“But what does all this Haiti stuff have to do with Cuba?” I asked.
Victor connected the historical link.
He explained that Haiti had been the major island for sugar production – which made it the richest colony on the planet.
In fact, Haiti produced more than half of France’s Gross National Product, making gigundo fortunes for France, who dubbed Haiti their “Jewel of the Antilles.” Which, of course, was accomplished on the backs of brown slaves whose emotional, familial, and cultural devastation, and back-breaking labor in creating the wealth of White supremacist nations would be reduced to a mere footnote by Western historians.
This really pisses me off.
I mean, weren’t colonists, like, Christian-love-God-and-your-fellow-man type deals? Were brown people not fellow men? Then, okay, what were they exactly?
Animals? Aliens? Aberrations?
Talk about do as we say, not as we do… 😐
Anyway, Victor said it was during the sugar money train that French colonists in Haiti realized there weren’t enough Haitians to work the crop fast enough. I guess time was money, even back then.
To increase production, France began stealing Africans – and making deals with America to rent crews of our stolen Africans – to supplement the slave work force in Haiti.
But during the Haitian Revolution, sugar production stopped as Haitians got busy fighting for their freedom from their French occupiers. The world still needed sugar though, and Spanish colonists in Cuba stepped in to fill that void.
By 1840, Cuba had replaced Haiti as the largest sugar producer on the planet.
With all that sweet money flowing in, Spanish colonists in Cuba were not about to risk staunching the flow. What if their Cuban slaves got it into their brown heads to revolt like the Haitians did?
To prevent this possibility, Spanish slave masters in Cuba began torturing the holy hell out of slaves on a regular basis in order to send the message that neither revolt nor escape would be tolerated. Thousands of Cuban slaves were tortured to death in the name of fear & oppression.
But hey, no worries.
Dead slaves were easily replaced by more stolen Africans! 🙂
I remember that only about 2 paragraphs in thick American history school books touched, ever-so-briefly, on slavery. One of the paragraphs was about Harriet Tubman. The other paragraph covered the entire history of slavery in America in less than 20 strategically worded sentences that would have done a public relations rep proud.
Both paragraphs were terse, minimally-informative, and boasted masterful use of gloss-over language describing slavery in a way that mirrored the teacher’s own presentation of the subject: Must do it. Required. But clean it up. Don’t encourage discussion. Move it along. Nothing to see here.
Wham, bam. Skip it, Uncle Sam!
What I don’t remember is the reaction of the different nationalities of brown kids in the class – all being systemically indoctrinated to a White supremacist view of history.
Following the text book treatment & the teacher’s own example, the brown view of our history just didn’t seem important enough to pay attention to.
No doubt, they got the same message…which, I guess, was the whole point.
Spain wasn’t alone in the slave torture business. American slaveowners were masters of slave torture, too. The message of intensified torture & oppression, from all White masters to their brown slaves across the entire Western world was:
‘Haiti is doing this to you.
Haiti is to blame.
Your brown brethren, through their selfish acts of defiance against the White world order, have condemned all you lesser men to a life of intensified reprimand. It is not our doing, but it must be done.’
Were we that racist? That sadistic, and soulless?
No wonder our history books teach abbreviated fairy tales…
Who of us could stomach the full truth, and still righteously summon the patriotism necessary to enact further devastation against brown nations? Nations reacting to our historical oppression against brown skins of all hue?
It was really hard, today, learning all this stuff. Nobody wants to hear all this stuff that makes them think too deeply about crap they want not to be true.
Well, I mean, nobody White wanted to hear it.
Every shade of brown person in our group was all ears.
I’ll bet it was the first time they’d ever heard all this stuff taught out loud, in public, with all the gaping holes filled in…and without the American whitewashing.
I want to talk to Karli about it all, but she’s kind of mildly comatose right now. Dana has managed to tune it all completely out. At the museo, she joined us midway into Victor’s lesson, but then left again.
Like most of us, she didn’t want to hear it.
As one member of our group put it later: “I came here to learn about what’s wrong with Cuba. Not to hear America trashed.”
I’m really glad Karli’s on this trip.
It’s complete kismet, us meeting here in Cuba. We never would have met back home. We’re so different & so alike that it defies logic. We’ve known each other only a few days, but have a strange bond. Like, we would probably never become friends back in the States, but here, we mesh.
Karli & I react to things here in ways the others don’t. We laugh at stuff the others get mad at. We experience emotional turmoil over things the others dismiss. And, unlike most of the others, we don’t get defensive when Cubans tell us how they really feel about Americans & why.
Moreover, even though it sucks, Karli & I want to know more about everything Victor said.
But a strange thing is happening right now, as I write this…
Normally, at the end of the day back in our room, we talk about the day’s haps. Then Karli & Dana will go out to party, and I’ll stay here & fill you up. Then they’ll return, and I’ll put you away. Dana will pass out while K & I continue talking until orange bleeds out the darkness.
But tonight, K & D didn’t go out to party.
And we crawled into our bunks without talking.
We didn’t even complain about the 80-somethings monopolizing the bathroom, then forgetting to unlock our side of the bathroom door, forcing us to re-dress and drag our bursting bladders down the hall to knock on their door to remind them to LET US INTO THE FREAKING BATHROOM!
Deep breath. Exhale.
Okay, I’m back.
Tonight, there’s no discussing or debating the things we saw & learned about Cuba today.
Tonight, there’s only silence.
K’s in her bunk, facing the wall. She’s awake, but wants to be alone with her thoughts. Dana konked out the minute her head hit the pillow. She didn’t hear the worst of Victor’s Cuba history lesson today.
She didn’t hear the part we played in it…
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“Diary of An American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land”