Going outside your comfort zone and staying true to yourself
by David Sandoval
Recently, I was asked to perform in a concert in support of "CubaGO," a movement that seeks to inspire U.S. citizens to ask their congressmen and congresswomen to lift the travel restrictions on Cuba. The event is being sponsored by some NGOs whose ideals I don't necessarily agree with. However, it did seem like an interesting opportunity, so I asked some trusted friends for advice.
Ultimately, in this Cuba issue, we're all going to be faced with some decisions that challenge our most closely held beliefs. For me, I could take the opportunity for exposure and publicity for my band, Delexilio, or I could exclude myself from this event because of its association with groups that appear more sympathetic to the Cuban regime than I care to be. After all, the name of my band is Delexilio, and the whole point is to represent the Cuban exile point of view. I had to be true to my core philosophy and my beliefs and represent the people that I care about — my family, my friends, my people.
I decided to participate. And despite the risks of being associated in the wrong way (I've already gotten a few emails), I looked within and I thought that my core mission was to spread the stories of my community through music, and to share our experience to the outside world. "Preaching to the choir" only gets us so far. We need to tell our stories to those who may not have great affinity for the Cuba issue, especially from a Cuban-American point of view. We should be going out and changing minds, instead of growing increasingly isolated in our Cuban-American microcosms.
A good friend of mine said, "I'm always willing to talk to anyone, so long as my position is clear." It was good advice. I won't shy away from making my position known. So I'm diving in. I'm going to tell our stories through music, and regardless of your view on the issue of U.S. law, there is a much larger issue of travel restrictions in Cuba. And I want to highlight the greater issue of Cuban citizens having almost no right to travel outside their country whatsoever.
These are our stories and they need to get told. Not just to ourselves, but to the rest of the world. So I encourage all of you to reach out to a non-Cuban friend, or maybe someone who doesn't share your point of view. Go outside your comfort zones. Use your passion -- but use it smartly -- and tell your stories. Maybe we can win over a heart and mind, or if not, at least a little understanding.
David Sandoval was born in northern New Jersey. In addition to his work with Raíces and day job at a biotech firm, by night he is the frontman of Delexilio, a Cuban-American rock band blending elements of both cultures in a funky Cuban fashion.