Not too long ago a young man from my generation, upon hearing me debate about U.S. government issues, said to everyone in the room, “Hey, look at the Mexican talking about American politics.” After that slap to the face, two thoughts hit me: One, I’m not Mexican, but thanks for reflecting your ignorance. And two, certainly more important, did he just say that? I tell this young man that I am from Miami, Fla., a land of tall palm trees, warm seas and a slight breeze that lets you know you are home. I tell him that in this home, and anywhere else for that matter, his words of poison are not welcome. And so I leave it at that.
On another fateful occasion, our paths crossed again. As I spoke to a fellow Latin brother of mine in the tongue our fathers use, this same young man said, “Stop talking in gibberish.” My body became numb, and I felt…concerned. Concerned because ignorance and racism weren’t just on pages 73 and 85 of my history book, but that I was now staring right at it. I imagine my grandfathers, one from Cuba and the other from Argentina, fighting for what was right in a time when the difference between right and wrong meant something. They have all come and gone, but each left their mark. They say to continue the fight for freedom.
As I regain my senses, I look at the vacant, misguided young man. With the calm voice of tall palm trees, warm seas and a slight breeze, I offer the young man a message. I offer a message of hope. Yes, there are white people, black people and everything in between. Yes, we speak different languages. But under the sun we are the same. Here, where we stand, is the land of one.
Gustavo Rearte Jr. can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.