Legacy of Loss

This schizophrenic state may seem strange, but this is what it means to me to be an American-born Cuban. To deny that Cuba is my homeland is to deny a part of myself, just as rejecting anything American would be crazy. And instead of becoming more Americanized, the part of me that is Cuban gets stronger every day. –from “On Being an American-Born Cuban from Miami” Gisele M. Requeña

The quote comes from a book I recently picked up: ReMembering Cuba: Legacy of a Diaspora, edited by Andrea O’Reilly Herrera. A dense book, I was leafing through the table of contents when I came across a section entitled “Inheriting Exile.” That’s it, I thought, that’s what it’s like. Of course, I skipped to this last section of the anthology.

Reading it was a moving experience. Whether those who were raised in Miami or in cultural isolation, those who claim not to be political or those who once rebelled, all seem to be united in the pursuit of identity, even as they comfortably straddle both Cuban and American cultures. Particularly interesting are the ABC*’s who can lay claim to only one Cuban parent. Included in this group are Margarita Engle, who just won her second Belpré Award as well as a Newberry Honor designation, and the editor of the anthology herself. As O’Reilly Herrera describes the experience, “we are all nomadic wanderers, undergoing a journey that has no final destination.”

*American Born Cubans

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