Medium Writers Challenge

The Importance of Maintaining Space to Accelerate Culture

Respecting our cultural identities is a key factor in building meaningful relationships

Arturo Dominguez
5 min readAug 6, 2021
Cuban boys playing in Trinidad, Cuba (2006) | Creative Commons

As a first-generation Cuban American, I was raised in a Spanish-speaking house. My first language was Spanish. I didn’t begin learning English until I entered elementary school. Coming up in Jersey along the Hudson River wasn’t easy. Much of the area was recovering from near bankruptcy. Housing was cheap. My mom, like so many others, was able to purchase a home in a crime-riddled neighborhood for next to nothing during the late-1970s.

Our neighborhood was primarily Italian prior to us moving in. As is common when large demographic changes occur, many from the “old neighborhood” harbored some animosity towards Spanish-speaking immigrants. In Union City, one of the core communities for Cuban immigrants in the United States, a lot of slurs were thrown around and we were constantly challenged to fight. For Black and Afro-Latinos, those challenges were much more frequent. It’s not an anomaly we could ignore because it was always in our faces.

Despite all of that, it was still a fun place to live. Looking back, being surrounded by ethnically diverse friends and family, learning to cook the food, and learning Cuban customs was awesome. It’s a joy to pass those on to my kids. The recipes, the stories, the music, the culture, the history. We shouldn’t have to lose any of those things because we live in the U.S. — as so many continually suggest. We shouldn’t have to anglicize our names or our cultures in an attempt to prevent discrimination. Our cultures are a large part of who we are.

Every Latino community represents its own melting pot and our identities are directly tied to that cultural heritage. There’s no denying it. Each respective community is mostly Indigenous, Mestizo, or Black with vast connections to that ancestry dating back generations. In Cuba, African heritage and culture are widely celebrated. Even in my own family, our religious beliefs and cultural identities were shaped by the diversity directly tied to our ancestors from Africa more so than Europeans. Our food represents many of the African traditions also inherited by dozens of…



Arturo Dominguez

Freelance Advocacy Journalist: Politics, Race, Extremism, Disinformation | Editor: The Antagonist Magazine | Bylines: Latino Rebels, Momentum, GEN, more | #WEOC