free-poster-a4jcv2wrmq-ASSATA-SHAKUR

I wonder what comes to mind when 21st century American citizens think of Cuba.

Do they still view Cuba as a threat to our system of democracy?

How do the older Cuban refugees who found sanctity and success in America view their native Cuba and its controversial leader Fidel Castro?

As a 41 year old woman who came of age in the south in the 1980’s, I think of Cuba as a safe haven for exiled African Americans in the Black Power struggle.

From Assata to Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver and William Brent, Cuba has literally meant the difference between life and death.

All were granted political asylum from the American criminal justice system by Castro.

Eventually Newton and Cleaver returned to the US and faced prosecution.

It is my belief that Huey and Eldridge were spared the worst that the system had to offer because their struggle was romanticized by the white liberal establishment.

Eldridge had written a book-Soul On Ice-well received by the general American public and newton had written an autobiography-Revolutionary Suicide-equally well received.

Assata eventually published an autobiography of her life and struggle in the fight for Black liberation in this country.

I love Assata’s rebellious and radical spirit.

Dear readers, please don’t be attempted to think of her as a coward because she chose to flee than be treated like the worst criminal and possibly murdered.

Just take a moment and think of those thousands of Black people during slavery who ran away and grabbed their freedom and eventually settled in less hostile places.

Please think of her in this same vain.

Rebellious Black people who ran away from slavery and created their own societies were called maroons.

Assata is participating in that tradition.

For all intents and purposes she is thriving in her adopted country.

Although she has lived there almost thirty years, I strongly believe that America-especially the Black American culture- still lives in her heart.

Imagine for a moment what this must be like:

Forced to leave your place of birth to flee to another country with different customs than your own.

Having traveled somewhat with the US  Military, I was homesick from the year I spent abroad.

Sadly, this reminds me of those African Slaves taken away from the Mother continent to the new world.

I think of Assata often because I have a highly developed Black feminist consciousness.

One thing that I can’t abide is that her life struggle seems to be fading away from public memory and it shouldn’t.

As long as AIDS and the Prison Industrial Complex continue to swallow the lives of many of our people, her struggle should remain in the forefront.

When I think of Assata I wonder how hard it was for her to adjust.

Although this may sound a bit trivial, whenever I travel abroad, I take note of the availability of creature comforts such as beauty products and other cultural necessities that I might need.

One last thought to ponder….

What if Castro dies and his successor no longer upholds the one party rule system?

What if the new leader rescinds the no extradition of all persons of African descent who have found peace on Cuba’s shores?

Will the representatives of the US justice system swoop in and kill her before she has a chance to be extradited back to the land of her birth?

Will there be a public outcry of the Cuban and American people?

What about those former panther cohorts like Bobby Seale, Elaine Brown, and Kathleen Cleaver? What will they say or do?

Will her case be a 21st century Cause celebre like Angela Davis in the 1970’s?

Or are we so steeped in the race to the top for fortune and fame that this will barely register on our radar?

Something heavy to consider!

Until Next Time…..

Advertisements