"Cubands is an elastic and all-inclusive term I developed in order to simultaneously take account of the layered presences that constitute Cuban cultural and national identity (such as those of Spain, Africa, Ireland, France, the United States and the former Soviet Union, etc.) as well as allow room for the hybrid identities that are continuously transforming in an ever-changing diasporic context, which is at once global and transnational... Added to the mix are the experiences and expressions of Cubands, either born or raised outside the island, who claim to possess a Cuban consciousness that has been shaped as a result of what I term a second-hand experience of exile... The diversity that exists within the Cuban diasporic population, coupled with the permutations and transformations that have occurred outside the island, thus speaks directly to the need to relinquish and move beyond a monolithic idea of nation or cultural identity, or the misleading binary of island and diaspora, aquí y allí. The emphasis then is not so much on locating 'home,' but on the fluid process of voyaging between identities and worlds; in other words, the journey is 'home.' In this sense we as Cubands — on and off the island — are at once post- and trans-national. " — Andrea O'Reilly Herrera, author of Cuba: Idea of a Nation Displaced, quoted in The Miami Herald, November 14, 2007
Professor O'Reilly is the very proud of herself. Proud of her Irish extraction. Proud of being the chairman of the department of "Ethnic Studies" at Colorado University. Proud of her theory that there is no such thing as a static Cuban nationality. But proud, above all else, of having invented the word cuband. You don't understand this professor's "cutesiness?" Well, let me parse it for you: Cuba + and = nothing. This formula may be too easy for the professor to understand and she would certainly disavow it if she could. But, in a nutshell, that is her philosophy. We are nothing because we are nothing in particular, just hybrids. Second-generation exiles are the biggest nothings of all, because they received their national and cultural consciousness at second hand. In fact, according to Professor O'Reilly, they even experienced exile at second hand. O'Reilly Herrera believes that our "journey" (read exile) is home and that we had better resign ourselves to this fact. On the other hand, "Cubands" are in the vanguard of the post-national world. For her, statelessness is the promised land and perfection of human existence. And we happy, happy Cubans and "Cubands" got there first.
Of course, Professor O'Reilly Herrera is herself a cuband. Which is to say, a specter, an illusion, nothing. Yet this "nothing" is very vocal about her ideas of what constitutes a Cuban nationality and what does not. Shouldn't "nothing" be more circumspect? Shouldn't "nothing" know her place or her "non-place?" Nothing certainly should.