Saturday, October 26, 2019

Aline Helgs Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912 :: Aline Helg History Cuba Essays

Aline Helg's Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912 Introduction: Within Aline Helg’s book titled, Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912, she includes many historical events that serve as a foundation for her arguments in order to emphasize the "black struggle for equality" starting in the late 19th century and according to her, still transpiring today. These events are, the formation of the first black independent political party called the, Partido Independiente de Color (146), the United States’ role during intervention and the black struggle to overcome the system of racial hierarchies that had developed in Cuba. Blacks had to fight for equality while simultaneously being, "†¦accused of racism and antinationalism". (145) According to Helg, this placed an undue burden on the black groups that were organizing to demand their "rightful share" because it made divided the goals of their plight into many different facets, thus yielding a lack of unity necessary for their success. During the United Stat es’ intervention, Cuban nationalism as a whole was threatened which also served to downplay the importance of demands being made by the Partido’s leader, Estenoz. The United States displayed a greater concern on the affirmation of its power as an international police, rather than allying its resources to help the indignant and discriminated Afro-Cubans. All of these circumstances illustrate the extremities of the political and social institutions that the Afro-Cubans attempted to defeat but could not. They also exemplify the perpetuation of the black struggle, and how it affected and continues to affect the lives of Afro-Cubans in present-day Cuba. Racial Hierarchies and Ideologies in Cuba The entire struggle that Helg is alluding to in her book is founded within the racial hierarchies and racial ideologies that were formed early on in Cuba’s history. Several aspects of Cuban society (as discussed by Helg) served to foster the racism and the antagonistic attitudes that whites had towards the Afro-Cubans. An acute example of the inequality that the blacks were made to suffer was the denial of citizenship after 1886. According to Helg, Afro-Cubans were denied the titles of "Don" and "Doà ±a" on their identity cards. This was a blatant form of discrimination against because it prevented blacks from being considered as first class citizens, "†¦despite the fact that they were full taxpayers". (25) What Helg means by this is that even though the Afro-Cubans were participating in the economic spectrum of Cuba, they were still denied access into the political and social arenas.

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