Destiny Perez: Miami as Text 2022

Photographed in the Ricardo M. Silva Stadium by Hilary Melbourne/CC by 4.0.

Destiny Perez is a sophomore at Florida International University studying International Business to receive a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Her passions are dancing and singing. When she’s not in practice or studying, you can find her spending time with her family or somewhere near the ocean.

Deering as Text

“The Unknown Beginning”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Deering Estate on February 6, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

The older I get, the more I realize that being born and raised in Miami does not mean that you know or understand more than anyone else the history of it. Miami is a melting pot city. There are families of all backgrounds and people with all different stories to tell. Had you asked me the history of my city before I visited the Deering Estate, I would have said the Spanish were the first here and that almost all the evolution since then has been Hispanic, and after the 1960s predominantly Cuban. I learned the real beginning of this beautiful city on our excursion to the estate and was fascinated by how much I don’t know about my geological ancestors.

The only knowledge I had of Native Americans prior to the Deering Estate was what I had seen in movies and learned from American history textbooks, which is not much. During our walk through the estate, I became fascinated by the collection of Tequesta belongings that are scattered throughout the land. Seeing carving and hunting tools made from natural resources was so impactful because I had never pictured my “ancestors” as a people so different from me. As strong of a mark as the Spanish have on our city and culture, a lot more recognition should be given to the tribes that were here before they ever were. Many people, including myself, are so unaware of the direct correlation that Native Americans have on our city’s history and evolution.

Vizcaya as Text

“Setting the Tone”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Vizacaya Museum & Gardens on February 18, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

Since I was a young girl, I have always been quite curious about everything in the world around me. Who chose the meaning that words would have? How did lands get a reputation and who chose them? I had no idea that going to Vizcaya would teach me so much about my city and answer some of those questions.

James Deering was a mastermind in the creation of this house. He included elements of so many cultures and even did things that were seen as very unconventional at the time. One of my favorite things Deering did was set the tone for what kind of city Miami would become. In many Hispanic households, parents set up pictures of their kids, religious crosses, and paintings. These articles will give any visitor the feel of the house they are entering. James Deering did exactly that for the Vizcaya mansion, both obviously and elusively.

Throughout the property you can find many innuendos that point to it being a home for partying and no real responsibility. At the front of the house, there is a quote in Latin that translates to “Accept the gifts of pleasure when it is given. Put serious things aside.” This shows very clearly what type of vibe he wanted to give his visitors from the moment they came sailing in. The workers who would come in and out of the back of the house also received a hint of what the mood inside the house was. Deering had a huge sculpture of Dyonisus holding a jug full of grapes in one hand and a long stick in the other. These objects represented wine and cigarettes, as Dyonisus was the God of Ecstasy.

James Deering did an absolutely amazing job at not just setting the tone for his house but also unknowingly setting the tone for what the entire city would become, the home of partying.

Miami as Text

“History Meets”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at Downtown Miami on March 11, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

The education system is something very controversial, especially when it comes to history. Although it does teach children much of what they need to know about the world around them and how it came to be, it does not make it a point to teach geological history. Geological history is what should be most important to an individual as it can have a lot to do with many events, people, or structures that can have everything to do with you. I experienced this on our walk around Downtown Miami. A textbook has never in my life brought me closer to understanding myself, my family, culture, city, or anything in between. However, being taught the history of structures all around the city taught me something about every single one of those things.

During our walk, we came across a building that is known as “the Freedom Tower.” This structure received its name in 1980 when it was a holding center for Cuban immigrants after many of them took a leap of faith and came to the United States. All of this connects to me directly. Mercedes Alba, Tomas Alba, and Alicia Acosta are three names of family members of mine that were processed in this building. Before that time, the building was a newspaper facility for Miami’s greatest newspaper. Little did anyone know that it would become the home to a new beginning for every immigrant that stepped foot in it. If you walk through the first floor of the Freedom Tower now, you can come across endless posters of information and photos about operation Pedro Pan, the Mariel boat lift, and the Cuban Revolution. My family was part of all three of these events. My family endured countless obstacles to make it to freedom, and this building is what the start of their dream consisted of.

The feeling I got while being inside is something I will never forget. I have never felt more in tune with my reality. Cubans have an authentic story of a fight that only we know about. It isn’t talked about in textbooks, not even to students specifically in Miami. And still we rise, and still we find ways to escape the communism on the island, and still we fight for freedom. With that said, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you are going. My family stood up for freedom, and they let nothing prompt their fall. I know the strength in my ancestors, my culture, and my city, and that drive will take me exactly where I want to go in life.

SoBe as Text

“Unknown Never Ends”

by Destiny J. Perez of FIU at South Beach on April 1, 2o22.

Photographs taken and edited by Destiny J. Perez/CC by 4.0

Every time I see a new part of Miami during Bailly’s lectures, it makes me feel as if I wasn’t born in the city at all. How could there be so much history about my city that I have no idea about? It was enriching finding out so much history on South Beach, when before I just thought it was a tourist sight with lots of pretty structures. 

The most interesting part about South Beach is how intricate each building is. There are three styles of buildings seen on the strip: Mediterranean, Art Deco, and Mimo. Buildings from each style have a lot of thought put into them and every design has different traits. My favorite style of the three was Mediterranean. It was impressive the way there are so many numeric “rules” applied to the design of every building. One building that particularly called my attention was one with the numbers 444 as part of the address. Of course, those are angel numbers, which already could stand out. However, it was the symmetry that captivated me the most. Every window and color pattern is seperated into three sections. And the way they used blue paint to represent water falls. Their combination of Mediterranean style along with Art Deco is seamless in this structure. 

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