Living in White (Public) Spaces

It never fails. I’m sitting in a cafe working away. Totally focused on my next writing project when I do what I always do. I look around the cafe (sometimes restaurant or store) and see who is present? Who is accounted for? Who is there? Who has the privilege of buying the food I’m buying. Many times I navigate White spaces. Most people around me are White and speaking “standard” English. It really should come to no surprise then that my 6 year old prefers her lighter skinned dolls than her brown or darker ones.

I keep wondering if I can break this cycle of living in White spaces. If I can purposely go to the other side of town (now gentrified or being gentrified) and find a space where I can write or work where I see people that look and speak like me. Ive been to those kind of places in New York City, for example. I remember going to a bar with friends in NYC and seeing people of color, much like myself, simply relaxing and enjoying a few drinks in a very modern and hip place. I want to go to that cafe where people of color are the majority and we are translanguaging–to me that would be a place where I can feel like I belong.

Advertisements

Exploring Cuba. #cubalibre ¡Vamos a Cuba!

The first time I went to Miami, Florida I was in my 20’s. I fell in love with the city because a part of me felt like I was somewhere in Latin America or the Caribbean. It was in Miami where I learned how mojitos and cuba libres are supposed to taste and how REAL salseros actually don’t mirror their partners steps (east coast west coast salsa, I get it). There was something spectacularly intriguing to me when I danced with a “Cubano de Cuba.” I’ll never forget how it was described to me, “There’s nothing like watching two Cuban people dance salsa.” After that comment I never saw ANY two dancers the same. In fact,  I think when partners dance they tell a story. Their story to be exact.

My trips to Miami always included the same routines: pastelitos de guayaba y cafe con leche (then the BEACH for hours), a sandwich from Publix (a grocery store) for lunch, rest and a nap, THEN dinner (something Argentine or Peruvian many times), then DANCE, DANCE, DANCE, SALSA, SALSA, SALSA until the break of dawn!

It was through these experiences where I heard immigrant stories about leaving Cuba. Sometimes first hand experiences, but mostly from 2nd generation Cuban immigrants. We shared things in common in that my parents had also immigrated a generation ago (but from Mexico) and in those ways I connected with them. It has been 15 years since I first went to Miami and 15 since I decided that one day I would travel to Cuba.

I’m on a journey now to plan our first trip to Cuba and, as it turns out, this planning also coincided with the passing of Fidel Castro. I am so curious to hear stories from the people that actually live in Cuba, to see how a world so close to us lives in such a different way.  If I state that I am going to “support the Cuban people,” then what kind of proof do I need to show when returning to the U.S.A that I did that? Would staying at a “casa particular” be enough? I have also thought of contacting professors at a local university in Havana to express an interest in planning an educational trip with my university students, but am not quite sure what the first steps involve in trying to do just that?

I would love to hear from my readers who have traveled to Cuba. #cubalibre #vivacuba