My parents are from Cuba. They immigrated here in 1962. Just in time for my birth. Yes, I was made in Cuba. I was the first-born American in my family. My brother was born in Cuba and all my cousins were born there, with the exception of the two that were born after me. I grew up in the typical Cuban household where the women take care of the men and in my view were subservient.
Growing up in Orlando in the seventies, there were a lot of Cuban Americans around me. First born like me, but still heavy on the culture. I gravitated toward them even though I considered myself Americanized and against some of the culture that interfered with my appreciation for the Woman’s movement of that time. I participated in many “Quinces” before I turned fifteen myself, and many after that. Participation in these wonderful celebrations meant meeting every week-end for at least a month to practice the routine that was going to be performed for the big party. That is where I really got the chance to compare my observations about my household and those of other Cuban-American youth such as myself.
My resistance to the whole “woman are equal” thing began to fade as I discovered the real role that woman of this culture played.
This is my top ten list of how the Cuban household is run.
1) Do everything your mother tells you to do.
2) When in doubt, do what your mother told you to do.
3) When you are sure about what you want to do, still do what your mother told you to do.
4) Tell your mother everything. (By everything, I mean everything that won’t piss her off.)
5) Honor your mother above all others
6) Love your mother above all others
7) Be sure that everyone in your life understands that your mother has the last word.
8) Once you grow up, when your mother visits your house, she is in charge.
9) When your children are born, you are to go through your mother for child rearing.
10) Just do everything your mother tells you to do and you won’t have to worry about the rest of this list.
Being a woman in my culture turns out to be much more powerful than I ever could have imagined, and it makes me proud to be a Cuban-American Woman today. I am proud to be a Cubana.