Introduction
Siento odio profundo por tu racismo
Ya no me confundo con tu ironía
Y lloro sin que sepas que el llanto mío
tiene lágrimas negras como mi vida
I feel profound hatred for your racism
I am now no longer confused by your irony
And I cry without you knowing that my cry
has black tears like my life
—“Lágrimas negras,” Hermanos de Causa
In “Lágrimas negras” (Black tears) by the Havana-based hip hop duo Her-
manos de Causa (Brothers of the cause), the artists Soandres and Pelón pro-
vide a biting critique of the racialized hardships they, as young black men,
encounter in the Cuban everyday. Borrowing the title from the classic bolero-
son first popularized in the 1930s by the celebrated Cuban composer Miguel
Matamoros, Hermanos de Causa poetically refigure the terms of “Lágrimas
negras” by placing black life amid Cuba’s evolving social malaise at its nar-
rative center. Where the original composition offered a ballad of romantic
sorrow, Hermanos de Causa speak of “black tears” of racial marginalization,
criminalized gazes, and the simultaneous invisibility and hypervisibility that
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