It’s not difficult to clear up the confusion the “street cred” self-conscious Jay-Z expressed in the rap he quickly penned upon his return from Cuba, Open Letter.
Jay-Z can’t understand why it’s so wrong to kiss up to the Communist Cuban regime if the microphone he’s holding is made in China, a Communist country too.
Let me boil it down to one thought:
The repressed people Jay-Z doesn’t mind keeping chained to a white, geriatric dictatorship of five decades — the Fidel and Raúl Castro dynasty that has already prepped and designated another white heir — are his brothers.
Talking down at them from his rich man’s stogie-smoking perch rings of self-loathing.
What’s difficult to understand is not where China fits in, but why there’s little or no sympathy for Cuba’s dissidents among the civic black leadership of the United States, among the literati and the entertainers, when many of the leaders of the Cuban dissident movement are black.
Want to talk “revolution” and “jail time”?
Talk to Berta Soler, the black leader of the Ladies in White, who marches every Sunday to church — despite the government mobs that accost her — with other mothers, daughters and wives of political prisoners imprisoned for their beliefs.
Talk to her. She’ll be in Miami soon, traveling here from Europe, where pro-Castro mobs have stalked her and disrupted her forums.
Or Google any of these brave black Cubans who have paid dearly, with real jail time, for peacefully standing up to the human-rights abuses of the regime that Jay-Z finds so acceptable: Dr. Oscar Biscet, Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez,” and the man who gave his life to call attention to Cubans’ plight, Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
And let’s not forget Jay-Z’s rapper brothers. Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga is on the 17th day of a hunger strike to protest his jailing over the rap lyrics that call for the people of his town to stand up to abuse.
Do you get it, Jay-Z, that when you take the side of the dictatorship, you negate yourself?
No? Then it’s not about truth or ethics, is it?
It’s about merchandising at all costs.
That cliché of a T-shirt you wear with the iconic image of a racist, a homophobe and an executioner — aka Ernesto “Che” Guevara. That rap of yours — “I’m like Che Guevara with bling on, I’m complex” — is not complex at all.
It’s endorsing a self-obsessed adventurer who penned observations about European supremacy over “the Negro,” and who sought to marginalize black Cubans from the Revolution because he thought they hadn’t earned a place in the battlefield.
While clueless millionaire performers traipse through Cuban streets in caricature mode, Cuban dissidents take real risks and make real revolution.
The only reason to care is because Jay-Z and wife Beyoncé gave the Castro dictatorship just what it needed — a diversion from the travels of the Cuban dissidents circling the world and lifting the veil on human-rights abuses.
But you can’t hide from truth forever. Not even when you’ve got bling.