Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Is life better for black people under Fidel Castro?

In the course of my ongoing political conversation with DeAngelo Starnes, my man DeAnge gave some love to Comrade Fidel. So I have to ask:

Who is better off? The average black person living in Communist Cuba? Or living here in this bastion of white supremacy, the United States? Who is more free? Who has the better chance of fulfilling his or her human potential?

A fondness for Castro is nothing new among brothers on the Left. But one black radical did more than talk that talk.

Former Black Panther William Lee Brent (pictured) hijacked a plane to Cuba in 1969. He lived in Cuba until his death in 2006.

Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio interviewed Brent in Havana in 1998. That interview was broadcast on November 22, 2006, on “Democracy Now!”

I’m streaming a 5-minute portion on my Vox blog. Please click here to hear it.

Cuba is no wonderland. Especially if you’ve grown accustomed to your freedom of speech.

“There are no organized dissident groups operating in Cuba,” Bill Brent said. “There is no black liberation movement going on in Cuba. ...

“I miss not being able to stand up on the street corner and say, ‘This is a bunch of shit and I wanna do something about it and you should do something about it, and I don’t agree with this.’ ...

“I can’t do that here,” he said of Cuba. “Because it’s prohibited. You can’t do that.”


SJ said...

Cuba is definitely no wonderland. Has DeAngelo been to Cuba? Castro's bastardized communism (I like to call it Castronism, but I doubt that'll ever catch on) is not a place where everyone is equal. He and Chavez are basically dictators. Which is disappointing, since I want to like those guys.

Michael Fisher said...

Castro is a racist fuck who killed thousands of Ethiopians and Somalis among other African people on behalf of the white supremacist Soviet Union.

elmoth said...

considering that the Soviet Union was the enemy of the supposedly white supramacist United States for so long, how can the U.S.S.R. be "white supramacist"?

Bill_45 said...

Elmoth, purhaps the Soviet Union was also white supremacist and wanted to be supreme over more people than the US.

People more often fight over what they have in common than their differences.

//partially jest

Bill_45 said...

purhaps = perhaps

dnA said...

I don't really get how people romanticize communism. I was a marxist too...when I was 12.

Yeah, the Soviet Union was racist. What a dumb question. The United States had a segregated army in world war II, that didn't stop them from going after the Nazis did it?

DeAngelo Starnes said...

sj, no, DeAngelo has not been to Cuba. But that doesn't stop from forming an opinion.

My previous opinion on Castro was based on his standing up to the U.S. and kicking the U.S. corporations and gangsters out of Cuba.

But reading and listening to a former Black Panther's sentiment, my opinion of how Castro runs the government has changed. And Fisher's point is well-taken, as well.

My opinion about Chavez remains unchanged.

And I don't want it twisted that I'm a Marxist because I'm not. All feel free to review my comments and you won't see me even mentioning Marxism, or communism, for that matter.

I pointed out that there seems to be confusion about the concept of socialized services, but that doesn't make me a fucking Marxist/Communist.

Now, white supremacy is not exclusive to the United States. It's global. And based on Brent's interview, it seems to be evident in Cuba as well.

Without first-hand knowledge, I can't make a call about whether Black people are better off here or in Cuba.

But I do find it mildly amusing that many people who have never been outside of the United States lay claim that it's the greatest country in the world. Because how would they know without having been anywhere else?

memomachine said...


Every single dedicated and committed Communist I've ever known have all lived their entire lives in Western countries.

The people I've known who've *escaped* Communist countries think these other people are complete imbeciles.

Frankly I'll go with the latter.

memomachine said...


But I do find it mildly amusing that many people who have never been outside of the United States lay claim that it's the greatest country in the world. Because how would they know without having been anywhere else?

It's because Americans don't have to go anywhere else that proves America is the greatest country in the world.

Everything you could possibly want is already here.

Besides everywhere else has too many foreigners.


elmoth said...

wow, memomachine, what a ignorant thing to say, considering many western Europeans fear going to America because of its lousy job benefits,having some of the highest imprisonments, and shitty education system.

eeaster said...

Here's the more fair comparative question: Are black people under Castro better off than Black people n Cuba under the white supremacist Cubans who now run Miami and the Republican Party?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ No, Eric, that's not the fairer comparison in an era when the black-nationalist orthodoxy, as a matter of religious faith almost, declares the United States a bastion of white supremacy and the world's No. 1 oppressor of black people. When in fact black Americans appear to be the most free, the best educated and the most prosperous population of African descent on the planet.

elmoth said...

dna, if the U.S.S.R. is white supramacist, why did it try to form a alliance with Chiang Kai Shek era Communist China? Keep in mind that historically speaking,"white" refers to a specific type of people who come from the most powerful European nations(i.e. England,France,Spain,Germany,) and not Europeans in general,especially weak European nations,or those that have white skin. At the beginning of the 20th century and during the 19th,18th,17th centuries, eastern europeans(such as Slaves,Serbs,and Russians) southern Italians,and Irish weren't considered white.

eeaster said...

To your broader point, the level of resistance to supremacy and the level of retreat from supremacist policies does not empirically reduce the attitudes that fuel supremacy, just the legal underpinnings.

That certainly helps, yes, but you can't just then make the assumption that we are less of a supremacist country than others.

Seems to me that comparisons are faulty inherently. You have to take into account culture, values, desires..
Sure black people seem the most free of all black folk in the world and in some ways we are. But free to to do what America holds valuable.

We assume that everyone's definition of freedom is the same. That assumption that everyone should hold the same values is what fuels white supremacy and religious intolerance and most of the world's ill all these centuries, isn't it?

People in South Africa may stlll suffer from stronger racism than we do, and Angola may suffer from the continued impact of colonialism. But guess what - black people own that shit. They had liberation victories. We had civil rights victories. So yeah, I can buy all the shit I want and say what I want, but I'll be free when I can have my own department of defense and treasury.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

^"i'll be free when I have my own department of defense and treasury."

amen, and that's the ultimate point because as long as you control the boundaries and parameters, what happens within doesn't really define who's in control.

hawa said...

"...as long as you control the boundaries and parameters, what happens within doesn't really define who's in control."

I found my way here via "The Assault on Black Folk's Sanity." After reading and catching up for a few hours, I must say that your statement stands as a poignant summary of the issue.

In your estimate, would blacks need to participate in government based on the current population (e.g. 12% population = 12% of participation in higher levels of gov't) to properly affect the "boundaries and parameters," or would blacks have to hold a "controlling share" (e.g. 51%) to affect change?

And if blacks were to gain 51% share in such decision making, wouldn't whites be able to cry fowl in terms of disproportionate representation?

Just throwing that out there since I'm new to the debate and I enjoy reading responses from your blog participants. (Even Craig's - who doesn't appear to be one of your personal favorite people ;-) )

(Yes, I'm yelling that. I have a soft excitable heart for holidays and special occasions). hehe