All eyes will be watching for a coming change as our nation’s First Family is scheduled to depart Cuba today. According to the Whitehouse.gov, the trip “marks a historic milestone in the normalization process between the United States and Cuba.” The President and his administration seek to expand relations with the island nation and thus improve the lives of the Cuban people.
Yet, the historic visit may also have an unintended benefit—a benefit to the Afro-Cuban population, many of who see President Obama’s trip as a source of inspiration. NBC BLCK reports:
Yolanda Mauri’s ancestors almost certainly came to Cuba in chains, laboring as slaves on an island of French coffee plantations and fields of Spanish sugarcane.
Her parents became their family’s first professionals, graduating with engineering degrees after Cuba’s 1959 revolution ended segregation. Mauri, 26, graduated from an elite technical university with a degree in computer programming. Today, she struggles to patch together a living from poorly paid government work and freelance jobs like building websites. She feels the sting of racism in casual derogatory comments or a maître d’s refusal to seat her in an expensive restaurant.
For Mauri and hundreds of thousands of black Cubans, Barack Obama isn’t just the first U.S. leader to visit their country in nearly nine decades. He’s a black man whose rise to the world’s most powerful job is a source of pride and inspiration.
Obama’s March 20-22 visit has raised Cubans’ hopes that a new era in relations with the United States will bring an end to the U.S. trade embargo and improve life for everyone on the island. For Afro-Cubans in particular, the presidential trip carries a special charge, a hope that an African-American leader’s near-universal popularity among Cubans of all races will help end lingering prejudice and inequality.
“He’s black and in some moment of his life he must have realized that as an African-American he had to elevate his performance level because as a black person you have to work twice as hard to get the same result as a white,” Mauri said. “I identity a lot with him because of that.”
Click here to read the entire article over at NBC BLCK.