For ten years (from 2001–2010) I lived mostly outside the United States on our sailboat, S/V Bali Ha’i III, with my husband as we sailed around the world. The experiences of this trip with people, places, wildlife, and so many different cultures are the subject of my book, Voice of a Voyage: Rediscovering the World During a Ten-year Circumnavigation. Most of that time was spent in countries with populations that did mot have a Caucasian majority. Returning to the mountain area where I live in Colorado was quite an adjustment for me with its predominantly white population. As a result I have gotten to noticing skin color and appreciating diversity. Before, I took it for granted.
Wayne and Doann with a chief and his family in Vanuatu.
Cuba was a treat—with skin colors ranging from the deepest almost-purple-black to what we think of as Scandinavian white, blond, blue-eyed and everything in between, and, most importantly, all mixed up. True, it didn’t happen automatically. And there is admittedly some bias on the part of individuals, but it is not a culturally incorporated prejudice, which is the big difference with my country and so many others. How did this happen? There had been slaves there too as in my country. But that was under the Spanish, and they had finally been overthrown (as I wrote about previously).
Ballet students hamming it up for a group photo.
Members of a modern dance troupe after their performance.
This “color-blindness” can be attributed to the initial ideas of communism. No, I am NOT advocating communism as a means of accomplishing this! In fact, I think it had more to do with Fidel Castro’s singular and pragmatic ideas, which included national literacy, among others (Cuba has the highest literacy level of any Latin American country) then any specific political ideology.
It brings to mind the first acts of MaoTseTung in China, which was to give women rights, ban foot binding, and allow women the right to own property and sue for divorce from abusive husbands. I’m paraphrasing, “You cannot move a country forward with only half the population.”
Leaders we have been taught to despise have accomplished some actions our own country continues to struggle with. Perhaps the world isn’t black or white.