Race in Cuba: Essays on the Revolution and Racial Inequality

Race in Cuba: Essays on the Revolution and Racial Inequality

Race in Cuba: Essays on the Revolution and Racial Inequality

Race in Cuba: Essays on the Revolution and Racial Inequality


As a young militant in the 26th of July Movement, Esteban Morales Doménguez participated in the overthrow of the Batista regime and the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. The revolutionaries, he understood, sought to establish a more just and egalitarian society. But Morales Dominguez, an Afro-Cuban, knew that the complicated question of race could not be ignored, or simply willed away in a post-revolutionary context. Today, he is one of Cuba's most prominent Afro-Cuban intellectuals and its leading authority on the race question. Available for the first time in English, the essays collected here describe the problem of racial inequality in Cuba, provide evidence of its existence, constructively criticize efforts by the Cuban political leadership to end discrimination, and point to a possible way forward. Morales Dominguez surveys the major advancements in race relations that occurred as a result of the revolution, but does not ignore continuing signs of inequality and discrimination. Instead, he argues that the revolution must be an ongoing process and that to truly transform society it must continue to confront the question of race in Cuba.


Toward the end of 2009 sixty African Americans, some quite prominent, signed a letter to “draw attention to the conditions of racism and racial discrimination in Cuba that have hitherto been ignored.” The signatories accused the Cuban government of “increased violations of civil and human rights for those black activists in Cuba who dare raise their voices

against the island’s racial system. … Racism in Cuba … is unacceptable

and must be confronted!” Some of us, African Americans and others, who have long defended the Cuban Revolution, countered these charges with the facts of the Revolution both at home and abroad.

But perhaps nothing refutes these accusations better than the publication of Professor Esteban Morales’s new book by one of Cuba’s most prestigious publishers. Its very existence gives the lie to the claims of the sixty. Desafíos de la problemática racial en Cuba II (Challenges of the Racial Problem in Cuba II) is, as the title suggests, the sequel to an earlier book published in 2007, so coveted that it is virtually impossible to find a copy for purchase. It was the first book published on the question of race on the island of Cuba in more than four decades. The charge, therefore, of the sixty that “racial discrimination has hitherto been ignored” in Cuba might have some merit had it been made before the publication of . . .

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