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In Havana, a Look at Race & Racism in Cuban Art

Juan Roberto Diago, “Día de Reyes,” 2019 Courtesy Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana

Juan Roberto Diago, “Día de Reyes,” 2019
Courtesy Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana

By Cuban Art News

Unlike most historical surveys, the exhibition Nada Personal (Nothing Personal), begins in the present moment.

“Contemporary art,” says curator Roberto Cobas Amate, “is where the frictions between the races, the theme of racism, is most evident.” And racism, he adds, continues to be an unresolved problem.

With the title Nada Personal, says Cobas Amate, the curators wanted to point out that racism is generally not about a specific person. “It’s against the race, against the color of the skin,” Cobas Amate says.

In the Edificio Cubano of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the exhibition begins just outside the gallery, with Día de Reyes (2019), a large-scale painting by Juan Roberto Diago. “A current work,” says Cobas Amate, “in which he expresses his militant opposition to racism.”

Cobas Amate points out a phrase at the center of the canvas: Tu odio no me mata (Your hate does not kill me). At the upper right is another: Soy humano igual que tu (I am human, the same as you).

Ser negra en Argentina: la mirada de una mujer en un país en busca visibilizar a sus afrodescendientes

Credit: CNN Español

Credit: CNN Español

“Yo no nací negra. A mí me hicieron ver que yo era negra”, dice Jennifer Parker.

Nacida en la provincia de San Luis, en el noroeste de la Argentina, el padre de Jennifer fue un jugador de baloncesto de Estados Unidos quien viajó para jugar en los clubes locales, allí se enamoró y tuvo una hija. Unos pocos años después de que Jennifer naciera, él volvió a Estados Unidos.

Para Jennifer, cantante de una banda country liderada por la estrella Vane Ruth, nacer negra en Argentina no le fue fácil al crecer. El racismo lo conoció desde muy pequeña, dice. “Era bastante duro crecer en una provincia tan chica porque la gente era muy cerrada”, dice Jennifer quien asegura que había un rechazo a las personas de raza negra y una visión de “supremacía blanca”.

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Afro-Mexicans May Finally Get Recognition in the Mexican Constitution, But Many Say That’s Not Enough

Credit: Ebony Bailey for Remezcla

Credit: Ebony Bailey for Remezcla

Several months ago, we reported on the critical fallout from the film La Negrada, which attempted to depict a storyline about Afro-Mexicans only to be accused by Afro-Mexican civil society of perpetuating the same stereotypes. At the time, we noted the film work of a young Afro-Mexican film maker named Ebony Bailey who presented a different narrative from within the community. In this article she shares the journey for recognition currently happening for Afro-Mexicans

“We are talking about 450 years of invisibilization.” With these words, Gina Diédhiou echoes the sentiments of many Afro-Mexicans in the Latin American country. And after centuries of erasure (and because of the work of this community), Mexico is taking its first step in recognizing its Black population. Earlier this week, the Senate unanimously voted to approve recognition of Afro-Mexicans in the national constitution. Although full approval is still pending – the lower house of Mexican Congress still needs to vote on it – the Senate’s action has made history.

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The Race of Disaster: Black Communities and the Crisis in Puerto Rico

(Photo: Boys Fishing in Arroyo, Puerto Rico, Hilda Lloréns)

(Photo: Boys Fishing in Arroyo, Puerto Rico, Hilda Lloréns)

By: Hilda Lloréns

When Hurricane María made landfall in Puerto Rico in September 2017, it found a society long in the throes of a socio-political and economic crisis. In fact, economic downturns and recession coupled with waves of mass migration have been characteristic of the Puerto Rican experience since the early decades of American occupation. Predatory and vulture capitalists have circled and preyed on the colony since the second half of the twentieth century though the façade of political and economic stability began to officially unravel in the 1990s. Currently, philantrocapitalists interested in the island’s recovery dot the post-hurricane landscape.

Recent narratives have focused on the inability of the local and federal state to ameliorate the worsening social and economic conditions of island residents. While these powerful actors are central to concerns about Puerto Rico’s future, the fixation on the “top” and “center” socio-political spheres, in my view, run the danger of glossing over the myriad ways in which social sectors on the “bottom” or at the “margins” have been navigating the multiple economic, social, and political crises that have historically plagued them. With these assertions I am not suggesting that those who live on the margins of society are somehow exempt from suffering and hardship; rather I reveal how these individuals exercise their agency by crafting life affirming strategies that resist long-term oppressive systems, such as the racial capitalism with which Caribbean people have long grappled.

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