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A Promising Reality

Reflections on Race, Gender, and Culture in Cuba

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Edited By Venessa Ann Brown and Menah Pratt-Clarke

A Promising Reality: Reflections on Race, Gender, and Culture in Cuba is a compilation of the reflections of a group of chief diversity officers, faculty, and educators from the United States about Cuba. As part of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education delegation to Cuba in July, 2015, A Promising Reality represents a collection of voices, experiences, and perspectives about issues of race, gender, cultural identity, and the African experience in Cuba. Key themes explored include Cuban culture, the Cuban Revolution, politics, economics, education, equity, and social change. Utilizing narrative inquiry, some of the reflections are comparative with the United States, and some reflections focus exclusively on Cuba. The book takes readers on a journey of thought-provoking stories that reflect the excitement, uncertainty, complexity, and promising possibilities on the cusp of changing diplomatic, political, economic, and social relationships between the United States and Cuba. A Promising Reality seeks to broaden the perspectives of its readers regarding US-Cuban relations. This book is ideal for courses on international relations, international studies, international affairs, comparative cultures, political science, education, politics, sociology, history, race, gender, and social justice. It is a must-read for anyone traveling to Cuba as part of study-abroad, professional development, or personal adventure.

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5. Transformation, Empowerment, and the Cuban Revolution: Reflections on Gender, Race, and Culture (Menah Pratt-Clarke)

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5. Transformation, Empowerment, and the Cuban Revolution: Reflections on Gender, Race, and Culture

MENAH PRATT-CLARKE

Editors’ Note: Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke is the Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity at Virginia Tech. She is also Professor of Education. She has a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in African-American Studies and Philosophy; and a master’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Iowa. She also has a law degree, a master’s degree, and a doctorate in Sociology from Vanderbilt University.

Introduction

What a privilege and honor to visit to Cuba. It changed my US media-informed perspective about Cuba, Fidel Castro, and Raul Castro. The United States’ propaganda message was so influential in my thinking that I truly believed that Fidel and Raul were dictators that needed to be overthrown. What I learned for myself was the remarkable journey of a country led by revolutionary men and women who sought to change a country, a culture, and a people. Not only did they seek to make fundamental and transformational change in society, they in fact did. What stands out for me about Cuba is the persistence and determination of a people, isolated and abandoned in many ways, to thrive and survive.

I also learned about the power of leadership and vision. Fidel Castro, as a leader, recognized the power of education and knowledge as a tool for empowerment....

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