Several high-profile African Americans are demanding that the Cuban government begin granting its Black citizens the same rights as it does other Cubans, reports the Miami Herald’s ElNuevoHerald.com.
Havana has displayed “callous disregard” for Black Cubans, says the group of scholars, actors, writers and others traditionally sympathetic with the Cuban revolution.
“We know first-hand the experiences and consequences of denying civil freedoms on the basis of race,” the group declared in a statement, according to El Nuevo. “For that reason, we are even more obligated to voice our opinion on what is happening to our Cuban brethren.”
Included among the 60 signers of the statement are Princeton Professor Cornel West, actress Ruby Dee Davis, film director Melvin Van Peebles, former South Florida congresswoman Carrie Meek, Chicago’s Dr. Jeremiah Wright (former pastor of President Obama) and Susan Taylor, former editor in chief of Essence magazine, El Nuevo reports.
“This is historic,” Enrique Patterson, an Afro-Cuban Miami author, told the Web site. Although predominantly White Cuban exiles “tried to approach these people before, they lacked credibility. Now [African Americans] are listening.”
As Juan O. Tamayo writes in El Nuevo, Monday’s declaration by the high-profile group “adds powerful new voices to the chorus pushing for change on the island, where Afro-Cubans make up at least 62 percent of the 11.4 million people yet are only thinly represented in the top leadership, scientific, academic and other ranks.”
Black Americans, particularly actors and scholars, have long expressed support for the Castro regime while denouncing U.S. policies of isolation and subversion against the island nation, which is only 90 miles from Florida.
However, more African Americans traveling to Cuba have been able “to see the situation for themselves,” David Covin, one of the statement's organizers and former president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, told El Nuevo.
Alberto González, spokesman for Cuba's diplomatic mission in Washington, called the group’s claim of governmental racism “absurd,” saying that the Cuban government “has done more for Black Cubans than any other in all areas, including health, education and welfare.”
He called the group’s statement “part of a campaign of subversion against Cuba.”