You can probably deduce from
my name that just like Marco Rubio, I am Hispanic. At the tender age of eight,
my father - along with his brother and my grandmother - had to leave everything
he had and had known in order to escape the oppression of communist Cuba. My
grandfather, a famous musician at the time, had to stay back. He was later able
to escape and, upon arrival in Puerto Rico where my family finally settled after
a short stay in Miami, he was quoted in a local magazine saying, "If I had not
been able to escape, my only option would have been suicide."
That type of background does
something to a man. The stories are never too far from your mind. It never
allows you to take freedom for granted. It enables you to realize that the ideas
that gave birth to America must be protected. As long as the idea lives, it will
serve as a reminder - a loud reminder - of the many ways in which we fall short
Marco Rubio understands
that. His recent speech at the Republican National Convention makes me proud to
be an American. Not a Hispanic. Not a Hispanic-American or a Latino, but an
American. I am beyond tired of those who continue to try to define who I
am and what I stand for because of my race. I am an American because I believe
in the ideas of our founding.
I am tired of hearing the
pundits talk about "what Hispanics believe," and "what Hispanics want." Why do
they insist on boxing everybody into little groups? Marco Rubio called it a
strategy of "Divide and Conquer." I agree.
I was born and raised in
Puerto Rico. One of the interesting things about Puerto Ricans is that we are
taught at a very young age that our race comes from a mixture of races so that
everybody has a bit of Taíno (Puerto Rico's native Indians), Spanish, and
African. The saying goes for anyone who feels himself better than another
because of their race, "¿Y tu abuela dónde está ?" (Where is your grandma?).
Meaning if you go back a bit, you'll find we are all the same.
That is why I experienced a
sort of culture shock when I came to America and was confronted with a very real
effort to imprison me into some kind of politically correct prison. I was deemed
a Democrat before I even knew what being a Democrat meant. I instinctively found
the pressure repulsive and, if only from within, I rejected it.
I knew I loved America. Not
because of the prosperity or the opportunities available to all. It was not
really about what I could get. It was about what it stood for; I love America
because of the principles that lay at its very foundation. Rubio said it
beautifully in his speech:
America was founded
on the principle that every person has God-given rights. That power belongs to
the people. That government exists to protect our rights and serve our
interests. That we shouldn't be trapped in the circumstances of our birth. That
we should be free to go as far as our talents and work can take
America is good. Yes, we as
Americans continue to fall short, but America stands tall, calling us to live up
to its ideals.
We are special because we've
been united not by a common race or ethnicity. We're bound together by common
values. That family is the most important institution in society. That Almighty
God is the source of all we have. Special, because we've never made the mistake
of believing that we are so smart that we can rely solely on our leaders or our
Our national motto is "In
God we Trust," reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important
American value of all. And special because we've always understood the
scriptural admonition that "for everyone to whom much is given, from him much
will be required."
These are profound
statements of unity that should transcend party lines. Oh, how I have longed for
more leaders who are humble enough to recognize that they are not smart enough
to solve the world's problems - leaders who recognize we must rely on God and
We need leaders humble
enough to recognized how blessed we are and who feel the weight of the
responsibility that comes with these blessings. We need leaders who value people
for who they are as persons and not based on their background, whether racial,
cultural, financial, or any other reason. We are all Americans. Not by birth,
but by choice.