Christian Gonzalez: Miami as Text 2021-2022

Photograph by Christian Gonzalez / CC by 4.0

Christian Gonzalez is an FIU student and active member of the FIU Honors College. Born and raised in Miami, his passions lie at the intersections of art, nature, and technology. Christian is a junior seeking a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is currently majoring in Finance.

Downtown as Text

“Half Awake in an American Empire”
by Christian Gonzalez of FIU at Downtown Miami
September 19, 2021

Photograph by Christian Gonzalez / CC by 4.0

A ziggurat-domed neoclassical tower of justice rises amongst brutalist administrative structures, colonial plazas, luxury postmodern condominiums and offices plastered with the names of moneylenders.

Long ago yet nearby, an extinct indigenous people used to congregate on the banks of a river named for its vast nourishing waters.

Unspoiled streams of freshwater once flowed from the inland Everglades and discharged into the Atlantic, cradling protogenetic life in a subtropical edge of civilization.

People who lived in a balance of nature and grace have since been replaced by a society living largely in a digital world, where the majority of communication and human interaction is now confined.

Raised on transistors and screens, we stage our photos, record our videos, pick our filters, post our content, and then retreat into the much more vital, much more valid electric reality within our devices.

Walking around this city, how many of us are oblivious to the legacy and atrocities below our feet? How many would even care?

“What are some bones in a hill or holes in a field to the inexorable progress of mankind?” politicians will argue as they fasttrack relentless urban development, the manifest destiny of our age.

On the Brickell Avenue bridge, a monument of respect to those who came before rises opposite the river to a monument of indifference.

But if every tragedy can be perceived as an opportunity, every ounce of guilt becomes a catalyst for redemption.

We commission plaques, we disseminate knowledge, we preserve artifacts in museums to honor and remember our past so we are not doomed to repeat it.

A quantum of humanity is salvaged anytime we strip our ego and show compassion, anytime we stop to hold the door open, to help someone up the stairs, or just to acknowledge someone’s presence and wish them a nice day. 

Overtown as Text

“A Far, Far Better Thing”
by Christian Gonzalez of FIU at Overtown and Hialeah
October 3rd, 2021

Photograph by Christian Gonzalez / CC by 4.0

It was the best of times.

You can’t live here, the white men say.
Nonetheless, a charter is signed.
Power is centralized.
Posh hotels and vacation homes are constructed.
A foundation of a city built upon the backs of the marginalized.
One town is planned. Another is born.

We won’t keep your records here, the bureaucrats say.
Segregated communities and cultures germinate from delusions of separate but equal.
The band plays on over at the Lyric.
Discretion battles grace.
The Reverend speaks.
A city listens.

You can’t park here, the officer says.
Look up.
Newly erected apartments darken the stained glass windows that used to illuminate the foyer of Greater Bethel on Sunday mornings.
The pews are empty now.
The billboards beside the highway over Mt Zion have gone digital.
Developers sing, and plowmen dig.
Can you hear the gentrification?

It was the worst of times.

I met a pale horse from an antique land, handicapped by time and labor the aged mare described to me a distant memory of a far-off place where he once emerged from stables to behold a structure fashioned with cosmic stone and marble floors built for presidents and movie stars, politicians and gangsters, railroad barons and sultans, filmmakers and widows, gambling addicts and jockeys who escorted their property through the tunnel onto the dirt track to be gawked at in the grandstands hanging above by the raging multitudes plied with liquor and staring vacant through binocular lens to catch a glimpse of a sport since outlawed but not without cost as spectators abandon the decaying palace, the clubhouse falls silent, bannisters rust, now home only to flamingos the racetrack still remains, forever vaunted, entombed in bougainvillea.

Author: Christian Gonzalez

FIU Class of 2023, Finance Major

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