Cubans and Cuban Americans Discuss Identity Differences – Washington Square News

Cuban and Cuban American students weigh generational conflict, peer engagement, and Cuban identity at New York University.

Around 2.4 million Cuban immigrants have lived in the United States since 2017. This diaspora consists of three generations, ranging from recent immigrants to third-generation immigrants whose grandparents immigrated. For some NYU students who are part of the Cuban diaspora, expressing their heritage is challenging.

A recent association between Cuban Americans and former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election forced many first-generation Cuban Americans, such as CAS sophomore Adet Rodriguez Garcés of Washington, D.C., to identify a clear distinction between Cubans and Cubans. Some Cuban Americans simplify their identities to Cubans rather than Cuban Americans by sticking to the heritage of their families. This is different from being a Cuban citizen – someone was born and raised in Cuba.

Although the younger generation of Cuban Americans lean further to the left than their older peers and relatives, media coverage Miami portrayed Cuban Americans – and consequently Cubans – as a single bloc in the 2020 election, a phenomenon that John Eliston of the North American Congress on Latin America described in 2007 as “The Myth of the Miami Monolith.”

Guarantee for Cuba as a Cuban was used against the Cubans themselves. Fidel Castro’s rhetoric about people fleeing Cuba has been misappropriated online, used against any Cuban in the diaspora – they are traitors. Others simply reject the experience of Cuban diasporas. Junior LS Stella Caridad Salomone Sotolongo, a first-generation Cuban Italian who has lived in Havana since the age of 12, described such disputes with non-Cuban peers.

“I saw a lot [NYU students] using Cubans as political symbols in the sense that they’re like, “Look, that’s what communism is doing!” she said. “And the far left children of NYU say,‘ Look! These are the consequences … of the embargo and American imperialism! You can’t discuss this if you know there are people who actually lived in it. I had to argue and discuss my own trauma and my own life with literally every person I met. ”

However, the discourse on the subtleties of Cuban identity and experience is not limited to Cubans and non-Cubans. Marcy Melian, a first-generation New York University graduate, has highlighted her irritation with Cuban Americans who identify as exclusively Cuban, suggesting that the two identities are synonymous.

“I know a lot of people in Miami consider themselves Cubans, even if their parents were born in Cuba and they weren’t,” Melian said. “And I think sometimes it’s a little annoying. Just because you’re still Cuban. I’m not saying you’re not like that, but I like the way you describe it, as if someone is like, yes, 100% Cuban. “

Melian left Cuba at the age of 4 and over the next eight years grew up outside the country, partly in the Dominican Republic. She later moved with her family to Miami; she still feels very Cuban and visits the island regularly.

For others, the distance created by the diaspora means fears about expressing one’s Cuban ethnicity and culture – a crisis of identity.

CAS senior Nina Vazquez, a second-generation Cuban American from Miami, linked this feeling to his struggle with the confirmation of colleagues, especially among other Latinos.

“You definitely don’t feel like Americans like maybe other people, but then you don’t feel like Latins like people who grew up in their Spanish-speaking countries before,” Vazquez said.

LS sophomore Kevin Ferra is a first-generation Cuban from California whose family got a chance to travel to the United States via US Embassy lottery system y in the early 2000s, it was hypothesized that the source of resentment shared by many Cuban Americans in the second and third generations was a byproduct of cultural assimilation.

“People who came in the’ 70s and ’80s were trying to Americanize themselves more just because that was what you had to do,” Ferra said. “And that has led to greater distancing from Cuban culture.”

Tandono sophomore Alexis Williams, a second-generation Cuban American, came to a conclusion similar to Fer’s. Her mother, who came to the United States during the Mariel lift in the 1980s, was anxious to teach her Spanish as she grew up.

“She really didn’t teach us Spanish,” Williams said. “She didn’t want us to have accents. The reason why my name is Alexis is that she wanted us to feel very Americanized in all aspects of our lives. ”

Although she was not taught Spanish at home, Williams connected with her legacy by studying Spanish at school, talking to native Spanish speakers in New York City neighborhoods and immersing herself in Cuban history through literature and film.

Despite assimilation with American culture, some families still accept their Cuban heritage. Second-year student Tisha Gabriel Pupo is a second-generation Cuban immigrant whose family came from different times, from the 1960s to the present day. balseros – my friends and family who stayed on the island. With these connections Pupo feels that he is very Cuban.

«I grew up in Miami and had a completely Cuban family, ”Pupo said. “I went to Fr. [mostly Cuban] elementary school and then I went to a Jesuit school for boys originally from Cuba. I’ve been around Cuban teachers, Cuban teachers, Cuban family, Cuban friends from birth, so [being Cuban] it’s very much my life. “

Because Cubans differ in origin and depending on their degree of separation from Cuba, there are ways that Cuban citizens and Cuban Americans are connected by a cultural bridge. Like the differences between Cubans and Cuban Americans, Cubans from the diaspora differ in their views on what makes a free Cuba, but not on purpose.

Contact Bianca de Ayala at [email protected]

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