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The US and Cuba: What African-American Communicators and Journalists Need to Know, 4/12

List of columnists who went, with references and Cuba related articles

Nine African American columnists visit Cuba: 
February, 2000

From press release: "Nine African-American newspaper columnists, from major newspapers around the country, will be visiting Cuba from Feb. 1-7, 2000. Our particular areas of interest include the status of Afro-Cubans compared to that of white Cubans, their relationship with the Castro government, the issues currently facing this group of people, and the impact of the so-called "special period" (following the fall of the Soviet Union) on Afro-Cubans." The group was led by USA Today's Dwayne Wickham.

AfroCubaWeb has obtained links to many of the columns these folks have written and we're on the lookout for others. Thanks to Ottis Cunningham and Lisa Brock for locating so many!

Note: see also The US and Cuba: What African-American Communicators and Journalists Need to Know, Forum at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC with some of the African American columnists who recently visited Cuba, 4/18

List of columnists who went, with Cuba related articles

Betty Baye
Louisville, KY
See interview,   See bio on   Also Courier-Journal at

Search page for Courier-Journal:

Wiley A. Hall, 3rd
Baltimore AfroAmerican
See, Commentaries

Cuba related:
Learning from the Black experience in Cuba

Rhonda Lokeman
Kansas City Star
Sheryl McCarthy
Newsday, Long Island
member, Committee of Concerned Journalists,

Search Newsday archives,

Cuba related
Cuba May Not Be So Free of Racism, 2/10/00

Barbara Robinson
Las Vegas Review Journal
Index to her columns:

Cuba related:
Miami Cubans should go home, 4/28
Time to end Cuban embargo, 3/3/00
Cuba's Elian Obsession, 2/18
U.S. has no right to keep Cuban boy, 12/10/99


Michelle Singletary
Washington Post
See her column index at the Post:

Cuba related:
On children in Cuba, A Lesson in Contentment, 3/5/00

Tonyaa Weathersbee
Florida Times - Union,
Jacksonville FL
Homeless in Jacksonville,

Cuba related:
Tonyaa on Elian, 2/14/00

Dwayne Wickham
USA Today,
Gannett News Service
Organized the group. A regular on BET's Lead Story.  Wrote  three stories on Cuba (2/4, 2/9, 2/11) in US Today. For an index of his columns, see

Cuba related:
Dwayne on Elian: "Cuban exiles baiting Castro with Elian," 2/4/00

Jill Nelson
Not one of the nine, but the sister is on a parallel course.
Email: has search page for her other columns

Cuba Related:
Politics, family values and Elian

In Cuba, A Lesson in Contentment , 3/5/00
by Michelle Singletary

Subject: Che's Children -- Sunday Washington Post
Date: Sun, Mar 5, 2000, 7:30 AM

In Cuba, A Lesson in Contentment

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, March 5, 2000; Page H01

Eight-year-old Patricia reminds me of my little girl. She is cocoa brown, with a smile that seems to stretch from ear to ear. She loves butterscotch candy, popcorn and snuggling. Patricia doesn't have many toys or clothes. The day I met this
charming little girl, her tights were well worn with holes and her dress was a little too short. She has no Barbie dolls. (I've lost count of the number of Barbies my daughter has.)

I met Patricia and her mother, Alicia, last month while visiting Cuba under the auspices of an organization of black columnists. We wanted to see for ourselves, among other things, how bad things might be for 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez if he were sent home to his father and communist Cuba.

The Florida relatives who have custody of the boy say Cuba is no place for a child. They want Elian, who was found clinging to an inner tube in the Atlantic last November, to stay in America, where he can enjoy the riches of freedom.

When I think about this controversy over Elian, I now think of the face of Patricia and all the other Cuban children I met or saw while in Havana.

What I see are sweet-faced children--and intangibles that transcend all foolish materialistic arguments about who's better off where.

I could see no reason why Patricia would be happier anywhere else than with her mother, even though her mommy doesn't have many "worldly" possessions.

It is true that the family's television is '50s vintage. They don't have a car or a telephone. Their single-family cement house is so tiny, their living room doubles as a dining room. Mother and child share a bedroom and a bed.

In Cuba there are no shelves full of Barbie dolls. There is no Disney World. The closest I saw to an amusement park was the antiquated merry-go-round in Havana's Parque Central.

Instead of aerodynamic skateboards or sparkling Rollerblades, many Cuban children are forced to fashion their own toys. I watched as three young boys darted around traffic on makeshift scooters made out of old crates. Just down the street, other boys were playing drums on empty cardboard boxes.

I asked Alicia about the accusations that many Cuban children are unhappy and hungry.

"We have problems, like people in any other country," said Alicia, who because of all the controversy surrounding the Gonzalez case asked that her last name not be used. "Maybe we don't have so much food like you in America, but Cuban people in general are not going hungry."

I spent two days visiting Alicia and several of her family members, many of whom earn $15 to $20 a month. I just can't imagine. I can spend that much money in one trip to a fast-food restaurant.

Now, I'm not naive about Cuba. Riding and walking around Havana, with its dilapidated apartment buildings and treacherously pothole-riddled streets, it would be easy to pity the people.

But I'm not naive about poverty either. I've been there.

And I can tell you that it is just as wrong to equate deprivation with misery as it is to equate prosperity with contentment.

So many of us in America live what Cubans would consider very prosperous lives.

Yet we worry that we don't have enough while our homes are filled with gadgets and things paid for with money we don't have.

We shower our children with so much stuff that there is always a perpetual layer of toys in their pricey toy bins that they never play with again.

Here in the United States, so many parents, including myself, stress about providing enough for our children.

Alicia says she doesn't worry about the stuff she can't get her child.

"We don't live as well as you, of course, but we are okay," she said in her halting English. "We can go to university for free. We have free health care. My daughter can study the piano for free. It is not difficult to find little children in Cuba singing or dancing. My Patricia loves to sing and dance."

What makes a child happy?

As I watched Patricia and her 2-year-old cousin, Anna, hug, kiss and tickle each other, with not a single toy in sight, that question wasn't so hard to answer.

Michelle Singletary

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