By Vanessa Martinez | Shadow and Act April 30, 2012 at 7:40PM
Raising funds via Indiegogo, the documentary Black and Cuba, directed by Robin J. Hayes, professor at The New School, follows a group of disadvantaged African American students at the prestigious Yale University, who take a field trip to Cuba to see "how revolution lives," and to get inspiration in order to pursue their own black resistance reading group.
Read the full synopsis below:
A small portion of young people of color in America are chosen for elite schools through tracking systems and scholarship programs. They often feel like they have two choices: 1) reap the benefits of participating in a system that reproduces disadvantages for their communities or 2) reject these privileges and take their chances in a society that increasingly punishes the poor.
Dissatisfied with these options, at Yale a vibrant group of brilliant students seek an alternative. The TRAVELERS—MYRA, BESENIA, TUCKER, ROBIN, TOKUNBO, ERIN, JOSH, DALTON, MYRA, and THERESA—want to use the educational and economic resources to which they have access to improve their communities and end racism. “This place is for the reproduction of the elite,” JOSH says, “and I never saw myself in that vein.”
The misfits band together in Yale’s African American Studies department and begin a black resistance reading group. They are inspired to take a field trip to Cuba to see how revolution lives. They also resolve to film their journey so they can share their experiences with people who have not had similar opportunities.
When the TRAVELERS land, they meet ALEX their young affable AfroCuban tour guide. They begin their journey on May 19th Malcolm X’s birthday.
On the streets of Cuba’s two largest cities, Havana and Santiago, the TRAVELERS encounter and dialogue with AfroCubans from all walks of life. They learn Cuba has taken an economics-based approach to ending racism since their revolution in 1959. All Cubans enjoy universal health care, quality public education and a comprehensive jobs program that has reduced unemployment to about 2%. In Cuba, there is no disparity in life expectancy between Blacks and Whites. Socialism in Cuba has made AfroCubans much less vulnerable to economic exploitation than Black Americans.
However, racism persists. ALEX confides that he “gets pissed off” by the police and White Cubans who don’t respect his professional achievements because he’s Black. Political and cultural elites in Cuba are mostly White, although AfroCubans comprise approximately 60% of the population. Castro’s government prohibited open discussions about racial difference and racism until 2000. The TRAVELERS see how not talking about race negatively impacts a society’s to fully address the issue.
By the end of their travels, the students realize that Cuba is neither a red menace nor a revolutionary utopia. Their experiences illuminate how a continuing dialogue between AfroCubans and Black Americans about their struggles and triumphs can enhance all of our understanding about the best ways to overcome racism and class. By collaborating on this film in order to share knowledge, the TRAVELERS also discover friendship and self-empowerment break down economic and racial divides.
To contribute visit the campaign page HERE.
Watch the trailer: