The ongoing class and racial struggle in Cuba is a hot topic for many, but it remains largely ignored by the U.S. media. As the fate of Cuba is in question, Pedro Perez-Sarduy, a leading academic and commenter on racial tensions in Cuba, is coming to Gainesville at just the right time. He has been described by Roberto Márquez, Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Mount Holyoke, as “one of the key voices of his generation and an important representative of a new and growing Afro-Latino consciousness in Cuba and throughout the Caribbean.”
Perez-Sarduy uses his career as a poet, journalist and broadcaster to comment on race relations in Cuba, as well as other countries.
His social justice career began at 16, when the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara visited his town’s square.
“The square was packed,” he relates. “We were all excited and avid to see and hear this hero of the revolution. At the front of the crowd were the white Cubans, behind them were the mixed-race people, and the blacks stood at the back. That’s the way things were.”
Impacted by the obvious racial inequality, Perez-Sarduy began to work toward the dismantling of racial barriers in his segregated town of Santa Clara.
His professional career began in 1965 as a radio journalist with Cuban National Radio, where he worked as a current events reporter. Later in life, he worked with Cuban TV on the African and Caribbean music show, giving visibility to a group in Cuba that was still oppressed.
Perez-Sarduy will speak at the Hippodrome State Theatre on Nov. 10. The film “Hasta Siempre, Will the Revolution Survive?” will be shown, followed by comments from him on the film’s presentation of racial discrimination and the re-emergence of class divisions in modern-day Cuba.
On Nov. 11, Perez-Sarduy will have a bilingual Spanish and English reading of his published works, which include “Surrealidad,” “Cumbite and Other Poems,” “Malecón Sigloveinte,” and a new novel, “Las Criadas de la Habana.” The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Civic Media Center.