Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Special guest blog: Defining "Cuban"

by Sissi Rodríguez

A few days ago I had a conversation with someone about what it means to be Cuban. His views seemed ridiculous (his argument was that only island natives who could prove their “Cuban lineage” should be allowed to live in a free Cuba) and led me to think about what it actually means to be Cuban.

Is it the place where you are born? Is it the fact that your family might have been born there, or is it a true passion and love of the island and its people? After much arguing with this person, I came to realize this is not something I can answer. I can give my personal opinion, but does that make it true?

Am I even “Cuban enough” to begin with? Having been born in Cuba, I once thought I was qualified to define these things. After all, I had lived under the dictatorship, “el periodo especial” and innumerable apagones.

More importantly, the one thing I brought with me on that 50 minute flight to the U.S. was that pride. That “I lived it and I survived it” pride. For a long time I thought that made me more Cuban than those who had been born here: the ones who didn’t truly know “my” country and who thought that, because they drank Bacardi and ate lechón, they could call themselves Cuban.

Time went by and I let go of my own ridiculous views on the subject. The question has now changed. I'm no longer concerned with what makes you a true Cuban, because in my book there’s a difference between “being Cuban” and having “cubanía.”

Cubanía: un orgullo de pertenecer a Cuba, de sentirse cubano sin importar lo que otros digan. Es saber la realidad (aunque la hayamos vivido o no) y enfrentarla. Es saber diferenciar entre Cuba y su gobierno. Es un sentimiento patrio, que se extiende desde las ideas de José Martí hasta el más común de los cubanos.

La verdad es que cuando se trata de identidad cubana, no existen definiciones ni conceptos, y de lo único que estoy segura (para dejarlos con una cita de nuestro apóstol José Martí) es que “si no fuera cuban[a], me gustaría serlo.”

Here’s an interesting article on Cubanía.

Sissi Rodríguez is a 2009 graduate of the University of Florida. She will be attending the Michigan State University College of Law in the fall.

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