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Analyzing the ideology and rhetoric around race in Cuba and south Florida during the early years of the Cuban revolution, Devyn Spence Benson argues that ideas, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices relating to racial difference persisted despite major efforts by the Cuban state to generate social equality. Drawing on Cuban and U.S. archival materials and face-to-face interviews, Benson examines 1960s government programs and campaigns against discrimination, showing how such programs frequently negated their efforts by reproducing racist images and idioms in revolutionary propaganda, cartoons, and school materials.

Building on nineteenth-century discourses that imagined Cuba as a raceless space, revolutionary leaders embraced a narrow definition of blackness, often seeming to suggest that Afro-Cubans had to discard their blackness to join the revolution. This was and remains a false dichotomy for many Cubans of color, Benson demonstrates. While some Afro-Cubans agreed with the revolution's sentiments about racial transcendence--"not blacks, not whites, only Cubans--others found ways to use state rhetoric to demand additional reforms. Still others, finding a revolution that disavowed blackness unsettling and paternalistic, fought to insert black history and African culture into revolutionary nationalisms. Despite such efforts by Afro-Cubans and radical government-sponsored integration programs, racism has persisted throughout the revolution in subtle but lasting ways.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Figures
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xv
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. xvii-xviii
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  1. Introduction: Race and Revolution in Cuba
  2. pp. 1-29
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  1. 1. Not Blacks, but Citizens: Racial Rhetoric and the 1959 Revolution
  2. pp. 30-71
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  1. 2. The Black Citizen of the Future: Afro-Cuban Activists and the 1959 Revolution
  2. pp. 72-121
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  1. 3. From Miami to New York and Beyond: Race and Exile in the 1960s
  2. pp. 122-152
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  1. 4. Cuba Calls!: Exploiting African American and Cuban Alliances for Equal Rights
  2. pp. 153-197
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  1. 5. Poor, Black, and a Teacher: Loyal Black Revolutionaries and the Literacy Campaign
  2. pp. 198-230
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  1. Epilogue: A Revolution inside of the Revolution: Afro-Cuban Experiences after 1961
  2. pp. 231-248
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 249-284
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 285-296
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 297-311
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