Dear Maykel —
After reading your story, listening to your music, and meditating on the role of an artist in the fight for a more equitable world, I feel compelled to voice my horror at the injustices you have faced, and to express my solidarity with and appreciation for your work. I am enraged by the police harassment and brutality you have experienced for speaking the truths of yourself and your people. As it says in your song, “Patria y Vida”: “Llora mi pueblo y siento yo su voz.” Your music has helped all of us around the world to feel their voices too. My thoughts are with them, with you, with your collective dreams, as you continue to be detained under false pretences.
“It is the job of the artist to make revolution irresistible.” This line by Toni Cade Bambara is one I return to frequently. It stirs in me the feelings that brought me to art in the first place. Desperation for justice for my people, and disgust at the hands barring them from it. Feelings of thirst for song, which is perhaps the oldest form of protest. I hope that you can find some solace, in spite of the atrocities you are currently experiencing, knowing that because of you, so many people in Cuba and beyond will be unable to resist joining the fight against authoritarianism, censorship, and imprisonment in your country. Your music, your words, and your courage inspire me; they should inspire any young artist.
May you soon have the freedom you deserve. May the persecution of artists in Cuba and beyond end today. May we see a tomorrow without injustice.
Yours in Solidarity,
Em Dial is a queer, triracial, chronically ill poet and educator born and raised in the Bay Area, California. A 2022 Kundiman Fellow and recipient of the 2020 PEN Canada New Voices Award and the 2019 Mary C. Mohr Poetry Award, her work also appears in or is forthcoming from the Literary Review of Canada, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Crab Fat Magazine, Sonora Review, and elsewhere.