Watch Lee Daniels’ The Butler

TEACHERS: Will you be educating your students on The Civil Rights Movement or on racism this fall? Do you need fresh discussion topics, readings, assignments, etc.? Look no further than Black and Cuba’s complete syllabus guide!

Watch Lee Daniels’ The Butler and then watch the award winning documentary Black and Cuba. The Butler “tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family.” Watching both of these films will create a deeper appreciation  of the progress made on civil rights as well as a greater understanding on the parallels of racism in the United States and Cuba.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Black and Cuba go hand in hand as vital sources for your course. Find even more lesson plans in our complete syllabus guide today!

The Butler meme

Icons: Queen Nzinga Mbande

Queen Nzinga

Queen Nzinga Mbande

When searching for information on history, how should we interpret the information we find? For example, how can we tell if the icons we are presented with are truly icon worthy or just over idealized historical figures? Recently, for Women’s History Month, one of my friends posted something on Facebook about Queen Nzinga Mbande. It was interesting information presented in an attention grabbing way–a bit scandalous and a bit sensational, but certainly left me wanting learn more. As a female myself, I am always interested in learning more about strong female icons, especially the scandalous ones who accomplish the seemingly impossible, the ones like Queen Nzinga, who (if you believe the first account I read) single-handedly kept the Portuguese from enslaving her kingdom.

Cuba’s Complicated History with Santeria


Photo courtesy of Paolo Gianfrancesco

A current issue affecting Afro-Cubans today is the desire for religious tolerance. Pope Benedict XVI, in his visit to Cuba this year, declined to meet with any leaders of the Santería religion. Pope Benedict met with leaders of institutional, monotheistic faiths in Cuba, but with no Santería priests. This is a pretty hurtful slight considering the fact that as many as 80 percent of Cubans observe some form of Santería or other Afro-Cuban religion. In the article, writer Andrea Rodriguez quotes a Santero priest, Lazaro Cuesta, on the issue: “we live in the basement, where nobody sees us… “We have already seen one pope visit … and at no moment did he see fit to talk to us”.


African Origins of Twerking


Image courtesy of Afriky Lolo

Image courtesy of Afriky Lolo

Urban dictionary defines twerking as “rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter in ones intended audience.” Recently, twerking has received considerable notoriety, thanks to a much (much, much) discussed awards show performance by pop star Miley Cyrus. The incident is a sad reminder that much of White America’s knowledge of Black culture comes through media imagery. In Cyrus’s case, that imagery includes parading around using Black women as props, in a misguided attempt to shed her Disney Channel roots and acquire some “street cred.” What has been lost in many of these conversations about Cyrus, twerking and perceptions of Black culture in the U.S. is the extent to which dances like twerking are deeply ingrained in African and Afro-diasporic history and traditions.