Addressing Bigotry in The Latin American Community

I’m Cuban, Get Over It

A few days ago, I published an article for Latino Rebels that focused on Cuban migrants being targeted as they travel through Central America in an attempt to claim asylum at the U.S./Mexico border. Despite Cuba being located just 90 miles from the United States, Cubans now have to travel thousands of miles since Obama did away with the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy — allowing for Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil to receive a visa allowing them to stay in the United States without being deported.

You can read the article here.

The policies that specifically benefit Cubans came about through the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. The act allows for Cuban nationals, lawfully present for one year, to apply for a green card while employing the use of the wet-foot/dry-foot policy. The purpose of the act — along with sanctions, blockades, and misinformation campaigns — was meant to be used as a tool to further drive a wedge between the people of Cuba and the communist Cuban government.

Clearly, this policy never sat well with other Latinos in our community. It’s treated as if Cubans get a “free pass” for nothing. It’s a well-known fact that even Cubans are aware of. The reality is that this is an old Cold War policy put in place in the fight against communism in an attempt to cripple the island. The sad part? Cubans get demonized for this policy as if it were our doing. As much as I’m accustomed to targeted harassment, it does get old. Especially when it comes from within our community.

“We’re actually delighted that this is happening. Unfettered open borders only help the ossified human rights violating regime because it gives it an escape valve.” — Comment on my article from Latino Rebels’ Facebook Page

Cubans also get lumped together under the presumption that we all voted for Trump. Not true at all. Not only did I know better, but I did my part to talk to others in my community (Cubans), to look past their blind loyalty to Republicans — which goes back to the 1960s — and start focusing on policy and rhetoric. When their focus shifted, they quickly began to realize just how much Trump hates us all. “We’re all “Mexicans” to him and people like him (racists),” they would say, “He’s talking about all of us,” they continued. All it took was talking to them for them to see it.

We also get referred to as hypocrites and sellouts because some of the loudest Cubans are racist, xenophobic, homophobes. But here’s the thing, there are racists, xenophobes, and homophobes in every one of our respective communities. Every. Single. One. This is where everyone needs to realize that we’re all the same, hated by the same people — while being silent about the most hateful in our own communities who are a detriment to us all.

“I doubt you know any Mexicans, we don’t associate with scum.” — Comment on my article from Latino Rebels’ Facebook Page

The point of this is to show that bigotry, racism, and homophobia runs rampant in all of our communities equally. So when other Latinos lashed out at me for publishing the article about Cuban migrants being targeted in Mexico, I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but I was certainly disappointed. This type of bigotry exists across all of Latin America. You may not like it, and you may not want to address it, but it’s true in all of its ugliness.

And it’s time we talked about it.

For me, the reactions to my article from less moderate Latinos was particularly disheartening because I speak out for our collective communities quite frequently. And to be attacked as a bigot just because I’m Cuban, and for no other reason, was also hugely disappointing. All the years I’ve put into anti-racism work, equality, and speaking for the Latino community seemingly meant nothing at that moment. Sure, many of these commenters likely aren’t familiar with my work, but it’s not hard to find. Click on my name on any article at Latino Rebels and you’ll see everything I’ve published there since November 2018, when I started contributing to Futuro Media.

“Welcome to being treated just like the rest of the Latino community, Cuba. No more special treatment.” — Comment on my article from Latino Rebels’ Facebook Page

Those articles alone give you a very good idea of what my body of work has consisted of over the last 30+ years of my life. Same with all of my articles here on Medium. Hell, do a Google search and you’ll find me all over the place. Buzzfeed, American News X, The Manifest Station, Reader Supported News, etc., etc.. I’m not new to this game.

But I digress.

The issues we should be addressing, instead of attacking each other, start within our own communities. When you hear your abuelito (grandpa) start talking shit about people from other Latin American countries, call it out. When you hear your tio (uncle) saying racist or homophobic shit, call it out. People always say, “oh he’s old, leave it alone” or “don’t start nothing, it’ll ruin the fiesta,” because they don’t want to start any shit.

I’m telling you, it’s time to start some shit.

Instead of attacking me — basing your argument on one or two experiences with Cubans — maybe we should all turn around and look at our own. That same bigotry I’m telling you to call out is no different than the bigotry that was aimed at me, that I’m calling that out too. Because before you go accusing others of bias, you should check your own house first.

“Fidel come for your annoying people.” — Comment on my article from Latino Rebels’ Facebook Page

Racism in our communities must be called out. Homophobia in our communities must be called out. Bigotry in our communities must be called out. Xenophobia in our communities must be called out. Anti-Semitism in our communities must be called out.

The question is: are you willing to call it out?

Or are you just gonna keep fighting amongst yourselves and acting like fools?

I’ve been calling it out for years. I help educate older folks about candidates running for election, policy ideas, convince them to vote their interests and give up the party loyalty. I do the legwork to change minds, to help drive policy, and to report on the happenings within our collective communities. I register people to vote and I drive them to the voting booth. I do it because there is always an election coming up.

This time though, we have a chance at ridding the nation of the hatemonger who is imprisoning, torturing, and killing our people.

We have a lot of work to do.

What are you doing?

Anti-racist activist, essayist, and upcoming author; advocating for equality, justice, and accountability. Support my work at patreon.com/ExtremeArturo

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