During a special simulcast with the Tom Joyner Morning Show and TV One’s NewsOne Now, Roland Martin spoke with Devyn Spence Benson, author of Antiracism in Cuba, and businessman Troy Nash about the importance of President Barack Obama‘s visit to Cuba and what improved U.S./Cuban relations could mean for people of color.
Nash believes that Afro-Cubans are ready to “embrace all things American, particularly African-American.” He added, “The opportunities to do business are great.”
Nash explained the way the laws are currently structured in Cuba make it “very difficult to do so” at this point in time, because the Cuban government “has to own 51 percent of it — no matter what the industry or what the business is.”
Nash believes that once things open up in Cuba, African-Americans will have “first dibs” at whatever opportunities are available “given the history and the cultural ties” that Blacks in America have with Cuba.
Martin reminded viewers that there is still a “significant battle” centered around race between White Cubans and Afro-Cubans.
To expound on Martin’s point about racial tension within the island nation of Cuba, Devyn Spence Benson said, “Cuba has its own racial politics and a long history of race relations and in some ways, that’s what I hope Obama can understand as well as African-American business people, as well as anyone else going into Cuba – that they’re working on a racial system that has had plenty of discrimination and segregation and we need to think about how is it that Afro-Cubans can be a part of this new opening between the United States and Cuba.”
NewsOne Now panelist Dr. Julianne Malveaux, an economist and President Emerita of Bennett College, said there is an affinity for African-Americans in Cuba, but at the same time “racism is there, racism is alive and well.”
Despite the obstacle of race, Dr. Malveaux agreed with Nash’s sentiment of business opportunities being available to African-Americans, “because there has been no free market.”
Malveaux said during a recent trip to Cuba she noticed that “people are looking for capital desperately” and there is an environmental movement taking place that she believes American Blacks can get involved in.
She added there is “a lot of innovation, a lot of opportunity, but at the same time a lot of rigidity about how change is going to happen and some fear about how after Raul Castro, what happens next.”
Watch Roland Martin, Dr. Troy Nash, Devyn Spence Benson, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, and Tom Joyner discuss Pres. Obama’s visit to Cuba and the possibility of Afro-Cubans and African-Americans benefiting from improved U.S./Cuban relations in the video clip above.
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