The theme of this Issue emerged along three critical tracks. Track one honors the twenty years that Souls has been in publication. Founded by the late radical historian Dr. Manning Marable in 1999 at Columbia University, its first issue was on Harlem, and its second, was on Cuba. The second track, then, marks the sixtieth anniversary of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, through the lens of race. To use Saidiya Hartman’s notion of an afterlife of slavery, what has been the afterlife of slavery in socialist Cuba? This is a vital question; for only in Cuba can we examine a multi-racial socialist society in which the domestic enslavement of African people was a founding corner stone. The third track along which this Issue emerged is the exciting renaissance of black social movements today.
Cuba had a major revolution that changed everything, but it was unable to change the economic weight of hundreds of years of the super exploitation of black labor. Black Cubans, as a whole, began the revolution with fewer fortunes than those whose white families had benefited from enslavement and neo-colonial relations. Reparations might have leveled this playing field but this would have gone against the narrative of a raceless Cuba. One wonders: had Cuba not feared US aggression, would the State have been open to intentional reparations and a more nuanced narrative? If the US chooses a more socialist path, will white men dominate as in Cuba? Would Black Americans trade the fight for reparations for equal guarantees of healthcare, education, housing and food? What would an inventory of challenges include if we had a revolution in the US?
Lisa Brock, Kalamazoo College