Colonialist images in contemporary Cuba
With the increase in tourists, many of them from Europe and South America, Cuba has seen a great increase in the number of disrespectful images one can find for sale on the streets, especially in places such as Old Havana and Varadero, prime tourist areas. This imagery has also spread to t-shirts, some even worn by Black Cubans, such as those at left.
Gloria Rolando has touched on this issue in her new movie, Dialog with My Grandmother:
"This film project will also offer a very different image from the one that the local tourist industry attempts to project, namely the sexual stereotype of mulatas in extremely insensitive and provocative poses; also black women with prominent lips, breasts, buttocks, holding cigars of exaggerated sizes. These trinkets are not funny and not amusing. Instead these insensitive souvenirs sold in Cuba project a false understanding of the real image of black women in general. It is through the recognition of womanist community leadership that I draw attention to the misrepresentation of the current Afro Cuban experience through the promotion and sale of consumer products via the exaggerated, affected misappropriation of African Diaspora representation."
There is a tradition of these images going back at least 100 years. Ugly cartoons were common in the build up to the Massacre of 1912. They are by no means confined to Cuba, and they are enjoying a resurgence not only in Cuba but also in Colombia, the US, and elsewhere.
See our Picture Gallery: statuettes for sale in Varadero, a major tourist resort east of Havana and Matanzas, itself a cradle of African culture in Cuba. It is unlikely these were being sold through a government store, as there are strict penalties for producing and selling pornographic images. Intersectionality!
A related issue is the number of costumed caricatures running around in Old Havana. Is this the best Havana has to offer?
|Statue on sale in Varadero
Negro Soy Yo: Hip Hop and Raced Citizenship in Neoliberal Cuba, By Marc D. Perry 2016
Memín Pinguín, comic book character in Mexico
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