“The diversity of the Black community is a source of strength,” says Hayes, who identifies as African American, “For too long, the contributions and concerns of Caribbean communities have been made invisible in our history. Black and Cuba changes that.”
With gritty scenes of Afro-Cuban life and narration performed by a trio billed as the “Harlem Chorus,” Black and Cuba explores why the US and Cuba are not yet postracial or colorblind. The students’ encounters with rappers, housing project residents and youth show that struggles with racial stereotypes, employment discrimination and racial profiling continue in Cuba and the United States.
In archival footage, Black and Cuba features historical figures including Fidel Castro, Angela Davis, Che Guevara and Malcolm X. The longstanding connections between African Americans and Cuba are highlighted. The documentary also discusses the continued impact of the decades old US embargo of the island.
"The US embargo against Cuba has been detrimental to the human rights of both Cubans and Americans," says Kathryn Striffolino of Amnesty International USA, who appears in the film, "it's an incredibly antiquated policy."