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.