Beginning in 1879, a black public sphere emerged in Cuba. Through newspapers and other publications, Afro-descended intellectuals demanded equal rights, praised the benefits of education, and denounced new and old forms of racism. In this presentation, I will focus on the trope of unmasking, recurrent in their satires of white Cubans, but also in their own internal struggles to secure preeminence among the “class of color.” This trope allowed writers to hint at core truths about race and power in a context marked by the effects of war, clashing ideologies, and generalized hypocrisy. It also helped them bridge two disparate explanations of racism: racial hatred and the cynical manipulation of fear—that is, phobia of blackness versus the mobilization of this phobia for political and economic gain. I will pay particular attention to the writings of Rodolfo de Lagardere, an outspoken supporter of Spanish rule and Catholicism. In his 1889 pamphlet Blancos y negros, as in other works he wrote during the decade, Lagardere advanced positions that were quite different from those of other Afro-descended intellectuals who saw autonomy or independence from Spain as the best road to racial equality.