A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The 60 signatories to a letter denouncing racism in Cuba seem to consider themselves extensions of Barack Obama's State Department. The logic of their action, as articulated by Dr. Ron Walters, is to encourage the United States to “make the Black condition in Cuba 'part of any negotiations on the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.'” Then maybe the Cubans can negotiate with the U.S. on behalf of African Americans.
The Insanity of the African American Racial ‘Critique’ of Cuba
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Glen Ford and poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka will be part of a program to welcome a visiting delegation of the Federation of Cuban Women at the Harlem State Office Building in New York City, Mar 10. Details below.
“They have allowed themselves to become tools of U.S. foreign policy, in the age of Obama.”
Late last year, a group of 60 prominent African Americans circulated a letter denouncing racism in, of all places, Cuba. I say, of all places, because almost any other country on the planet would be a better target than Cuba for a scathing and very public racial critique by African Americans. The letter claims that Cuba treats its Black population with “callous disregard.”
It is true that lines of color continue to exist in Cuba 50 years after Fidel Castro proclaimed the triumph of the revolution. Cuba had once been described as the most racist country in Latin America, a Spanish slave colony later subjected to 60 years of U.S. occupation and domination. It would be idiotic to think that such deep layers of racial oppression could be easily peeled away, or made to disappear by decree. But Cuba has made miraculous progress, helped in great measure by the fact that so many of its most racist citizens moved to Miami.Cuba’s solidarity with African liberation is unequaled among nations, both militarily and in support of African civil society. Cuba has offered its life-saving medical services to people of all nations, including the United States. And Cuba has been a haven, a home in exile, for Black American freedom fighters since the early days of the revolution.
So why would a celebrity list of Black Americans single out Cuba for special criticism? They have allowed themselves to become tools of U.S. foreign policy, in the age of Obama. The signatories include Dr. Ron Walters, a veteran activist and distinguished political scientist at the University of Maryland. In an article explaining his actions, Dr. Walters himself noted that there is only a one-year gap in life expectancy between Cuban whites and Blacks and mulattoes, and Cubans live slightly longer than the average for the United States. In the U.S., whites live more than six years longer than Blacks. Black Cubans live five years longer than African Americans. Dr. Walters also notes that Black and mulatto Cubans graduate at higher rates than white Cubans. These kinds of data are clear indications that the Cuban racial divide is far less pronounced than in the United States.
“Black Cubans live five years longer than African Americans.”
The signatories cite figures that purport to show that people of African descent are more likely to be incarcerated than whites. But those same figures show a much lower rate of Black incarceration in Cuba than in the United States, and a far lower percentage of Blacks among Cuban political prisoners. Still, Dr. Walters wants to make the Black condition in Cuba “part of any negotiations on the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.” In that statement, Walters is saying that the United States – of all nations – should negotiate with Cuba on the status of Cuba's Black citizens, before the U.S. lifts its illegal embargo and otherwise starts behaving like a civilized neighbor. I must assume that means the Cubans will have the same right to negotiate the treatment of Black Americans: an end to mass Black American incarceration, freedom for Black American political prisoners, a lowering of Black unemployment – and all the rest of our problems. But of course, Dr. Walters and the other signatories aren't suggesting that. They're just making themselves useful to the Empire, and saying to Hell with solidarity.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
HARLEM Welcomes Cuba’s Visiting Delegation
THE FEDERATION OF CUBAN WOMEN
Wednesday March 10, 2010
6 To 9 PM
Harlem State Office Building/2nd Floor
163 West 125th Street
*Women in Cuba Today *Cuba’s Solidarity with Haiti
* US Embargo Against Cuba *Campaign to Free the Cuba Five
*Race in Cuba Today
Special presentation by US activists: In Defense of Cuba: Expose on the Politics behind Carlos Moore’s acrimonious campaign charging Cuba with government sanction racism: Glen Ford, Executive Editor, Black Agenda Report, poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka.
On Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Harlem will have a unique opportunity to share an evening of information and dialogue with the leadership of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC). Maritzel Gonzalez, Foreign Relations Representative of FMC, North America Region and delegates Ana Violeta Castaneda and Yamila Gonzalez are in New York City to participate in the United Nations’ annual activities for International Women’s Day observed on March 8th.
Established in 1960 FMC’s membership is composed of 85.2% of all eligible Cuban women over 14 years of age. Its important achievements: women’s rights to higher education, paid maternity leave, childcare provisions, and free abortions and birth control. Cuba has the third highest proportion of female Members of Parliament in the world; over 70 percent of its health sector workers are women, including 64 percent of doctors; and its Family Code obliges men to share domestic duties and child care responsibilities equally with women.
Endorsements: Sankofa Law Firm, Harlem Anti-War Coalition, Cuba Solidarity NY, December 12th Movement, International Action Center, Working People’s Voice, Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report), Harlem Fight Back, Harlem Tenants Council, Carlito Rovira, (other endorsements forthcoming).
Photo ID required for entry into building. Travel information: 2 or 3 Train to 125th/A, C, D to 125th. Additional information: 647-812-5188