Saina Ysaac: Miami as Text 2022

Photo By Saina Ysaac/CC by 4.0

Photo By Saina Ysaac/CC by 4.0

Saina Ysaac is a sophomore majoring in Biological Sciences and is completing a minor in chemistry at Florida International University. She was born and raised in Palm Beach County, Florida by Haitian parents. She enjoys going to the beach with a good novel at hand and writing short stories in her journal. She also is involved with the Black Student Union, in organizing events and helping the Miami-Dade Community. She enjoys assisting others and spends most of her mornings at a nearby elementary school teaching third-graders how to read. Saina believes reading opens many opportunities and is taken for granted by most people.

Deering as Text

“The Color Green” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at the Deering Estate, January 28th, 2022

Flimsy green leaves, connected to the tall wispy trees, dancing through the wind like my coily hair. Oh! how I could not help but stare, at the beautiful green leaves.

Saina Ysaac

The breathtaking view of the ocean along with the site of Chicken Key Island settled the concept of peace in my mind. Such a sharp contrast between the city life that only was a few hundred yards away from us. Already I was taken back to a time when there was no air conditioning and rampant mosquitoes pesting at my skin. I was able to understand what conditions the Tequesta dealt with. From holding the tools they used to scale fish and other meniscal things, I was able to understand how these ancestors lived and I felt a similar connection, to my ancestors back in Haiti. The native Tainos were stripped from their land by the notorious Christopher Columbus, tampering with the already natural and righteous land the natives had, to create a world of exploitation and corruption.

The 3-story Stone house had an intriguing twist at the end. From learning that the Chicago Industrialist, had come down south for his winter vacations. He quickly acquired a hobby, to my surprise, collecting alcohol during the Prohibition Era. Located in the basement, concealed behind a hidden safe and door, Deering probably spent his time looking at the ocean capturing the essence of Miami’s nature with a bottle of Scotch at hand.

A majority of the workers who created this beautiful estate were of Afro-Bahamian descent, after learning about an incident that had left 5 workers dead, I quickly saw the contrast between the vast privilege Deering had lived in, with the conditions that the workers had endured. The effects of inequality still linger today. And this beautiful estate has now become a symbol of the theme of exploitation on Miami’s soil.

Vizcaya as Text

“Ce n’est pas une maison” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Vizcaya, February 18th, 2022

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This is not a house, it is not even a mansion or chateau. This is a living breathing time capsule. With every room containing an exquisite amount of effort and passion. You can precisely see every detail in every wall, every painting, every single tile and etc. You soon realize you have been taken back to a time before smartphones and savvy tech. But in a world of hedonism and simple pleasures that are worth more than money can buy. By allowing the house to breathe simultaneously with the nature outside, I quickly saw the type of person, James Deering was. Vizcaya is his entire pride.

This chandelier represented more than carnal desires but as well as the beauty of the female body. The only body that can resemble God’s fashion as a creator. The lights are surrounded by beautiful gleaming flowers, almost to represent how flowers face the sun. With the entire chandelier being held by a flower to the ceiling, a sense of hedonism swept in the air. Even though it is usually frowned upon, I felt that living a life only to be filled with passion and pleasures is poetic, especially in such a gorgeous villa. I agree with Deering, what fun is having riches but with no one to enjoy them with, so why not create an enormous castle and invite all to party.

Although women had near to no rights at the time of the erection of this estate, the beauty of a woman was always treasured by those around her. This room reinforced the idea that a women’s body is a form of art and should be respected as such.

When I thought the tour was over, I was presented with the vast nature that Deering cultivated in a similar manner Louis VXI did, with his most prized possession, Versailles. I got a taste of Versailles, and I was stunned, I can not wait for my reaction to the actual glory.

Vizcaya intensified the theme of exploration between the workers and The Derrings and the privileged. This magnificent villa was built on the backs of the Afro-Bahmains, every day come to work on this villa only to return to a world of poverty and struggles. The contrast between the two worlds magnifies the idea that this is indeed a white man’s world.

Downtown Miami as Text

“Home” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at Downtown Miami, March 11th, 2021

Miami is a pothole, full of different cultures clashing together to form a city-bound by the love of food, the beach, and MONEY !!

The city is ever-growing, and every corner seems to have some type of construction. Miami is the first stop for most immigrants coming from the Caribbean. Miami is home, many needed to start new lives in the land of the free, and came to the freedom tower for their independence and join the democracy.

Miami is the definition of living “the great life”, many aspire to be rich and famous coming here to seek their dreams and live grand.

Out of all my years of living, I have never seen a true slave house. Made from rock and struggle, it was somewhat nostalgic to be in the same presence as my ancestors that fought like hell, to preserve themselves in such harsh conditions. 

Also, the story about the white man marrying a Haitian woman, and adopting her previous children, I felt as if that expressed Miami in a symbolic sense. The clash of cultures, with the acceptance of breaking the norms.

Contrasting to living “the great life”, the collateral damage to an ever-growing populous city is homelessness, in the depths, in between the tall, God-reaching towers, there are the people who feel inferior to the rest of the world, left to be forgotten and ashamed upon. Homelessness affects roughly about 27,500 people in Florida alone. No matter what circumstances caused these people their misfortune, it is also important to note what contagion is associated with this pandemic; drug abuse and mental disorders run rampant. Without proper access to basic necessities and medical attention, the problem grows worse and increases the silent contagion within the streets of any major city.

It is heart-wrenching to walk in the beautiful city of Miami to see, such poverty and people who need help, yelling at innocent bystanders. They are treated like the scum of the Earth and no one needs to feel like that.

Yes, Miami is the home of the rich and the poor.

South Beach Miami as Text

“Let’s Go to the Beach, Beach” by Saina Ysaac of FIU at South Beach, April 1st, 2022

Southpointe beach along with the Miami strip is one of the most famous areas in Miami. Although beautiful, It is a tad bit overdone, a trip to Miami sounds nice when you are one of the Million tourists visiting there. Going to the beach for me is about finding serenity and peace while calmly listening to the ocean’s waves, luckily there are other beaches in the area, that are far away from tourists and large groups. Seeing how well these areas are maintained demonstrates the importance of appearance for Miamians.

Professor Bailey describes how the strip significantly changed since his adolescents, the strip was empty. And was mainly used for recreational use like skateboarding and getting the newspaper at a nearby cafe. This area completely changed with the famous Gianni Versace, moved in. His presence and sexuality brought an influx of people and began to stir the pot. Sadly, Versace was shot and killed on his doorstep, while going out to get a newspaper.

The fencing around his house has a Versailles Louis XVI touch to it, with his golden face, emulating the sun. It is absolutely fascinating to see how Louis continues to inspire people. He reinforces the idea, that you should always be your own biggest advocate.

Self-image is very important. Not only how you look at yourself, but also how others perceive you. Miami is a place for vanity. As the famous Al Pacino once said, “The world is yours”. Miami is the place of the American Dream, coming here integrates the idea of being glamorous and rich. Looking good means you feel good too. But just remember to bring your sunscreen.

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