other Black and white communists who left or were kicked out of the Communist Party in the early l990s.* It did my spirit good to be in a location where being part of a socialist group with communist ties opened doors. In my travels and study in Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa-even in progressive contexts in those countries-I had never before felt the welcome that a socialist-communist affiliation brought in Cuba. At the same time, I have never experienced such a layering of contradictions as I did traveling there. These mind-splitting contradictions speak volumes to the important question raised by humanitarian aid scholar, Angela Raven-Roberts: where do issues of race and power manifest themselves globally and how are these issues often veiled or encoded in other terms (200l)? ¶ In this article we present three anecdotes from my recent trip to Cuba that illuminate ways that privilege and domination manifest themselves in the tourist industry . We draw upon these anecdotes in the tradition of qualitative sociologists, critical race legal theorists, and multiracial feminist theorists, whose analyses of power and capitalism are often revealed in their description of specific, embodied scenes (Blee, 1991; Collins, 1998; Du Bois, 1903; Ferber, 1988; Matsuda, 1996; Moraga & Anzaldlia, 1983; Rollins, 1985; Romero, 1997; Williams, 1991). These three anecdotes spring from oppressive demonstrations of power, control and white supremacist practices rooted in Spanish colonization, subsequent US occupations, and the embargo (1963-present). When viewed together, these scenes reflect dangerous ways in which tourism undermines Cuban economic strategies, supports prostitution, and undercuts Afro-Cubans' struggles against racism . Under the guise of supporting a socialist country-and often in the name of progressive politics-tourism has become an embargo-era means in which white supremacy and patriarchy are upheld. ¶ The history of the external domination of Cuba set the stage for racism and sexism that are currently being reinscribed through a dramatic surge in tourism (from the 1990s and continuing). While this escalation has come from tourists across the globe, our primary focus in this article is US tourism in Cuba. This surge reflects Cuba's need for U.S. dollars since it is close to impossible to obtain crucial supplies , mainly tech nological and medical, without U.S. money . The influx also reveals progressives' long standing ailiation with, respect for, and romance with the Cuban Revolution. In fact, there has long been a symbolic umbilical cord between Cuba and progressives outside of Cuba. ¶ The emotional, psychic and political connections between progressives and Cuban history and culture are multiple. As novelist and scholar Andrea O'Reilly Herrera writes, "Cuba has become a kind of real and imagined place or space...the object of imagination and desire" (2001 zxxix). Cuba is the home of a rich Afro-Cuban culture-Santeria, the Rumba, jazz, hip-hop, folk music, and art infused with African symbolism. This creativity has both been a source of spiritual and political sustenance in Cuba and has resonated deeply with what historian and cultural theorist Robin Kelley has termed the "Black radical imagination" (2002). Cuban exile Rafael Saumell writes, "...the true Cuban
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- Fall '14
- Fidel Castro