Sunday, January 25, 2015

Strong Opinions on Obama's Cuba Policy

President Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba is receiving major pushback, but he is doing what he promised voters he would do.

Senator Rubio wants to continue Cold War tactics that’ve failed the interests of the United States and the general population of Cuba. He opines that, “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to perpetuate itself in power.” He holds onto to these antiquated views despite the fact that as far back as 2009, a Washington Post — ABC News survey told us that two-thirds of the American people supported restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. That number has increased.

On the other hand, Soledad O’Brien, whose mother is Cuban, puts a human face on the harm of the embargo. She tells the sad story of her mother having to miss the funerals of five of her siblings because of the restrictions on travel to Cuba through the years. How truly sad this is when our diplomatic policies fly in the face of our “family values” rhetoric.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Soledad O'Brien at USF's MLK Convocation Tonight

Soledad O'Brien will speak during the University of South Florida's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Week, held Jan. 15-23.

O'Brien, the originator of CNN's Black in America series, was selected by the student-run University Lecture Series as someone who represents and speaks to a variety of identities, and provides a wealth of experiences and knowledge, according to USF.

Her free lecture will be at the MLK Convocation tonight, January 20, at 8 p.m.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Soledad O'Brien keynote at Southeast Missouri State University's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner

Soledad O'Brien, award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, producer and television personality, will present the keynote address at Southeast Missouri State University's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner on Jan. 21 in the Show Me Center. This year's theme is "Words That Changed a Nation."

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Soledad O'Brien: What dare I think about Cuba?

Soledad's mother and grandmother in Cuba, 1944

Soledad O'Brien wrote an opinion piece on the CNN site about her Cuban mother and her relationship to the country she left in light of the recent change in the United States own relationship to Cuba.

My mom left the island to escape the poverty, the racism and the sweltering heat. She left before Fidel Castro's ascent and U.S. politics had hijacked foreign policy. She left before both governments stranded thousands of people on a communist island suffering a punishing boycott.

Her departure was not about politics. She was black and poor and looking for an opportunity to study. She was just 14 when she left her family to live with the Oblate sisters, an order of black nuns in Maryland. She never looked back -- because she just couldn't. That's when my family's disconnect from Cuba began.

My mom almost never ever spoke about Cuba, not about her culture or her distant family, not about the life before she met my dad, another immigrant, and they had the six of us. For me, and the thousands of people like me who lost touch with Cuba, this is what Thursday's news is about. A president born 10 months before the boycott -- the 10th president during Castro's rule -- has finally given us a chance to see for ourselves what our parents left behind.

President Obama is banking on younger Cuban Americans like me to be more open to change than the angry exiles from the first wave of immigration. He also relies on statistics showing six in 10 Americans want the United States to have ties to Cuba. The Cold War has passed, and to some younger people from all walks of life, the issue of Cuba is old news. The anger toward Cuba no longer makes sense. He is letting us get a real look at where Cuba stands today, hoping the anger toward that nation will subside, even as some Republicans hope it will not.

What does this change mean to her?

I can visit my family, do some reporting and writing, visit a church or take a class. I can go to a concert and share a drink. I can even take home some rum. I know the politics are complicated. I haven't forgotten about Castro and the many people I've met here and there who can never forget the past, or the excesses of the present. But the question hovering above all this is not just whether reconnecting our two countries was the right thing to do, it was whether it will expand the cultural, political and personal view that the two have of each other. I think so -- it has for me.

read  "What my mother left behind" by Soledad O'Brien on

Monday, December 29, 2014

Did Soledad O’Brien "School" CBS host Bob Schieffer?

The headline reads "Soledad O’Brien schools CBS host: Black protesters deserve to ‘survive an interaction with police’" and goes on to describe how Soledad tried to explain to Schieffer that the protests over law enforcement “criminalizing” black communities were about much more than the recent deaths of black men in Missouri and New York.

“Anybody who thinks that what is happening right now [with the protests across the country] is only about Eric Garner, is only about Michael Brown is really missing what is happening in black America,” she pointed out. “African-Americans feel that they are treated differently in the criminal justice system, they are treated differently under the law.”

“There is this aggressive targeting of black people,” O’Brien added. “That doesn’t happen in white communities, and it’s that anger over so many years that is really percolating up now.”

In her recent CNN documentary Black in America: Black and Blue, she found that 90 percent of the 5 million stop-and-frisk stops in New York City never resulted in arrests.

“Those people had done nothing,” she explained. “So 90 percent of the blacks and Latinos that were stopped in stop-and-frisks in New York City didn’t do anything. Imagine what that does psychically to a culture if you ‘fit the description,’ which means you’re black, male, 19 to 25.”

“I think the challenge is that it’s not being applied proportionally,” O’Brien declared. “For example, if you are arresting and stopping people where many of them haven’t done anything, you create a culture in that community — even a high-crime community — where people feel like they are being criminalized, even those — as we saw in our documentary — who haven’t done anything.”

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