The NAACP’s recent successful effort to establish trade links with Cuba deserves accolades from Black America. It’s a signal that traditional civil rights leadership recognizes that we are a global people and should not restrict ourselves to doing business only within the confines of the United States, limiting ourselves to transactions with White-owned businesses or begging for the crumbs thrown to our communities by multi-national corporations. Neither of these groups is interested in seeing Black people in America liberated economically, politically or spiritually. The only hope for Black America to lift itself out of poverty and begging, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad preached, is for Black people to get our mouths out of the kitchen of our oppressors.

Led by NAACP President Kweisi Mfume–whose very name implies a level of consciousness and whose work on behalf of Black people during his time in Congress was exemplary–a delegation of Blacks met with President Fidel Castro, members of his government and even members of the opposition party.

Pres. Castro–well known for his efforts in the liberation struggle of oppressed peoples but also in the interest of feeding his people who have been adversely affected by a decades-old U.S. embargo–agreed to buy food from Black American farmers under a U.S. law that allows direct sales of farm products to the island.


Among the delegation was John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, who announced the understanding on future food sales after meeting with Pedro Alvarez, director of Cuba’s food import company. While no specific deals were announced at that time, Mr. Boyd–and we do, too–expressed appreciation to the Cuban government and people on behalf of the 12,000 full-time and 7,000 part-time Black farmers.

The agreement will involve sales of chicken, rice and flour and the NAACP urged the larger American agricultural businesses that already sell food to Cuba to partner with Black farmers. If these businesses truly are interested in helping Black America, they will do just that.

Mfume also said the delegation would look into Cuba’s legendary education and health care systems that, while not perfect and also stifled by the embargo, are an example to the world in that Cuba’s policies put the health and well-being of her people first. Cuba’s education and health care are offered for free and the Castro government has exported doctors and nurses to do humanitarian “tours of duty” in developing nations as well as invited other nations to send students to Cuba’s medical schools and colleges.

Examining Cuba’s health care and educational systems also is in the best interest of Black America, whose members too often are locked out of proper medical care due to lack of financial resources and insurance and thus suffer disproportionately from heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, certain types of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Blacks in America also suffer from school districts that are too often underfunded and poorly staffed.

If Cuba’s system has something to offer, the NAACP should bring it to national attention and not let something that’s potentially good for us and this nation go without discussion simply because it’s from a government that this country has targeted for destruction.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan wrote in his book “A Torchlight for America:” “Black leadership cannot go to the government to beg it to provide a future for us. … That old slave mentality that keeps us at odds with one another and dependent on White people has to be broken. Black leadership must champion the strategy of turning within to do for self.

“In this time of a falling U.S., economy and increased job layoffs, Black America must extend her boundaries to the world of Black people that await us. Our brothers and sisters around the world have all the resources a nation needs–oil, minerals, agricultural goods–and they would be happy to do business with us.

“We just need to ask.”