On Wednesday February 5th 2014, Robin J. Hayes, Shannon Shird and I left for Los Angeles, CA to promote the new film Black and Cuba, which was premiering at the Pan African Film Festival. Directed by Robin J. Hayes, PhD—a professor at The New School in New York City and Lead Organizer of Progressive Pupil—the documentary follows a diverse group of Ivy League students who take a field trip to the enigmatic Caribbean island, whose population is 60% Afro-Cuban.
With gritty scenes of Afro-Cuban life and narration performed by a trio billed as the “Harlem Chorus,” Black and Cuba reveals that African American and Afro-Latino communities have similar experiences with prejudice.
As members of New Leaders for Social Change at Progressive Pupil—a program providing mentorship and hands-on experience to students who are committed to careers advancing social justice at The New School—we accompanied Robin to LA and performed outreach for the screening. We talked to locals and visited Black owned businesses in Leimert Park, the California African American Museum and the African American Cultural Center.
The opening night of the film festival kicked off with a star-studded red carpet event, which featured Black actors like Loretta Devine, Isaiah Washington and Kenny Lattimore.
Later that weekend, members of the International Society of Black Latinos (ISBL) held a reception and attended a sold out show of the film followed by a lively Q & A discussion. It was wonderful to see Black and Latinos uniting around anti-black racism.
“The diversity of the Black community is a source of strength,” says Hayes, who identifies as African American, “For too long, the contributions and concerns of Latino people of African descent have been made invisible in our history. Black and Cuba changes that.”
The inclusive message of Black and Cuba echo’s ISBL’s unifying mission of amplifying the voice of Afro Latinos and uniting Latino and African American youth in Los Angeles.