How BLM got it wrong on Cuba
“Did you see the statement BLM put out on Cuba?” My friend’s question flashed across my screen urging me to respond. I hadn’t read the statement. I have been following the humanitarian crisis in Cuba, but not to an extent where I felt informed enough to speak on it.
Intersectionality is tricky and often times people get it wrong. I surmised this is what was happening with the BLM statement. They tripped over the intersectionality of advocating for a group they may know little about. I quickly looked up the statement so I could support my friend with facts.
I was disappointed when I read what was put out, and I became deeply disappointed when the realization hit that Cuban Americans, like my friend are reading this statement in hopes of needed support only to have the human condition in Cuba glossed over to discuss overarching systems.
Right now the Cuban people aren’t needing fingers pointed at systems. They’re not there yet. There are people in the streets protesting for their lives. For the right to critcize their government without fear of jail. The right to make money that the government doesn't get to keep. There are people going missing for protesting. The people are cut off from the outside world and electricity is being limited to mere hours a day. They don’t need organizations to preach about the long game of eliminating the embargo when their house is on fire, now.
They need arms outstretched ready to help. BLM didn’t start with dismantling systems. They started with attention. Bringing attention to the problem and working outward. BLM understands organization. They understand the psychology behind oppressed people and the desire of the oppressors. There are a million ways the statement could’ve shown support. The first would be acknowledging the gaping wound that the Cuban people are trying desperately to hold together. Offering to work with Cuban Americans on organization efforts to help their fellow Cubans in their homeland. Condemning the treatment of the Cuban people by the Cuban government. Anything. Literally anything acknowledging the very real human struggle that Cubans are experiencing would have been better than focusing solely on the embargo imposed by the United States.
Yes, the embargo is an issue and destabilization occurred that allowed dictators to rise, but focusing on that is like yelling at the hospital while someone is laying on the ground bleeding in the street miles away. Should the doctors be helping this person, absolutely, but the ambulance driver is sitting there looking at the person refusing to pick them up and you’re yelling at the doctor. Address the problem at the forefront before the system as a whole.
Cubans need to be heard. They need to feel safe. They need to have support. We have to use the resources we have to help them help themselves. How can we do that while we’re pointing fingers? How can we help anyone if we refuse to first see the humanity. While BLM may have felt their statement was adequate, they have to be open to correction and growth when the affected group is pointing out a problem.
My hope is for BLM and other social justice organizations to listen, learn, correct their missteps and act. No one is above correction and part of social justice is listening to the actual people that you're advocating for.
To the people of Cuba and the Cuban Americans living stateside, I'm with you. I'm watching and listening to see where and how I can help. I will use my voice and my platform to speak up for those who can't. Always. Every. Single. Time.