January 29, 2019

José Marti’s Song for Freedom

A day after I should have celebrated Marti’s birthday (1/28/1853) it seems obvious that even I can’t think about Cuba all the time. It would not be healthy. But in spite of seeing connections to Cuban history in strange and obscure places, there are still many other things in life that interest and distract me.
Sometimes the best way for me to deal with the meanness and unfairness we regularly push towards Cuba, is to escape into Photoshop, with headphones and suitable music.
But with the possibility of our beloved Democracy crashing to a fiery end in the hands of a spoiled-rich racist child with no manners and a Congress confusing the meaning of the word “president” with the word “king,” my Cuban family seems safer than my American family.
A book for children
Today, as I look back on José Martí’s 185th birthday, I want to tell you about a recently published book: Marti’s Song for Freedom, written by Emma Otheguy, beautifully illustrated by Beatriz Vidal and published by Children’s Book Press. It’s a bilingual children’s book that should be available in public libraries and schools… (buy it here) and perhaps your own child’s library.
Vidal’s images present Martí in his most ideological and humane … he appears in his chosen black suit (not in that Spanish garb that some TV-Marti supporters want to dress him in).
Vidal also shows, in the last image, a diverse Cuban population that could easily represent the American trend that White Nationalists oppose; black and white Cubans, brown Cubans, and coffee-colored Cubans with different levels of cream and sugar…
Aside from being a writer, poet, revolutionary organizer and visionary (of a race-less society that values peace and education) Martí was a spiritual leader… one that we can still employ to help us crawl out of this destructive moral and spiritual quicksand we’ve fallen into.
Our country, sadly, was never allowed to grow its own Martí. Either through White Nationalist intimidation or assassination, our potential Martís are murdered, and our education system actively blocks their contributions from entering our culture. It keeps things from changing. It stunts growthful evolution.
Martí died in battle in 1895, but his spirit lives on. A beautiful image near the end of the book depicts the Maestro in battle, shortly before he was killed.
If there’s one thing that I would criticize is that Martí is referred to throughout the book as José, not Martí. This isn’t a big deal. The name José is popular in our reality (Conseco, Calderon, Velasco, Reyes, Antonio Dominguez Banderas, Ferrer, Fernandez, etc.) but only one Martí. Even the Mexican parrot from Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room is named José.
Still, this new children’s book could be the start of a journey to help us find the beloved maestro. To share him. To let his love and humanaity warm our hearts. It is also the ideal way to introduce a young child to the issues of our past.
Que viva Otheguy and Vidal!

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home