The Cuban Man Who Praised White People

“Perfect love is to feeling what perfect white is to color. Many think that white is the absence of color. It is not. It is the inclusion of all color. White is every other color that exists combined.” – Neale Donald Walsch

When I moved to James Bay at the end of 2015, I promised myself that I would spend more time in nature with a park nearby. The universe held me to my promise by moving me into a smoke-free building. Thanks, universe.

Did you know that universe means “one song”? Uni, one; verse, song.

Smoking a joint at my park one Friday evening in the late spring of 2017, I noticed a man I’d seen a few times before with his dogs. This particular day he had four dogs with him. We had never hung out all that close to each other, but this night one of his dogs wouldn’t stop barking at me. The man eventually ran over, the other three canines trailing behind, and sat down on the bench beside me. We introduced one another—me, the man and the dogs. I can’t remember her name, but the barking dog stopped barking, and a Shih Tzu “with a face only a mother could love” rested for the next three hours in my lap.

The man was in his fifties and originally from Cuba. I had a burning desire to rebuke genocide and systemic oppression of Indigenous people in Canada, while the Cuban man with the dogs wanted to put an end to collective complaining. The charmingly handsome Cuban Scorpio not surprisingly just wanted me to listen. I can’t help but think of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and how it’s the woman’s job to stir the conversation.

The Cuban man had grown up in Cuba under Fidel Castro. He grew up without clean, running water and freedom of speech. He not surprisingly had zero interest in moving to the United States, but was thrilled to eventually immigrate to Canada. He worked his ass off to support twins and a wife in university across the country. Now that his kids are grown up, he doesn’t care if he lives in a house or a van. He’s just happy to live in a country with clean water and free speech—and social assistance, if he needed it.

The Cuban man was concerned that Canada is moving in the direction of Cuba. He didn’t understand the transgender discussion. I explained to the Cuban man that I believe in spirit and that we choose to come here, and that some people intended to be the opposite gender before entering their bodies, and since I don’t know how that feels, it’s probably best that we support them. The Cuban man could live with people wanting to change genders, but he didn’t want to prescribe to semantics or the rhetoric of keeping up with pronouns.

The man had also spent a substantial portion of his adult life living and working in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and said that the First Nations people in Fort Mac are happy to cash in on the crude oil party.

“They’re the richest First Nation in Canada,” the man said.

He was referring to the Fort MacKay First Nation, according to a brief search on Professor Google. The Cuban man mentioned how the First Nations in Canada fight amongst themselves (much like white people, might I add), and can’t agree on values with respect to resources. This understandably confuses white people because we’re largely uneducated about the history of fucking anything in Canada.

I think it’s worth mentioning, though, that not all First Nations in Canada have access to clean, free-running water, and certainly not all First Nations in Canada are connected to the technology grid. Canada is a big, often cold, country. But I understood what the Cuban man was saying. His life experience taught him nose to the grindstone, appreciate everything, and complain about nothing. He himself was a quarter African and three quarters Hispanic.

“Do I look white?” The man asked me.

“No,” I responded.

I think some people adapt to the current reality more easily than others, regardless of gender or race. It bothers some white people that we were born into the debts of our ancestors, while those same white people have no problem with our friends of color being born into systemic oppression. Their problem, we say, we didn’t choose that for ourselves. It’s so easy to be diet racist.

We continue leaving these debts for subsequent generations, yet we can’t see how we’ve been socialized to be racist.

They chose the systemic oppression? We chose the debt. It’s our job as white people to right our ancestors’ wrongs. We can’t reverse the damage, but we can change the policies. (People form governments…) We can legislate new laws. We can give them back their land, and if we can’t do that, we can pay them for it. The money in question already exists in trust—35 billion dollars—with “handouts” burned off from the interest.

We could toss the Indian Act and interact with them as a sovereign nation peacefully. These are not ideas I’ve thought up myself; I’ve extracted them directly from literature I’ve read written by people of Canada’s First Nations.

On that note, we could make it easy for Indigenous people to integrate into our cities and culture—if they so choose.

Speaking of integration, white is an inclusive color. Other than location, please understand that there is no difference between shooting rubber bullets and grenades into crowds of Indigenous people protecting their water at Standing Rock, and driving a car into mixed race protestors in Charlottesville. Notice how we are talking about water again?

I find it interesting that rednecks are hung up on so-called handouts, yet we draw the line at Nazis. Not only did Nazis hijack an inclusive color (white – think of refracted light), but they also hijacked an ancient Sanskrit symbol of oneness. The Swastika is a two-dimensional cross section of an Om sign. Om, according to the ancient yogis, was the sound the universe made at the time of its birth. For scientists out there, Om was the sound created by the Big Bang. Om is said to be the seed sound of creation.

So, we can all agree that Nazis have hijacked inclusivity and oneness, yet we think it’s okay to kill Indians for oil in 2017.

I wish I would have told Whitey before he blocked me that people who hate what they do for a living are contributing to white supremacy. If you’re close to retirement, ride it out. We support you. If, however, you’re nearer my age? Get your ass into work you love asap. You are doing nothing for people of color sitting in your armchair, hating your job.

Perhaps more white people experiencing socioeconomic marginalization isn’t a terrible agenda. It’s the closest thing you’ll experience to systemic oppression, yet you don’t come out the other end of it subject to a White Person Act.

On the one hand, I can appreciate that the Cuban man would miss white people if we were all gone, yet on the other it’s insulting to think that Indigenous people—people of color (with the exception of extremists everywhere)—would turn around and act like assholes like us.

History doesn’t repeat itself, stupidity does.

Moon Dog with the Roses in His Eyes

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.” – Mark Twain

Thirteen days into 2017, a white person attacked me (during a conversation he started) for talking about the quantum field. That’s where my love life is, I insisted. He didn’t get it.

The conversation started out with him whining about his job. Then suddenly I was being attacked for being a capitalist and a racist. I admittedly had no idea that the whole “you create your own reality” shtick mimicked capitalism.

What Whitey didn’t know, however, was that in November 2014 I attempted to teach an Indigenous man on the street—Moon Dog—about quantum principles. I told him to start imagining his way out of his hardship, like I was attempting to do.

“No,” Moon Dog said firmly, “you don’t understand.”

He was right. I didn’t understand, but Moon Dog still smoked his joint with me anyways.

The white person who attacked me had also never spent a Christmas alone, and as such it never occurred to him to forego family dinner to feed Indigenous people on the street. On the evening of December 25, 2016, I modestly fed Moon Dog, Yvonne and an unnamed white guy. The streets in Victoria that evening were cold and relatively barren.

“It’s getting harder and harder for people to find me,” Moon Dog said as we hugged.

“I walked downtown hoping to find you,” I said to Moon Dog.

We weren’t standing together for long before an Indigenous woman named Yvonne joined the party. Yvonne didn’t consume substances, but she was crushed that her kid wanted nothing to do with her on Christmas. She had spent all her money on everybody else, and had nothing left for herself. Nobody gave her anything, she said.

“Do you want some Brussel sprouts?” I asked Yvonne, reaching into a plastic bag for a care package. I had enough Brussel sprouts to make up six small packages. Each care package consisted of Brussel sprouts, strawberries, chocolates, and a joint. Yvonne was stunned.

“What can I give you in return?” She asked, reaching into her pocket as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Nothing!” I exclaimed.

“You mean this is free love?” she asked.

“Free love!” I declared.

Yvonne was floored that I wanted nothing in return for the meager serving of Brussel sprouts. We hugged at least six times.

Before Moon Dog and I walked up to Centennial Square to smoke a joint together, we stopped in front of Shoppers where the lone white guy sat. I gave the guy a care package, while Moon Dog dropped the change he had collected into the white guy’s hat. We all wished one another a Merry Christmas, then Moon Dog and I carried on.

I can’t help but consider story time with Moon Dog, who’s in his fifties, a privilege as well as a good opportunity to practice my listening skills. Did you know that “listen” and “silent” share the same letters?

After Moon Dog and I sat down on a bench in Centennial Square, he gave me shit for my posture.

“I told you to start sleeping on better pillows,” he reprimanded.

Moon Dog is a healer. When we first met in 2014, Moon Dog stopped me on the street and asked me if I would smoke weed with him in a nearby park. I obliged. I bought him rolling papers and a lighter, and we walked to the park where he proceeded to give me a postural assessment. I don’t recall telling Moon Dog that I had been in a rather traumatic car accident, and he didn’t tell me that he was “uneducated” or illiterate, yet he instinctively placed my body back into alignment. He told me to get a better bed. I was fresh off the boat onto disability, but I didn’t tell Moon Dog that either.

Moon Dog, a bona fide body worker, understandably refuses to work at McDonald’s. I remember at my first and only income assistance group intake meeting, a guy younger than most of us telling us that he wasn’t the Ministry and wouldn’t tell any of us to work at McDonald’s like our case workers did. Moon Dog hasn’t spoken to me about residential school or the sixties scoop, but he did tell me the last time I sat down with him that he was getting his mind straight and that he’s not ready to go yet.

“I’ll just have to live with this pain,” he said.

Moon Dog’s life has been rifled with injury. Apparently he and a friend are banned from Yates Street in downtown Victoria. He said they walked into one of the theatres downtown without paying for the movie. They were minding their business when the police were eventually called because they refused to leave. A couple behind Moon Dog and his friend offered up a free pair of tickets, he said, so that the gentlemen could stay and enjoy the movie. The “owner,” however, wanted them gone. Moon Dog said that the police didn’t say anything to him and his companion about the beer they were drinking. They got to keep their beer, but they couldn’t stay to watch a movie that the couple behind them offered to pay for. Moon Dog said that the “owner” of the theatre also owns Yates Street, and banned them from both. Apparently police are upholding the ban.

“Yates Street will miss me,” Moon Dog said.

I don’t know; I’m inclined to believe Moon Dog. Regardless, I figure if you’re rich enough to own an entire city block worth of buildings—including a movie theatre—then you’re probably rich enough to let Indigenous people watch movies at your theatre for free.