[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Telling It Like It Is (UPDATE)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Telling It Like It Is (UPDATE)

From reader Lissy comes this gem of a comment recently submitted in response to this post.

Probably the best and most heartfelt comment ever received in this blog.

UPDATE: Lissy has started a new blog. Looking forward to reading her thoughts and opinions.

All I have to say is: Amen. A-MEN.
Here's a harsh truth, but someone has got to say it.

First of all, let me tell you I'm a black Cuban-American. My grandparents were Batista sympathizers and they fled with their children. My father finished high school here in the States. He then went on to serve in the Army as there was a draft. When he was done with serving the country he became an electrical engineer. To this day he has yet to call himself an African-American. According to him and the rest of us, we're all Cuban-Americans.

We have a very large family of black Cubans and through the years they've married white Cubans, black Cubans and even some black Jamaicans, as some of the family fled to Jamaica.

Now that you know where I'm coming from, let me tell that Anonymous and any others something that nobody has brought up.

There are very little or no black folks that are immigrants in this country that would ever call themselves African-Americans. They're Cuban, Jamaican, Haitians, Dominicans, Bahamians, or Puertoricans. The truth is that anyone from South Africa whose white can call themselves an African-American too. So looking for a politically correct label other than calling a spade a spade has turned out looking stupid.

The reason for that is while the blacks in the U.S. have decided to keep the chip on their shoulders and play the race card at every turn, blacks everywhere else have used the cards they've been dealt to make themselves a better future and haven't griped about racism at every opportunity.

That being said I know that there are plenty of black Americans that are successful. I don't understand why the black American continues to let extremist groups speak for them. Those groups are the true racists. They are the ones who continue to try to make rifts and canyons between the races

The Cubans came only 47 years ago, without a penny to their names, without welfare and without the language and look what they have accomplished. They didn't form a coalition to force people to accept them. They made lemonade out of lemons. They mopped floors and waited on tables, all the while instilling pride and hard work in their children. Teaching them that the only way to get ahead was to get an education and work hard. Who cares what people thought about the loud and rowdy Cubans. Let them point and let them move away, we're different, so what. Now look at all of those who laughed and moved away. They're moving back like nuts trying to get a piece of the pie the Cubans baked in South Florida.

Blacks from other countries don't want to be called "The Successful Black Man" They want be known as the "Successful Man", period. They don't want special treatment. They know that if you've got it, people are going to want it, regardless of your skin color or ethnicity.

I take offense with anyone who tries to treat me with kid gloves because I'm black. I don't want people around me walking on eggshells because they may insult me and start a riot.

Groups that pretend they're there to help the black man have other agendas, and helping is not one of them. Stop being so blind. Stop seeing everything as a black vs. white issue, it is not. The world does not revolve around us. Life is not about "black", "white", "red" or "yellow" skin. It is about proving you're a good human worthy of respect. Respect comes automatically, if you deserve it...


Blogger La Ventanita said...

AMEN indeed. She makes a great point. At the University I attend, we did some research on what minority students need for support. As such, I dealt with many Blacks and Dominicans. One comment from a Dominican student takes the cake: "I never thought of myself as black until I came to the University and joined a cultural group". And let me tell you, racially speaking, she was black. But her main identity was Dominican.

Lissy is 100% correct in what she states; and I just wish more people would take her words to heart.


3:06 PM, November 05, 2006  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

If Lissy had a blog, I'd bookmark it.

9:08 PM, November 05, 2006  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

check that. I see that she does indeed have a brandspanking new blog and she used her comments that you posted here as here first post.

Welcome aboard Lissy.

9:11 PM, November 05, 2006  
Blogger Adam said...

While I agree that the politically-correct labels are pretty ridiculous, and obviously there is a lot of overlap between nationalities, cultures, and skin colors, I think the rest of the post is a little off.

The Cuban migration to the US happened en masse, and entire cultural institutions came over at the same time. Many families came together--although I know many were split. Many of the more educated Cubans were the ones who fled, and they brought this with them to Miami. In contrast, when most US blacks arrived in America it was after being ripped from their families, and sold into slavery. Their language, cultural practices and family relationships were largely banned for close to two hundred years. After abolition, they were turned loose in the worst conditions and kept from the educational institutions of White America until recently (and some might say still). I am not claiming that Cubans here have not faced any hardships, but comparing your selves to american blacks is disingenuous and short sighted. The "advancement" of a people is largely about what types of community support, family structures, and eduction they are able to access, and the Cubans in South Florida have largely brought these with them, at least to the point where they are able to rebuild quickly.

10:41 AM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...


You are correct in your description of how advancement is achieved. However, I think you're underestimating the hard work Cubans did in order to advance themselves.

I don't know if you're Cuban-American or not, but the comparison Lissy made between non-American and American blacks wasn't about past experiences, but about taking advantage of present opportunity. Most Cubans, white, black and everything in between, may have had a good educational base, but they arrived here with a clean slate. The masters degrees, their careers as professionals in Cuba weren't merely transferred over to the United States. They couldn't bring anything with them, except heart and desire.

The point Lissy makes is that any individual can be successful if they put their mind to it and work hard to ensure that success. Yes, American blacks have suffered many injustices. Yes, they were denied many things. But those things have largely been overcome due to the huge civil rights efforts of the 60s. It's not perfect today, but no one can tell me with a straight face that there are less opportunities for African-Americans today than 40 years ago. I've seen too many success stories to think otherwise.

African-Americans have all the things you noted as necessary for advancement: close-knit communities with strong family support spanning several generations, educational opportunities and LANGUAGE. Just as any with any other ethnic/racial group, if there are elements within that community that can't move forward, it's no fault but their own.

11:30 AM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Adam said...

I am not discrediting the hard work that cubans had to go through when they got to this country. There has been a huge amount of obstacles that have been successfully overcome by that community, and it's members who have "put their mind to it".

I think the problem is that "putting your mind to it" is not just something that you decide to do or not to do one day. It is an embedded cultural and educational ideal that is learned as you are raised through the people and institutions that are teching you. These have been historically absent in the black community and present in the cuban community in america.

Of course today there are more opportunities for blacks or Cubans to offset the racism that is still prevalent in American culture, but these opportunities are dependent on some social capital and a mindset that is hard to achieve growing up in the ghetto. The Cubans in America have many educated and successful leaders of their community, and family traditions of education that extend back, unbroken, to Cuba.

Civil rights was great, but I would hardly consider everything hunky-dory yet. I see too much racism against haitians, guatemalans, mexicans, blacks, arabs, jews every day to be fooled into that.

2:03 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...


It is an embedded cultural and educational ideal that is learned as you are raised through the people and institutions that are teching you. These have been historically absent in the black community and present in the cuban community in america.

I'm not sure I know what you mean by "ideal", but if there's one thing the African-American community has, it's a cultural tradition spanning several generations.

The Cubans in America have many educated and successful leaders of their community, and family traditions of education that extend back, unbroken, to Cuba.

I think you're looking at a pretty small sample of Cuban exiles. Many, many Cuban families were relatively uneducated in relation to college degrees. I'm the first in my family to have received a Bachelor's degree, and I know my family is not a rare exception. Also, families were completely torn apart, not just immediate family, but the extended family that is so common in Cuban families.

2:34 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Lissy said...

Adam, I think you're missing the whole point. Cubans had to face adversity when they first got here. They had to face racism and bigotry, but they shrugged it off and did their own thing. They didn't let the racism and criticizing become an issue in their lives. They ignored it as best they could and kept on their goal, regardless of what people thought.

I have a (white) cousin who the neighborhood mothers decided not to let their children with her because she was Cuban. Thirty-something years later she was the OB/GYN who delivered one of those mother's grandchild. How's that for a silent slap in the face. Silvia never had to get help from some coalition to defend her. BTW she didn't grow down in Florida.

3:08 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Adam said...

I am not missing the point. I understand that there was hardship for the Cubans on their arrival, and there is still some racism present.

The thing that perhaps you are missing is that when you are a slave you can't just "shrug it off and do your own thing." That's a big difference.

4:53 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Adam said...

robert, I think it is important to explain that education, as I mean it, spans more than going to college. call it social capital if you like, but the poor cuban refugees brought with them many aspects of the intact social structure of the island, or of their families--even if the family itself was tragically split.

4:58 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Lissy said...

Adam, are you saying that the blacks in Cuba are indigenous to that island? My family were slaves many generations ago, May I remind you that all the blacks in the Western Hemisphere arrived the same way, sold by their own people to white slave traders?

There aren't any slaves alive today. We have gotten over the fact that our forefathers were somebody's slaves. People who've lost loved ones have nowhere to go but ahead, if they hang onto the death, their lives will become nothing but pure hate and acid.

Big deal, so we're black, so our ancestors were slaves, I think everybody knows that. Do I want to be treated special for that? Hell No! I want to be treated special because I'm a kick ass at whatever I do.

Should I join a coalition that wants people to feel pitty for me because my grandmother's mother was a slave? I think not.

7:31 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Adam said...

I'm not suggesting that you should be treated "special" for being the descendent of slaves. I'm merely suggesting that the cuban experience is not the same as the black american experience, even that of the black cuban.

Slavery in cuba and the tropics was somewhat of a different beast], with much more african culture being left to the slaves. Not that it wasn't also a terrible holocaust, but saying that just because you happened to be fortunate that everyone should be at least up to your level is ignoring the fact that we are all formed by various circumstances, and some of those are historical in nature. You didn't "get over it." your ancestors had to struggle with it, and they were lucky enough to end up with an smart/socially educated greatgranddaughter. You should be thanking them instead of spitting hate at those who came from a different past and have different interests for themselves. You are lucky, you can call yourself a cuban: This is a strong thing, to have a group that you can belong to, no matter what your skin color.

12:32 AM, November 07, 2006  
Blogger Lissy said...

Adam, I'm not spitting hate. You're damned right I'm lucky to call myself a Cuban. CUBAN, any blanck man in the US should be proud to call him/herself AMERICAN, not Afro-American. Do you know how many people die each year trying to get to the US to become American?

What I've been trying to say is that rather than creating rifts between social groups, as is the goal of many, that time should be spent making oneself a better person. All those that came out to bash the Cubans on account of Arza were just looking to create trouble and used the "race" card. Not original by the way, and used up already.

8:36 AM, November 07, 2006  
Blogger Adam said...

calling yourself Cuban, or Cuban-American is the same as any black person calling themselves African-American. You do it because it gives you some power and identity in a world of Anglos. I don't see what the problem is. You are up on a soap box complaining about the way black Americans don't stand up and reject their community leaders, or even their identifying community name, but you are safe in your own, with your Cuban-Amerian nametag. I didn't read the other posts that you were responding to when I posted my original comment, but the whole thing is pretty exemplary of the situation in general. People pick their side and they tend to ignore racism if it isn't directed at their chosen group. As a white observer of the racism in Miami, I can say that there is truly enough to go around, and if someone wants to step up and challenge it they should be able to do so without saying they are overreacting or that they should just get over it. Blacks in America "just got over it" for 100 years since abolition, except for some notable people who stood up and said forget this, there's something wrong with this racism and we need to stop it.

10:27 AM, November 07, 2006  
Blogger alesh said...

wtf . . . the comment system doesn't let me link back to my own blog? I have to link to my useless blogger profile? Then my comment goes over here.

6:53 AM, November 08, 2006  

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