#BlackLivesMatter and Cuba

Members of the Venceremos Brigade raising fists before completing the travel challenge.

Members of the Venceremos Brigade raising fists before completing the travel challenge.

“Venceremos, my favorite word in Spanish, crossed my mind. Ten million people had stood up to the monster. Ten million people only ninety miles away. We were here together in their land, my small little family, holding each other after so long. There was no doubt about it, our people would one day be free. The cowboys and bandits didn’t own the world.” – Assata Shakur

In July a group of Black Lives Matter activists visited Cuba with the 46th Contingent of the Venceremos Brigade. Included in this group was Progressive Pupil’s own, Shannon Shird, Outreach Director for Black and Cuba and former Community Outreach Specialist in our New Leaders for Social Change Program, Anita Moore, Chapter Coordinator and Community Organizer with Black Lives Matter, and Amity Paye, the BYP100 NYC Communications Co-chair.

Check out this illuminating feature reflecting lessons they learned in Cuba around race, class and gender and how to leverage that wisdom for our growing Movement for Black Lives nationally and internationally.  Read the full feature on the blogs of BYP100 and Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

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4 Comments

  1. Racquel Samuel

     /  September 3, 2015

    When we are asked about how we can move towards egalitarianism globally, having basic, essential necessities (ie. food security, housing, education) equally accessible to all is a popular consensus. It is surprising that although Cuba has created a socialist society that resulted in weaker strands of structural racism, racial inequality is still prevalent. Silence around issues of race is extremely problematic, and I believe this silence comes from a color blind ideology. If we can’t see it, we can’t talk about it. Colorblindness is the belief that everyone is treated the same regardless of the color of their skin. Unfortunately, this ignores the struggles and devastating realities that people of color face in Cuba and the US and doesn’t encourage the conversations about race that need to occur.

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  2. Ariana

     /  September 7, 2015

    Excellent blog post which brought to light the importance of the “leaderless” movement, as seen in the Black Lives Matter movement. Allowing anyone to be a leader empowers those that may feel powerless, provides security through anonymity, and makes the change we see and experience into the symbol of the movement.
    With the drop of the embargo, I hope that we can learn from each other in the topics of: how certain aspects of socialism can be beneficial for the people as a whole and how to speak openly about the issue of racism and how we can/will work towards alleviating it.

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  3. Azra S.

     /  September 28, 2015

    It’s amazing how much further along Cuba is then the United States in a quest for “Racial Equality”. The Black Lives Matter activists attribute this progress to the model and policies implemented after revolution alleviating structural racism and providing access to food, housing and healthcare. There is still so much evidence of oppression that was observed by the Black Lives Matter activists towards Black Cubans and diminished by White Cubans. I ‘m very interested by the notion that people in Cuba don’t like discussing racism because the topic is seen as a threat to Cuban unity and nationalism. It’s almost like a protective shield of avoidance. Much of how we approach racism in the United State. We don’t ask, we don’t discuss. I’m intrigued by Esteban Morales Dominguez’s theory that is that if someone is conveying bigotry or hate towards another person its our responsibility to educate them and guide them. This concept was something the Black Lives Matter Activist’s felt couldn’t be a culturally transferable method of approaching racism in America. We are at still at a point in our America society where it wouldn’t even be safe for a victim of oppression to be able to express their right for equality.

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  4. Patricia

     /  November 1, 2015

    In January 1959 when the Castro revolutionary government came into power, the government declared that it was illegal to discriminate based on race. Cuba has had a long history with supporting African American Civil Rights activists by providing political asylum and also, supporting anti-Apartheid movements. Although legally, discrimination is illegal, The Black Lives Matters activists observed and experienced racism while in Cuba. When trying to ask Cubans about their experience, they realized that anyone discussing race was considered an enemy of the state. Based on the quote from a government economist, racism is an individual problem and not a problem of the state. Personally, I don’t know how it’s not a problem of the state. With the release of the 50+ year U.S. embargo, it will be interesting to see how Cuba changes with the injection of U.S. investment and the impact on Afro Cubans in terms of opportunity and economic status.

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