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The Offended Swede

The Offended Swede / 14ymedio Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on March 31, 2016

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 31 March 2016 — The poet and literary critic
Victor Fowler Calzada published in Sandra Abd’Allah-Alvarez Ramírez’s
blog, “I had be to a Black Cuban Woman,” a protest and at the same time
a call to solidarity in response to the publication of an opinion column
titled, “Negro, are you Swedish,” that criticizes President Obama’s
behavior during his visit to Cuba.

The article in question appeared in the printed version on Monday and
was inaccessible in the online edition until this Wednesday, when the
author himself published an apology. Victor Fowler’s indignation was
justified not only because his ID card has the capital letter “N” to
denote the color of his skin, but also because even if he were blond
with blue eyes he would feel indignant at what he clearly classifies as
a racist attack.

But if columnist Elias Argudín of the Havana weekly (who shares with
Fowler the letter N on his ID) was just trying to make a bad joke when
he said “There is no doubt, Obama overdid it. I can not help but ask –
in the style of Virulo, a Cuban comedian and singer/songwriter – “But
Negro, are you Swedish?”

Immediately following he does something which in my judgment is much
worse, when he says, very seriously, “We were very courteous, including
allowing [Obama] to speak alone (and at his ease) with the enemies in
his own house,” a reference to Obama’s meeting with members of Cuba’s
independent civil society at the US Embassy.

Anyone who does not like the adjective “black” to identify an
African-American should also feel the stigma of “enemy” to refer to
those who think differently from those who govern us, and not because
among the thirteen Cubans who met with the US president there were three
dignified representatives of dark-skinned people, but because, to
paraphrase an argument from Fowler himself, we would have to say that
along with racial differences, we should not let the some political
offense go by without confronting it.

Victor Fowler can count on the solidarity of those thirteen Cubans,
including those who are white or mixed-race, because the issue of racial
discrimination is present in all the agendas of independent civil
society. It seems much more serious that discrimination on political
grounds enjoys public acceptance in our society and is a source of pride
for those who disguise their ideological intolerance as revolutionary
intransigence.

Source: The Offended Swede / 14ymedio Reinaldo Escobar | Translating
Cuba –
translatingcuba.com/the-offended-swede-14ymedio-reinaldo-escobar/

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