NaS and Colin Kaepernick are both catching heat from fans for honoring controversial Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who passed at 90 over the weekend.
NaS called the fallen leader King Fidel Castro and tagged him as a revolutionary: “RIP KING FIDEL CASTRO #revolutionary only 5% understand. Im not Cuban, I don’t fully know how he effected my Cuban family, so I’m sending strength and power for your pains… But lots Of us, as Black people, n some others in the USA, we saw him as an Ally in the Struggle.”
One follower commented on NaS’ Instagram, “Don’t speak on shit you don’t know about,” and others added insults in Spanish under the rapper’s conciliatory post, which you can see below:
NaS wasn’t alone. Colin Kaepernick was criticized and booed by Miami media and fans for wearing a shirt showing Malcolm X and Fidel Castro’s 1960 meeting in Cuba to a press conference this weekend.
The Miami Herald saw the shirt as a contradiction of the human rights protest Kaepernick has been participating in this season. A Herald reporter used the opportunity to challenge the validity of Kaepernick’s entire protest, even painting the plight of oppressed Americans as trivial compared to the struggles of Cubans who suffered under Castro.
Castro’s passing has sparked interesting conversations about morality and justice around the globe. But we all must remember that we shouldn’t be comparing injustice or using one atrocity to discount another.
Considering the troubling results of America’s presidential election earlier this month, this is as good time as ever to talk honestly about whether democracy and capitalism are really our best means of creating justice around the world.
Critics of Nas, Kaepernick and have no problem finding the flaws in how Castro’s regime treated it’s people. But patriotism shouldn’t blind them to America’s own flaws. And most reactions to NaS and Kaepernick’s comments do just that.
There is plenty of hypocrisy within our own democracy to deal with. And NaS and Kaepernick have both proven that they are dedicated to addressing America’s many issues with their time and money. But the same Americans who are booing Kaepernick to silence his protest are ignoring the blatant oppression of their fellow Americans. The Cubans who are so offended by NaS’ salute to Castro are showing the same disrespect to the victims of America’s government every time they salute the flag.
It’s time we stopped pretending democracy and capitalism are superior to other social or political philosophies. Look at how the Boston Herald painted the differences between Cuba and America following Castro’s death:
“The announcement of Castro’s death early Saturday morning triggered a nine-day official mourning period in Cuba. No booze. No nightclubs. Nine days of state-run TV praising the dearly departed. The celebrations enjoyed by thousands of Cuban expatriates and their descendants across South Florida will likely continue for years. Plenty of booze. Clubs can stay open 23 hours a day in Miami. There are several hundred channels available on cable and satellite, including NFL Sunday Ticket, Fox News and enough porn to last 10 lifetimes.”
But why are alcohol, porn and entertainment placed on a pedestal above social welfare? Why are we so proud to offer those and not health care or free education?
Castro’s means of governing were undoubtedly flawed, but how can we consciously paint him as a villain of pure evil without holding our own government accountable for its human rights violations? Every president from Washington to Obama has blood on their hands and injustice on their conscious. Who is to say Castro’s is any worse than they are?
Justice is about truth and power existing in the same space at the same time. Neither Cuba, nor America have created governments that make that a reality for all of its citizens thus far.
Castro’s death should not be used as an opportunity to further divide oppressed people by making them compare and contrast their oppression. It should motivate a new generation of revolutionaries to attack the complex social issues that still stump all of our modern governments.