The answer to the question “where are you?” from becomes progressively more complex as you move from place to place. I grew up in Miami, lived in LA for a couple of years, moved to Kansas City for 13 years and now I live in Indiana. However, when I am asked “where are you from?” that answer never seems to feel truthful nor does it satisfy the person asking the question.
That’s because I am Cuban. I speak Spanish-fluently. I speak English with an ever-so-slight Miami twang and bust into a ripping roaring Ricky Ricardo accent at the drop of a black bean. “Americans” are perplexed by how I speak. And when I say that I am from Miami and my parents are Cuban I often get the “but you don’t look Hispanic” commentary. Jess, jess, I an Hiss-pah-nick! Forget going into the educational mumbo jumbo about how the islands were colonized by Spaniards who were trying to convert the natives that had come from Africa and therefore many Cubans have roots in Spain let’s just stick to the facts.
My children are very proud of their heritage though they don’t speak a lick of Spanish. Yes, yes, yes I am flagilating as I type. I did not teach them Spanish because, frankly, I got too damn tired of conjugating verbs all night trying to translate back and forth between the babies, their father and I. In the end, I should have taught them and left him in the dark as, in hindsight, he had left me in the dark about lots and lots of things. But that’s another story for another day. Hay Dios mio, pa que fue eso!
So, the kids, no Spanish except a clear understanding of all the cuss words. Couple of years ago at school they asked, class by class, if anyone was Hispanic. In the third grade a blond, blue-eyed little girl raises her hand and says “I’m Cuban”. In the second grade, after the same question, a dark-haired boy with panty-dropper dark eyes raises his hand and says, “I’m Cuban”. As if that did not have the administration in a tizzy, when they get to Kindergarten, from the front row pipes up a red-head and says “I am Irish on the outside but Cuban on the inside” as she shakes her oh, so, skinny, Gringa bottom!
What is the point of all this? I am starting a blog and you are obviously reading it. If you keep reading it you should know what is my core. My core is that, although I have never set foot on Cuban soil and this little seed was made in Miami and born in the USA, I am Cuban. Being Cuban is my essence, my brand architecture, my positioning statement, my unique selling proposition. It is who I am.
So strap on your see-bells and get ready for a helluva multicultural humor-infused ride through my wild and crazy bilingual brain. No RSVP required. Que RSVP, ni RSVP?!! Come right in and drink a chair.