By Luz Gonzalez
Cubans. Americans. Cuban-Americans. Florida Cubans. New Jersey Cubans. New York Cubans. You Don’t Speak For Me.
The irony. Your prejudice and adopted nativism are showing. Who would have thought that after coming to the United States as a consequence of leaving a regime and country determined to strip away the liberties of its people, our parent’s generation of the 1960’s, you would embrace the policy and words of another false populist bent on authoritarian ways.
This Republic deserves the full support of its institutions, and the Office of President is one we should all treat with the utmost respect not just for its place in our country but for its powerful position across the globe. Nonetheless, that does not mean giving a carte blanche rubber stamp “yessir” to everything the President says or does.
Yes, Donald Trump has been sworn in as President. Yes, we should wish well of the administration, not for them but for the good of Americans. However, a few words of truth are needed in an atmosphere and an administration intent on making truth not only an absent commodity but going much further when it presents the American public with “Alternative Facts”.
The fact that the Deplorable Ball was hosted by a Cuban-American, an immigrant and a Miamian, was utterly appalling to me. Not only because I despise the immaturity of the name, but because I find any defense of what the name stands for repugnant. Being a member of the alt-right is not a cause for rejoicing. Excusing the exploitation of racism as simply responding to the needs of a forgotten community is both disingenuous and obscene.
But, my biggest objection to the above was the ignorance and callous indifference such a move by Cubans for Trump represented.
Cubans represent approximately 6% of American society, who mostly reside in Florida, New Jersey, New York, California, and Texas. In those five states, the majority of Cubans, and specifically those in Miami are insulated to the realities that other Cubans and Hispanics in the other 45 states experience. Particularly in small town U.S.A.
Cubans living in those five states are somewhat largely protected by numbers — by someone having their back. Even when acknowledging that Cuban-American politicians in Tallahassee are viewed with a jaundiced eye, nevertheless they are sheltered by the sheer volume of their voting and population numbers from South Florida.
But, for that single Cuban-American (substitute any Hispanic immigrant) family in small town U.S.A. that has a petition nailed to their front door telling them they are unwanted in the neighborhood and to please move, they do not have the protection of numbers.
But, for that single Cuban-American (substitute any Hispanic immigrant) family in small town U.S.A. that always has the police show up at their door when a crime is committed in the neighborhood, they do not have the protection of numbers.
But, for that single Cuban-American (substitute any Hispanic immigrant) family in small town U.S.A. that just wants to educate their children in the best way possible, but are denied access to sports and other recreational and academic enrichment activities, they do not have the protection of numbers.
But, for that single Cuban-American (substitute any Hispanic immigrant) family in small town U.S.A. that just wants to receive medical treatment at the local hospital for a child suffering from spinal meningitis but are denied treatment, and have to have their personal physician walk their child into the hospital in order to receive treatment, they do not have the protection of numbers.
But, for that single Cuban-American (substitute any Hispanic immigrant) family in small town U.S.A. that has a member show a gift for sports, and who wants to be captain of the team, but yet has his leg broken in three places to circumvent his chances, they do not have the protection of numbers.
The population in small towns and rural America is growing. Some want to call it a return to Americana and nostalgia. However, many fear, rightfully so, it is a return to the destructive divisive segregated policies of decades past. Where “white” America stays in the suburbs and small towns, and ethnic racial biracial biethnic America is subjugated to the bigger cities and towns, whereby numbers they feel protected and represented.
As a student of American history and American presidents, and a multi-state resident of small towns, I will never cease to be enamored of the picture Mark Twain described of America, and how he was very much a critic of racist America while still managing to romanticize attractively the complexity of the American culture — with humor, insight, lovely imagery, and a nostalgia for authentic living. Perhaps he was the first “organic American”. Truthful to our faults, playful with our differences, but nonetheless seeking to improve the American experience through the power of the written word. His criticism with affection and humor is the stuff of which his legacy is built.
There is a huge difference between ignorance and maliciousness. Ignorance is solvable and an opportunity for teachable moments. Maliciousness, on the other hand, shows an intent to harm.
To “my people” do not be part of the degeneracy and maliciousness of division. Listen to the words of many, not just those from your protective community. Are you cognizant of the words of Twain, Steinbeck, Lee, Hemingway, Melville, Dreiser, Chesterton and all those who richly described a hope for a better America? Their Americana was forward-thinking, not reactionary.
Cuban-Americans. Check your experience. Check your ignorance. Check your truth.