Hola!!!! I’m Eli, I’m from Miami, and I’m Cuban. I don’t take a lot of selfies tbh bc I’m not photogenic at all but I wanted to submit anyway. I’m going to NYU to major in creative writing, filmmaking, and Latin American studies and my life goals are to create tons of films telling stories of Latina girls of all colors because I think that Afro Latina and indigenous Latina representation is extremely important and colored Latinas need more three dimensional characters in the media. Anyway, happy Tuesday every1. Love u all!

5

Hey. This might be long.

My name is Madeline Alvarez, I’m a girl, pansexual, a feminist, and a second generation Cuban-American.

I was raised in Miami (primarily in a sort of sub-city/neighborhood called Hialeah) around almost all Spanish-speaking Cubans. My grandparents immigrated to the United States in the 1950s and 60s, after communism took over Cuba. My family is African, European, Native, and Asian. My mother’s side is primarily Native Cuban (mostly Taino), but my father’s side is more European (from Galicia, Spain). Back in Cuba, my family lived in Havana and Santa Maria for generations, where they primarily worked as rice farmers.

They were somewhat poor before communism, to the point where my grandmother had to drop out of medical school, and became a beautician in America. My other grandmother dropped out of school to care for her 10 brothers and sisters, 5 children, and 8 grandchildren (and counting). I’m the oldest.

It’s been hard growing up in the United States raised by immigrants and the children of immigrants. My parents were dirt poor when I was younger. My relatives have had their marriages and relationships with their children split apart by communism. I’ve faced discrimination both in and outside of South Florida, and grew up hating my culture and sexuality because of it. I’ve had depression almost all my life, and I’ve gone through really tough times lately.

But I know it’s nothing compared to what non-white passing Latinx face, nor what other POC face.

I’m proud to be an American, I’m proud to be me, and I’m proud of my grandmothers for leaving everything behind in Cuba just to give my parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my brother and I a chance to be something more.

I dream of making my grandmothers proud.

I’m in debate, where I’m currently captain of my category, and I’m looking to start a criminal justice internship in the summer. I want to go to law school, work as a human rights attorney, then eventually become a politician. I want to help end discrimination in the U.S. I want an improved quality of education, because I think an educated nation is a peaceful one. I want to work on immigration and mental health care in the U.S, too.

First queer Latina president of the United States doesn’t sound so bad, either. They’ll have to call me President Alvarez, and pronounce it right, too.

Cuban-Americans hate Castro for calling us traitors, yet betraying our motherland. My family has waited decades to go back, but I think it’s time to move forward. I want to make the most out of living in exile, and I find inspiration in the millions of Cuban-Americans who wants that, too.

Thank you, if you read all of this.

Yo con mi pelo enrolado. ¡Soy una colochita! Soy Cubana por mi padre, Salvadoreña y Libaneses por mi madre. Me encanta la comida Salvadoreña pero la comida Cubana es mis favorita, ¡por supuesto! Discúlpame, mi cámara por el iPad es MALÍSIMO. Pues, ¿que puedo decir? Ah, cuando mi hermana (somos mellizas) y yo herramos pequeñitas, SIEMPRE fuimos a El Salvador por el verano. Ahora, nunca vamos. Eso era unos 5 años, y lo estaño. Fuimos a Líbano en 2009 para visitar la familia ahí y nunca fuimos a Cuba. Mi padre nació ahí, pero a los 9 meses, sus padres fue por barco a Miami. Mi madre nació en El Salvador y ella vivió ahí hasta su adolescencia con sus hermanos y hermanas. Pues, pienso que eso es todo.

I’m going back to Cuba in just one week to see my family again… Its been nearly four and a half years and I think that this is what I need in my life. This is something I’ve been missing and I’m finally beginning to see myself as a Cuban in America, so this trip will be one of the most important ones in my life.

Point is, I can’t wait. I’m dying to walk through the doors at immigration (in Cuba) and cry the moment I see my family. I can’t wait to drown in the heat of the Caribbean and swim in the breeze that drifts in from the ocean. I’m dying to walk down my streets again and run my fingers against the walls and feel the stories, the plantations, the colonialism, the revolutions, the dictatorships, the banana republics, the Revolution, and embargo…

I’m dying to be alive and dancing again.