Being a Cuban-American, listening to stories from communist Cuba is a household norm for every Cuban family. From an early age, I grew up around the concept of politics and communism and learned that my parents overcame many hard battles. Because of this, naturally, I became very involved in my community, whether that was online or not. I listened to the stories of my father stealing food, of my mother going to sleep hungry while pregnant, and many more. My family always mentions that if someone were to write a book of Cuban stories, the book would never end.
Many of these stories are told and passed on solely because of trauma — unrecognized and untreated Cuban trauma. “I wanted to forget about politics the moment I stepped foot in America,” says my father (sadly, my father was cursed with a liberal daughter). This statement was common in my house, because “no president is worse than Castro.” However, this is not true for many other Cuban households. In fact, many Cubans criticize my father and scold, “But politics are so important!” Many Cuban families tend to make politics their family culture, telling their children the same stories my family did to me, but instilling fear. Instilling hateful ideas within them, hating on others, and saying that it’s the root of all evil. This causes a never-ending chain link of hate, fear and irrational ideals when dealing with politics as Cubans.
My family in specific taught me about the aspects of Cuba that many assimilated red Cubans refuse to acknowledge. And because of this, I wanted to write this article to show that perspective.
As of 2016, there’s a very big stigma around Cubans, as a majority voted for Trump, and for years prior Cubans have been known for being very red. This is intriguing, and a very controversial topic, considering that many other Hispanics tend to be blue because of the rooted racist sentiments from politicians across decades.
Focusing on this last big election, Donald Trump emphasized the building of the wall and focused on immigration laws. Many Cubans supported this, often forgetting that most of us came illegally, considering that Cuba is extremely close to Miami and is known for “getting off the boat.” Whether or not you came legally, the fact that we make up a large portion of immigrants can’t be ignored. One of these major events was that of Cuba’s Mariel in the 1980s. It’s important to not forget your roots, especially when they’re so similar to other Latinos. America is a land of miracles, and as Cubans, we shouldn’t contribute to the negativity.
Another focus is that during Fidel’s regime, there came a point where organized religion wasn’t allowed. My parents always believed in a higher power, and I grew up around the concept of God; however, they only came in contact with organized religion when they came into the United States. That’s why the idea of Cubans focusing their politics around religion simply makes no sense. Of course, freedom of religion, and most popularly, Catholicism, came into question in Cuba when the government was deemed flawed.
“Many Cubans are at fault for falling into conspiracy traps,” says my father. While it’s true, the main reason is because of fear. Why is it such a well-known tactic for politicians to call each other “socialists”? Why is it such a negatively coined term? Because it’s a deal-breaker, and it’s a deal-breaker for those who come from communist countries. Politicians love to bring up Cuba as a prime example for shutting down all thoughts of leftist ideals, and “my home country is not a trophy or political tactic,” says my mom. “Donald Trump constantly showed signs of dictatorship, threatening to run in the future elections after the two-term limit. Donald Trump was a disrespectful character, and that does not represent Hispanic culture at all,” she says.
Coming to America, my traditional and passive-aggressive parents had to expose themselves to diversity. Whether it be racism towards them, or even trying to understand the concept of pronouns, there’s a lot to learn when leaving a country, especially a communist third-world country at that. This is something they never forgot about and never want to forget, because we know where we come from. From my personal perspective, I have family in Cuba. In fact, my entire family is in Cuba except for my parents and siblings. Getting into politics when my home country is being tossed around as a tactic is a must, not a choice or a privilege. Please recognize where you come from and be on the right side of history. They took a lot of time to not fear the word and other words such as revolution and social change. This fear and trauma have to be overlooked, and love always wins. We need to see others as equals and help them. Just because we’re in a better country does not mean we can abuse our privilege and forget where we came from.
It’s interesting. It’s interesting to see how easy we forget when things come easier, when we are privileged, and when we have food in our stomachs. It’s easy to stem politics in family culture while calling those who vote blue “traitors,” when that’s the same name they called us when we left Cuba. It’s interesting to focus on immigration laws for the sake of “national security” when half our family came from an overstayed visa, and it’s especially interesting to forget our ethics when most of those who are red don’t have family that remains on the island.
So, to answer the question: why did my extremely-Cuban parents vote for Biden? Because they vote with love, not fear.