Fierce

How ‘Guantanamera’ Sung By Celia Cruz Helped Me To Better Understand My Abuelo’s Exile From Cuba

My mother was six when she fled to the United States from Cuba with my abuela and her two siblings. After reuniting with my abuelo who fought against Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs War, they moved to Chicago, where they built a life for themselves completely from scratch, still gripping tenderly onto the heritage and cultures that connected them to families and friends back at home. In their efforts to keep and sustain our family’s Cuban heritage, my abuelos and my mother taught me and my siblings to love and cherish the many different and beautiful contributions that their island country has given to the world: cuisine, cafecito, Bacardí, music, and José Marti.

Naturally, as any proud Cuban-American, I have benevolently held onto all of these as my own personal tokens from an island I have never visited or known. I’m quick to boast about each of them as if they were conjured up by my own mother’s hard work in the kitchen. Still, none have Cuba’s treasures have made me feel quite so intimately linked to my family’s first home like the beloved Cuban song “Guantanamera.”

Like my abuelos and my mother’s stories of Cuba, “Guantanamera” is a song that has grown and adapted through its journey. I have heard the story of my abuelos’ wedding day more than a hundred times; the tale of how my mother cried when kids at her school called my abuelo —a Bay of Pigs prisoner who singlehandedly saved hundreds of lives after being captured by Castro — a criminal; the account of my abuela wringing her hands as she debated enrolling her children in Operation Peter Pan and how she later boarded a cargo ship holding onto only her children and memories of her life to meet my abuelo in the United States. Each anecdote is the same but is always slightly altered in some way depending on the storyteller’s mood and time that I plead for their retelling. Some days they’re drawn out, told with prideful smiles, but often they’re said quickly with an ache to forget the portal of bittersweet memories my questions have sent them through. So similarly goes the many different versions of “Guantanamera.”

It is widely accepted that the original lyrics of the song, considered to be Cuba’s unofficial anthem, were romantic in nature, but over time, the song has been interpreted as a political ode. Brought from the rural regions of the island and to airwaves by Cuban radio host Joseíto Fernández in the 1920s, the song quickly caught on among fans. Fernández performed it regularly on his show and, in the tradition of most folk music, improvised and changed verses based on the week’s events. Some days he sang about politics, and other days he purred lyrics that harped about azucar and its rising costs. Still, the song’s opening lines and chorus, “Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera / Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera,” always remained the same.

Cuban composer Julián Orbón adapted the “official” lyrics to the song using verses from Cuban freedom fighter José Martí’s poetry collection “Versos Sencillos.” Orbón’s version, the one most commonly recorded by music artists, used Marti’s lines about a “sincere man” who was from “where the palm trees grow (Yo soy un hombre sincero/ De donde crece la palma).

This adaptation, combined with other lyrics from Martí’s poems that express compassion for Cuba’s poor, is ultimately what turned “Guantanamera” into the country’s most recognized patriotic anthem. In the U.S. and internationally, the song has been interpreted and adopted as a rally for peace (in 2004, for instance, the Swedish government flipped it into an offbeat rap song to promote recycling) and performed by a wide range of artists. In 1966, the Sandpipers did a version that became an international hit, and in the years that followed, singers like Jimmy Buffett, Pitbull and even the Fugees recorded their own editions. My personal favorite is the one sung by Cuban-born singer Celía Cruz on her album “Bravo” in 1967.

My Spanish has never quite allowed me to communicate with my abuelo in his native language fluently, but “Guantanamera” has let me do so.

Most conversations with my abuelo come with a melding of his so-so English and my mediocre Spanish. Together, we’re able to find a common ground that allows us to make each other laugh, exchange “te quiero mucho muchos” and grants me the ability to learn about the family and life he was forced to leave behind. In worse case scenarios, my abuela, a retired Spanish teacher, or my mother will intervene to translate. But when it comes to “Guantanamera,” abuelo and I have never needed assistance. Together, we’ve sung the song, our separately known variants, not always familiar with the lines each other sings but always well aware that in those moments they fill us with a deep love for each other and the versions of Cuba we both know.

Recently, during a visit with my abuelos, we sat together in their snug living room listening to Celía Cruz’s illustrious take of “Guantanamera” as her throaty voice sang over flute trills and drums. Old pictures of primos and tias looked down at us from the walls as we first listened carefully to the lyrics.

There’s no knowing what will prompt one of the Cubans in my family to break out into song. My most playful tía will chorus a line to tell stories; my brother does it at the dinner table even though he knows he’ll be told it’s rude, and my mother does it when she wants you to be in a better mood. Like them, my abuelos and I couldn’t help ourselves as Celía’s lively low-range voice started the chorus. Not against the charms of “Guantanamera.” Soon enough, abuela, abuelo and I were all singing the different Spanish versions of the song we hold dear.

Truthfully, if ever there was a moment that I thought I could burst from feeling so whole, it was sitting there in their living room, watching as the burden of my abuelo’s struggles of exile, always easy to decipher in his quietly distracted stares, seemed almost completely forgotten as he sang with pure delight.

“Guantanamera” is a song that has had a rhythmic presence in my life for as long as I can remember.

Like the smell of aftershave on my abuelo’s worn blue guayabera and the cheekiness of my abuela’s wily grin, I could make out that song anywhere, even despite the many versions it holds. Including the one I’ve heard my abuelo hum while brushing his teeth and the one my mother tries to keep in tune to while singing along to Cruz as she drives in the car. Like the different impressions of the song, Cuba is a country that has been strongly woven into our different narratives. Still, while my relationship and experience with Cuba will never tug on the strings of my heart with the same pang as it does on my abuelos or my mother, “Guantanamera” reminds me that the island is much more of a home than a foreign place that my family’s exile might try to make me believe.

Foul-Mouthed Karen Yells At People To Stop Playing Bad Bunny And Play ‘American’ Music Instead

Things That Matter

Foul-Mouthed Karen Yells At People To Stop Playing Bad Bunny And Play ‘American’ Music Instead

Ramon Luis Cancel / Facebook

Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Puerto Ricans are American citizens (without the right to vote). Music made in Puerto Rico would then be considered American music since it is part of the U.S. However, one Karen in Wisconsin just doesn’t understand that and had a complete meltdown.

A very angry white woman went on an expletive-filled rant against people barbecuing in the park because of their music.

My first Karen was today. Todo por que no le gusta la musica que escuchamos 😂 #KarenWantTalkToTheManager Stop Being Racist. To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email licensing@storyful.com

Posted by Ramon Luis Cancel on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A woman made a point recently to verbally attack a Puerto Rican family while barbecuing in a park. What did they do to offend the woman? They were playing Bad Bunny. The woman, who has not been identified, called on the group to play American music because they are in America.

“You are so fucking disrespectful,” the Wisconsin Karen told the group when they called her disrespectful. “Puerto Ricans. Fuck all this.”

During her rant, the group turns on Bad Bunny’s “Safaera” and continued to argue with her.

“Safaera” is one of Bad Bunny’s most popular songs. It would be pretty hard to convince people that this song is something that should be turned off. Like, Why can’t people just enjoy their time out and about without having to get into a racist, xenophobic argument?

Some Puerto Ricans on Twitter made sure to remind her how lucky she is to be in Wisconsin.

This isn’t the first time someone was verbally harassed in a park for showing their Puerto Rican heritage. One man was charged with a hate crime after trying to attack a woman in Chicago who was wearing a shirt with a Puerto Rican flag on it. It is a true testament to their resolve that the Puerto Rican family being yelled at were able to stay calm and level-headed. Granted, they did argue back but it seems they were provoked.

It seems the woman needs a basic civics lesson on how Puerto Ricans are Americans.

A poll conducted by Morning Consult found that half of Americans do not know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. The confusion has been exacerbated by President Trump during the early stages of Hurricane Maria recovery. The Trump administration has been criticized for its treatment of Puerto Rico.

People commented on the Facebook video about how else the situation could have been handled.

Credit: Ramon Luis Cancel / Facebook

If she wants to hear American music, then let her hear American music. Crank that volume all the way up and let her hear the true range of American music. There’s nothing better than educating someone when they let their ignorance be known.

One person is just feeling bad for the man clearly trying to get the confrontational woman moving.

Credit: Ramon Luis Cancel / Facebook

He really just wants to keep it moving. It is almost like he realized before she did that being on camera saying racist things is not a good look in the time of social media and doxxing.

Smartphones have changed the way we live by giving us a chance to capture moments like this and broadcast them to the world. Social media serves as a way to really make the most out of the public shaming.

READ: Felony Hate Crime Charges Have Been Filed Against The Man Who Harassed A Woman For Wearing A Puerto Rico Flag Shirt

Cardi B’s Jokes About ‘Sucking In Her Stomach’ For Pictures Is The Realist Thing I’ve Seen In Quarantine

Entertainment

Cardi B’s Jokes About ‘Sucking In Her Stomach’ For Pictures Is The Realist Thing I’ve Seen In Quarantine

Cardi B / Instagram

Like us, Cardi B is about the “suck it in life” this quarantine.

We’ve always known that the rapper knew how to keep it real. Especially when it comes to body confidence. The beloved Domicanana with Trinidadian roots has been trying to live her best life while in quarantine and part of that has been showing off her body in a lineup of pretty impressive bathing suits.

Exhibit A: these stringy bikini looks show how divine and body pos she is.

View this post on Instagram

How y’all doing on this beautiful Monday ?

A post shared by Cardi B (@iamcardib) on

The rapper posted this beautiful picture of herself earlier this week after revealing that she had a new tattoo finished on her back. “Okay guys! Soooo here it is! It took me several months but I’m finally finished. This is my back tattoo! It goes from the top of my back to the middle of my thigh,” Cardi wrote in a caption to her Instagram. In a separate clip to her Instagram, she credited tattoo artist Jamie Schene of Union3Tattoo for the work.

I mean… just look at her.

In a recent post to her Instagram page, the rapper got real about her pictures and admitted to being about that “suck it in life.”

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Suck it in life .

A post shared by Cardi B (@iamcardib) on

“I suck the s–t out my stomach for this pic so appreciated,” she wrote in the caption to her Instagram post. In it, Cardi can be seen wearing a teeny bikini and lace-up stilettos. To follow up, the rapper shared another Instagram video, this time of herself walking towards the camera in her bikini, and faulting her body. When she turns she shows off her side profile and lets out her stomach. And tbh we love the natural curves!

Of course, it didn’t take long for fans to flock to the comments and gas up the rapper.

“Same here sis!!! ,” Antonique Smith the actress from “Notorious” wrote in the captions. “Thank you for the honesty!” “If this ain’t da realest shii,” sevyn added to the comments.

It’s no surprise the rapper is being open about her body. She has a long history of being honest about her own body positivity and experiences with liposuction and receiving plastic surgery after giving birth to daughter Kulture. In an interview with E! she explained that speaking openly about the procedures was important for her she does not “like lying about things.”