[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Learning Through Living

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Learning Through Living

Fellow Miami blogger Alesh of Critical Miami e-mailed me yesterday asking if I would be offended by a post of him wearing a Che shirt. After checking out the post, it became immediately apparent that I wouldn't be. Alesh makes a point about his experience as a first-generation Czech immigrant and how he and his family's experience with Communism has shaped them.

Alesh's insightful post reminded me a little of this post at Babalu by Conductor a few days back about Cubanos Arrepentidos - a regretful Cuban, regretful of his/her heritage.

I'm not implying that Alesh is a Checo Arrepentido, but despite our background, despite what our parents tell us, sometimes we have to learn about our heritage the hard way. His parents' displeasure of the Che t-shirt made Alesh dig a little deeper and search for the reason behind their feelings. When you grow up nice and cozy in the United States instead of suffering through life in a Communist regime such as in the ex-Czechoslovakia or Cuba, you can become quite detached and desensitized from the awful things that your parents and relatives had to go through.

Most second and even first-generation Cuban-Americans I know have gone through some sort of stage in their lives when they've tried to distance themselves from their Cuban roots. I went through a mild version of Cubanus Arrentipidus myself well into my 20's. It usually takes some defining moment or process in order for people to come to terms with their heritage. For me, it was a long process of maturing mixed with experiences such as the Elian fiasco back in 2000 that woke me up to reality.

Not everybody completes this process. Some remain regretful Cubans for life. Some are fortunate enough not to go through the process at all. Either way, the hope is that we learn something from our interactions and our experiences.


Blogger circuitmouse said...

I never cease to be amazed at how little Americans know about the murders that Che committed... This morning I found myself staring at the design silkscreened on a friend's shirt... I finally recognized it: the National Theatre in La Habana! He's Anglo, and had no idea what it was... it was bought on vacation in Italy! I had a prof in college who invariably got off topic throughout the whole term to rant about how the Communists took his family's castle --yeah, castle-- at the end of WWII. I couldn't begin to make a list of shirts that could be construed as offensive to Americans here in America. Some of my ancestors were slaves; yet upon meeting me people always assume that I was born in the US and say some very horrible things about "those people" who come to "our country." Having lived abroad, to be an American first and foremost is the most important part of my identity, even if my ancestors all came on different boats.

6:18 PM, April 19, 2006  

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