My name is Eva Rubin.
MAGIN: Time To Tell This Story is testimonial literature that tells the story of Revolutionary Cuban feminists who begin to change the image and imagination of women in Cuba during the Special Period of the 1990s.
The women (and men) in this primary source describe their experience as members of MAGIN, a group of women communicators who bring a gender perspective to the Cuban media.
They share the development of their awakening feminist consciousness. They begin to explore the intersection of race and gender and sexuality. They create images of women and of Afro-Cuban women in the media that reflect their own growth in awareness.
In their own words, the Magineras recall the still palpable sense of illumination and exhilaration as compañeras working together toward a shared vision.
And, finally, they acknowledge the power in the seeds of change within themselves (and in the work they continue to do), even amidst the devastation caused by the group’s sudden dissolution in 1996.
As a Community Studies student at UC Santa Cruz in 1996, I organized a 6-month field study to work with Magin in Havana. I lived there, attended Magin’s workshops, wrote articles and interviewed Magineras for my thesis.
I was there during MAGIN’s “deactivation”.
The chance to learn from and be mentored by such amazing and strong women as a young college student was life changing, especially at such a pivotal moment. I could not know then how deeply these women and their stories would shape my life.
Their passion, their commitment and courage, and the light they carried within them ignited an awareness and a hope for change that continues to burn within me.
More than hope, though, it was this sense of inevitability that change would come. It was a kind of deep knowing that this growing feminist awareness would take root and grow.
At that time, the image of Four Skinny Trees by Sandra Cisneros was ever present. I even wrote an article about self-esteem with Norma Guillard, one of the Magineras, called “Despite The Concrete.” It is only now that I know why the image conjured by that short story was so important to me.
Like those four skinny trees, the Magineras stayed together with their arms around each other. They reminded each other to keep. They reached and reached and did not forget to reach.
I felt the strength within me from the arms that reminded me to keep. And I felt the power in the inevitability of the change that came with that reaching.
Though I’ve only been able to return twice to Cuba since my internship, I’ve maintained relationships with some of the Magineras. Several years ago, I was incredibly honored to receive a book of collected memories and stories about the experience of MAGIN and discovered that I had been included in it.
For many years, I’ve wanted to find a way to reciprocate the kind of care these women showed me, and do something that might be meaningful for them.
As I talked with my mother (who has travelled to Cuba and also hosted Magineras in her home) about what this book meant to me–and how these stories were just as relevant and timely now as they were over 20 years ago–she wondered aloud if she could translate the book from Spanish into English.
Since the summer of 2016, I have worked with my mom to publish an English translation of MAGIN: Time To Tell This Story.
This story is powerful. It’s inspiring. The Magineras are strong, intelligent women full of strength and resilience in the face of challenges and heart-breaking setbacks.
Their story lights the way for the kind of change we still desperately need today, change that grows out of an awakening and practice of feminist consciousness.
May their story also kindle and spark your awareness. And, more than hope, may you also feel the arms that keep you keeping and the power in the inevitable sense of change that comes as you reach and reach.
Eva Rubin, LCSW/MPH
All net proceeds from book sales go directly to Magineras. Translation, editing, digital design, publishing, and promotion services provided without compensation in order to support Magín’s vision and legacy.