My book "Cubanos in Wisconsin" has been out for a couple of weeks. I've been asked a lot of good questions and shared some nice conversations with friends and family. I've been on radio and already spoken in front of some groups. And there is a lot more coming!
My original objectives for writing this book were two fold:
1) Say "thanks" to my parents for a job well done. In other words, it took a lot of courage to leave their homeland and start anew. Our parents did it and we should say "gracias" at every opportunity; and,
2) Introduce my sons to our family past, i.e. how did we get to the US? Or, why do they have a Cuban father? What do all of those "black and white pictures" on their grandparents' wall mean? Who is that fellow named Jose Marti?
In my particular case, it means introducing my sons to my maternal grandfather who came to Cuba from Asturias, Spain in the 1920s. He landed penniless with 5 brothers and they all became successful entrepreneurs because of their work ethic and commitment to family.
It means telling my sons about the first Canto who came Spain in the 1840s and was a writer, published a newspaper and spend his leisure time at the small farm in central Cuba.
As I wrote the book, it became clear that I had a 3rd objective: We need to start a conversation between the old and the new, or the ones who came here years ago and the ones born in this wonderful nation that embraced us.
The Cubans are one of the great chapters in the annals of US immigration stories.
We represent 3% of the Hispanic population but lead the way in college degrees, professional designations, business ownership, etc.
We have a reputation as the Hispanics who get things done rather than wait for government to take care of us.
We are the only Hispanic group with 3 US Senators, Cruz of Texas, Rubio of Florida and Menendez of New Jersey.
By the way, check out "The Cubans" by Fernando Hernandez. You will learn some amazing facts about Cubans in the US.
Why did we succeed so much?
First, we came to the US, the land of opportunity where hard work is rewarded and respected. The Cubans and the US were made for each other. It was a perfect storm of "character" and a free market system.
Second, we had wonderful parents who lost everything and came here to make something out of themselves. They didn't whine or complain. They didn't dwell on the past. They paved the way with sweat and tears for thousands like me.
I hope that a young Cuban-America (a.k.a. "cubanito") will read my book and spend an afternoon with his grandparents, or "abuelos".
It would be great if "abuelos" could relate their own Cuban story. My guess is that most young "cubanitos" are not aware of their grandparents' heroism and courage.
You may learn that your Cuban grandparents stood up to communist thugs or spent time in a political prison. Perhaps you will hear about that cousin or brother who was executed by the communists for standing up for freedom.
Yes, I need a sale but you need a reason to sit down and learn something about your Cuban heritage.
I guarantee you two things:
1) You will be very proud of your Cuban heritage; and,
2) You will understand that being Cuban means that someone in your past stood up for freedom and the dignity of every man and woman.
So get the book, read it and sit down with your grandparents. Your "abuela" will cook the food you love and your "abuelos" will make you very proud with some amazing stories!
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