Interesting article; and for reasons I haven’t completely figured out; the when and why these: “Cuba hasn’t solve the problem of Racism” articles are rolled out periodically. I start out with these presentations asking: “Ok, what does the writer want me to know, and why?” In this particular case I am also not exactly sure how I am supposed to feel about Black folks equally filling both Cuban, and US prisons far in proportional excess of their population numbers; should I feel better as a result of this fact? And since I have no intention of putting in an application for the U.S. Communist Party (has anybody seen them lately?) What am I to do with this information? First, I question if a topic of this complexity can be adequately covered in a limited OP-ED space. I agree with Rep. James Clyburn when speaking of the Democrats shortcomings in defense of the ACA: “One of the things in Washington that I dislike more than anything else is when people say to me, ‘If you’re explaining it, you’re losing it.’ I don’t like that at all,” Clyburn said. “I really believe the American people are deserving of explanations.” We like quick and easy answers no matter how weak and faulty the logic: Racism exist in a country therefore that country’s political system has failed. Maybe that nation’s political system has failed; and Racism is just one of the many symptoms and/or casualties of that failure. And another way of looking at it is that the persistence of racism in Cuba says that there is something much deeper going on here; something that just can’t be fixed by the structure of the political-economic system, any political-economic system. That “deep-psyche” existence of racism in my thinking is a much deeper and more serious problem in need of solving. That means that people can live out their lives and not be aware of their racially influenced ideas and actions; be they progressive or conservative. All nations regardless of their economic system need to undertake a national effort of spiritual cleaning and healing; there must be 1,000 variations in all parts of the culture and especially in schools of some form of truth telling the likes of a Prof. Gates: African Americans:-Many Rivers to Cross Segments (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/ ) For sure Cuba like any country that has been subject to a colonial heritage based in the ideology that Africans were subhuman, equal to animals, or things. To fix that deep and insidious consciousness, they would need to create a society that could actually go in and thoroughly wash the hearts and minds of people, Black and White! I recently watched a PBS-NewsHour interview of John Ridley (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/july-dec13/twelveyears_11-18.html) one of the producers for the film “12 Years a Slave”. One of the interesting points he made was that films like: “Gone with the wind” and “Django” were on some level “entertaining”; but they have also distorted and sanitized the comprehensive brutality of slavery, and, in my words, the extent to which this brutal system so thoroughly invaded the mind and soul of the slave, along with both the slave owning, and non-slave owning White population. And it is here that Karl Marx and his ideological desendents got it wrong; Slavery in the Americas was much more than just one of several inconvenient historical steps toward a utopian society. This system bred a deep and lasting consciousness and life of its own. For we now see, long after the end of the civil war the Republican party making its bread and case by convincing a huge number of White Americans to essentially vote against their own interest. Just think about the millions of people (not Black or Latino) who are without any health care, affordable or not; who are encouraging their representatives in congress (who do have very good and affordable health care), to block, stop and dismantle the ACA. I think this level of “class-confusion” was even beyond Marx’s comprehension. One problem that plagues both Cuba and the U.S. on the “race question” is that both countries avoid the very painful, but necessary authentic conversation about race. The Cubans pretend that they have solved it through socialist consciousness; and we pretend to have serious conversations about race, by talking about the absence of a Black female character on Saturday Night Live.
Further, a major question the article raised for me was: Who said communism could solve the problem of racism anyway? Surely it must have been communist, but that is just self-serving and wishful thinking. Most of the best known and most popular religions assert that the proper adherence to their theology puts an end to racism; but should we interpret their failure at this objective as a reason to reject the theology? We don’t because we understand the non-racism tenet they espouse is a goal, not a present state of reality. Perhaps political-economic systems can also claim the: “Don’t count us out if we are not perfect yet”. The Communist (If I could speak for them briefly), would probably say that they are in the historical unfinished process of creating a new man and woman freed from the shackles of racism which exist primarily to turn humans into capital, and to turn them against each other. The theological view could make a similar claim that they too see humanity as an unfinished project; and a spiritual work in progress; religious piety would mean the dropping of petty beliefs like race superiority; the new person free from the sin of racism, an idea created in what Augustine might say in the faithless city of man; would be destroyed through the promise of salvation, and can be born in a new creature, fully realized and unburdened by race, in the faithful city of God. Ultimately I would take the theological side in appreciating that both systems, one that turns God into a commodity, and the other that denies His existence except as a historical invention of man, are both incapable of eliminating racism; or any other human evil. But I would challenge the writer and the NYT: Ok, Cuba has not been able to get it right; then if we are better, why not do better? Why not set the standard for all of the Americas by a national initiative to finally eliminate the Black mis-education pipeline from elementary school to prison. It is us (U.S.) not Cuba that should be teaching the “lesson on race”.
Finally, I actually think that time, rather than economic systems may be a more powerful agent of change. And in some ways we may need to wait while we work; knowing we are on the right side of history. I agree with the words of Oprah Winfrey when she suggests that time is the enemy of racism: “There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die,”… It sounds cold, but there is some biological sense making to it. Many of the people who grew up with images of superiority for themselves, and the inferiority of others, may not be capable of turning that racial moral corner. The alternative is to live, and work without hope; and hope I believe is the best friend and companion of justice. No nation, political or economic system, no matter how powerful can hide from the inevitability of justice; for justice, “will roll down like a mighty river”, even in Cuba.