Proud to Be

If you’re Hispanic or a baseball fan – yes, I know that statement can be redundant – then you know there is a lot going on over the recent comments made by Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen.  Ozzie was very critical regarding Alex Rodriguez’ indecision as for whom to play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.  At first, A-Rod said he would not play because he could not choose between the United States and the Dominican Republic, countries in which he maintains dual citizenship.  Alex later changed his position, deciding to represent the United States in this exhibition tournament.  Guillen, who is known for his feistiness as a manager and his candor as a speaker, recently said the following.  “Alex was kissing Latino people’s asses…… He knew he wasn’t going to play for the Dominicans; he’s not a Dominican! ….. I hate hypocrites: He’s full of [expletive],”

Just to clarify, A-Rod was born of Dominican parents in New York in 1975.  At the age of four, the family moved to the Dominican Republic. At the age of eight, they moved back to the States and took up residence in Miami <shout out!> A-Rod was drafted by the Seattle Mariners right out of high school, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I can see Guillen’s point of view on this issue, and I admire his matter-of-fact approach to life.  Ozzie is adored in his native Venezuela, and I have to admit that I have a bit of affinity for Mr. Guillen because my ex-wife is Venezuelan.  It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people, and it’s a shame what is going on with the politics down there.  But that’s a different blog entry.

That being said, there is nothing hypocritical about A-Rod’s indecision or waffling on this matter.  By birthright, he is an American.  However, the four years he spent living in the Dominican Republic were very formative years, especially for a talented boy growing up in a land whose number one export is baseball players.  We don’t know how often he returned to the D.R. once his family was in Miami.  It’s obvious he loves the land of his parents; otherwise his decision would not have been so difficult.

I have a friend who was born in Turkey, raised in England and now lives here in the United States.  She is not Turkish or British.  She’s American and will be the first to tell you so.  However, she will tell you so while emphasizing she was raised in England because she still feels a connection with that country.  After all, she lived in the UK until she was thirteen, and there is nothing wrong with her feelings of British pride.

My mother was born in Cuba.  My dad, although technically born in the US, was raised in Mexico.  I am proud of my heritage.  I draw from and identify with both cultures, although I can’t cook or fix a car to save my life.  Ask me what I am and I will tell you.  I am an American!  If I were fortunate enough to play baseball for a living, there would be no hesitation on my part in determining should I play for Cuba, Mexico or the U.S.  I would pick the U.S. hands down.

However, if I bring the analogy down a couple of levels, it not so clear cut.  I was born and raised in Miami, lived in New Orleans for six years, and have spent the last ten here in Tampa.  Although Miami will always be ‘home’ for me, I maintain an emotional attachment to the cities of New Orleans and Tampa. All three cities have helped shape my life and experiences, as well as my outlook on the rest of the world.

I guess what I am saying is that national pride is not necessarily defined by the geographic location in which you are born.  I believe national pride is a matter of sentiment and love for what you hold dear about a particular country.  There is nothing wrong with loving your country AND the country of your parents.  There is nothing wrong about taking pride in where you are now and from where you came.  No matter how great the influence, it is not where we’re from that defines us.  In the end, we are all remembered for who we become as individuals.

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