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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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Foreword (Benjamin D. Reese, Jr.)

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Foreword

BENJAMIN D. REESE, JR.

Editors’ Note: Dr. Ben Reese is the immediate past president of National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) and is Vice President of the Office for Institutional Equity at Duke University and Duke University Health System. Before assuming this role, he was the Assistant Vice President for Cross-Cultural Relations within the same office. For the last 40 years, Dr. Reese has served as a consultant to educational institutions, profit and not-for-profit corporations, and healthcare organizations in the areas of organizational change, conflict resolution, race relations, cross-cultural education, and diversity.

Visiting Cuba and getting a better understanding of their culture has been an idea that has been floating around in my head for more than 30 years. Actually getting there was the culmination of both a personal quest and an important step for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE). In 1983, my wife and I returned from an educational visit to Haiti. As psychologists, we were invited to offer a series of mental health lectures, mostly about behavior therapy, to groups of “mental health professionals” from across the country. A few psychologists and psychiatrists, and a larger number of lay counselors, newspaper writers, and voodoo priests gathered in Port-au-Prince for our translated talks. In retrospect, I’m not sure how much of the theory we espoused was really relevant to the complex social, economic, and mental health challenges...

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