I am absolutely certain that I have met my future wife. My lady has me thinking in ways that I have never thought before. I tell her she is the one all the time and, she doesn’t know it yet, I have been saving up for a ring. She has met my family and they adore her—I never doubted they would. I haven’t met her family yet because they live in Florida. Recently, my girlfriend and I have decided to take a road trip down to Miami and spend a day or two with her family on the way down.
I am writing to you because I am Jamaican, raised in Brooklyn, and my girl is a Latina. (I am a big fan of your magazine by the way). My girl says that her family is super Cuban…really traditional. I don’t know what that means but I think she may be breaking tradition by bringing me home. My question to you is what can I do to get in good with her family? It’s too late to learn Spanish, but is there anything important I should know before meeting her super Cuban family? I really love my baby and I would do anything to show her family how I feel about her.
Peace and blessings,
I have to admit, I was stumped for a minute on how to respond to you. I myself am half-Cuban (my father was born in Havana), and half-Puerto Rican. I know about a few cultural differences and the stereotypes that have been cast onto “darker” Hispanics. So my first reaction upon reading your letter was, “Uh oh!” BUT…people are people. And some people are VERY conditioned to stick to their own kind, their own religion, their own color of skin, etc. This is not new…this exists in MANY countries and cultures.
Prejudice exists in all cultures, but it isn’t always what EVERYONE believes. Some old-school beliefs are that we should marry someone with “good hair.” At the end of the day, it boils down to one thing: FEAR. Many people are ignorant of other cultures, They are so proud of their own, they refuse to learn about anyone else’s, and because they are fearful of their own traditions being broken, they stiffen and refuse to accept others marrying into the family.
Lastly, many Hispanics don’t know that during slavery, slaves were kept in the islands such a Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc. Sometimes the slaves remained there for months. And guess what? Slaves and slave-owners and townspeople, joined together, know what I mean? So most of us, especially those who are olive skinned, have part African in them. I tell you this so you know that you and her family already have something in common. But I don’t want to make this about color.
When you go to her parents’ home, please dress well: no sneakers, no hat, etc. You need to make a good impression. Also, NEVER show up to someone’s house with empty hands. Ask your girlfriend what her mother’s favorite flowers are, or bring a very good bottle of wine. Find out if her parents have something that they have a passion for, and bring that. Put your best foot forward, but be yourself. Ask lots of questions, take a genuine interest in something in the home: a piece of art, a photo? You can dress right, say all the right tings, and there is always a chance they will not accept your relationship. But it’s not their relationship – it is yours. So go there with no expectations. Kill them with kindness. Tell them the truth about how you feel about her. Another tip: read about the Cuban culture, about why so many Cubans migrated to he United States, especially Florida. Find common ground…Cuba is an island, Jamaica is an island…there must be something you have in common. Even if you were Cuban, you would still be hoping the family would accept you.
No matter what happens, be polite. And with time they will most likely come around. If you really want to marry her, then it would be good idea to ask her father for her hand in marriage. BUT don’t ask until you feel you’ve made some real connection.