From Cuba this week, at age 81, Fidel Castro announced his retirement. As a child in the late 50s, early 60s, I remember the feeling if not every political detail, of the way Cuba's "surprise" revolution shifted forever the power relationship between one tiny Caribbean island nation and the United States. What probably stands out most is remnants of the terrible sense of dread during the so-called Cuban missile crisis. In school back then we had regular "civil defense" drills. In my safe and pleasant all-Black elementary school we watched film clips of white children climbing under and croutching beneath their school desks. Now forty, fifty years later I ponder all those decades, the years and lifetimes (including my own) of so much missed opportunity for us, the people of the Americas to know each other. Most of us hardly do, if at all. This is especially true from the side of the people of the United States whose gaze in the 20th century, and now continuing into the 21st, only briefly and rarely focused on our region and our 'cousins' (particularly for Black and Native people) who are our neighbors. We particularly and very deliberately ignore Cuba. The ninety miles from there to Miami feels more like nine-thousand. The official U.S. political playbook says Fidel Castro - and by extension all of Cuba - is 'off limits' and to be villified. Yet unlike many Americans, Cubans are able to access education, literacy and health care beyond what the people of the U.S. are led to expect as achievable for a nation of Cuba's size and history. And what of Afro Cubans? What was their lot in Cuban history, and their status since 1960?