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For other uses, see Afro-Cuban (disambiguation). Afro-Cubans_sentence_0


Total populationAfro-Cubans_header_cell_0_0_0
Related ethnic groupsAfro-Cubans_header_cell_0_3_0

Afro-Cubans are Cubans who are of Black African ancestry, mostly West and Central African. Afro-Cubans_sentence_1

The term Afro-Cuban can also refer to historical or cultural elements in Cuba thought to emanate from this community and the combining of native African and other cultural elements found in Cuban society such as race, religion, music, language, the arts and class culture. Afro-Cubans_sentence_2

Demographics Afro-Cubans_section_0

Main article: Demographics of Cuba Afro-Cubans_sentence_3

According to a national census which surveyed 11.2 million Cubans, 1 million Cubans described themselves as Afro-Cuban or Black, while 3 million considered themselves to be "mulatto" or "mestizo". Afro-Cubans_sentence_4

Thus a significant proportion of those living on the island affirm some African ancestry. Afro-Cubans_sentence_5

The matter is further complicated by the fact that a fair number of people still locate their origins in specific native African ethnic groups or regions, particularly the Yoruba (or Lucumí; see Olukumi people), Akan, Arará and Kongo, but also Igbo, Carabalí, Mandingo, Kissi, Fula, Makua and others. Afro-Cubans_sentence_6

A study estimated the genetic admixture of the population of Cuba to be 70% European, 22% African and 8% Native American. Afro-Cubans_sentence_7

Although Afro-Cubans can be found throughout Cuba, Eastern Cuba has a higher concentration of Afro-Cubans than other parts of the island and Havana has the largest population of Afro-Cubans of any city in Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_8

Recently, many native African immigrants have been coming to Cuba, especially from Angola. Afro-Cubans_sentence_9

Also, immigrants from Jamaica and Haiti have been settling in Cuba, most of whom settle in the eastern part of the island, due to its proximity to their home countries, further contributing to the already high percentage of blacks on that side of the island. Afro-Cubans_sentence_10

The percentage of Afro-Cubans on the island increased after the 1959 Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro due to mass migration from the island of the largely white Cuban professional class. Afro-Cubans_sentence_11

A small percentage of Afro-Cubans left Cuba, mostly for the United States, (particularly Florida), where they and their U.S.-born children are called Cuban Americans, Hispanic Americans and African Americans. Afro-Cubans_sentence_12

Only a few of them resided in nearby Spanish-speaking country of Dominican Republic and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Afro-Cubans_sentence_13

The now-defunct Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami put the percentage of Cuba's black population at 9.3%. Afro-Cubans_sentence_14

The Minority Rights Group International says that "An objective assessment of the situation of Afro-Cubans remains problematic due to scant records and a paucity of systematic studies both pre- and post-revolution". Afro-Cubans_sentence_15

Afro-Cuban descendants in Africa Afro-Cubans_section_1

African countries such as Nigeria, the home of the Yoruba and Igbo cultures, and Spanish Guinea experienced an influx of ex-slaves from Cuba brought there as indentured servants during the 17th century, and again during the 19th century. Afro-Cubans_sentence_16

In Spanish Guinea, they became part of the Emancipados; in Nigeria, they were called Amaros. Afro-Cubans_sentence_17

Despite being free to return to Cuba when their tenure was over, they remained in these countries marrying into the local indigenous population. Afro-Cubans_sentence_18

The former slaves were brought to Africa by the Royal Orders of September 13, 1845 (by way of voluntary arrangement) and a June 20, 1861, deportation from Cuba, due to the lack of volunteers. Afro-Cubans_sentence_19

Similar circumstances previously occurred during the 17th century where ex-slaves from both Cuba and Brazil were offered the same opportunity. Afro-Cubans_sentence_20

Angola also has communities of Afro-Cubans, Amparos. Afro-Cubans_sentence_21

They are descendants of Afro-Cuban soldiers brought to the country in 1975 as a result of the Cuban involvement in the Cold War. Afro-Cubans_sentence_22

Fidel Castro deployed thousands of troops to the country during the Angolan Civil War. Afro-Cubans_sentence_23

As a result of this era, there exists a small Spanish-speaking community in Angola of Afro-Cubans numbering about 100,000. Afro-Cubans_sentence_24

Haitian-Cubans Afro-Cubans_section_2

Main article: Haitian Cuban Afro-Cubans_sentence_25

Haitian Creole and culture first entered Cuba with the arrival of Haitian immigrants at the start of the 19th century. Afro-Cubans_sentence_26

Haiti was then the French colony of Saint-Domingue, and the final years of the 1791–1804 Haitian Revolution brought a wave of French settlers fleeing with their Haitian slaves to Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_27

They came mainly to the east, and especially Guantánamo, where the French later introduced sugar cultivation, constructed sugar refineries and developed coffee plantations. Afro-Cubans_sentence_28

By 1804, some 30,000 Frenchmen were living in Baracoa and Maisí, the furthest eastern municipalities of the province. Afro-Cubans_sentence_29

Later, Haitians continued to come to Cuba to work as braceros (Spanish for "manual laborers") in the fields cutting cane. Afro-Cubans_sentence_30

Their living and working conditions were not much better than slavery. Afro-Cubans_sentence_31

Although they planned to return to Haiti, most stayed on in Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_32

For years, many Haitians and their descendants in Cuba did not identify themselves as such or speak Creole. Afro-Cubans_sentence_33

In the eastern part of the island, many Haitians suffered discrimination. Afro-Cubans_sentence_34

After Spanish, Creole is the second most-spoken language in Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_35

In addition to the eastern provinces, there are also communities in Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey provinces where the population still maintains Creole, their mother tongue. Afro-Cubans_sentence_36

Classes in Creole are offered in Guantanamo, Matanzas and the City of Havana. Afro-Cubans_sentence_37

There is a Creole-language radio program. Afro-Cubans_sentence_38

Religion Afro-Cubans_section_3

Afro-Cuban religion can be broken down into three main currents: Santería, Palo Monte and Abakuá and include individuals of all origins. Afro-Cubans_sentence_39

Santería is syncretized with Roman Catholicism. Afro-Cubans_sentence_40

The Abakuá religion is a secret society for men, similar to the freemason orders of Europe. Afro-Cubans_sentence_41

It has not been syncretized with Roman Catholicism and remains close to its origins in southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon, from the Ekpe society of the Efik people of Cross River State and nearby areas. Afro-Cubans_sentence_42

Music Afro-Cubans_section_4

Main articles: Music of African heritage in Cuba and Music of Cuba § African heritage Afro-Cubans_sentence_43

Since the mid-nineteenth century, innovations within Cuban music have been attributed to the Afro-Cuban community. Afro-Cubans_sentence_44

Genres such as son, conga, mambo, and chachachá combined European influences from Cuban Spanish roots as well as sub-Saharan African elements. Afro-Cubans_sentence_45

Over the course of the development of Cuban music, there has been a marked departure away from the traditional European model and towards the improvisational African traditions. Afro-Cubans_sentence_46

Afro-Cuban musicians have taken pre-existing genres such as trova, country, and rap and added their own realities of living in a socialist country and as a black person in the country. Afro-Cubans_sentence_47

Genres like Nueva Trova are seen as live representations of the revolution and have been affected by afro-Cuban musicians like Pablo Milanes who included African spirituals in his early repertory. Afro-Cubans_sentence_48

Music in Cuba is encouraged both as a scholarly exercise and a popular enjoyment. Afro-Cubans_sentence_49

To Cubans, music and the study of it is an integral part of the revolution. Afro-Cubans_sentence_50

Audiences are proud of mixed ethnicity that makes up the music from the Afro-Cuban community despite there being a boundary of distrust and uncertainty between Cubans and Afro-Cuban culture. Afro-Cubans_sentence_51

Afro-Cuban music involves two main categories of music, religious and profane. Afro-Cubans_sentence_52

Religious music includes the chants, rhythms and instruments used in rituals of the above-mentioned religious currents, while profane music focuses largely on rumba, guaguancó and comparsa (carnival music) as well as several lesser styles such as the tumba francesa. Afro-Cubans_sentence_53

Virtually all Cuban music has been influenced by African rhythms. Afro-Cubans_sentence_54

Cuban popular music, and quite a lot of the art music, has strands from both Spain and Africa, woven into a unique Cuban cloth. Afro-Cubans_sentence_55

The son is a typical example of this. Afro-Cubans_sentence_56

African son music combines African instruments and playing styles with the meter and rhythm of Spanish poetic forms. Afro-Cubans_sentence_57

While much of the music is often performed in cut-time, artists typically use an array of time signatures like 6/8 for drumming beats. Afro-Cubans_sentence_58

Clave, on the other hand, uses a polymetric 7/8 + 5/8 time signature. Afro-Cubans_sentence_59

Afro-Cuban arts emerged in the early 1960's with musicians such as Enrique Bonne and Pello de Afrokan spearheading a movement of amateurs in music bringing African-influenced drumming to the forefront of Cuban music. Afro-Cubans_sentence_60

Enrique Bonne's drumming ensembles took inspiration from Cuban folklore, traditional trova, dance music, and American Jazz. Afro-Cubans_sentence_61

Pello de Afrokan created a new dance rhythm called Mozambique that increased in popularity after his predominantly afro-Cuban folklore troupe performed in 1964. Afro-Cubans_sentence_62

Afro-Cuban religious music had historically been thought of as a lesser form of culture by authorities in prerevolutionary Cuba, with religious drummers persecuted and their instruments confiscated. Afro-Cubans_sentence_63

Afro-Cuban music after the revolution was allowed to be practiced more openly but with suspicion due to its' close relationship with the various Afro-Cuban religions. Afro-Cubans_sentence_64

The government created the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional as the first revolutionary institution devoted entirely to the performance of "national folklore" a title given to Afro-Cuban music and traditions. Afro-Cubans_sentence_65

Despite official institutional support from the Castro's regime, Afro-Cuban music was treated mostly with ambivalence throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Afro-Cubans_sentence_66

Audiences looked down on traditional and religious music from the Afro-Cuban community as primitive and anti-revolutionary, music educators continued prerevolutionary notions of indifference toward afro-Cuban folklore, and the religious nature of afro-Cuban music lead to criticisms of the government's whitening and de-Africanization of the music. Afro-Cubans_sentence_67

Religious concerts declined, musical instruments related to Santería were confiscated and destroyed, afro-Cuban celebrations were banned outright, and strict limits were placed on the quantity of religious music heard on the radio and television. Afro-Cubans_sentence_68

Intolerant attitudes regarding afro-Cuban music softened in the 1980's and 70's as the afro-Cuban community began to fuse religious elements into their music. Afro-Cubans_sentence_69

Afro-Cuban music in the 1990's became a mainstay of Cuba's tourism economy. Afro-Cubans_sentence_70

Members of religious groups earned their living by performing and teaching ritual drumming, song, and dance, to tourists visiting the country. Afro-Cubans_sentence_71

Rap was adopted by afro-Cubans and in 1999, became a solidified genre within Cuba with the rise of hip-hop group Orishas. Afro-Cubans_sentence_72

Cuban hip-hop differed from its American influencers due to the focus on criticism of the Cuban state and the global economic order. Afro-Cubans_sentence_73

Racism, colonialism, imperialism, and global capitalism were topic consciously covered by Cuban hip-hop artists as a medium for social critique. Afro-Cubans_sentence_74

Language Afro-Cubans_section_5

Other cultural elements considered to be Afro-Cuban can be found in language (including syntax, vocabulary, and style of speech). Afro-Cubans_sentence_75

The Afro-Cuban religions all maintain some degree of use of African languages. Afro-Cubans_sentence_76

Santería and Abakuá both have large parts of their liturgy in African languages (Lucumí, Igbo and Ñañigo, respectively) while Palo uses a mixture of Spanish and Kikongo, known as Habla Congo. Afro-Cubans_sentence_77

Racial consciousness Afro-Cubans_section_6

Main article: Racism in Cuba Afro-Cubans_sentence_78

According to anthropologists dispatched by the European Union, racism is entrenched in Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_79

Afro-Cubans are systematically excluded from positions in tourism-related jobs, where they could earn tips in hard currencies. Afro-Cubans_sentence_80

According to the EU study, Afro-Cubans are relegated to poor housing, and African Cubans are excluded from managerial positions. Afro-Cubans_sentence_81

Enrique Patterson describes race as a "social bomb" and says that "If the Cuban government were to permit Afro-Cubans to organize and raise their problems before [authorities] ... totalitarianism would fall". Afro-Cubans_sentence_82

Esteban Morales Domínguez, a professor at the University of Havana, says that "The absence of the debate on the racial problem already threatens ... the revolution's social project". Afro-Cubans_sentence_83

Carlos Moore, who has written extensively on the issue, says that "There is an unstated threat, Afro-cubans in Cuba know that whenever you raise race in Cuba, you go to jail. Afro-Cubans_sentence_84

Therefore the struggle in Cuba is different. Afro-Cubans_sentence_85

There cannot be a civil rights movement. Afro-Cubans_sentence_86

You will have instantly 10,000 black people dead. Afro-Cubans_sentence_87

[...] The government is frightened to the extent to which it does not understand African Cubans today. Afro-Cubans_sentence_88

You have a new generation of Afro-Cubans who are looking at politics in another way." Afro-Cubans_sentence_89

Barack Obama's victory has raised disturbing questions about the institutional racism in Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_90

The Economist noted "The danger starts with his example: after all, a young, Afro-cuban, progressive politician has no chance of reaching the highest office in Cuba, although a majority of the island's people are of mostly African descent" Afro-Cubans_sentence_91

In the years between the triumph of the revolution and the victory at Playa Girón the Cuban government was one of the world's most proactive regimes in the fight against discrimination. Afro-Cubans_sentence_92

It achieved significant gains in racial equality through a series of egalitarian reforms early in the 1960s. Afro-Cubans_sentence_93

Fidel Castro's first public address on racism after his rise to power was on March 23, 1959, at a labor rally in Havana, less than three months after he defeated Fulgencio Batista. Afro-Cubans_sentence_94

He is quoted as saying: "One of the most just battles that must be fought, a battle that must be emphasized more and more, which I might call the fourth battle--the battle to end racial discrimination at work centers. Afro-Cubans_sentence_95

I repeat: the battle to end racial discrimination at work centers. Afro-Cubans_sentence_96

Of all the forms of racial discrimination the worst is the one that limits the colored Cuban's access to jobs. " Afro-Cubans_sentence_97

Castro pointed to the distinction between social segregation and employment, while placing great emphasis on correcting the latter. Afro-Cubans_sentence_98

In response to the large amount of racism that existed in the job market, Castro issued anti-discrimination laws. Afro-Cubans_sentence_99

In addition, he attempted to close the class gap between wealthy white Cubans and Afro-Cubans with a massive literacy campaign among other egalitarian reforms in the early and mid-1960s. Afro-Cubans_sentence_100

Two years after his 1959 speech at the Havana Labor Rally, Castro declared that the age of racism and discrimination was over. Afro-Cubans_sentence_101

In a speech given at the Confederation of Cuban Workers in observance of May Day, Castro declared that the "just laws of the revolution ended unemployment, put an end to villages without hospitals and schools, enacted laws which ended discrimination, control by monopolies, humiliation, and the suffering of the people." Afro-Cubans_sentence_102

Although inspiring, many would consider the claim to be premature." Afro-Cubans_sentence_103

Research conducted by Yesilernis Peña, Jim Sidanius and Mark Sawyer in 2003, suggests that social discrimination is still prevalent, despite the low levels of economic discrimination. Afro-Cubans_sentence_104

After considering the issue solved, the Cuban government moved beyond the issue of racism. Afro-Cubans_sentence_105

His message marked a shift in Cuban society's perception of racism that was triggered by the change in government focus." Afro-Cubans_sentence_106

The government's announcement easily allowed the Cuban public to deny discrimination without first correcting the stereotypes that remained in the minds of those who grew up in a Cuba that was racially and economically divided. Afro-Cubans_sentence_107

Many who argue that racism does not exist in Cuba base their claims on the idea of Latin American Exceptionalism. Afro-Cubans_sentence_108

According to the argument of Latin American Exceptionality, a social history of intermarriage and mixing of the races is unique to Latina America. Afro-Cubans_sentence_109

The large mestizo populations that result from high levels of interracial union common to Latin America are often linked to racial democracy. Afro-Cubans_sentence_110

For many Cubans this translates into an argument of "racial harmony", often referred to as racial democracy. Afro-Cubans_sentence_111

In the case of Cuba, ideas of Latin American Exceptionalism have delayed the progress of true racial harmony. Afro-Cubans_sentence_112

In spite of all the promises and speeches by government leaders, racial discrimination against Afro-Cubans continues to be a major Human Rights issue for the Cuban government, even resulting in riots in Central Havana, a mostly black neighborhood in the capital. Afro-Cubans_sentence_113

Most of the Latin population of Tampa in the 1950s was working class and lived in restricted areas, ethnic enclaves in the vicinity of Tampa's hundreds of cigar factories. Afro-Cubans_sentence_114

African Cubans were tolerated to an extent in the Latin quarter (where most neighborhoods and cigar factories were integrated). Afro-Cubans_sentence_115

Ybor City and its counterpart, West Tampa, were areas that bordered on other restricted sections-areas for U.S. blacks or whites only. Afro-Cubans_sentence_116

In this Latin quarter, there existed racial discrimination despite its subtleness. Afro-Cubans_sentence_117

Afrocubanismo Afro-Cubans_section_7

Main article: Afrocubanismo Afro-Cubans_sentence_118

During the 1920s and 1930s Cuba experienced a movement geared towards Afro-Cuban culture called Afrocubanismo. Afro-Cubans_sentence_119

The movement had a large impact on Cuban literature, poetry, painting, music, and sculpture. Afro-Cubans_sentence_120

It was the first artistic campaign in Cuba that focused on one particular theme: African culture. Afro-Cubans_sentence_121

Specifically it highlighted the struggle for independence from Spain, African slavery, and building a purely Cuban national identity. Afro-Cubans_sentence_122

Its goal was to incorporate African folklore and rhythm into traditional modes of art. Afro-Cubans_sentence_123

History of the movement Afro-Cubans_section_8

The movement evolved from an interest in the rediscovery of African heritage. Afro-Cubans_sentence_124

It developed in two very different and parallel stages. Afro-Cubans_sentence_125

One stage stemmed from European artists and intellectuals who were interested in African art and musical folk forms. Afro-Cubans_sentence_126

This stage paralleled the Harlem Renaissance in New York, Négritude in the French Caribbean, and coincided with stylistic European Vanguard (like Cubism and its representation of African masks). Afro-Cubans_sentence_127

It was characterized by the participation of white intellectuals such as Cubans Alejo Carpentier, Rómulo Lachatañeré, Fortunato Vizcarrondo, Fernando Ortiz and Lydia Cabrera, Puerto Rican Luis Palés Matos and Spaniards Pablo Picasso and Roger de Lauria. Afro-Cubans_sentence_128

The African-inspired art tended to represent Afro-Cubans with cliché images such as a black man sitting beneath a palm tree with a cigar. Afro-Cubans_sentence_129

Poems and essays by Afro-Cuban writers began to be published in the 1930s in newspapers, magazines and books, where they discussed their own personal heritage. Afro-Cubans_sentence_130

Afro-Cuban and Afro-Cuban heritage artists such as Nicolás Guillén, Alberto Arredondo and Emilio Ballagas brought light to the once-marginalized African race and culture. Afro-Cubans_sentence_131

It became a symbol of empowerment and individuality for Afro-Cubans within the established Western culture of the Americas and Europe. Afro-Cubans_sentence_132

This empowerment became a catalyst for the second stage to be characterized by Afro-Cuban artists making art that truly reflected what it meant to be Afro-Cuban. Afro-Cubans_sentence_133

Beginning in the 1930s this stage depicted a more serious view of black culture like African religions and the struggles associated with slavery. Afro-Cubans_sentence_134

The main protagonist during this stage of the movement was Nicolás Guillén. Afro-Cubans_sentence_135

Results of the movement Afro-Cubans_section_9

The lasting reputation of the Afrocubanismo movement was the establishment of a New World art form that used aesthetics from both European and African culture. Afro-Cubans_sentence_136

Although the actual movement of Afrocubanismo faded by the early 1940s, Afro-Cuban culture continues to play a vital role in the identity of Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_137

It has been the Cuban Revolution that opened up a space for extended research of African ethnic roots in Cuba. Afro-Cubans_sentence_138

The rhetoric of the Revolution incorporates black history and its contribution as an important stratum of Cuban identity. Afro-Cubans_sentence_139

The Revolution has funded many projects that restore the work of Afro-Cubans in an effort to accommodate an African-driven identity within the new anti-racist Cuban society. Afro-Cubans_sentence_140

Notable Afro-Cubans Afro-Cubans_section_10

Arts and entertainment Afro-Cubans_section_11


Music Afro-Cubans_section_12


Politics Afro-Cubans_section_13


Science Afro-Cubans_section_14


  • Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez — cosmonaut; first Latin American and first person of African descent in outer spaceAfro-Cubans_item_3_101

Sports Afro-Cubans_section_15


See also Afro-Cubans_section_16


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