Jay-Z and Beyonce’s recent, heavily documented trip to Cuba was heavily criticized by several conservative politicians, some of whom even threatened to open investigations into the excursion. After it was later revealed that the rapper and his pop star wife were authorized by the Treasury Department to travel to the country, Jay released a song, “Open Letter,” attacking those who questioned the trip’s legality.
But some are still up in arms over the trip, including 21 Jump Street director Phil Lord. In an open letter (natch) published by the Huffington Post, Lord writes, “As the son of a Cuban refugee, and cousin and nephew to many Cubans on the island, I cringe when Americans visit Cuba for a fun island vacation. For one thing it’s illegal (which nobody seems to care about), but more importantly, it’s either ignorant of or calloused to the struggles of Cubans on the island.”
Lord goes on to list several things he believed Jay-Z was initially unaware of when he travelled to the island nation for “a fun, sexy, vacation” and a “chic place to relax with the family.” Among them: that Cuban tourism funds the country’s military, that most Cubans have limited access to independent news and the Internet, that an unknown numbers of dissidents are currently imprisoned in the country, and that rampant poverty and governmental oppression have resulted in drastic inequalities in the country’s healthcare system and mass illegal immigration.
The rapper apparently also doesn’t know that, according to Lord, “when he’s wearing that hat, smoking that coveted contraband cigar, he looks like a dupe.”
After hearing the rapper’s “Open Letter,” Lord walked back his initial thesis (that Jay-Z didn’t know the severity of the problems faced by most Cubans), saying instead, “You actually know all of this stuff, you just don’t care.”
“That’s not just being a bad citizen, or a bad neighbor. It’s being a bad artist,” Lord concludes. “It’s Nihilism with a beat.”
Ouch. Check out Lord’s letter in full over at the Huffington Post.