Verbal Violence & “A Stick Across Your Face”

Regina Cano

Street Repair workers. Photo: Stephen Wong

Báfata! (Bam) – this is a stick across your face.”  That is the overly repeated refrain of a popular reggaeton song that’s heard here way too often.

I find it increasingly annoying to see how my fellow citizens so easily turn to violence —lining it with grace— by adding it to the vox populi in this fashion.

People would tell me that it’s normal for this to happen because of the extended level of violence within daily Cuban life, and that nor is it strange for it to be expressed verbally.

Speech is among the languages that human beings possess.  It’s the one that’s interpreted most accurately, which is because reason prevails in our interactions with others.  In addition, the vibratory level of words generates certain reactions in the perception in which the listener hears them.

Right now —being bombarded with the phrase “Bam! – this is a stick across your face”— people have absorbed it so completely into their routine dialogue that it has become a verbal crutch. It can be heard in playful references in loud conversations, in directly aggressive situations or ones of mockery and insult, as well as in acts of provocation and in displays of pompousness.

In short, this new phrase that’s in use, which is employed in Cuban-style jests and jauntiness, is right now the most common way in which people are giving and receiving verbal beatings in the streets of Havana; consequently, it is influencing their consciousness as social beings.

It’s just another vocal form of attacking others without thinking about how we are all trapped among the future victims of beatings, as if this couldn’t have aggressive physical consequences or —perhaps— as if this doesn’t matter.

We’re going nowhere people if we continue using our best energies in fighting each other instead of trying to reconcile our differences.