
Racism, whose historical cause lies in the search for the most brutal exploitation as a means of enrichment, is also in its essence and necessarily a cultural phenomenon. That is why it does not end with the elimination of the economic bases that sustain it. It endures over time beyond the elimination of the explicit or implicit laws that codify it, beyond the economic relations that need racism. And discrimination is not completely stopped unless the cultural fabric that supports it and which, in many cases, forms part of the structural core of countries is also stopped.
Nations such as the Cuban were shaped from the Christian Eurocentric with a significant racist component. Significant actors in the formation of this nationality saw the black as a factor of social backwardness. The Creole elites justified concrete proposals for eugenics and other more genocidal proposals.
Such racist positions, whether in their most extreme or most paternalistic variants, were the norm among defenders of the colony, annexationists, reformers, or autonomists. But racism was also present in pro-independence sectors, despite our most distinquich heroes and the profoundly anti-slavery roots of our deeds. Martí’s preaching of thinking of an inclusive and peerless republic in all its ethnic diversity did not mean by far the acceptance of an anti-racist stance by the frustrated society that emerged from the war of independence.
The intervening power favored actors who shared its anti-black vision. From the elites, Cuba’s progress was to “whitewash” it, appealing equally to processes of “advancing the race” by means of mestizaje, as to relegating the black “to his place”. Such ideas, projected from the class hegemony of the subordinate bourgeoisie of imperial power, were also used as a mechanism of fear to justify violence against components of the humble masses of whites, blacks and mestizos. They were used to justify crimes like the killing of thousands of Black people during the 1912 uprising. The fear of the Black people, which had been stirred up as a mechanism of domination in the colony, was transferred to the nascent republic for the same purpose.
The black, in the neo-colonial republican design that emerged, was a symbol of incivility, backwardness, and a hindrance to the nation’s progress. Its culture was not such, it was ignorant, lascivious, perverse and incompetent, and to the same extent that its rebellious presence in authentic Cuba was unstoppable, it made more of an effort to create its “white”, “civilized” variant, whether in music, theater or literature. That perspective is still there in sectors of the Cuban social imaginary, even after 60 years of systematic effort to change it from the political power that the Revolution gave to the dispossessed, including in them the black.
Any process of gestation of the national, essentially symbolic, necessarily generates an organic intellectuality to that effort. We know the white intelligentsia, most of them representatives of sectors of the owning class within the Creole population. The memory of the black woman was largely lost, either through the lack of her own written testimony or through an exercise that she sought to forget. But, although recovering it for the social imaginary is difficult, we have the emancipatory duty to continue doing so. We still have a debt to the Aponte of our history and we will not succeed in crowning our aspirations until we pay it off.
These shortcomings persist despite years of effort to study the country’s black roots and the intellectuals who have made and continue to make this study the reason for their scientific endeavors. Studies to which the Revolution managed to incorporate the Black himself from his literate empowerment, as a prying into his past and shaping his history. This systematic effort to discover our Black history has not been accompanied by the same success, in spite of all the progress that has been made there too, in its incorporation into the educational systems. Nor is the generation of tangible and intangible symbols of that memory sufficient.
Beyond laws and concrete efforts to eliminate the economic and social roots of racism, the Revolution set in motion gigantic cultural decolonization processes that are still in progress today. Entire spaces in society acquired dark colors, especially in artistic culture, but far beyond it. Never before in the history of this country has a more monumental effort been made to incorporate the Black, not as something grafter on, but as an essential part of the trunk of what is Cuban. This was done at the same time as the methodological tools were being developed to achieve this, based on the urgency of taking the sky by storm here too. Like all emancipatory social processes, much was achieved in a very short time and it was also erred as a result of doing and, also, not doing enough.
The special period, with the social and economic processes that it unleashed, gave rise to processes of re-marginalization of tangible and symbolic areas of Cuban society that joined others that had never ceased to be marginal, where the Black presence is marked. This pointed to structural problems of inequality or vulnerability, associated with skin color, which have not been resolved in our society. Racism is still present in Cuba today, because it underlies, often dormant, in the social consciousness of not a few compatriots and is invisible in not a few social and even institutional spaces.
Today, the symbolic marginalization has as a new component the influence of colonizing globalization. It is in this context that the fight against racism in Cuba also acquires even more peremptory connotations and scope, as part of the common cultural front against the onslaught to which we are subjected as a nation.
We also see this marginalization in the loss of civility reflected in reprehensible social attitudes, the rise of misogynistic lyrics in songs and other manifestations. When this phenomenon occurs, the underlying racism tends to re-visit it in terms of race: the Black is antisocial, the Black is the ill-mannered, the Black is the uncivilized… This image is reflected in common places that persist among us, such as when it is associated with doing things right with “let’s do it like whites” or when a person is reproached for behaving like “a Black man”.
In our current society, wide spaces, where racism has been defeated, coexist with others where it persists and expands. We can proudly see tremendous advances in this fight against racism: firstly, its banishment as a phenomenon inherent to a capitalist society, but we also have to recognize its stubborn permanence as a real social phenomenon.
We recognize our formal dress, symbolically legitimized for protocol and official acts, in the very Cuban guayabera, but also in the jacket and tie imported from white and symbolically exclusive Europe, and none other. We do not incorporate into the garments accepted as formal the beautiful clothes of our African heritage. It is a simple and “innocent” example of all those symbolic dimensions of racism that go unnoticed among us.
Some monuments erected in the bourgeois neo-colonial republic have not been adequately intervened to re-describe them in the light of an anti-colonial and revolutionary vision of our history.
We carry with us the consequences of those centuries in which the Black, culturally speaking, was forcibly inserted into a society shaped from the white and its codes. Their culture, as an everyday attitude, is still seen by many as peripheral, another reality not incorporated into a supposed white root; it is perceived as a culture of folklore. It persists in segregating certain social behaviors, such as Black behaviors. The most explicit reaction on the part of those attacked to this symbolic aggression is then reduced by some to a supposed threat to social coexistence.
A relentless struggle must be waged, on the real economic, social and cultural levels, against racism, which not only persists but threatens to advance. It must be fought with the tools that we have used and are using in all these years of immense and insufficient effort. We have a tremendous arsenal of ideas that we didn’t have before, which is also the result of what has been done since the Revolution, and which we can and must incorporate into this battle, the one we owe to all the Salvador Golomóns of our history. They did not fight to reproduce patterns of exploitation, but to open up paths to seek full human potential. We owe it to ourselves, regardless of color, all the children equally of Martí and Maceo, of Camilo and Almeida.
George Junius Stinney Jr. was convicted in March 1944 of the murder of the two girls, ages 11 and 8, in a speedy trial by a jury of white men. George was executed in the electric chair on June 16 of that year.
By Raúl Antonio Capote | firstname.lastname@example.org
August 4, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
A boy looks scared into the camera of the Clarendon police photographer. After long hours of brutal interrogation, he had just confessed to a crime he had not commit.
Whoever pressed the shutter of the camera captured the pure image of fear and innocence; George Stinney’s police photo is not just any photo.
Stinney was a boy from Alcolu, Clarendon, a small town in South Carolina. His life was the life, you might say, of an African-American boy in that region.
George was tending the family’s cows with his sister Amie that day when two white girls, Mary Emma Thames and Betty June Binnicker, approached them to ask about some medicinal plants they were looking for. George and Amie did not know the plants, so the girls went on their way.
Hours after the meeting, the girls’ parents, concerned, went out to look for them. George offered to help when they passed by his family’s farm and told the parents about the conversation he had with the girls.
The bodies of the girls were found near a Missionary Baptist church, showed signs of sexual abuse and had been killed using a 25 kg wood.
The police arrested George and took him in for questioning, in a process that involved many irregularities, physical abuse and psychological torture. The child was not represented by any lawyer and was not allowed the company of his parents, despite being a minor, he was only 14 years old.
They said that he had confessed to the crime, but no evidence of the confession was ever produced, it was the word of the police against that of the black child. His sister–witnessing that Stinney had been with her all afternoon, so she could not commit the crime–was threatened and harassed, so she had to flee the area in the face of the real possibility of being lynched, as some villagers had promised to do.
George Junius Stinney Jr. was convicted in March 1944 of the murder of the two girls, aged 11 and 8, in a speedy trial by a jury of white people. George was executed in the electric chair on June 16 of that year.
In 2014 the case was reviewed and justice ruled that the boy had not received a fair trial and he was found not guilty. The problem is that this verdict came 70 years too late.
By Natalia Plazas
June 20, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In 1921 Tulsa, the city Donald Trump chose to resume his campaign for the presidency, was the scene of one of the most atrocious massacres in U.S. history against the Black community. Nearly a hundred years after the event, the facts remain virtually unknown to society.
Donald Trump hit the nail on the head when he decided to resume his campaign for reelection in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tens of thousands of his supporters await him there, but there is also a growing call for remembrance and justice from activist groups who remember that that city has not healed the wounds of the worst massacre in the country’s recent history against the African-American community.
On the night of May 31 to June 1, 1921, an entire neighborhood was razed to the ground and 300 black citizens were killed. The massacre began when a white crowd came to lynch a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. That, supposedly, was the trigger for the tragedy, but history has revealed a much more perverse situation.
In the 1920s, the Greenwood neighborhood, a black enclave in the city of Tulsa, was noted for its economic prosperity. The distribution of land after the end of the American Civil War had benefited some African-American and Native American communities, and as a result Greenwood had become stronger, despite being segregated, like any black neighborhood at the time.
From ‘Black Wall Street’ to a neighborhood in the ashes
Such was the commercial and economic success forged in Greenwood that it was commonly called the ‘Black Wall Street’, but soon its good fortune would bring it ruin. Members of the white community began to view their neighbors’ bonanza with suspicion and, interested in occupying their land during the railroad expansion, decided to attack the neighborhood.
On the night of May 31, a crowd of white men, supported by local authorities and even police, arrived in Greenwood and charged at the African-American population and their homes. The mob burned down homes and businesses to the point that when the situation calmed down hours later, at least 35 whole blocks had been left in rubble.
The blow took away the good fortune of the neighborhood forever. In the wake of the event, Greenwood’s recovery has been frustrated by the creation of laws promoting zoning or by building restrictions. Today in Tulsa, the social gap between blacks and whites is notorious. According to a Human Rights Watch report, poverty is almost three times higher among black citizens than among white citizens.
A Donald Trump rally ignites misgivings in a remote society
With Trump’s visit, originally scheduled to coincide with the celebration of Black Independence Day on June 19 [Juneteenth] and postponed amidst national protests against racism, the call for historical recognition of the victims and economic reparations for their descendants has intensified more than ever.
Less than a year before the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa incident, justice has yet to be established, despite the fact that the case has even been brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. Both lower courts and the high court have dismissed the claims. Currently, only two survivors of the massacre are still alive.
But Trump’s arrival has not only put the spotlight on a forgotten chapter of American history. His desperate attempt to revive in Oklahoma an image that has deteriorated in recent months due to the economic impact of the pandemic has highlighted the differences between his supporters and those who demand changes in the treatment of the African-American community.
“Any protester, anarchist, agitator, looter, or small-time person who goes to Oklahoma, please understand that they will not be treated as they have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a very different scene,” the president said before embarking on the trip to Tulsa.
The comment, which his critics call conflictive and divisive, comes at a time when the rejection of racial violence in the United States shows its greatest increase in decades, with weeks of massive demonstrations in multiple cities around the country that have also reached the doors of the White House.
The protests against racism, supported in different latitudes of the planet after the assassination of George Floyd, have also gained strength in the field of sport
Author: Alfonso Nacianceno | email@example.com
June 10, 2020 00:06:46
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Donald Trump attacked the Black football players, members of the well-known NFL, because a group of them were kneeling on the ground to hear the national anthem, in protest against racial segregation.
U.S. law requires the military to perform its usual salute. All other citizens, including athletes, must remain standing, facing the national flag, with their right hand resting on their heart, while the anthem is played.
By not following this guideline in different facilities, Trump, although there was no clause in the NFL regulations, pressured the organization’s directors to punish all players who expressed themselves in this way against racism and inequality.
In light of the current events in the convulsed American scene, when this Tuesday would be the burial of George Floyd in the middle of the incombustible protests, the United States Soccer Federation (US Soccer) will open a debate to on ending the controversial rule of prohibiting its athletes from taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, the spokesman of the entity confirmed.
If the rule were to be repealed, it would immediately cease to have any effect. The measure came to life when Megan Rapinoe, four-time U.S. women’s national team champion and Golden Ball winner, knelt on the field in solidarity with American footballer Colin Kaepernick, who in the same gesture in 2016 sparked the anger of Trump, who pushed him out of the NFL
Rapinoe’s solidarity with the expelled player was the reason used by the president to radicalize the ban on kneeling on the ground.
The protests against racism, supported in different latitudes of the planet after the murder of George Floyd, have also gained strength in the field of sport, an important aspect of American national life. This is not only because of the rivalry that exists between the teams of disciplines that are widely followed by the population, but also because athletes are symbols that awaken empathy.
The quality of Black athletes in the United States is internationally recognized; many have been the protagonists of feats remembered throughout the world. Today, even though major competitions have been halted by the pandemic in that country, it is to be hoped that, when they return to action, there will also be a revival of protests in the stadiums, and knees on the grass.
July 15, 2019
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
Trump generates a wave of outrage: absolutely racist and anti-American. It’s not something you should hear from the President of the United States.
Regeneration, July 15, 2019. A few hours ago, Trump attacked four congresswomen who lead the popular opposition to his government. It’s a series of Twitter messages where the U.S. president tells them to “go home.
Trump doesn’t say names, but it’s very clear who the attack is aimed at.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s response from New York:
It is important to keep in mind that the words of today’s President, who tells four congresswomen of color to “return to their own country,” are the distinctive language of white supremacists.
Trump is comfortable leading the Republican Party into racism, and that should worry all Americans – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Racist and anti-American.
For her part, Senator Harris pointed out that the subject is old-fashioned and is still heard in the streets, but it is not something that should be said by the president of the United States.
“It’s absolutely racist and anti-American. And it’s an old trope – going back to where you came from that, you know, you might hear it on the street, but you should never hear that from the president of the United States,” Harris told the media.
Trump Against U.S. Congresswomen
“Return to your crime-infested countries,” wrote the U.S. president.
The response was not long in coming from dozens of Internet users, from citizens to politicians and the media.
“Attitudes such as these would be scandalous in any country in the world, but apparently, the American president acts outside of civility and proper political behavior,” postulates an American citizen.
The U.S. president does not name any particular person.
But among those mentioned would be Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent.
White nationalism, xenophobia and chauvinism. Disgustin.
Among the reactions, there is no hesitation in describing Trump’s statements as “despicable” and “repellent.”
What is certain is that three of the attacked congresswomen were born in the United States and one of them arrived at twelve years of age.
In this sense, they accuse the statements of “unmasking once again their white nationalism, xenophobic and chauvinism .
-It’s disgusting,” she points out.
Women’s collective opposing the object of the attack on Trump
Trump would have dedicated this diatribe to the female collective known as ‘The Squad’:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman from New York. Born in New York, of Puerto Rican descent.
Just like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, from Michigan, born in Detroit, has Palestinian parents.
In the case of Ilhan Omar from Massachusetts , who arrived as a refugee from Somalia at the age of twelve. And she was the first Muslim woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 2016.
Finally, Ayanna Pressley, from Massachusetts, an activist woman of black descent.
The politics of division is how this Administration works. We are here to serve our country. Our families are here. Our children are here. We are here. I’m with my sisters.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
“Despite the attempts by the occupant of the White House to marginalize and silence us, know that we are more than four people.”
“We follow the mandate to defend and represent those ignored, excluded and abandoned. Our squad is big. Our squad includes anyone who commits to building a more equitable and just world. This is the work that we want to go back to . Given the size of this squadron and this great nation, no one will be able to silence us.”
That’s how the four U.S. congressmen responded: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, to the campaign of racist epithets launched against them by President Donald Trump who has offended simultaneously with his orders to armed agents to terrorize immigrants in the United States. and communities across the country.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, paraphrasing Trump’s campaign slogan promoting his re-election, accused him of trying to “make America white again (instead of powerful)”.
Trump had tweet with irony: “How interesting to see the “progressive” Democratic congresswomen, who come from countries where the governments are a complete and total catastrophe telling us, with screams and aggressively, how we should exercise our government in the States Why don’t you go back to those places that you’ve completely come to? less and crime-ridden where they come from to help fix the situation, Trump asks them the same way.
“Go back to where they came from? Let it be known that three of the congresswomen attacked by the President were born in the United States. Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez, is a native of the Bronx, in New York. She is the youngest woman elected to Congress; Ayanna Pressley, born in Cincinnati, is the first congresswoman to be born in Cincinnati. She is an African-American) representing the state of Massachusetts. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit is Palestinian-American; together with Ilhan Omar, they are the first two Muslim women to occupy seats in the Congress”.
Omar has been a U.S. citizen for more than a year. Melania, Trump’s third wife and current first lady, is a native of Slovenia.
Trump’s racist tweets have come to unite the fractured Democratic Party and quickly activated a demonstration of support for the four brand-new congresswomen, now collectively being called called “the squad.” Although it was the first formal reprimand of the House of Representatives Representatives to a president in office in more than a century, we must bear in mind that Pelosi blocked a more serious motion that tried to censure Trump.
Trump redoubled his verbal attacks against the four congresswomen whom he accused of being socialists and communists. These were typical attacks of the era of the McCarthyism. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as the first Trump’s attorney was Roy Cohn, who served as a lawyer for Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, at a time when he destroyed thousands of lives with his policies of anti-communist persecutiopn.
Probably, the use of racist rhetoric to ignite your white electoral base is one of Trump’s campaign strategies. In his book “Black History of the White House,” American University Profesor Clarence Lusane wrote, “For many Americans, the ‘white’ of the White House has implied a great deal. more than the color of the mansion; it has symbolized the tonality and the source of dehumanizing cruelty, domination and exclusion that have defined the long narrative of white people’s relationships with people of color in America.”
Last week, the four congresswomen who so clearly challenged Trump gave a press conference, in which they denounced the racism experienced by them and people of color in the United States. in general, noted the president’s policies on the detention of immigrants, family separation and the threatening raids of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A major article by journalists and activists Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan was published on the DEMOCRACY NOW website on July 19 with the title “President Trump redefines the concept of the White House”, provides important elements of analysis of the crucial racial conflict undercurrent that is resurfacing with his “cheerful” twitter and his band of jackals.
June 22, 2019.
This article can be reproduced by quoting the newspaper POR ESTO as a source.
By Juana Carrasco Martín
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“For the first time, a woman will appear on U.S. bills.” “The face of Harriet Tubman, a former slave and abolitionist militant, will replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bills. On April 20, 2016, almost at the end of Barack Obama’s presidential term, these were headlines in the U.S. and world press – because of the power and globalized scope of the U.S. currency.
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1820, escaped from inhumane captivity in 1849, and went on to organize slave rescue networks, many of them to Canada. During the American Civil War (1861-1865) she served with the Union army as a cook, nurse and even a spy. At the end of her life, Tubman – who died in 1913 at the age of 93 – helped organize movements for women’s suffrage.
Precisely, the new bill was to be circulated no later than 2020 to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
A discriminatory designation for women was to be broken, and Tubman’s election to place her alongside other American heroes who are honored in the monetary system was not easy. The consultations lasted almost a year, [there were] thousands of proposals, and in the end, the finalists included First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the legendary leader of the movement against racial segregation and civil rights of the 1950s, Rosa Parks, the courageous young woman who, on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, as racist laws and customs dictated.
But, if in 2016 the then-Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew had already seen a photo and proof of design of the bill with the face of Harriet Tubman, why are there still no effective steps to replace the paper money that has General Andrew Jackson as the protagonist, even if it is moved to the reverse [side] as agreed?
Jackson also has a history: Owner of hundreds of slaves who worked on his Hermitage Plantation, he began in the military camp during the War of Independence against the British. He earned the rank of general by waging war on the Indians, first on the Creek, who called him Jacksa Chula Harjo, which means “Jackson, old and fierce”, and on to the Seminolas, among whom he was known as “sharp knife”. As the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson stood out especially for having signed the Indian Removal Act, guaranteeing the theft of their ancestral lands and provoking a march toward Oklahoma in which thousands of natives died, and he was given the name of “Trail of Tears.
In 2016, Twitter overflowed with predictable messages from conservatives and traditionalists – not to say also racists – who saw the decision as an affront from the forces they called “politically correct”.
There werer also tweets in favor of the inclusion of the ex-slave. A historian commented in the Huffington Post: “In 2016, the United States faces serious problems related to poverty, inequality, and racism. The arrival of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill will not solve these problems. Its purpose is to present itself as a vivid and powerful symbol of freedom, equality, and inclusion. It is up to us citizens to make use of it.
But then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said in 2016 that he opposed the decision that honored Tubman. He called it “pure political correctness”. Rejecting the measure was already an insult to both women and the African American population, and he multiplied it by suggesting that Harriet Tubman should be on the two-dollar bill, [which has been] discontinued in the U.S. monetary system.
What is real now is that the current Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, said last Wednesday, May 22, that plans to replace Andrew Jackson’s portrait on the $20 bill by abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman are on hold until at least 2026.
Mnuchin was questioned by Massachusetts Democratic legislator Ayanna Pressley, who told him: “The American people understand the importance of representation on the banknotes of the world’s most powerful economy. … Do you support Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill?” and the cantifleus came as a response: “I have not made any decision since it refers to that decision not being made, in, as I have said (…) until 2026 probably.”
The representative reminded him that there was a national community process, to which Mnuchen argued: “again, it is a decision of the Treasury Department. Now my decision is focused on security functions”, referring to the fact that they could not be falsified…
Andrew Jackson is an admired president and perhaps even Donald Trump’s favorite. Some historians claim that Jackson had an arrogant and difficult character…
By Flor de Paz, Cuban journalist and plastic artist
March 8, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This is the last interview given by the director of Editorial de la Mujer, who passed away in Havana on Sunday, March 4. Her testimony is part of an audio-visual series that was recently recorded to dignify the work of Cuban journalists, who will be holding their 10th Congress this year.
The project, which will soon be broadcast on Cuban television, is being carried out by young graduates of FAMCA and is the fruit of collaboration between the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC) and the Association Hermanos Saíz (AHS).
— Constance and strength? A trait of my personality. I am, I don’t want to use the term fighter because it has many meanings, but I am a combative woman who always believes in Anaïs Nin’s phrase: “Put your dreams on the horizon and start walking”. You never reach the horizon, we know that, but push.
The entrance hall and living room of Isabel Catalina Moya Richard’s house are very spacious, as in most Havana construction of the first decades of the 20th century. Both spaces are demarcated only by four circular columns, and are passageways for the furniture that inhabits it —sofás, armchairs, armchairs, tables— and, among the latter, a huge one that Enrique Sosa, a professor at the University of Havana and panelist for years in the television program Escriba y Lea [Write and Read], gave to Isabelita.
It’s San Lázaro Street, in the popular neighborhood of Centro Habana. The noises of the road buzz around the house like a volcano erupting. And Isabel, seated in front of the precious wooden table that Professor Sosa gave her, now supporting an old typewriter, a souvenir from La Catrina, photos with Juan Carlos, and Gabriela, the 20-year-old daughter of both of them, as well as other ornaments, talks about the image she has hanging on one of the walls of the room: “it is Frida Kahlo’s Blue House”. It was given her by its author, the Mexican Aurea Alanis, who was in Havana for a course in gender photography.
—I’ve always been very gregarious, I enjoy being in a group, I’m very social, but I realized that I wanted to study journalism because I liked to write, I liked to research, I liked to read, I liked Humphrey Bogart’s films, from film noir, in which it was always a journalist who discovered everything. And I thought: I want to be that kind of person who investigates, who reveals secrets, she says, while Daniela Muñoz Barroso and Lena Hernández’s cameras “focus” on her eloquence.
During a pause, her mother, also named Isabel, also 72, reaches for a glass of water and medication. “All my life I have known what my faculties and shortcomings are. I have a degenerative bone disease that has forced me to use braces to walk since I was born. I’ve been operated on many times and during those periods I devoured books and books; of course, without order or concert, I read The Consecration of Spring, by Carpentier, as well as seven novels by Corín Tellado.
At that stage she tried, above all, to fill herself with a world of words that would allow her to live other lives in her own life. And then, in high school, when teachers began to direct their reading, she realized that she really had writing skills.
—But look, I never approached journalism as literature; I have not written stories or fiction as journalism. No, I’ve always been interested in writing essays on history or politics. It’s important to write about reality. And, of course, I’ve written poems, like everyone else, to give them to the groom, but not because they are publishable. Far from it.
—I would say that I had a beautiful childhood; a very happy growth process. Starting school was an important time because I always loved studying. In the fifth grade, I won a literature contest with a fantasy fiction story. I felt tremendous joy!
“I don’t forget that in elementary school my political life began, even though I wasn’t very aware of that reality at the time. Many times, we would go with Vietnamese hats and leaflets glued on our uniforms to support Vietnam in its war against the United States. Also, one of the first marches I participated in as a child was for Angela Davis’ freedom. Then she came to Cuba and I realized that I was already worried about those problems. Later, in the middle school and high school years, when I made friendships that I still have, and when my interests were taking shape, I definitely knew that I wanted to study journalism.”
Isabel Catalina Moya Richard was born in Havana on November 25, 1961. She is the eldest daughter of a family of four, including her parents. Their existence – marked by the impossibility of their organisms to assimilate calcium and, in turn, an optimism compensating for the lack of the mineral and all difficulties – can be summed up this way:
On her feet, on crutches or in a wheelchair, she is still herself: PhD in Communication Sciences, director of Editorial de la Mujer and the magazine Mujeres, the Associate Professor of the Faculty of Communication at the University of Havana, the president of the Chair of Gender and Communication and coordinator of the International Diploma in Gender and Communication at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism; the admirable José Martí Prize for Dignity and the National Journalism Prize (for her life’s work), awarded by the Union of Journalists of Cuba in 2016 and 2017.
—When I graduated, in 1984, I was the first in the group and was placed as a disseminator in the Office of Nuclear Affairs, but I did not agree. My dissatisfaction did not go down well because that institution was very important at the time. However, I wanted to do journalism and, when I asked to be relocated, I didn’t know where I was going to work for three months. The second choice was Mujeres [Women} magazine, and I took it as a punishment.
“How wrong I was! There were opportunities that many of my classmates didn’t have. I know all of Cuba thanks to my work as a reporter for Mujeres. I have been in the Pico Turquino, on the black beaches of the Isla de la Juventud, in the wonderful landscapes of Pinar del Río, in the Escambray… And, as at the same time I was attending the correspondence section, one day I thought: “Oh, I’m going to do a postgraduate course in research methodology”. And so I was able to design a content analysis tool that allowed us to classify all the letters we received. We get a lot of information from them, both for the magazine’s work and for the attention to the problems they alluded to. And I was forever hooked on research.
With the support of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), Isabelita had the opportunity to do a course on feminism at Casa Morada in Chile, and to participate in numerous international events on gender. Until in one of her daily inner dialogues, she asked herself: “Well, I have to try to create an environment where theories of gender and communication converge and thus we will have a better journalism”. And in this approximation, her doctoral thesis is aligned, for which she received the highest grade.
In the School of Communication, Isabelita gave her first gender classes, a horizon reached by which she lets us see great passion. When thinking about it, she brings to mind, that master’s degree given in Villa Clara, “one of the adventures in which I enrolled with UPEC: the teachers had to stay there every school week”.
Then it was time to found the Chair in Gender and Communications at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, thanks to Guillermo Cabrera, she said. In this way, a line of training and research was opened in our country, of which we can be proud today. This is because, in addition to having graduates from numerous graduate schools, some of them have done their doctoral theses on the subject.
—More than two hundred communicators from all over Latin America have graduated from our courses. Through the Chair, I have also been able to teach at several important universities in the region and in Europe. Two years ago, for the first time, I gave online TV classes to some high schools in the United States. Having students everywhere is a delightful experience.
It’s February 3, 2018, Saturday morning. Isabelita, in front of Daniela and Lena’s cameras, talks about the issues that move her the most. Irina, with a demanding expression, reveals her concern for the continuous sounds coming from Calle San Lázaro, but this is the daily environment in which she lives.
—The challenges facing women in Cuba? The first is to think that they have already achieved everything. When we look at the statistics and see the number of women in the National Assembly, the number of women scientists and women communicators, and that more than seventy percent of the prosecutors are women, and so on, we come up with a distorted idea of reality. Because we have managed to open ourselves up in professions that were not previously considered feminine, we are now in the most complex moment, that of confronting subjectivity, culture, value judgments, and customs. These are much more difficult to change, since they are based on collective imagery and social representations. This is what we sing when we sing a bolero, a salsa song or sometimes, unfortunately, a reggaeton and what the novels tell us: romantic, dependent loves.
Her reflection is based on two substantive arguments: the communicational processes in Cuba do not problematize the reductive approaches of these audiovisual spaces, nor the subjective gaps that in the seventies the media managed to tackle documentaries such as that of Sara Gómez, Mi aportación, and the feature films Retrato de Teresa. Furthermore, attitudes that unwittingly blame and associate the advancement of women with certain family crises are frequent.
Today they say, “Women don’t give birth,” but that’s not the problem. The problem is that society has put women in the dichotomy of motherhood or professional fulfillment, so society has to change in order for the couple, the family, to have more children. It is not just a matter for women because even with all the advances in science and technology, it takes an egg and sperm to conceive a human being. But the media, instead of questioning this sexist approach, return and blame women for the problem of low birth rate.
Despite being public, of representing a social system that has human beings as the center of its goals, the media in our country does not achieve a racial balance, for example, Its aesthetics are very homogeneous: the majority of women come out with straightened hair. I liked it very much that the other day I saw a young black girl with her braids on the Morning Magazine. Because, as I say, there is no problem with straightening your hair, but in that fashion, it becomes a cultural mandate that forces you to assume aesthetics with which not all want to express themselves. It is still a challenge for diversity to be understood.
Using her experience as an example of what can be done in the communication processes, Isabelita talks about a work recently published in Mujeres magazine. It was about the people who sell coffee and fried foods from a window of what was the living room of her house, of a small house. And she asks, “What about the children living in these homes, where do they do their homework? You guys get to work? How do you reconcile business and family life in a small space like that??? Oh, and what good is it, grandparents live longer, but now the child is going to marry so grandma must move out of her room, and sleep in the living room…?
I know that there are people who think that these issues are minor and that the only thing that matters is global warming, but in what happens global warming there are people who live similar tragedies every day, so it is very good that there is journalism for global warming and that there is journalism that helps in the day-to-day, a service journalism and a journalism of social activism.
Isabelita, what does journalism mean to you?
A commitment to my contemporaries, to my country, to my people; a passion, a passion that saves. I have been sick, in the hospital at terrible times, when one of those moments in which the fragility of the human body is observed. Someone passed by and said to me, “Oh, how I like your magazine”. And, listen to me, all the fears and pains have been frightened away. So I tell you, journalism is my salvation.
And she added:
Rosa Luxemburg said that socialism is not just a knife and fork problem, it is a profound cultural revolution. I, therefore, believe that journalism will help transform machismo, sexism, homophobia, racism, the inheritance of five hundred years of Western Judaeo-Christian culture, first, from an atrocious first colonialism and, later, from a capitalism that destroys human beings.
(taken from Cubaperiodistas)
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Spike Lee expects Trump to see “BlacKkklansman”, his film about the Ku Klux Klan, a passionate film, with moments of tension and comedy about race relations in the United States over the decades.
“BlacKkkKlansman,” based on the true story of an African-American police detective in the 1970s who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, hits theaters on Friday.
Lee said the film’s release is specifically scheduled to commemorate the anniversary of last year’s violent clashes between white nationalists and anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a woman was killed.
Trump was heavily criticized last year for blaming both sides for the violence, and images of the protests are included in the film.
“I want the man in the White House to see it too. I’m not saying his name,” Lee told Reuters Television Wednesday at the film’s Beverly Hills premiere.
“When I saw the horrific act of national and American terrorism, I knew right away that I wanted to do this,” Lee said of what happened in Charlottesville.
Topher Grace, who plays David Duke – leader of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1970s – said the cast and crew were impressed by the film’s contemporary relevance during shooting.
“It becomes more timely with each passing second, unfortunately. This film should not be more timely now than it was when the events occurred, but unfortunately it is,” Grace said.
(With information from Reuters)
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump was the candidate of several supremacist groups. Since his rise to power he has come to declare that among the supremacists there are “good people”.