Miami is an interesting landscape to navigate. I'm not going to say this place is strange or weird, because it's just as much beautiful and fascinating, so interesting is a safe adjective. Usually I'm one of the loudest and most consistent voices in this community when it comes to promoting our cultural growth, potential, beauty, and coming-togetherness, but sometimes this city is just too much. Our growing pains are glaring and there is a dark side to this jungle of multi-culture.
Process these demographics:
Miami-Dade consists of 69% Latinos, 19% Black and 11% White. Now juxtapose this to the rest of the country at 77% White and 17% Latino. Being a minority among minorities could be awesome, but it could also be a formula for escalating calamity.
Especially when face-to-face with the city's underbelly.
Miami's dark side is ignorant, frustrating, shallow and just lonely.
Let's start with ignorance.
Oh boy can Miami be ignorant.
There's race-on-race racism here.
Recently I had this heated discussion with a grown Jamaican woman, a successful professional person of importance in this city, and she was explaining to me how Haitian people were beneath Jamaicans. She called [Haitians] dirty and uncouth and petty and would not budge on her point of view.
This confounded me so I told the story to a Haitian friend, a graduate student in Engineering, who shrugged it off with a snide comment on Jamaican entitlement.
His blasé attitude also confused me so I relayed this story to my students. There was a lesson. I needed to explain that these two countries were once imperialized by England and France who've bickered at each other for centuries and how terribly sad it was to see this pride and prejudice carried over to colonized people and then still carried over generations later. How sad for one black person to see another black person as beneath them? It left me shaking my head. Then later that evening I received an unsolicited email from a Brazilian student in the class who wrote me a novel explaining that Haitians "deserved" everything they endured: the earthquake, hurricanes, poverty, all because they "believe in voodoo which is blasphemous to Jesus." The email was worth a response (probably in vain) explaining how voodoo is not what many think but in fact a mix of Catholicism and tribal African ceremonies as old as the human race; that Haitians are the only race in the America's to successfully pull-off a slave revolt (resisting Napoleon's armies); that Haitians are good God-fearing people who work their asses off with dignity and humbleness.
This bizarre race-on-race-racism made me feel so alone.
I'm not even sure why.
I guess I was just surprised.
Only a week later the same thing happened in my classroom, but with Latinos. A discussion on Miami's multi-culture sprouted and there was this large majority of 2nd-generation Latino's who looked down on current immigrants. My jaw dropped. Their parents and grandparents were immigrants! Where did this millennial sense of American entitlement come from? A lack of education? From their family?
One thing is for sure: hatred is definitely a learned behavior.
I felt frustrated and more alone.
It's sad that people think they are better than other people. Just because we're lucky enough to be in America doesn't make us better than anyone else.
The sadness mounted.
I couldn't even look anyone in the eye.
But then again, in Miami you can't smile at someone without them rolling their eyes, silently saying, what do you want, man, leave me alone -you're not worth my time.
This is a fake city sometimes.
2.7 million people live here. Around 15 million visit our area annually.
There's a lot of illusion to the "Magic City." What you see is not how it is.
And the plasticity factor down here is seismic in scope.
It shakes rattles and freaking rolls, meng.
From our billion-dollar porn and stripper and escort industry, affording hundreds if not thousands of young people the chance to live in $300,000 condos on the beach and downtown. To my friend (a farmer's daughter from Paraguay) who admitted to buying breast implants when arriving in Miami before securing an automobile. You're a farm girl from Paraguay, pretty as you are, why do you need four-thousand dollar breasts? I don't know, she responded, I just did.
Furthermore, this is a tough city to date in.
Everyone thinks they're Kate Upton.
You'd think Miami would be an easy city to date around - wrong.
And it's only tougher for a gringo.
My last five girlfriends were Latina (spread out over ten years). I will never call any one gender or ethnicity crazy no way, would never do it, but let's just say there's an antithesis to flattering words like "passionate" and "fiery" and "family-oriented."
- makes no sense, gave up even trying to understand.
Forget it. Miami and love are oxymoronic.
This is a freaking tough city just to have friends in.
Say it isn't. Go ahead. You're the lucky one.
You and all your friends.
Maybe I'm just an emotional idiot, whatever, but nah.
It might snow a lot up north, but we definitely have more flakes.
I mean hardly anyone's reliable.
Everyone's fair-weathered and fickle.
It's beyond frustrating.
Last week five people made plans with me and then broke them off last minute.
Just today at McDonalds this girl walks in who I used to talk to. She looked right at me and said nothing the whole time. Wow--like she didn't even know me. Yesterday in the condo elevator the same exact thing happened. When this person moved in I went out of my way to be friendly and offer advice for happening neighborhoods to make money in, like they've been in my house as a guest. Nada.
Not even a hello.
This city's dark side is no joke.
It pushes you right to the edge of sinking into a cesspool of who-gives-a-shit-everyone-sucks-keep-this-city-transform-it-into-whatever-you-want-I'm-going-back-to-Cali-or-New-York. And you might be thinking: go, man. Bye.
And that's typical of Miami -selfish, ignorant, stubborn.
Quick to give up. Quick to leave early.
Luckily, there is a light side to this city.
Please, read the 100 other positive clips about Miami I wrote.
There's light here.
And in that light lies Miami's redemption.
And there's plenty of light to go around.
Even if it doesn't always shine -- there is light.
And in this Miami "light" -- gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status are moot--in this light we are one--we are all growing--we are all equally to be loved--and we are all in this together. We are all 305 till ______________.