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"Blackness" is not always as obvious a theme in De La Torre's work as it will be in many other volumes

 in the series, but it remains a  very important factor in the background and sometimes in the foreground.

De La Torre provides a forcible rejoinder to those (including, at times, Castro) who have insisted

that Cuba does not have a problem with racial discrimination.



Books on Cuba


The Autobiography of a Slave  /  Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a CubaSanteria from Africa to the New World: The Dead Sell Memories

Fidel Castro and the Quest for a Revolutionary Culture in Cuba  /   Reyita: The Life of a Black Cuban Woman in the Twentieth Century  


Singular Like a Bird: The Art of Nancy Morejon   / Caliban and Other Essays   /   The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball


 Santeria Aesthetics in Contemporary Latin America Art   / Culture and Customs of Cuba  /  Man-making Words; Selected Poems of Nicholas Guillen


 Afro-Cuban Voices: On Race and Identity on Contemporary Cuba   / Afro-Cuba: An Anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics, and Culture 


 Nicolas Guillen: Popular Poet of the Caribbean   /    Selected Poetry by Nancy Morejon  /  Cuba: After the Revolution 

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The Quest for the Cuban Christ

A Historical Search

By Miguel A. De La Torre

The Quest for the Cuban Christ  /  Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals / Ajiaco Christianity


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The History of African-American Religions series seeks to further historical investigations into the varieties of African-American religions and to encourage the development of new and expanded paradigms, methodologies, and themes for the study of these religions. The editors [Stephen W. Angell and Anthony B. Penn] see the series as an opportunity to expand the knowledge of African-American religious expression and institutional developments to include underappreciated regions and forms. 

This fine volume by Miguel A. De La Torre, the third in our series -- Laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord: The Beginnings of the AME Church in Florida by Larry Eugene Rivers and Canter Brown, Jr. (2001) and Between the Cross and the Crescent: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Malcolm and Martin, by Lewis V. Baldwin and Amiri YaSin Al-Hadid (2002) --, concretely demonstrates that by the word American we include the whole of the Americas, including the Afro-Latin diaspora of the Caribbean and of Central and South America.

The story of religion in Cuba, an island only ninety miles from U.S. shores, uniquely brings together North American and Latin American realities that mutually and unexpectedly illuminate each other. Even the most cursory consumers of headline news found their minds and emotions engaged by the controversy over a six-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, which preoccupied Cuban and American officials and their respective publics from November 1999 to April 2000. De La Torre, in his brief comment on this matter, throws new light on the religious significance of the Elian story, so he does not ignore the topical.

But he goes much further, illuminating the current reality of Resident and Exilic Cubans by making profound use of long-ago manifestations of the bifurcation of Cuban existence. He highlights the ambiguity of usable memories by showing how the present exiles and Cuban residents both misappropriate and justifiably appropriate the figure of Jose Marti, a North American exile for fourteen years before his martyrdom for the cause of Cuban independence. 

At times, De La Torre's quest for the historical Marti seems to be as intricate as the quest by Albert Schweitzer and others for the historical Jesus. And De La Torre shows that even Fidel Castro himself found the North American exile community useful in 1955, as he raised funds for his coming campaign against the regime of Fulgenico Batista.

Inevitably, the race question in Cuba looks somewhat different from the way it appears on the other side of the Florida Straits. "Blackness" is not always as obvious a theme in De La Torre's work as it will be in many other volumes in the series, but it remains a  very important factor in the background and sometimes in the foreground. De La Torre provides a forcible rejoinder to those (including, at times, Castro) who have insisted that Cuba does not have a problem with racial discrimination.

Neither does De La Torre portray Cuba as  employing the mestizo racial category as easily as most other Latin American nations. But, quite appropriately, not all matters of oppression and injustice in Cuba are rendered in black-and-white dimensions. In fact, the opening of his book gives a penetrating look at the original sin of Cuban's existence, what he calls the Spanish "ethnocide" of the island's aboriginal inhabitants, the Taino. De La Torre commendably resists efforts to reduce Cuban complexities to patterns more familiar to its North American neighbors.

De La Torre's study gains great strength from its fascinating blending of methodologies, including ethnohistory, historical theology, and art history. Just as the Cuban and American historical relationship plays on minds and hearts at many levels, so does this work. As De La Torre methodically searches the Cuban cultural inventory for a vision of Christ that will speak to all of the varying needs of Cuba's humildes (the poor), he will bring all of his readers to new levels of appreciation of the richness and poignancy of Cuban religion and history.

Readers are urged not to overlook the beauty and provocativeness of the images that he has employed to illustrate the significant themes from the essence of Christ's nature to speak tot he spiritual needs of the humildes. Anyone interested in liberation theology will find important insights in De la Torre's book.

For all of these reasons, we strongly commend this illuminating book to the widest possible readership.

Stephen W. Angell and Anthony B. Pinn 

Series Editors

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Dr. De la Torre is a Cuban, a professor of religion at Hope college, with specialization in Christian Social Ethics, Theologies of Liberation and Postmodern/Postcolonial Studies. He is the author of a seminal article on the denial of racism in Cuba entitled, "Masking Hispanic Racism: A Cuban Case Study": "I am a recovering racist, a product of two race-constructed societies. Exilic Cubans see themselves as white and the Island's inhabitants as mostly black." "A major issue which will arise in a post-Castro Cuba is intra-Cuban race relations, an issue mostly ignored because of the myth proclaiming Cubans as non-racists. I propose to debunk this myth. Any serious discourse on intra-Cuban reconciliation must unmask the hidden tension existing between seemingly white Exilic Cuba and black Resident Cuba."  Holland, MI 49422 / 616-395-7756  For the rest of this fascinating article, see


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Philosophy of Pedagogy

My educational development has been significantly influenced by Paulo Freire's work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which, doubting the existence of an objective, neutral educational system, finds its students lead toward either domestication or liberation. All too often, the educational system serves to normalize existing power structures contributing to maintaining a "culture of silence." Our advance consumer-society rapidly dehumanizes individuals into Objects who concur with the rationality of the present system. The role of the educator, as I see it, is to facilitate the student's consummation of their ontological vocation in becoming a Subject. My task as a professor is to cultivate the student's ability to find their own voice by creating an environment in where individual and collective consciousness-raising can occur.

In order to construct a response to injustice and oppression, I have taught classes combining liberationist perspectives with postmodern analysis. Upon the tension created by these diverse narratives, I have constructed an approach to religious studies from the periphery providing a unique outlook to the normative discourse, a view I believe enhances traditional curricula. Because individuals enter the educational system with a lifetime of experiences and knowledge, courses can be designed to bring their suppositions into conversation with postmodern and liberationist paradigms. Students partake in forming a learning environment by leading segments of the discourse and participating in projects to encourage the interweaving of scholastic rigor with their personal backgrounds.

As both my curriculum vitae and corporate résumé indicate, I posses practical and academic knowledge in public policy and economics, specializing in how the socio-political culture normalizes the oppression of the Other. My controversial approach to marginalized theologies (specifically Latino/a) moves beyond what Edward Said terms "the rhetoric of blame" by concentrating upon intra-ethnic structures of oppressions. A review of the articles I have published, the papers I have presented and the courses I have taught demonstrate and are consistent with my focus in analyzing race, class, and gender oppression

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Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins. Orbis Press, forthcoming in 2004.

Handbook of U.S. Theologies of Liberation. Chalice Press, forthcoming in 2004.

Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., forthcoming in 2003.

La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami. University of California Press, forthcoming in 2003.

The Quest for the Cultural Cuban Christ: A Historical Search. University Press of Florida, forthcoming, in Fall 2002.

Reading the Bible from the Margins. Orbis Press, forthcoming in May, 2002.

Introduction to Hispanic Theology: Latino/a Perspectives, co-authored with Edwin Aponte, Orbis Press, 2001.

Ajiaco Christianity: Toward an Exilic Cuban Ethic of Reconciliation, Ph.D. diss., Temple University, 1999.

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The Brilliant Disaster

JFK, Castro, and America's Doomed Invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs

By Jim Rasenberger

My telling of the Bay of Pigs thing will certainly not be the first. On the contrary, thousands of pages of official reports, journalism, memoir, and scholarship have been devoted to the invasion, including at least two exceptional books: Haynes Johnson’s emotionally charged account published in 1964 and Peter Wyden’s deeply reported account from 1979. This book owes a debt to both of those, and to many others, as well as to thousands of pages of once-classified documents that have become available over the past fifteen years, thanks in part to the efforts of the National Security Archives, an organization affiliated with George Washington University that seeks to declassify and publish government files. These newer sources, including a CIA inspector general’s report, written shortly after the invasion and hidden away in a vault for decades, and a once-secret CIA history compiled in the 1970s, add depth and clarity to our understanding of the event and of the men who planned it and took part in it. . . .

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update  12 March 2012




Home  Religion & Politics Turner-Cone Theology Index  Inside the Caribbean   Books N Review

Related files: Fidel My Early Years  Fidel Bio  Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War  Jimmy Carter on Cuban-American Relations  Cuba Photo-Exhibit  

 Herbert Rogers on Cuba  Cuban BookList  Nicohola Guillen     The Quest for the Cuban Christ  Table of Contents  Foreword   Santeria The Beliefs and Rituals  Ajiaco Christianity