Linabel Armas: Miami as Text

Photo by Roger Masson (CC by 4.0)

Linabel Armas is currently an honors student at Florida International University majoring in International Relations with a minor in Political Science. At FIU, Linabel is the current President-Elect for the Student Ambassador Program. In addition, aside from the university, Linabel works with a non-profit called The Children’s Trust where she is the co-facilitator for a group of high school students who are trying to make a difference in their communities. Moreover, she also works at a law firm since her future dream is to become a lawyer. Although her education is her main priority, Lina loves to travel the world, get to know new places and cultures, taste different foods, and get to know new people- many of the things that can be found in her newest FIU’s Honors course Finding Miami. Below you can find her reflections of these exciting adventures throughout the Spring semester of 2021.

Downtown Miami as text

“The story behind Miami”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Downtown Miami on January 31, 2021.

Photos by John Bailly and Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

For many, Miami is seen as yet another tourist location to visit during summer vacation. However, Miami has so much history behind its colorful walls and crowded streets. Miami’s current population is very diverse, it has a high population of immigrants mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean, but Miami’s history and creation are also very culturally diverse.

While been considered one of the youngest cities in the U.S because of its foundation in 1986, Miami has a very unique history behind it. The city was founded and created by Tequestas, Spanish, African, and English roots. Back in the day, Miami was the city where no racial thoughts defined the people. In addition, Miami is the only major American city that was founded by a woman; her name was Julia Tuttle, also known as “The Mother of Miami”.

Although Miami is very culturally diverse, unfortunately, racism is still a dominant factor in the city. It all started when Henry Flagler decided to start constructing in Miami. Many have argued that their lives ended when Mr. Flagler arrived in Miami. It divided the city into categories: white-rich people lived in one area, white-poor individuals in another, and black people lived somewhere else. Although many laws have been implemented to end racism, racism can still be seen in the city. For example, we have a neighborhood where the majority of the population is Cuban: Little Havana; in addition, we also have Little Haiti for African Americans and Doral for Venezuelan people. Despite the progress, Miami still has sequels from the past which is why is necessary that the younger generation changes such things. We need to stop being oblivious to the current situation and start changing.

THE EVERGLADES AS TEXT

“Between Cypress Trees “, by Linabel Armas of FIU in the Everglades on February 14th, 2021.

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Entering the still and cold water, walking in between cypress trees, and feeling the sound of the trees; felt like been elsewhere, like a dream. Every time we were getting further and further from the road, the breeze of the trees and our steps when slogging were the only sound. My senses became amplified, I could hear the little birds singing, the mosquito fishes touching my skin, it was so peaceful.

It came a time when our park ranger read a poem, and I felt even more at peace. We had a moment of silent and heard the birds sing and the trees touch when the breeze passed. My mind and body felt so at peace and so relax; for a minute I forgot about the stress of life. Then it came time to break apart and for everyone to explore different routes. I fell multiple times on the holes in the water, yet I still enjoyed it and emerged into nature like never before.

It is sad to know that over the past century or so, the Everglades have been suffering from pollution, loss of habitat, and loss of wildlife. According to our park ranger, they no longer see squirrels or raccoons, the food chain of the Everglades animals it’s been extinguished. Since the 40s developers have been draining the Everglades to the point that now 1.7 million acres have been drained which makes it approximately half of the Everglades. The main problem in regards to this matter right now is conservation. Problems and loss of habitat and wetland at the Everglades affects us as Miamians. This is yet one of the many reasons why we as U.S citizens need to vote, become aware of the problem surrounding us, and become activists in our communities.

SOUTH BEACH AS TEXT

“Artistic and Architectural Paradise”, by Linabel Armas of FIU in Miami Beach on February 28th, 2021

Photos by Linabel Armas (CC by 4.0)

Thousands of tourists visit Miami throughout the year, specially South Beach. For the past six years I have been living in Miami and visited South Beach endless times, yet I had never realized the architectural designs and overall history that it acquires.

Like I have mentioned previously Miami has a very strong history of segregation and South Beach doesn’t stay away from that. From South Beach Pier we can visualize Fisher Island. The island was purchased by the first African American millionaire, Dana Dorsey. Fisher island was the only island were African Americans were allow to stay near the beach, since in almost all South Beach, hotel owners denied the entry to black skin individuals. Eventually, Dorsey sold the island to Carl Fisher and no blacks were allow once again. Today, Fisher Island has one of the most expensive zip codes in Miami, were rarely an African American is still seen.

We started walking past the pier and started to see colorful 2-3 story buildings. Miami is one of the most visited cities in the U.S due to not only the clear-water beach but the architectural styles and designs. Walking through Collins Ave. and Ocean Dr., I was able to appreciate the three types of architectural styles that can be appreciated: Art deco, Mediterranean revival, and Miami modern. My favorite was art deco, due to the colors it uses on its buildings and the early 1900s’ vibe it gives. However, Mediterranean Survival and Miami Modern are also very beautiful and refreshing styles but not as eye catching as art deco.

Many buildings have been sold to different companies were its not stated on the contract that they have to keep the building on the outside as it is, which is why some buildings have “identify crisis” and destroy the beauty of each architectural style and design in South Beach.

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