José Martí and the Socio-Philosophical Roots of Cuban-American Racism, Classism, Sexism, and Heterosexism

“The construction of Cuban-American racial, gender, and class oppressive structures historically differs from other ethnic groups. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Miguel A De La Torre Iliff School of Theology Contact Me

About this project grant for researchers

José Martí has historically been celebrated as being ahead of his times on issues concerning race, ethnic discrimination, and classism. He called all Cubans to be más que blanco, más que mulato, más que negro – more than being white, more than being a mulatto, more than being black (OC 2:299). This call became foundational to the Cuban way of seeing and doing. And yet, a close reading of his works reveals problematic views concerning gender, orientation, race and class which created a philosophical foundation for the Cuban, and by extension the Cuban-American ethos which justifies current oppressive structures. On both sides of the Florida Straits, the unexamined embedded biases of Martí created an indigenous Cuban understanding of gender, masculinity, race and class which since the establishment of the Republic through the Cuban diaspora, has plagued Cuban thought.

This research project will be the most comprehensive study written thus far concerning Martí’s complicity with oppressive social structures, and how his unexamined biases impacted his political thoughts. No similar texts exist, although several scholars makes mention to these concerns in scholarly articles. Even critical scholarly works tend to romanticize the man in an attempt of portraying him as truly being ahead of his time. And while this may be true; still, his patriarchy and racist assumptions undermined the justice-based patria he sought. The research attempts to read Martí from the margins, through the eyes of those who resided on his underside, not in order to dismiss him, but instead, to raise consciousness concerning the shortcomings in hopes of providing a corrective sensitive to Cuban American marginalized communities.

The research will read and critique Martí's call for what today we can call "color blindness." Specifically, his works will be analyzed from the perspective of indigenous people, those of African descent, Asians, women, the queer community, the poor, Jews and Muslims.