“Brunson’s examination of the struggle of minorities against racism and sexism in a republican system claiming racelessness and equality for all is illuminating—and still relevant today, in Cuba and many other societies.”—Aline Helg, author of Slave No More: Self-Liberation before Abolitionism in the Americas
“In this comprehensive and much-needed study, Brunson utilizes a wide array of previously unanalyzed sources to demonstrate that black women were essential participants in the political processes that defined Cuba well before the 1959 Revolution. These women carefully negotiated both racism and patriarchy to make their voices heard in the national quest for forms of government that were responsive to all Cubans.”—Karen Y. Morrison, author of Cuba’s Racial Crucible: The Sexual Economy of Social Identities, 1750–2000
In Black Women, Citizenship, and the Making of Modern Cuba, Takkara Brunson traces how women of African descent battled exclusion on multiple fronts but played an important role in forging a modern democracy. Brunson takes a much-needed intersectional approach to the political history of the era, examining how Black women’s engagement with questions of Cuban citizenship intersected with racial prejudice, gender norms, and sexual politics, incorporating Afro-diasporic and Latin American feminist perspectives.
Brunson demonstrates that between the 1886 abolition of slavery in Cuba and the 1959 Revolution, Black women—without formal political power—navigated political movements in their efforts to create a more just society. She examines how women helped build a black public sphere as they claimed moral respectability and sought racial integration. She reveals how Black women entered into national women’s organizations, labor unions, and political parties to bring about legal reforms. Brunson shows how women of African descent achieved individual victories as part of a collective struggle for social justice; in doing so, she highlights how racism and sexism persisted even as legal definitions of Cuban citizenship evolved. Takkara Brunson is assistant professor of Africana studies at California State University, Fresno.