Today I am going to introduce a new semi-recurring feature here in White Dade called “Aks White Dade.” And, yes, I am well aware that I spelled “Ask” wrong as it is intended to be pronounced like a sharp metal object you would use to cut wood or, if you are stuck in a remote Colorado
hotel for the entire winter, murder your entire family. I tend to pronounce it that way for my own entertainment and am in no way trying to offend any of my African-American readers. I have actually been emailed for advice by a couple of readers in the past, most notably Chris from Baby Windows
who aksed me if he should tell his girlfriend he had videotaped himself having sex before. My answer was a resounding "yes." So today I will address two questions with similar themes I’ve received in the recent weeks from a couple of readers in New York
who know who they are. The first question:
“Hey White Dade, why are Cubans in Florida obsessed with going back there? It's been a communist shithole for decades, they have all their success here, yet they still refuse to treat America like anything but a temporary rest stop. It boggles my mind. I understand a lot of them have family there and are nostalgic, but the pro-Cuban pride blows my mind considering the country really hasn't done that much for them over their lifetime.”
Not being a member of the “exile community” it would be hard for me to answer for them, but here is my THEORY (and before you all jump down my throat, this is my THEORY and by no means the definitive answer): A lot of the more vocal older Cubans here were not part of the Mariel boatlift. They were, in fact, the wealthy Cubans who fled in fear of the communists taking all their shit (which they ultimately did). Their recollections of Cuba are those of the life of the upper class of the country, and not necessarily those of the poor and working classes that Castro claimed to represent (and not to get overly racial here, but most Cuban-Amerianas are lighter-skinned while the majoity of Cubans I met in the actual country were extremely dark. Draw your own conclusions). It’s kind of like what I imagine a slave-owner’s image of the pre-war South was compared with that of a Negro slave. And when you’re in the wealthiest 5%, I suppose even Bangladesh in monsoon season is a pretty nice place. So of course they’re going to miss it and want to go back. This selective memory leads them to think that once “The Beard” is gone, they can return to their plantation homes and mojitos-at-noon lifestyle that they enjoyed like nothing ever happened. I’ve been to Cuba. Those plantation homes are now oversized planters for a variety of sub-tropical weedlife and the only people who can afford mojitos at noon are dumb tourists like me.
Now, Cubans in Cuba always say it’s great there because if they don’t they will be thrown in a dark hole faster than you can say “human rights violation.” So you can’t take what they say as absolute truth. I have been there on vacation (and spent LOTS of money) and I assure you it is, in fact, a communist shithole. It will take a lot of cruise ship and gambling-interest money to make that place nice again should the totalitarian regime subside. If the “exile community’ wants to move back, I would be far from stopping them, but I don’t think they’ll be there long before they realize that Little Havana is actually a lot nicer than Big Havana.
“Hey White Dade, why do 2nd generation Cubans that are our age (mid-twenties) still have accents? I know 2nd generation Greeks, Italians and Asians who sound totally American, why don’t they?”
Because nobody around them does either. I know some 2nd generation Cubans from other parts of the country like LA and the Midwest who sound just like everyone else in those parts of the country. In Miami, though, we have what is called the “Miami accent.” And not the White Dade accent that Janet Reno and some others have, but the one you would most likely recognize on Gloria Estefan. A large percentage of the population here speaks Spanish, and so many Cuban kids who were born here and grew up here still have a definitive accent. Believe it or not, there are some white kids who grew up here who sound Cuban too. Kind of like Eminem growing up in the bad parts of Detroit. So it is not necessarily that they have a Cuban accent, but a Miami accent. I’m sure the two are easily confused, but if people my age moved to Boise and raised their Cuban children there, the accent would probably cease to exist in that next generation.
I wholly encourage the rest of you to email me with any questions you may have. I will use whatever name and location you give me to answer them to the best of my abiality. Much like the above answers, I will answer with my theories or opinions, but, by no means, will I answer with absolute fact.