Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Race Issue that Never Seems to End

The Race Issue that Never Seems to End
September 26, 2012
Maria Matienzo Puerto

HAVANA TIMES — Adela's in-laws are a typical Cuban couple of their
generation…an elderly pair with shared hatreds. The mother-in-law still
hasn't forgiven the father-in-law for his infidelity committed with a
black woman way back during their first years of marriage.

She brings it up every chance she gets, but he'll say nothing. Still,
Adela told me that that the black woman was the love of his life but
that the relationship didn't go forward precisely because of her being
black. What was his family going to say?

That was the thinking of many white men of that time (at least I thought
so). Black and mulatto women were only "chosen" as mistresses, but never
as wives, though there were plenty of anomalies of course.

How terrible, right? Given the already disadvantaged social position of
women, being black or mulatto was yet another — let's say — "subcategory."

I had thought these social constructs had been left behind in the
distant 20th century when another friend, Elena, started telling me
about what happened to her in a relationship that ended a few weeks earlier.

After a several weeks of "passionate" lovemaking, the guy — a white man
emerging as one of Cuba's nouveau riche — decided they shouldn't
continue because he was falling in love and that such a relationship was
going to interfere with his plans.

She was devastated, while he never realized that the feelings might be
mutual. Nonetheless, Elena understood and consoled herself thinking that
for her, too, a relationship at that time could have been counterproductive.

But, as the old saying goes, "Lies have short legs." Less than two weeks
after the breakup "European social style" — without tears, pleas or an
excess of heartbreak — there came the news. He was engaged to a gorgeous

There were no complaints from Elena…there was really nothing to complain
about. She was left with a bitter taste in her mouth for having been
rejected, tossed to the side like a piece of old furniture, livestock or
who knows what else.

These personal stories that seem drawn from old-fashioned melodramatic
novels continue on in modern times.

I don't know how things are in other parts of the world, but here the
issue of race has no end. When you think some things have progressed a
little, you realize that others have slipped backwards I don't know how
many steps.

And if we add to this the fact that education here isn't aimed at making
people more assertive in seeking needed changes in our society, I really
don't know where we're going.

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