Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 30)

“It makes the water come to my mouth when I think of the State of Cuba as one in our family.”

– 1895 An American politician & financier

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u.s.-cuba

Cuba remained hostage to the United States, while U.S. companies and investors took control of the major sectors of Cuba’s economy. By 1905, 60% of Cuba’s rural land was owned by U.S. citizens or companies. U.S. investors also controlled 90% of Cuba’s tobacco trade, the country’s iron, copper, and nickel mines, its railroads, and its electricity and telephone systems.” — Historian & Author Aviva Chomsky

So, as we are wont to do, we occupied a nation & called it “freedom.”

We hijacked Cuba’s postal service and customs, in order to control what came and went, and make sure anything valuable found its way into our own government coffers.

And in 1903, we allowed Cubans to draft a Constitution.

But we wrote it.

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 29)

book-why-do-people-hate-america?I learned a lot from that Israeli encounter.

And from the reactions of other foreigners to our 9/11 tragedy. I mean, I just always assumed that everyone everywhere felt the way we Americans do about it.

I guess I’m learning the value in seeing how others see you.

Because, the truth is, you can never really see yourself objectively.

Yet, even this awakening I’m experiencing here – this dirty view of us through foreign eyes – only makes me feel more determined to fight to right the wrongs. I mean, you have to fight for what you love. And I love my country. In spite of everything I’m learning, that will never change. It’s like how I love my family; no matter what they do, they’re still my blood & always will be. And you don’t give up on family. If they’re broken, you fight for them, fight to fix them, fight to save them.

I told Karli & Dana tonight about the Israeli airport encounter, and they didn’t seem surprised. Karli told me about similar 9/11 conversations she’s had with foreigners in other countries. Dana’s view is that those foreigners are just jealous of America. But Karli thinks, as I do, that it has a lot more to do with our foreign policy, the things we’ve done and continue to do to other countries.

Crashing bees’ nests for honey

Why do we need all that honey? And why are we so okay with spilling their blood to get it? According to those Israelis, spilling foreign blood means our blood will follow. Are generations of our blood worth spilling for honey?

But, I mean, what are we citizens supposed to do about that?

Most of us, like me, don’t even know what our government is doing. We only know what the news tells us. We don’t even know who’s controlling our news. We think our news is democratic & objective, you know, because we live in a democracy. We think we’re getting the whole story. So we don’t dig any deeper than the most convenient American news sound bite because, hey, if it’s on the news, it must be true.

And who has time to dig, anyway? We have jobs, families, a social life.

But even when we do find out horrendous stuff about our country, patriotism (or the fear of being called unpatriotic) propels us to justify our atrocities. Or we retreat into denial. Or defensiveness. Like in the museo today, when the Whites in our group became so defensive about American benevolence, even in the face of our racist destruction of a Brown nation.

Or like how I just wanted to run away…    Continue reading

Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 28)

danger-angry-americanWhat happened next involved shouting, shoving & airport security.

I think the only reason it didn’t involve blood was because the other American girl & I jumped in front our raging fellow American, and talked him down.

Well, that and the fact that he realized he was outnumbered by a group of actual bee-crushing Israelis. And airport security.

In hindsight, I think those Israelis were trying to communicate with us in a direct way which agitated our American play-nice sensibilities. We Americans rarely express anything that directly, so we were pissed off by the Israelis’ bluntness. We’re used to p.c. phrasing accompanied by smiles & all kinds of other make-niceties that many foreign cultures just don’t engage in.

So, we definitely do not see ourselves as “tyrants.”

When we look into our national mirror, we see the good guys. We see ourselves as the victim of tyrants. When we war, we’re only fighting back.

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 27)

boot-stepping-on-faceThe American dude was pissed.

His face darkened, his body language was confrontational, and I’m pretty sure his aura was a deadly shade of black & blue…

Another of the Israelis chimed in calmly, as if nothing was amiss, nobody’s American blood was boiling, no Israeli was about to get his teeth smashed in. Just a friendly group of travelers, shooting the international sh*t.

When you crash a bee’s nest, and destroy the bees to get to their honey,” this Israeli began patiently. “Those bees will fill with hatred for you. They will buzz to their children the stories of how you demolished their homes, their families, their lives, their country. And those children will come. They will come to avenge their ancestors. Generation after generation. Because you continue to crash their nests.”

Another of the Israelis looked right at us Americans. “September 11th will happen again,” he said. “It will happen to you, and it will happen to us. Because our countries think ‘why’ doesn’t matter.

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 26)

lynching-of-blacksOur racist policies didn’t work in Cuba.

At least not in the way it worked back home.

Because while Americans were all for hanging Blacks out to dry, Cubans were fervently against it.

Cubans — Black & White — rose up in unified, adamant protest against our racist policies on their island.

But a lot of good it did them; we reluctantly responded by allowing a minimal number of Blacks back into the sectors of society we had originally ousted them from — but we reinstated those Blacks in a segregated format.

Brown cops had to be separated from White cops, Brown soldiers could not share barracks with White soldiers, etc. Wherever we gave in to Cuban outcry against the banning of Blacks, our reinstatement condition was always that Blacks be separated from Whites.

racist-sign-no-negroes

Circa 1920. The Texas Restaurant Association posted these signs at the entrances and exits to all restaurants in the state.

.

Hence, the U.S. was responsible for the re-introduction of segregation onto the island of Cuba. Victor said the effects of our systemic racism still exist here today – just as it does back home.

Which, of course, we’re all in denial of.

Well, all except minorities.

But Victor said we did good things in Cuba, too. And I noticed that where the Browns in our group had been riveted by Victor’s history lesson from word one, it wasn’t until this part of the lesson that the Whites in our group began listening intently.   Continue reading

Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 25)

cuban-flagWhy would we not let Cubans fly their own flag in Cuba?

Their island. Their flag.

I don’t get it…

Anyway, we declared Cuba a free nation. Or not.

Whatever. We beat Spain and took over.

Cubans, newly free from Spanish colonists, had new colonists to oppress them.

Americans.

We staged public ‘elections’ for Cubans to ‘vote’ for our choices of dictator puppet presidents who would cow-tow to U.S. interests on the island…presidents who would not interfere with our control over the island, who would in no way prevent us from doing whatever we damn well pleased on their island — regardless of Cuban outcry against it.

The first thing we did, of course, was to impose laws of segregation.

We needed to undo the damage Maceo & Martí had done by uniting Blacks & Whites. We needed to restore our American value system of White supremacy.

To that end, Cuba — in a mirror image of America — became a sea of “WHITES ONLY” signs.

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 24)

islamophobiaI wonder if Spaniardophobia bled across our country back then the way Islamophobia is doing right now…?

It must have.

Because Spainiards wouldn’t have been America’s idea of White back then. Spainiards were, like, a hair’s breath away from being the world’s palest tint of brown, weren’t they?

And, as deeply racist as we Americans were, our brown-dar was probably fine-tuned to within an inch of White life.

But Victor said something else really interesting about this Spanish-American War.

He said our president was against it.

Our president then, McKinley, had been a major general or something in our country’s Civil War. He knew what war was like. Victor said McKinley’s view of war was: ‘Been there, done that. Hated it then, hate it now.’

But Hearst & Pulitzer’s victim soup media war had inflamed American anger into a fire that would not be quenched by anything but a good, Spanish ass-whipping. When President McKinley tried to hold off on war, Theodore Roosevelt — who was then a leader in our Navy —  called McKinley a wuss.

That would sell a lotta papers. :)

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 23)

hearst-newspaper-war-headlines

Hearst newspaper.
“Patriotic citizens advocate recourse to arms, to wreak vengeance upon Spain for the cruel and cowardly destruction of the Maine.”

 

Ahhh! Sweet sugar.

With those Cuba Spaniards gone, their sweet sugar profits would be alllll ours. :)

So, what did we do?

We cooked up a big bowl of victim soup to pour across news wires around the world.

Pre-invasion media prep!

 

We cried and raged stories about our blown up soldiers on the USS Maine. We threw pie charts in the world’s face depicting our invested sugar millions that would be lost to Spain if we didn’t step in. We created horror stories about how those Spanish colonists in Cuba were torturing and killing poor Cubans.

Of course, we didn’t give a damn about those racially-integrating Cubans who posed a too-close-for-comfort threat to our White supremacy. ‘Poor Cubans‘ was just the guild on our image to coat the tarnish of truth.

What truth?

That factions of our government/wealthy, powerful business interests saw millions in invested sugar profits to be lost, and billions to be gained by snatching Cuba from Spain’s clutches. And in the process, we could put a stop to the racial integration occurring so threateningly close to our shore.

With a pre-war media blitzkrieg, we succeeded fantastically in inflaming American patriotism into a national mania, while spoon-feeding acceptable justification to the rest of the world for our war against Spain.

mission-accomplished

“Mission Accomplished!”

 

Wait…where have I heard this story before?

Oh. Right.

I lived it.

Except the USS Maine was the Twin Towers, the “poor Cubans” were “poor Iraqis,” and the sugar was oil.

(cue Twilight Zone music) 8O

 

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 22)

cuba-sugar-cane

Sugar cane.

It wasn’t just our American fear of Cuba’s racial equality practices that made us shine our imperialist boots in preparation for a good ass-kickin’.

We wanted Cuba’s sugar money.

Cuba was the top sugar producer in all the world.

The world.

That’s a lotta sugar dough.

 

We had tried to buy Cuba from Spain, but our first offer was so low it slapped ‘em in the face with insult, and showed those Spaniards just how little we thought of them.

Then we came to our senses and grudgingly upped our offer to a more realistic number.

laughing-miceBut by then Spain was like, are you serious? Why would we sell the goose that lays the golden eggs to you, of all people? Hahahaha! You Americans are funny!

So, we had to settle for investing in their sugar industry on the island. But, though we invested millions, we were only getting a comparatively tiny amount of sugar dough return.

Spain was the one swimming in the juice.

Which stuck deep in our craw. (Not real sure what a ‘craw’ is, but this is a well-known expression. And I like saying ‘craw.’)

So, with our craw all bent (since I don’t know what a craw is, I’m pretty sure I can bend it ), we were like, why should Spain get all that Cuban sugar dough? We’re closer. In fact, we’re so close that, rightfully, Cuba should really belong to us – along with all the other tobacco, coffee, citrus, and other profitable products-producing islands colonized by Spain.

Those island geese should be laying golden eggs for us.

Not Spain.

Something had to be done about that…

imperialism-rocket

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Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 21)

American-Revolutionary-War-soldiersSpanish colonists in Cuba were raking in the sugar dough in the wake of the Haitian Revolution.

While Spain was getting richer (via Cuba), we got tired of making Great Britain richer (via America). So we decided to break away from the Brits by fighting & winning our American War of Independence.

Happy 4th of July, America! :)

 

Victor said that by 1825, all of Spain’s colonies in the Americas were independent except for Puerto Rico & Cuba — which Spain held onto with both hands because the sugar industry was way too profitable to give up.

Carlos-Manuel-de-Céspedes

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes

But eventually, Spaniard landowners in Cuba got tired of sharing their sugar profits with Spain. So, in 1868, a Spanish sugar mill owner in Cuba named Cespedez challenged Spain’s chokehold by leading a Cuban War of Independence – which would later become our Spanish-American War.

Cespedez also did something else.

He freed his slaves.

In America, slavery had already been outlawed in 1865, but it was still in practice without much change at first. There was hope by plantation owners that, in time, the free-slaves thing would eventually blow over and we’d get back to our profitable system of slavery.

So, Cespedez freeing his slaves did not sit well with us.

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