Women are at the forefront of Cuba’s pro-Black movement.
While the country’s revolution helped birth a more inclusive Cuba, where afro-cubanos are given the same access to healthcare and education, institutional equality doesn't mean anti-blackness has disappeared on the island. Racism permeates throughout society, from inside the homes to pop culture and media, and it’s something Havana’s Afro-Descendent Organization for Women fight to eradicate.
The group, started by Lucila Insua Brindis in 2012, works to crush stereotypes and stigmas Black women experience while fighting broader racial justice issues.
“The Cuban Revolution brought a lot of positive changes for Black women in Cuba in education and with access to resources, but the racial problem in Cuba is not necessarily a state problem or an institutional problem,” Brindis, 67, told Fusion.
That’s why her group, which has the support of the government, takes a more personal approach to their advocacy.
“We use our platform to teach Afro-Cuban women to love their natural curly and kinky hair and their dark skin, which all comes from Africa,” she said.
When it’s the media perpetuating Eurocentric ideals of beauty and treating Black bodies as inferior, then Brindis and her organization of 40 women turn their attention to those culture producers.
“We write to newspapers, and if we watch a show that we don’t like, we write to the producers and ask why all the black characters were the criminals in the show,” she said.
The afro-cubana feels a strong connection to the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S., another fight started and led by Black women. As Cuba and the United States strive to re-establish diplomatic ties, Brindis hopes that she and her group can work together with BLM to broaden the conversation on anti-blackness and racism and work to combat these ills together.
“We support our brothers and sisters in the U.S. and we are connecting with other networks around Latin America because we are all fighting for the same thing: racial equality and to shatter negative stereotypes about black people,” she said.