XOTV WEEKLY: Unamerican American
My father is Cuban, born and raised in Havana. My mom is Dominican, born and raised as well. Both of them are immigrants with different stories and different perspectives but the same struggle and process of transition into something new. As a child, both of my parents being individuals who have always been rooted in their culture, implemented those teachings in us. My siblings and I grew up knowing what our identity was. Or did we?
I was born and raised on American soil. I went to school normally like all my friends and I can speak fluent English, however, my father only allowed me to speak Spanish when I was younger. I never understood why and I also had moments where I felt extremely frustrated because all of my friends spoke English to me, my mom would even speak English sometimes and a lot of my other family members, but my father made sure to hear my Spanish to make sure I knew that the language was just as much of a priority.
I thought about this deeper as the years went by and as an adult, I have benefitted tremendously from that discipline. I can translate the language to English and vice versa; both are my native languages and it has maintained a sense of pride in my heart to speak it and remember from which roots I was truly grown. I knew my identity was American in terms of my legal status, but my spirit was not and neither was my mind.
I cannot write this hypocritically and say that I am not proud to have opportunities and resources that my parents and many immigrants do not have, which, just like me, their children get to obtain due to their sacrifice. However, right now I am not proud to be an American. My real identity and loyalty are to my culture because although I benefit from American citizenship, I do not have the privileges many other Americans do.
The benefits and privileges I speak of are there for us citizens, but if you are not white, answer this question honestly, how far do those benefits successfully reach you?
Are you an American? Look at our country right now and answer sincerely. Do you feel like you can look at our country’s status and feel you belong? What does being an American mean right now?
I am speaking to my Latinos.
During this election, I noticed certain stats for us and I have to say, I am disappointed. An example of what I saw is the fact that during this current election so far, 58% of Cuban American voters identified as Republican this election while 38% identified as Democratic.
Then I read that a whopping 71% of Cuban American voters voted for Donald Trump.
What is shocking to me and what my father and I discussed together was, how can you come from a country of communism, toxic dictatorship, and poverty, yet vote for someone who has similarities to that regime if you don’t look like him.
Many of his supporters are black, Hispanic, definitely white, etc., but the reason I speak so directly to my fellow Cubans is that I am Cuban. I am a citizen of the United States but I have seen how being both an American and a Cuban with morality and true inclusivity for humanity compels me to support someone like my father who came from violence in Cuba because of injustices that Trump has come very close to committing as well, if not already has.
I understand that there are trauma and generational toxic mindsets which have infiltrated the Hispanic community and it shows in the results we are seeing. Sticking to what one knows and what seems normal or common to someone is not far-fetched to do, however, sticking to prejudice, injustice, discrimination and being blind to the fact that Donald Trump doesn’t care about us is a whole different analysis of this concept.
There is also a clear distinction as to which Cuban Americans are voting in such a way which are the lighter-skinned ones who can pass for white or already have colorist perspectives even within their own culture which I have seen and heard for myself.
It is discouraging and both sickening to know that someone can deny themselves and who they are for skewed views and lack of education, but that is simply what it is.
For me, I will never put down the benefits I have gained from my country but right now it doesn’t feel like it's mine and now I know for sure that it never really was. I cannot be proud of a place like this that does not truly care for all its inhabitants in the same way or if even at all.
I feel like an unamerican American. An alien, someone who abides here and has all the legal rights of its habitat but isn’t truly from here. I would never deny who I am.
About the Author
Susej Mendoza is a 21-year-old, Afro-Latina, cist-gendered woman from Bronx, NY and her passion is to educate the world on real issues related to race, economy, politics, and religion. Her writing is a component of that passion and her goal is to share that with the world while making people dig deep into who they are.