Images of Afro Cuba

Oh But You Don’t Look Cuban.  . . 

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All of the people in this slideshow are Cuban!

Now that you have viewed this the next time you meet a black person who tells you he or she is from Cuba, you cannot say “you don’t look Cuban or Latino.”

The experience of the hyphenated American is what makes this country so unique, think Asian-American, Italian-American, and Irish-American to name a few.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about what it means to be a hyphenated Latino.

As an Afro-Cuban woman raised in the United States, I’ve spent my entire life explaining my identity to everyone who utters the inevitable phrase “oh but you don’t look . . . ”

Many Latinos want to get as far away from their African roots as possible, example: professional baseball player Sammy Sosa.

Sammy Sosa, Bleaching

I’ve learned that the games we play with racial identity are as a much a product of ignorance and racism as they are of government engineering in Latin America and of racial classifications aimed at erasing the “negro” from society.

The 2012 Cuban census lists the Afro-Cuban population at a paltry 9.3%. Anyone who has been to Cuba knows that this cannot be true.

That said, I offer you this slideshow of some of the famous and not so famous Afro-Cubans throughout history.

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I welcome your feedback, additional names and comments and hope you will take this journey with me to showcase the uniqueness of black people all over the world.

People like Sergio Oliva who won the Mr. Olympia title three years in a row in the late 1960s and in 1969 became the only man to ever beat Arnold Schwarzenegger for the title.

Hollywood celebrities Gina Torres and Laz Alonso might never be cast as the “Latino/a” in a film but they are both Cuban-Americans.

You might be more familiar with musical greats such as international powerhouse of Salsa music Celia Cruz, or Latin-Jazz great Bebo Valdesthe son of a cigar-factory worker who became a classically trained pianist, arranger and composer.

You can’t be an official Cuban if you don’t know Beny More the master of the son montuno, mambo, guaracha and bolero.

You can’t be a real Yankees fan if you don’t know “El Duque, the right-handed pitcher with the high-leg kick who won three world championships wearing the famed pinstripes.

Lesser known personalities include human rights and democracy activists like Jorge Luis García Pérez (“Antúnez”), jailed for 17 years for speaking out against the Cuban government.

Contemporary filmmaker Gloria Rolando has made it her mission to capture the Afro-Cuban experience on the big screen. She has written and directed three documentary films of her own and been assistant director on dozens of documentaries about black Cubans.

Whether you agree with his politics or not,  Juan Esteban Lazo Hernández, is a giant of Cuban politics. He is the highest ranking Afro-Cuban in that government today.  He was named President of the National Assembly of People’s Power, Cuba’s parliament in 2013.

And we can’t forget the young people who are trying to make it in Cuba and abroad.  Olympic Champion Osleidys Menéndez Sáez  is a two time Gold Medalist in the javelin competition and comedian Boncó Quiñongo has etched out a place for himself in the Miami comedy scene.





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