Angelo Gomez: Miami as Text

Introduction:

Hello everyone, my name is Angelo Gomez. I’m currently a junior at Florida International University majoring in Political Science and Journalism. I’m nineteen years old and I enjoy learning new things and concepts. I’m a huge Marvel and Star Wars geek, a history nerd, and a soccer superfan. That’s about everything you could wish to know about me.


Downtown Miami as Text

“Subtle Nods”  by Angelo Gomez of FIU at Downtown Miami, January 29 2021

Commonly referred to as a “melting pot” of different nationalities, Miami is the intersection of different worlds. In this sunny metropolis, several different races, ethnic groups, and nationalities all come together to form a colorful painting on a city-wide canvas. From its indigenous roots to its colonial experiences, and then fast-forwarding to its inception in 1896, many different hands and feet have passed through our home, each group leaving its influence in this ever-growing cultural landscape.

Downtown Miami subtly nods at its long and complicated history, while proudly and boldly embracing the beauty of its diversity. Merely a few blocks away from Government Center lie remnants of horrors of slavery; a few blocks further ahead, stands the Overtown district, with its own unfortunate racial history and troubled past.

Beyond the shiny skyscrapers adorning Brickell’s skyline are clues scattered across reminding its own people of its rich past. A small memorial testament to Mary Brickell reminds us of the women that brought us to this day.  The towering indigenous warriors fire arrows to the sky above the same river where indigenous Tequestas roamed their land.

Yet, among skyscrapers and boat tours, merely plaques subtly nod to the importance of these landmarks at one point in history.

Behind the Liberty Tower, stands a piece from the Berlin Wall. Yet, underground rest the corpses of black slaves and African American workers that built up the city that never got to experience the promise of freedom for themselves. How does this make sense? It doesn’t, but few things in Miami make sense.

These subtle nods are pieces of a puzzle; a scavenger hunt map that allow us to reflect and piece together an appreciation of what came before to improve on what is to come.


Everglades as Text

“Legacy” by Angelo Gomez of FIU at Everglades National Park, February 5 2021

A vibrant and buzzing ecosystem. As a small group of students carefully treaded the waters, nature warmly embraced its own. Miles of land stretched out beyond the eye could see. At the exit of the dome, the river grassland greeted us as it stretched out until the horizon line. Lying ahead, an entire world untouched. Untouched by humanity and development. A peaceful landscape. In that moment, I thought of every indigenous native, slave, and settler that stepped through these lands at some point or another in our history. For the Tequestas, the original founders of this beautiful landscape, we honor their legacy by preserving the land they owned and cared for. Carefully walking beside them, we honor the cypress trees, the waters, every plant, animal, and microscopic species that roam and own this territory, their territory. These lands have existed long before us. They will be around much long after me. We are just co-inhabitants of their world. In the grand scheme of things, we are just minor characters in an overarching narrative surrounding us.

South Beach as Text

“Distinctiveness” by Angelo Gomez of FIU at South Beach, February 19 2021

Sandwiched between the beach and the city, the walk along Ocean Drive was an inspiring sight of beautiful and unique architectural styles coming together. As the roadblocks opened the street for pedestrians and restaurants extended onto the road, the convergence of strangers along the famed Ocean Drive was a pleasant sight to see amid the coronavirus pandemic.

South Beach offered an eclectic mix of colorful buildings and innovative architecture and design. It offered a distinct blend of architectures such as Mediterranean-inspired architecture, modern MiMo architecture, and the iconic Deco style. These three styles blended to create an eye-popping and creative panorama. The contrast between the designs plays off each other and their distinctiveness are the center of South Beach’s creative spirit.

Walking through South Beach feels like a rewind through time, an appreciation for the innovative and creative spirit of man. As modern architecture favors geometrically shaped homes and neutral color palettes are the rave, bright neon colors light up the South Beach night sky. Bright yellow and pink and green hotels attract the eye with their bizarre and exuberant displays. These buildings could have been demolished to make room for oceanside skyscrapers. Heavy traffic could have crowded the street from pedestrians and closed the restaurants.

However, amid the humid and sunny Miami weather, we enjoyed a travel forward into the future and simultaneously walked through history.

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