The Culture of the Poor Isn’t Their Poverty

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

Photo: Caridad

In his films, Charles Chaplin offered a look at the daily lives of the poor, but not merely to discover their material restrictions. In his work, poverty is a constructive force of dissimilar circumstances where the poor express a rich cultural world.

“That’s poverty!”

This was how we were presented with “The Little Tramp” (or “The Little Fellow,” as Chaplin called him).

He was an impoverished workman who had many desires from the heart, not only those from his stomach. A lack of property isn’t nothingness. Being alive means the poor possess a great deal. It gives them, for example, a cultural universe, a local homeland where their spirit can graze.

A spirit hardened by material precariousness is no less cultural than those that are hydrated by the wild parties of the good life. Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp also “speaks” of this.

The culture of the poor goes beyond poverty. Their culture is not the photographic negative of their struggle for survival. Their taste for meat and potatoes is not always self-deception.
The taste for elaborate meals arises not only as an alternative to the alimentary monotony that causes one to overeat that which is good and prestigious. Combining, preparing and mixing is a universal human practice.

The Little Tramp shows us this.

He is able to make us feel how he breaths vital feelings in his heart, without the interference of the rumbling dietary demands of his stomach. His humorous teachings make us try on leather boots, without spitting.

Unlike the Little Tramp, Charlie Chaplin and many others, there are those who make poverty a culture without culture, and then imprint this in the spirits of those who have little or nothing in the form of property.

Reporters deny Haitians the chance for orgasms, passion or the sins of the flesh for matters of survival. They deny the joy behind the smiles of Haitian boys and girls, explaining to us that this is caused by stomach cramps from parasites.

Who can question the beauty and virtue of women carrying loads on their heads? Saying, as did one reporter, that this is the “apocalypse of orthopedics”?

It could be that with us having our own reporter, sharing their thoughts from Haiti, they try to present some of the privileges of our beautiful Cuba in the refined attitude of imperial colonialism – whether those reflected in the looks on the face of some English gentleman or the reckless host of the Discovery Channel.

It could be that this reporter succeeds in the privacy of their unpublished wishes. But it will turn out to be false when they end up having to deal with the sea of ??excrement that persists in the bathrooms of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, not knowing where to put their Discovery Channel-style camera or their eighteenth-century-style anthropologist’s beret.

It’s a double falsehood: firstly for not being from the First World and secondly for not succeeding as a journalist in discovering the being of Haitian culture. Therefore, their genocide of the spiritual world of Haitian workers is less forgivable than those who also practice First World imperial powers in Haiti.

Our reporter informs us that the Little Tramp and Haitian workers also sleep in the sun to brown their skin, just as gilding can be a universal form of tempering the beauty of the heat for those without a roof.