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Between 1935 and 1938, the monthly newspaper Adelante functioned as an expression of the anti-racist struggle in Cuba, denouncing the persistence of racial inequality and racism. Adelante debated the problem of Afro-Cubans, and, in the same phase, economic reparation was demanded in response to the political participation of black people in the Cuban nation. This […]
Historical connections in the Global South: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Cuban Anti-racist struggle for Democracy
This paper reconstructs the connections between Du Bois and Cuban intellectuals within global south struggles for anti-racist democracies. The first section shows how Du Bois connections with Cuba occurred both at the level of intellectual collectives and through interpersonal relationships. Besides the prominent anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, Du Bois maintained contact with Gustavo Urrutia, who was an intellectual and journalist, author of an opinion column in the influential Cuban newspaper “Diario de la Marina.” Urrutia’s column Ideals of a Race focused on racism and colonialism in Cuba from 1928 to 1931.
Urrutia and Du Bois connection was initially given through the publication of some writings by Urrutia in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) magazine, The Crisis, in 1931 and 1932. Urrutia’s ideas were anchored in a community around the Cuban periodical “Adelante” which functioned as an expression of the anti-racist struggle and denunciation of the wounds in Cuban democracy after Machado anti-popular government (1925-1933). “Adelante” not only debated the problem of blacks in the Cuban nation but also demanded economic reparation as a response to the legacies of slavery.
My argument regards the work of black intellectuals that, during the 1930s, addressed issues that were close to a Dubosian perspective (Itzigshon and Brown 2019). I analyze how these organic intellectuals worked in a Marxist-Dubosian way of analysis regarding racism, culture, and nationalism in Cuba.
In March of 1936, “Adelante” wrote a piece on W.E.B. Du Bois, in which he appears as an analyst of the historical injustices to blacks in the United States, highlighting the publications of the University of Atlanta. Although “Adelante” stands out bibliographical work of Du Bois, his work on “structural racism” was raised. This gives an account of intellectuals and activists’ nationalist and anti-imperialist perspective. In this vein, I refer not only to Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction (1935) but also to Gustavo Urrutia’s writings in “Adelante” under the title El nuevo Negro (1937) and Alberto Arredondo’s El Negro en Cuba (1939) as part of the same political-intellectual anti-racist struggle.
Focusing on Cuba is not neutral since this country played a crucial role in the intellectual production in Latin America not only because of the multiple connections with socialism in Europe and the United States but also because of an anti-racist political movement linked to the reconstruction of republicanism in the Caribbean.
Jorge Daniel Vásquez is a Doctor in Education (La Salle University, Costa Rica) and a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His current research integrates sociology of race and ethnicity, global and transnational sociology, and critical theory.