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Yusimí Rodríguez LópezYusimí Rodríguez López
writer, journalist

Yusimí Rodríguez López, an aspiring fiction writer and a contributor to the two-year old online news publication, HavanaTimes.org (published in both Spanish and English), attended the Casa de las Américas dialogues.  I so enjoyed my conversation with her that, upon my return home, I’ve read several of her articles and interviews on freedom of the press, street musicians, transvestites, and other aspects of everyday life and “spiritual rhythm” in Havana. (She is quoted to have used this latter phrase in characterizing Cuba to U.S. writer Paul Nelson; www.globalvoicesradio.org/cuba/pages/17_jpg.html .)    She also wrote a provocative commentary on “nappy” hair, “Lidiando con mi ‘pasa’”/Dealing with my nappy hair) for Sandra’s blog that’s been posted on another site as well. (Ethnolust posted a reflection on it a few days ago.) -- Afro-Cuban Women Debating Cuba Today  6/13/2011 Ethnolust 

See also Afro–Cuban writer Yusimí Rodríguez López  10/21/2011 Diaspora Vibe

Her article, ‘The Revolution Made Blacks Human’  11/3/2009 Havana Times, prompted a lively debate in the comments section where columnist Alberto Jones participated.

Links/Enlaces top

¿Hay un movimiento afrodescendiente en Cuba?  11/25/2014 Diario de Cuba: "Como anunciaba el programa de la Primera Jornada Cubana contra el Racismo, el martes 18 de noviembre tuvo lugar el panel "Movimientos afrodescendientes en América Latina y el Caribe en el siglo XXI", en la Casa de la Poesía, ubicada en La Habana Vieja. Bárbara Danzié, historiadora del Archivo Nacional, fungió como moderadora, y los panelistas fueron Daysi Rubiera, Roberto Zurbano y Tomás Fernández Robaina, quienes hicieron sus presentaciones en ese orden."

¿Cómo combatir el racismo desde la labor comunitaria?  11/21/2014 Diario de Cuba: por Yusimí Rodríguez López - "Una de las preguntas del público a los representantes de estos proyectos estuvo enfocada en la forma en que estos combaten la discriminación racial desde su labor comunitaria. Todos coincidieron en responder que lo hacen a través de la promoción de valores. También intervino la historiadora y escritora Daysi Rubiera, autora de importantes libros como Reyita y Desafío al silencio, y compiladora, junto a la fallecida Inés María Martiatu, de los textos reunidos en el libro Afrocubanas. Daysi Rubiera es también asesora de la Red Barrial Afrodescendiente. Esta red, fundada dos años atrás dentro del Proyecto Balcón de Arimao, está integrada por los barrios capitalinos Balcón Arimao, Buena Vista, Pogolotti, Iglesia Ebenezer, Párraga, Barrio de los Ángeles (cerca de la CUJAE), y Alamar Playa."

Premios Oriente-2014 para Yusimí Rodríguez y Ariel Fonseca  6/30/2014 Granma: "Los Premios Oriente-2014, convocados por esa reconocida casa editorial en ocasión del aniversario 43 de su creación, fueron otorgados a Yusimí Rodríguez López, de la Habana, y al espirituano Ariel Fonseca Rivero, en las categorías Cuento (Premio José Soler Puig), y Literatura para Niños y Jóvenes (Premio Herminio Almendros), respectivamente. The Cuban Dream, es el título con que fue galardonada Rodríguez López, por el jurado integrado en Cuento por Francisco López Sacha, Aída Bahr, y Ahmel Echevarría, mientras Fonseca Rivero obtenía el lauro con el libro de cuentos para niño El circo invisible, según el veredicto de Julio Yánez, Teresa Melo y Reinaldo Álvarez Lemus."

Cojeando... ¿hasta el éxito?  2/13/2014 Diario de Cuba: "Alfredo me muestra emails impresos de hoteles (Melia Cayo Santa María, Sandals Royal Hicacos, Sol Cayo Largo) que han solicitado su producto para comercializarlo. Ha logrado formulaciones para champú color y acondicionador color. Además, puede impartir clases de peluquería para la aplicación del producto. La representante de Alfredo ha enviado cartas a Marino Murillo y otros funcionarios para que se agilice el otorgamiento de la personalidad jurídica. Ha recibido respuestas y hay todo un cartapacio de cartas, según él, pero todo sigue igual. Muchas personas están a la espera de que empiece a producirse la línea de productos Núñez Elías, y sobre todo él, que ve en ello la posibilidad de prosperar."

Cubans Speak of Their Journey to Their Past  7/17/2013 Havana Times: "My grandmother was a very close friend of Florinda Diago’s, who was a descendant of Josefa. Other members of the Ganga tribe, the precursors of these traditions in Cuba, were in the same ship that brought her from Africa. These traditions were passed on to me through my grandmother and aunt. I’ve known the dances, the songs and the ritual beating of the drums since I was a kid, because I was raised within the traditions, though I’m not a member of the Ganga Longoba African culture group. My aunt is always singing traditional songs and my grandmother used to tell me many stories from the old country. In Mukpangumba, I played the drums and danced. I don’t know the exact place in Africa my ancestors lived. Orlando Herrera, Perico’s former city historian, used to say we must have come from Nigeria or the Congo, because of our physical features."

Cuba/Africa: An Inspiring Example of Human Survival  7/8/2013 Havana Times: "On my second trip to the village to show them a video of the Cubans from Perico, who had seen them on video and were sending them greetings, they asked me to stay, to be more than just a tourist. I explained that our cameras needed to have their batteries charged and that we were susceptible to malaria. They said that they would buy a generator, buy gasoline and find mosquito nets for us. I couldn’t believe that they would try to give us something. We decided that if all they wanted was for us to be with them in the village, then we would buy the generator and buy the gasoline ourselves."

The Cuban Rap Agency Controversy (Sekou’s Version)  2/1/2012 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "HT: You weren’t bothered that Magia was a woman who was directing a lot of male rappers? Sekou: That’s not the case. We’ve always had female directors at the Rap Agency. If another woman director comes later, that’s fine. I think men have held more than enough management positions in the world for more than enough time. If a woman is leading and doing the job, at least in my personal case, that’s not a problem. But it’s a problem if someone is in that position to carry out certain responsibilities but they don’t fulfill them as they should. If tomorrow they make another woman the director, that’s fine. But as artists we want them to do their job for us. We want to have a director who facilitates things for us. I want someone who will help me if I want to do a concert that requires a lot of logistics. I want someone who will support me with the expenses. However, if you can’t help me but you can spend money on yourself, then what’s up with that? Those are things one might suspect and comment about, but when you go through the paperwork you realize that it’s an objective fact."

A Cuba Artist’s ‘Corporal Concepts’  1/5/2012 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez

The Unity of the Majority of Cubans  12/29/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "The question is: Will this minority at some point have the legal right to organize its members, or unite with other minorities or with/in other parties? Another question: Will the Communist Party of Cuba at some point cease to be “The” party to simply become a political party; one of many that people can join as they wish?"

Cuba Hip Hop Has Its Magic  12/22/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "Recently a large part of the rappers that belong to the Cuban Rap Agency sent a letter to Culture Minister Abel Prieto, in which they complained about the work of Magia López at the head of the agency and asked that she be removed. This is an interview with Magia for Havana Times made before the sending of the letter. She talks about the CD Disco Negro and other topics including her work at the Cuban Rap Agency."

Maite Vera: A Cuban Who Writes Soap Operas  12/18/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "Many Cubans feel Maite’s scripts reflect a rose-colored vision of the regime, and perhaps the explanation lies in this documentary. We discover a woman who lived through the Batista dictatorship and belongs to the generation that built the Revolution, experiencing the excitement of that period. Likewise, within the years of the revolution she graduated from the University of Theatre and Drama – at the age of 50. Therefore her vision could hardly be other than that of an active defender of the cause."

Cuba As Seen By Tourists  11/10/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "With time I’ve come to meet many tourists and I always wonder how the world looks to someone who can buy a round-trip ticket to any part of the planet like it’s something normal. Their lives in those countries seem like fiction to me and they stir my curiosity."

Afro–Cuban writer Yusimí Rodríguez López  10/21/2011 Diaspora Vibe: "Consequently, the online sphere of debate and cultural critique that’s been expanded to include such interlocutors as Sandra Alvarez, Yusimí and their mentor Lalita Matiatu (http://afrocubana.wordpress.com/ ) does not, like radio and television, reach a mass Cuban audience. Yet the limited access that does exist to these online sites of discursive and cultural struggle aren’t blocked or censored as are sites deemed to be “counterrevolutionary.” This suggests that these relatively new cyberspatial projects are the outcome of an ongoing negotiation between the counter-publics of civil society and the state, which struggles to sustain its legitimacy in a context of growing social disparities and ideological contestation. The international accessibility of these blogs and other e-publications facilitates an exchange of ideas beneficial to all concerned, ensuring that the embargo does not prevent the flow of ideas and intercultural communications."

Cuba Seen by Tourists (II): Christian Returns  10/9/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez

Cuba Woman’s Small Business Secret  9/5/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez

A ‘Maroon’ in Cuba’s Hip Hop  8/29/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "Last week I attended the “Workshop on Gender” that took place within the framework of the Seventh Symposium on Hip Hop, dedicated on this occasion to peace. It was held from August 17–21 at the Plaza Cultural Center in Havana. There I met Lourdes Suarez, the “maroon” (Spanish: cimmaron, the word for “fugitive slave” used throughout Latin America) who along with her comrade Yasser “El Gallo” Miranda, makes up the Espejo Project."

Cuba’s Rotilla Festival Out in 2011, Back in 2012?  8/17/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "Last year, as is customary, we were approached by the vice minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, who had several meetings with us before the festival, one of them at the office of the Asociacion Hermano Saiz, which ironically now says that I’m not a member (I’ll say more about this in a minute). He told us: “Look guys, for us to help you, you have to help us. The group Omni Zona Franca cannot perform at the festival because they present a problem to national security and the interests of our policy on culture.” I don’t consider dangerous Omni. If an artist is able to destabilize a government, that government must be pretty fragile and unstable anyway. Recently, in a session of the Cuban parliament, President Raul Castro explained that there should not be intolerance towards criticism, that it’s necessary to listen to all sides for the country to grow. Notwithstanding, some of his vice ministers and vice presidents have some highly conservative views that would make you think we were still in the ‘80s."

Leaders Scare Me  7/11/2011 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "If you’re still surprised that so many women in love allow themselves to be run roughshod over by their lovers and continue to justify their actions, think of how the faithful followers of the dictators (those former leaders) do exactly the same thing. Then you’ll realize how horrifying it all is."

Lidiando con mi "pasa" (II)  7/7/2011 Negra Cubana: por Yusimi Rodriguez

Lidiando con mi "pasa" (I)  6/14/2011 Negra Cubana: por Yusimi Rodriguez - "Aunque para algunos sectores de nuestro país, tan solidarios con la lucha de los afro-norteamericanos, black no era tan beautiful. A mi padre, que era miembro de la Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas (UJC), le cuestionaron su forma de llevar el pelo en su comité de base. El pelo largo, e incluso la barba, se consideraban sucios, antihigiénicos, indecentes, indignos de un miembro de la juventud comunista que debía ser la vanguardia del país. A mi amiga modelo la llamaron de la dirección del pre para preguntarle por qué llevaba el afro: "Los negros en Estados Unidos lo llevan para protestar, tienen motivos. ¿Pero usted contra qué está protestando?"

Afro-Cuban Women Debating Cuba Today  6/13/2011 Ethnolust 

“Raza y Racismo” hace su debate desde la Casa del Caribe  6/15/2010 Casa del Caribe: "El destacado académico cubano de las ciencias sociales, doctor Fernando Martínez Heredia, presentó este viernes en la Casa del Caribe el libro “Raza y Racismo”, una compilación de artículos publicados en un segundo volumen de “Antología de Caminos” en alusión a Revista del Centro Martín Luther King especializada en pensamiento sociológico. El primer volumen recoge los primos cuarenta números de la referida publicación. El libro consta de cuatro partes o capítulos: Pensamiento y Sociedad, donde aparecen artículos como “La cuestión racial en Cuba”, del propio Martínez Heredia, y “Aportes culturales y desculturación”, de Manuel Moreno Fraginals, así como valiosos trabajos sobre el tema de Fernando Ortiz, Walterio Carbonell, Ana Cairo, Esteban Morales y Yusimí Rodríguez, entre otros."

Cuba’s First Black Model  4/1/2010 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez

Open Letter Condemning Recent Obstructions and Prohibitions of Social and Cultural Initiatives - Observatorio Crítico  12/28/2009 El Yuma 

Ecos del 27 de noviembre  12/19/2009 Havana Times: por Yusimi Rodriguez - "Pero no se habla de estos cinco negros abakuá. ¿Falta de conocimiento de la historia? Consta que al menos Ernesto Guevara lo sabía y en 1961 destacó esos hechos con la intención de reconocer el valiente gesto de estos negros ñáñigos. Durante años se nos ha llamado a emular a Ernesto Guevara, él ha sido el ejemplo a seguir. ¿Por qué no se siguió su ejemplo mucho antes, en el rescate de la memoria de cinco ñáñigos?"

‘The Revolution Made Blacks Human’  11/3/2009 Havana Times: by Yusimi Rodriguez - "The crowning point of my co-worker’s monologue was the moment he said that if he -the white son of rich people- had been able to sacrifice then blacks had to do the same, because “the Revolution had allowed blacks to become people.” I didn’t know if the guy had something else to add, because I cut into him calling him a racist, among other things. It turned into pretty ugly argument, over which he finally chose to retreat into his office."

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