[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: What Miami Is

Saturday, August 26, 2006

What Miami Is

Reading this post over at Stuck on the Palmetto reminds me of the amazingly negative attitude many South Floridians have of their own area and their fellow residents.

I am not ashamed to say that I am proud to be a product of South Florida, and specifically Miami. I actually LIKE living here (novel concept, eh?). I'm not blind nor ignorant to the problems we face as a community. I have lived here for virtually all of my nearly 40 years, and I have seen many changes...both good and bad.

Sometimes I think we like to criticize South Florida because it makes us feel superior to the masses. You know, those stupid immigrants have no clue on how to assimilate and behave like Americans, right? Those superficial types over on South Beach are sooooo low on the food chain. It makes us average joes feel important and justified, and lifts our insecure souls to heights never seen before.

If that's how many South Floridians want to see their neighbors, more power to them. If you want to spend your time here complaining about your neighbors, go ahead. However, let me warn you...complaining won't do any good. Understanding people, reaching out and establishing personal relationships is the key to getting along. I bet that the people who complain the most about this area don't know more than 5 people outside their work.

It's tough here in South Florida due to the different cultures mixing and occasionally clashing. It's not easy to live here. South Florida is not for the weak of heart or for the inflexible. And yes, some can't hack the pressures that come with the unique problems we face. That's fine. But I have learned that once you "get it" here, the rewards are invaluable. You learn to fit in. You learn that you're just a small part of the fascinating tapestry that makes our area special.

You want to know what I consider to be a "classic Miami story"? It's the hard work, sweat and dedication of most of our residents. It's getting off a plane or arriving on a raft with nothing but the clothes on your back and rebuilding your life so your kids will be infinitely more successful than you ever dreamed of. It's the sons and daughters of refugees who become doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, etc., and can speak several languages flawlessly. It's being in a room with 20 other people, each with totally different backgrounds, customs and life experiences who are united for a purpose. It's not blinking an eye when seeing and meeting racially and ethnically-mixed couples. It's smiling, instead of smirking, when hearing a melange of different languages. Miami represents the total freedom that so many of our neighbors seek and find here.

If you want to focus only on the bad seeds in the community and consider that to be "quintessentially Miami"...that's your prerogative. But you're missing a lot. You're missing an essential part of what Miami really is to most of us. The boat is passing you by.

Do you want my specific example of "quintessential Miami"? Here it is.

Enjoy, open your eyes and minds, and learn.


Blogger Jonathan said...

I like Miami too. There's been a huge influx of population into South Florida in the past couple of decades, and inevitably not everyone likes the area and some of the people who were already there don't like the way it's changed. Personally, I'd rather live in a dynamic area with a lot of population turnover than a place where not much is going on. There are good reasons why so many people move to South FL and not to northern Minnesota.

In the long run people who don't like Miami can move to places that suit them better. So maybe the right question isn't whether Miami is good or bad but whether Miami is the right place for you.

2:26 PM, August 26, 2006  
Anonymous Rick said...

Robert: The phrase "classic Miami story" was taken directly from the Herald story, so perhaps they have it wrong, too.

Listen, I've lived here in South Florida for a while. Even though you come real close to characterizing me as a pompous bigot, there are things I really love about this place. I think that's reflected at times in my blog through some of the pictures and a few of the posts. But while there are plenty of positives, there are also plenty of negatives. So do I concentrate too much on the negatives? Perhaps. Do I ignore them or pretend like everything is great? Never.

Getting along is a two-way street. It's tolerating those people who may not see things the way you do. It's realizing that not everyone thinks the way you do. And perhaps most importantly, it's not making assumptions about people you do not know.

At all.


3:25 PM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...


I agree completely with you. The door is always open for those that want to come AND those that want to leave. This is not Cuba after all where you need a permit to move to the city. Certainly there other places that are "better" to live in. We see those lists that come out every year and Miami is never at the top. But many people do like it here. I couldn't see myself living anywhere else on a permanent basis. And that's coming from someone who hated it when he came as a child.

5:46 PM, August 26, 2006  
Blogger Srcohiba said...

Myself, I was born here. I went to school and College in SoFla, and I will continue to live here until the Lord says it's time to vacte the premises. I love the weather and the heat. I love the swamps, the Everglades, the wildlife, the avian population.

There are a lot of idiots here. But tell me who doesn't have their share? Heck, California is loaded with them. Even the uppity Chardonnay sipping New Yorkers in Manhatten have loads of idiots and thieves.

I read that story this morning and hopefully the putz gets indicted and serves 20 years. Until all the crooks start serving serious time, perhaps then people will think twice. It ticks me off that I work 50-60 hours a week to make an honest living. I don't have a 11,000 sq. foot estate. But what I do have I know that it was earned with honest work.

I've similarly posted many times that I'm sick and tired of people complaining about SoFla and Miami. Heck, the majority of those complaining came here from some where else. So as I've said before, I-95, the Turnpike, and I-75 all head northbound. If y'all don't like it here, then head north. We don't need anymore people here and we don't need anymore condos. Leave us with more Everglades and the remaining pristine beaches that remain.

more room for those who appreciate the paradise we really have here.

10:15 PM, August 26, 2006  
Anonymous Lissette said...

I was born, raised, and it appears that I will stay here, until I change my mind at least, or unless the government keeps pissing me off and I end up moving to Canada or something. Either way, with as much as I rant about the traffic, the politicians, and the stupidity that is found in this city, I love it. It may not have as much history as places like New York and Boston, but the history it does have is inspirational to me. I love the nature, the everglades, the beaches, the architecture, and the culture. With every place there are people you don't like. This isn't Utopia, but we all deal with it in different ways. Some people leave, some people stay and complain. Those who stay truly love the place and would love to see things change in a way to make it better for them and everyone else, me included.

12:55 PM, August 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anthony said...

This is the most dead on post about the positives of South Florida that I've ever read. Excellent work and so refreshing to hear somebody speak of the positives rather than harp on their perceived negatives. Thanks again!

12:43 PM, August 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's clear to me that This House of Lies thing in the Herald is one big con.... by the Herald and a bunch of inept politicians. Where were they when this was going on? Where were the leaders of the Black community over the course of 4+ years when their communities were being eliminated and nothing was being built? Where was the Mayor, County Manager, the state's public corruption unit.... but hey... forget about that... we got our guy now.... the Devil himself... we can all sleep tight... the Herald has their "story" and our elected officials have their scapegoat.. (and cover)...

10:44 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Dave said...

I was born and raised here too. My grandad moved here in 1937 and my parents met, fell in love and married here. I also lived in NYC for almost 20 years and came back here in 1991 to start a business. In all this time, Miami has changed from a sleepy little cowtown to a predominantly latin mecca with a lot of verve and style. The problems however are the same as from the very begining, namely, a corrupt political class, lousy schools and too much development. These are the real problems we have. As you say, the people, diversity and the physical paradise we all live in are great. If we can solve these three problems, which we all can if we decide we want to, this is one of the greatest places to live in the USA!

2:26 PM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Srcohiba said...

Corrupt political class? Every city in the Union from one horse town to big Cities like New York, Chicago, LA, etc. have corruption so Miami is no different. Corruption is color blind except for one -- green.

Over development, you'll find anywhere; so that isn't unique to us either.

So it comes down to, you either like the heat, or hurricanes or you don't.

12:45 AM, August 30, 2006  

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