Yes…every so often we record ourselves saying relatively random and superfluous things. And today we thought we would share some of those things with you.
I have to digress from my typical international chatter, to look in my own backyard and talk about what I see. And what I see is the lifeless body of a young man, face down in wet grass, with a bag of skittles and a cup of ice tea in his hands. What I see is his killer, free with no charges pressed against him. What I see is a society so consumed by its own prejudices that each human life is not value weighted the same. And what I see is a society that has become even more entrenched in its own misconceptions that we are all drowning. This is what I see…but do they see me?
This morning Leonard Pitts, Jr. of The Baltimore Sun, wrote an exceptional piece on invisibility, that captures exactly how I feel right now (click here to read the full article). My heart burns and breaks for this life taken, for a family’s loss, for the thousands (yes thousands) of lives that are impacted daily and negatively, by the same ignorance and sense of entitlement that led someone to so callously take what God had given… a human life.
I sit here and I cry for a boy I never knew, a family I will never meet. My tears are for the daily injustices that so many of us live with right here in our own backyard. This could not have happened in Cuba…yet, in the US we are “free”.
This is for Trayvon Martin and all the others like him, known and unknown, whose lives are sacrificed in large and small ways, at the altar of ignorance.
In the name of God; the Merciful; the Compassionate – بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be with you – السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
Three things that the Cuban government does very well are (1) educate its people, (2) include cultural knowledge and the arts as part of the national curriculum; and (3) foster environments that are inclusive, from an early age.
The underpinnings of a society are best seen in the behavior of its children and Cuban children could not have been more engaging, enchanting and inclusive of a little girl who had no idea what they were saying. So below is a clip of three scenes: (1) Reflects the value Cubans place on providing an education that promotes critical thinking, strategic analysis, and active engagement (all children learn chess); (2) Reflects the high value placed on culture and the arts in Cuban society (this young girl attends a boarding school in Cienfuegos that specializes in classically trained musicianship (Cuban education is, by definition, State-run and free); and (3) Reflects the innate inclusiveness of Cuban children and how it extends outward to everyone (there is no fear here).
This is what makes Cuba unique in the world.
Cuba is a place where music and culture are valued beyond material wealth and acquisition, and as such, the sounds and rhythms of the country and its people, are never far behind. Outside of Havana, Santiago de Cuba is probably one of the best places to experience Cuba’s cultural diversity and the video below provides a snapshot.
The second scene is a singer at Casa de las Tradiciones. This is a very popular spot for both tourists and locals. The first part of the evening consists of solo (and typically older) singers with traditional tunes and the second part of the evening involves hot and sweaty salsa dancing.
The third scene is part of the musical rehearsal for the national closing ceremonies of the Feria de Libros (National Book Fair). This is my favorite piece because it reflects the strength of African cultural and linguistic roots in Cuba. When watching the dancer, imagine her arms holding up the ends of a long flowing traditional gown. This is the Ballet Folklórico Cutumba and for more info on them, click here.
I am an entrepreneur and I am not ashamed. I like to make money and I like to do good, and when I can do both simultaneously, I am at my happiest – so Cuba presents a conundrum. How could someone like me (a business person) live and thrive in Cuba?
- Someone like me (a foreigner) has not right to stay in Cuba beyond the terms of the tourist visa or temporary residency granted because of one’s work.
- If someone like me was looking for a more permanent solution…then (easiest solution) it would be time to get married to a Cuban…..and Miguel was good looking, but he wasn’tthat good looking!
- Most private enterprise is limited to small service businesses – selling food/restaurants, taxis, hairdressers (of course), renting rooms in homes, etc. The services I get paid to render in the US are non-existent in Cuba…because they are free.
So unless I plan on being a black market business chick….which (for the record) I do not….making money in Cuba remains an elusive concept to me.
How do you make money in Cuba? If you have some ideas, I would love to hear them.