Monday, July 19, 2021

Nikole Hannah-Jones said Cuba ‘most equal’ Western country in podcast

Nikole Hannah-Jones said Cuba ‘most equal’ Western country in podcast

New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who led the publication’s controversial “1619 Project,” claimed Cuba is the “most equal” country in the Western Hemisphere in a newly resurfaced podcast, sparking fresh criticism from conservatives online.

Hannah-Jones made the eyebrow-raising comments about the Communist regime in a 2019 chat with Ezra Klein, the National Post reported last week.

“Are there candidates right now or even just places that you think have a viable and sufficiently ambitious integration agenda, and if so, what is it?” Klein asked Hannah-Jones, who briefly laughed at the question while admitting not being an “expert” on race relations internationally.

“If you want to see the most equal, multiracial democ … it’s not a democracy — the most equal, multiracial country in our hemisphere, it would be Cuba,” Hannah-Jones replied, citing socialism as her reason.

“Cuba has the least inequality between black and white people of any place really in the hemisphere,” she continued. 

Nikole Hannah-Jones.
Nikole Hannah-Jones made controversial comments about Cuba during a 2019 chat with Ezra Klein.

“I mean, the Caribbean — most of the Caribbean, it’s hard to count because the white population in a lot of those countries is very, very small, they’re countries run by black folks, but in places that are truly at least biracial countries, Cuba actually has the least inequality, and that’s largely due to socialism, which I’m sure no one wants to hear.”

Hannah-Jones’ comments have resurfaced as fed-up Cubans take to the streets to demand freedom from the dictatorship, adequate access to food and medicine, and the resignation of President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The demonstrations, which began last Sunday, mark the largest public display of disapproval against the Communist regime in decades.

A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana.
Cubans are demanding freedom from the dictatorship, adequate access to food and medicine, and the resignation of President Miguel Díaz-Canel.
AFP via Getty Images

On Saturday, Díaz-Canel blamed the country’s unrest last week on the US embargo.

Critics quickly jumped on Hannah-Jones’ comments.

“Please go to Cuba and stay in Cuba – Nicole Hannah-Jones,” tweeted Mercedes Schlapp, a senior fellow for the American Conservative Union. “The anti-American factions in our own country fail to understand the horrors of Communism.”

Others took issue with Hannah-Jones’ assertion that Cuba could serve as an integration model for the United States.

“Yes, all the Cuban people are suppressed ‘equally’!!!” one tweet read. “Send Nikole to Cuba!”

The National Post noted that Hannah-Jones also praised Cuba in a 2008 op-ed in The Oregonian titled “The Cuba we don’t know,” while touting its high literacy rate, the lowest HIV infection rate in the Western Hemisphere, along with “free college” and health care.

“Black Cubans especially are wary of outsiders wishing to overthrow the Castro regime,” Hannah-Jones wrote at the time. 

“They admit the revolution has been imperfect, but it also led to the end of codified racism and brought universal education and access to jobs to black Cubans. Without the revolution, they wonder, where would they be?”

Hannah-Jones made headlines again recently when she rejected an offer of tenure from the University of North Carolina after being tapped to be the school’s chair in race and investigative reporting.

Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel's government.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the country’s unrest on the US embargo.
AFP via Getty Images

The offer was a one-eighty for the university, which initially denied the status due to concerns about her involvement in the Times Magazine’s Pulitzer-winning “1619 Project.”

The project aims to reframe the country’s history by “placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center” of the narrative.

Hannah-Jones instead took a similar position at Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, DC.


With Post wires

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