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In this essay, writer Ramón Díaz Sánchez presents his ideas (divided into ten sections) on the black race, their current place in the arts after the Great War, their low place in society due to the legacy of slavery, and the Western prejudices that impede full assimilation. For a description of certain characteristics of the black race, the author relies on the studies of German anthropologist Leo Frobenius, Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos, and Venezuelan historian Laureano Vallenilla Lanz. At the end of the essay, Díaz Sánchez affirms his support for the descendants of the aforementioned race to achieve full recognition in a “new human synthesis” through education.
In this incisive essay, the self-taught Venezuelan writer Ramón Díaz Sánchez (1903–68) tackles the history of the black race (seen from the perspective of his own mulatto heritage), which continues to affect the self-esteem of their descendants in America because of the legacy of Western slavery—which was replete with prejudice and mistreatment. He emphasizes the humor and the sensuality of the black race (first, in their stories which are very clever and second, in their dances), comparing the very distinct situation experienced on the European continent where the artistic qualities of blacks are appreciated; in North American society where injustice and discrimination are prevalent, despite that there are outstanding sportsmen, musicians, and actors; and in Latin America, where blacks are still the brunt of jokes, although there is no physical aggression against them. With a great sense of realism, the author affirms that some Western values, such as depravity and cruelty, have their origin in the values of white society, as well as the “sacred hate” that the master inspires in anyone enslaved.
The significance of this pioneering essay in the valuation of the contributions of blacks to national culture is unquestionable, when one considers the immediate appearance of blacks in the visual arts (Francisco Narváez, Fuente en la Plaza Carabobo, 1933; Negra de Barlovento, 1942; Juan Vicente Fabián Ruiz, Desnudo negro, without date). The author’s notes on black humor, represented in Venezuelan stories such Tigre y Tío Conejo, would become a theme explored by writer Antonio Arráiz (1945), while the Chimbángueles of San Benito and the drums of Barlovento would be exhibited for the first time in Caracas during the Fiesta de la Tradición (1948). Díaz Sánchez himself, in addition to starting Mene, a novel about petroleum (1936), would take up the theme of black culture in Cumboto (1950), and in the story La Virgen no tiene cara (1967). In his essay “Paisaje histórico de la cultura venezolana” (1965) he again takes up this theme of “African” influence on the national culture.
The essay “CAM” was originally published in the magazine Arquero (nos. 5, 6, 7, and 8; Caracas, October 1932) and a corrected and expanded version was printed again by the publishing house El País (Maracaibo, 1933). It was also included in his Obras Selectas (1967).