Yet none of Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s anti-Castro detractors implied that these white celebrities lacked common sense, or needed to be educated, or were ignorant.
And let’s talk common sense, shall we?
Ros-Lehtinen blasted Jay-Z and Beyonce` for spending money in Cuba. Well guess what? According to the Havana Consulting Group, whose data was recently quoted in a USA Today column by my colleague, DeWayne Wickham, Cuban-Americans sent nearly $2.3 billion in remittances to their relatives in 2011.
Call me naïve, but I’m guessing that’s much more than what Jay-Z and Beyonce spent in a week to keep the Castro brothers rolling in dough. On top of that, where does Ros-Lehtinen think Cubans spent those billions?
At Walt Disney World?
In trying to say that Jay-Z doesn’t get it, what critics of the Carters’ visit really reveal is how much they don’t get it.
They don’t get the fact that Cubans, most of whom are black or mixed race, want engagement, not isolation.
Most of all, they don’t get that the same kind of paternalistic attitudes that they have been directing toward Jay-Z and Beyonce` for visiting the island is the same kind of paternalism that turns black Cubans like Espino off; the attitude that says they know what black Cubans need without talking to them, or by vilifying anyone who visits the island and talks to them.
So I hope Jay-Z and more black celebrities, artists, educators and others travel to Cuba. Just as our interaction as black journalists did, their interaction can help black Cubans garner ideas about how to deal with racism and how to forge a future that will largely be in their hands once the Castro regime ends.
Without being forced to accept a future imposed by condescending outsiders that will surely take them back to a past that, for all intents and purposes, didn’t work for them.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonyaajweathersbee.