So, we had an interesting moment in class last night.
I’m teaching a People’s of Latin America class (don’t ask my how, since I’m a well-known Europeanist, but I think I’m doing a good job of it since I have a lot of background in Indigenous movements). For our section on Cuba we read an article and watched an excellent documentary on Baseball in Cuba and the U.S. Basically, baseball developed in both countries simultaneously, and there was a lot of cross-pollination in it’s development, including black players from Cuban teams being the first to play professional baseball on American soil (at exhibition games), arguably paving the way for desegregation of baseball in the U.S.
When the Castro regime took over, Castro quickly made baseball a social and national sport, rather than a professional sport. Cubans (except for defectors) and United Statesians were stopped from playing with each other for almost 40 years.
A few years ago there were two exhibition games played between the Cuban team and the Baltimore Orioles. The first game was played in Cuba. It was attended by invitation only, the invitees were highly examined and vetted, and obviously there was no protest of any form in evidence. It was a rally meant to demonstrate the greatness and solidarity of the Cuban nation with it’s social and national passtime.
The second game was played in Baltimore. Although there were many necessary security measures put in place, the tickets were open sale, and as a result there were a lot of protesters for a variety of things, including at least a few who managed to run onto the field during the game. It was a much more chaotic event, and while many of the Cubans that had been hand-picked to go in order to root for the Cuban team were apalled at the behavior of Americans, I think it was a powerful demonstration of how complex yet still precious our freedom is.
So, we were talking about this last night in class, especially about how the freedom to protest sometimes makes things messy and uncomfortable to the status quo, but how it is necessary unless we want to end up silenced like many of the people in Cuba, who have nice, organized, not-messy games, but no forum for or ability to dissent, when one of my students piped up and said:
“It kinda reminds me of the Bush rallys versus the Kerry rallys”.
It was a beautiful moment.
In other news, the official Bush website has blocked people from other countries from accessing it.