Julianna Rendon: Miami as Text 2022-2023

Julianna Rendon is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Political Science with a minor in English and Literature. The daughter of Colombian immigrants, she aspires to understand and advocate for the diversity of cultures often overlooked in cities such as Miami. Julianna’s passions are fiction and non-fiction writing, cinematography, history, and film. An active research and science member of FIU’s Green Campus Initiative club, Julianna vigorously promotes prioritizing consciousness of the space and lands occupied by people. Julianna was born and raised in Miami, and is exuberant about grasping any opportunity she can to learn about the colorful history of the past that the city holds.

Downtown Miami as Text

“Someone Else’s Home” by Julianna Rendon of FIU in Downtown Miami on August 31, 2022

“Frozen Aim in Time” , taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

People often walk the lands they inhabit as if it belongs solely to them. Harvesting the ground ruthlessly, uprooting ancient soils, and marking the ground with buildings and structures. In some ways, it is all part of the human experience and the progression of civilization. However this by no means suggests that the past should be covered up by the ever-changing identity of time. Every year brings new prospective to the characterization we have attached to Miami. Downtown Miami is known for the constant buzz of life that roams its streets as well as its towering skyscrapers. Through the modernization of Miami, it is crucial to make relevant the history of its grounds. Quite literally, too much truth has been been buried under the skyscrapers we now recognize Miami for.

I grew up in Downtown Miami around Brickell. My shoes have walked the streets a countless number of times, and my eyes have watched the sun rise morning after morning on the mouth of the Miami River. Yet I have never known that I walk on the same ground that an infinite pool of Tequestan history and knowledge is buried under. As my classmates and I walked through one of the rare open areas of the city that buildings do not occupy, we came to know that the city we thought we knew so well, held secrets below its surface.

Tequestan culture dominated the southeastern area of Florida that we now recognize as Miami-Dade County, from 500 BCE to around 1763 AD. The Tequestans thrived on the bountiful plenty of their environment which prioritized the ocean’s resources through fishing and hunting on the coast of Miami. An extensive variety of tools were also utilized by the Native American tribes that made them from shells and shark teeth. These materials created cups, fishhooks, jewelry, hammers, and other tools used to aid the Tequestans in their day to day life. It is tools such as these that were uncovered in the area known as the Tequestan Circle in downtown Miami. Alongside the tools, human remains were found in Tequestan burial formation.

The burial site was found in 1998 during the building process of what was going to be a riverside landmark development. The state of Florida bought the site and turned it into the Miami Circle National Historic Landmark, preserving the ceremonial resting site of the Tequestan and the variety of artifacts found buried along it. However walking along the historic site, the only thing that meets the eye is a seemingly normal dog park and a subtly gated area within it. The circle and its contents are buried and there are no major indications of the astounding archeological discovery below it. I, as most other city inhabitants, am guilty of cluelessly walking along the area with no real collection of thoughts or remembrance to decorate the once honored area.

The tragedy is that history is being forgotten as time goes on, and we are the only ones to blame for it. Has not enough been lost to the impatience and greed the human race often resorts to? History is everything to me, and its importance to the world and its people is not something that should be overlooked. After some digging I found that the state had announced plans to create a dimensional replication of the circle. It has yet to be started. The indigenous people of Florida, as well as those that occupied the rest of America, deserve the recognition and credit as predecessors of what is now our home. This is of dire importance to our culture and heritage as it serves as nothing less than an extraordinary remembrance of the people who called Miami their home first.

Hialeah as Text

“The Effect of Femininity” by Julianna Rendon of FIU in Hialeah on September 14, 2022

“A Horseback of History”, taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

It is one thing to discuss the woes and misgivings the female sex has experienced since the beginning of time, but another thing altogether to rise above it in the worst of times. Gender inequality is still a prevalent feature of our generation, yet it is nothing compared to the brutal history of it in America and other parts of the world. For the most part, the U.S is a place of progression for female ambition. One that allows opportunities for those willing to chase it. But it wasn’t too long ago that this was completely not the case. In fact, the unfairness and prejudice many women experienced on a professional and personal aspect was keen in many people’s lifetimes that are still alive today.

It was only 53 years ago a young woman named Diane Crump mounted her horse “Bridle n Bit” to compete in her first race at the Hialeah Park Race Track. Crump had worked her whole life training on the backs of difficult horses the rest of her male athletic counterparts had tossed to the side. Her perseverance bought her skill and patience, but not yet respect as a woman competing in a purely male dominated sport. On the day of the race, Crump had dressed herself in her red and white riding uniform, inside one of the offices of the “Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association”. She couldn’t change in the intended jockeys room because of the controversy and risk that came with her joining the Hialeah Race Track’s seventh race. Due to Crump’s participation, several jockeys dropped out of the race for their refusal to associate with such a barbaric act as letting a woman race with men. Crump didn’t let this sexist bias triumph over her lifelong ambition of being a professional horse jockey, so she continued in the race. Though many of her male jockey peers tried to boycott the race at the Hialeah Race Park, officials threaten sanctions against those who opposed Crump’s participation. Jeers and insults were hurtled towards Diane Crump as she made her way down to the field flocked by a swarm of security. There were shouts for Crump to learn her place in the kitchen where she belonged, along with other stereotypical biases that did not halter a single step of Crumps walk to make history. That day Crump earned the right to participate in her desired athletic competition, but also the respect and attention of countless men and women once too afraid to fight back against the current of societal norms.

It can be said that in the history of female athleticism and overall gender equality, we have come a long way. This is exemplified by the plethora of incredible women in the professional sports field that have made a mark on history. Katherine Switzer became the first female to complete the Boston Marathon when women were still banned from the competition, despite the physical force the other male racers exerted on her almost the entire time she ran. Misty Copeland became principal dancer in her field of ballet, which led to her becoming the first African American woman in American Ballet Theatre to fulfill that position. Simone Biles today, holds the record for the most global series medals out of all the females and male gymnasts ever recorded. Venus Williams has won seven Grand Slam titles along with Olympic gold, all while promoting the association of tennis to offer the same prize money as they do in the men’s division of court. This is only a handful of women that have overcome incredible feats to establish their power in their professional athletic field. Diane Crump is written alongside these women, and it is powerful to have walked in the same field as one of the women who pushed past adversary and claimed what they desired and worked for their whole life.

Walking through Hialeah Park was a reminder of the incredible things individuals can accomplish regardless of what forces may work against them. However, it is also a reminder that gender inequality was very prevalent professionally and legally in the same lifetime that my parents have existed. Hialeah Park could certainly consider commemorating Diane Crump with a more permanent historical mark such as a plaque or museum section dedicated to her for the significance she established on that field. It is critical to realize the glass ceiling still exists, and paying tribute to the women who have broken it is essential in the progression of the solution to inequality. Furthermore, it’s incredibly sobering to realize this inequality gap exists in the professional world right before our eyes, and can be revealed at the touch of a button. A simple Google search of “top female athletes” reveals articles ranking women athletes based off levels of “hotness” and other sexual references that have tied a woman’s worth to her physicality. . On the latter, if one fires up a search of top male athletes, articles boasting adjectives such as “top”, “best ever”, and “greatest”, reveal themselves as top hits. Diane Crump’s walk to race her first competition as a professional jockey was a tumultuous one that merely foreshadows what the rest of the journey for athletic women in the professional field will look like, as oppositional efforts work to set them back.

Chicken Key as Text

“Remnants of Humankind” by Julianna Rendon of FIU in Chicken Key on September 5, 2022

“Permanence”, taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

As I have come to understand in the world, the imprint of humankind is anything but subtle. We are defined by all else but quiet and unseen. We walk on this earth as if it was created for only the soles of our own feet, and we discard as carelessly as we collect. It can be said that it would be incredibly difficult to discover a piece of the planet, a fraction even, that has been left untouched by the palms of the hands that destroy as much as they create. This rings true in the plastics that have been uncovered in the deepest parts of the ocean and on the most remote islands on the planet. Some areas were never meant to be diluted by the trash we leave behind, yet people have somehow found a way. It would be impossible and disheartening to know the full extent of the affect humans have left on the natural world, but we do know that as of 2022, 50-75 trillion remnants of plastic and micro plastics have invaded the ocean’s surface. These plastics are as foreign to animals and marine life as they are to the oceans that were never meant to harness this waste. The issue of plastic disposal is as simple as an afterthought: a single-use item gets disposed of improperly, and ends up in the ocean where it will never naturally decompose.

Paddling across the dividend of waters between the Deering Estate and the small island known as Chicken Key immediately invoked the serene feeling of solitude only the natural world can reveal. As Deering Estate grew smaller behind our backs I expected to be completely submersed in nature. However this wasn’t entirely the case. The farther away we paddled in our kayaks and canoes from the mainland, the more I realized that a lack of plastic and waste remnants wasn’t occurring. Some of the first things I noticed on the deserted island were objects never intended to belong in a place with no human inhabitants. Fishing lines entangled in the roots of the Mangroves, mismatched shoes strewn in between rock formations, and water bottles dirtied with miscellaneous contents, were just a sample of the waste we found on the island that day. Every step I took deeper into the heart of the island, I found what seemed like an endless stream of the most random objects one could think of. Furthermore, the solitude of the island was just a mask of the life that was hidden within. Hermit crabs that claimed the island long before any people, scurried between abandoned plates and utensils. Varieties of fish swam around the bags and plastics floating on the border of the island. What was never intended had become: nature was synchronized with the carelessness of human disposal.

Chicken Key is just one of countless islands and coastlines littered with permanent plastics. It is sobering to realize the effect of our humanity, but it is important to note that the situation is not entirely hopeless. The permanence of plastics and micro-plastics in the ocean can be minimized through the contribution of people on both a wide scale operation, and an individual one. Change can ensue with companies findings ways to reverse their plastic distribution, as well as people working on their own to minimize their plastic consumption. The tools and resources we need to make progress on our planet are available, it is simply about utilizing them. Marine life and vegetation are harmed by plastics, but studies have shown that human health is impacted by these same effects of plastics as well. When people consume seafood, particles of plastics are being micro-dosed into their system as well. However, it should not take the threat of personal harm being done to our own bodies to jump start our minimization in the contribution of single use plastic waste. At the end of our beach cleanup on Chicken Key, we collected a dumpster sized portion of plastics and waste that had washed up on the little island. Though the satisfaction was imminent, it was more so disturbing to visually see how far the impact of humanity’s carelessness had reached.

Viscaya as Text

“Forgotten Art in a Modern Society” by Julianna Rendon of Fiu in Viscaya Museum and Gardens on October 12, 2022

“Onlooker” taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

Meaning is a universally sought projection of our own human desire to bring purpose to what we create. History and time are just an example of certain ingredients that can be put towards making a piece of art or even a building important in its physical and meaningful value. The Louvre, the Parthenon, and the Colosseum, are just a few illustrations of places and works that have grown increasingly priceless and meaningful overtime. Human ambition often draws us to force importance and excessiveness into the things we create even if the process isn’t natural. Beauty in art and architect is always something to be appreciate and admired, but it is absolutely vital to recognize a distinction between carefully crafted aesthetic and naturally symbolic structures. This point is further stressed when the process of creation is done as a copy through the works of underpaid laborers.

Nestled amongst the classic flashily nightlife and buzz only a city like Miami could perfectly encapsulate, lies a hint of classic European architecture. Viscaya was modeled after traditional Italian villa inspiration after the former owner James Deering and artistic director Paul Chaflin toured Italy looking for ideas for a new project that came in the form of 130 acres overlooking Biscayne Bay in Miami. Viscaya is embellished by sculptures, artworks, furniture, and other creative utilities built or brought over by talented architects and artists of different cultures. The outdoor garden’s meticulous landscape can be credited to a young Colombian architect named Diego Suarez that Deering met in Florence, Italy. As for the rest of the mansion’s superior visual aspects, designer Paul Chaflin crafted a villa so different and unique from the rest of Miami, that to this day the grounds are constantly flocked by hundreds of onlookers a day looking to admire the artistic components of the house, as well as be taken away to what feels like a different part of the world. As different as Viscaya is visually from the rest of Miami, the desire behind its creation is really no different from the overdressed reality of what we call the Magic City. As beautiful as Viscaya is, its meaningfulness can be described as almost forced by the mind of Chaflin and Deering who aspired to create a historically symbolic place that had no actual symbolism except for what was copied architecturally. Deering took structures and arches meant to represent war victory, and placed them in his home that had never seen anything of the sort. Chaflin described this curiosity by stating “ Viscaya had not to wait for the passage of centuries to invest her with memories and legends”.

The fine line between copying and admiring is almost crossed by the architectural process that built Viscaya for what we recognize it as today. This idea of self invention was most certainly what allowed Viscaya to fit in perfectly with Miami culture, even if it does not visually seem so when first analyzed. Additionally and most importantly, Bahamian laborers must be acknowledged for the work they were so heavily under appreciated and underpaid for. Deering and Chaflin can be obliged for the vision they brought to life in the creativity of Viscaya, but like so many other structures and historical wonders, it was the physical exertion of immigrant laborers looking to support themselves and their families that actually brought Viscaya to life. Beauty in all its forms is always something to ponder, but recognition for its behind the scenes reality is something every individual must work to acknowledge.

Miami Beach as Text

“The Human Habit of Hatred” by Julianna Rendon of FIU in Miami Beach on October 26, 2022

“Two Sides of the Same Street” taken by Julianna Rendon // CC BY 4.0

A conflict of religious beliefs that began amongst early religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, has done nothing but spawned in various sporadic forms through the history of time. Institutionalized discrimination rose out of it and various historical tragedies have originated from the prejudice humans created for themselves. Specifically, an Anti-Semitic behavior has continued to replenish itself across various forms such as the Holocaust, which left millions of European Jews slaughtered during World War II. However, Anti-Semitism was neither begun nor finished by this atrocious genocide. We are alive in an age of mass compliance fueled by the inextinguishable fire of social media influence. Individuals that spur words of hatred and division are now given a cult following due to the mask online identity provides that encourages the darkest parts of a person to arise.

Miami Beach is a bustling land of diversity and culture that is known for it welcoming and uncritical attitudes that encourage people of all backgrounds and ethnicities to visit. Growing up as a native “Miamian”, I only ever thought of the city as a place that was a home to every type of person imaginable. In naivety I reassured myself that Miami of all cities wouldn’t be one that could be founded in such hatred as many other other lands once were. Yet the very creation of the city of Miami has been blemished by the anti-Semitic nature of the founder Carl Fisher. Fisher originally saw Miami as an oasis of leisure and vacation for all of his wealthy Midwestern companions. It was through this vision that he also ensured all of his hotels would be restricted from any Jewish people. Many signs, hotels, brochures, and other hints of the past can still be found spread out through Miami Beach. The picture I captured above on the 26th of October, 2022 depicts the division of a land naturally formatted to be unified, historically broken into a side meant for Jews and non Jewish people. Why is it that the human experience must always consist of a regularity of discrimination and prejudice? History is meant to teach people to avoid making the same mistakes, but fast forwarding to today we still see hatred spewing everywhere. On October 8, 2022 the immensely popular and influential artist Kanye West posted a tweet where he described going “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”. It is incredibly important to note that Kanye West has serious mental health issues and also harnesses 30 million Twitter followers, whereas the total Jewish population of the world sits at around 15 million. West’s outburst also included accusatory messages implying the Jewish community was greedy and sought to force black artists into slavery through music studio companies run by Jewish individuals. The danger lies in the ripple-like effect influencers such as Kanye West have on their mass followers. Those who idolize West follow him exclusively and are basically being taught by the words that come out of Kanye West’s mouth to be truth. Besides the influential sway Kanye has over his young fans, radicals are being encouraged by the sudden array of anti-Semitic outbursts Kanye is spewing. Following his series of tweets, several hateful cases have begun popping up across the country. On October 29, 21 days after Kanye’s string of hateful tweets, an unidentified individual or group displayed a message outside of the University of Florida’s football stadium on game night. The message read “Kanye was right about the Jews”. Alongside this, there have been several banners and messages being put up commentating in support of Kanye West’s perspectives. History is repeating itself at its worst through depictions of prejudice and discrimination in the example of Anti Semitism.

When my class and I entered the Jewish Museum of Florida we were welcomed into a sanctuary that felt inviting and safe. The complete opposite of what the Jewish people have been made to feel in various points of history and time for as long as they have been established. The groups that have been discriminated against the most tend to also be the most loving and welcoming, perhaps because of the fact that they know what it is like to experience the opposite. In the Jewish Museum there is a wall dedicated to the historic hatred the Jewish people have been attacked with. Documents detailing rallies of the “White Front” and Ku Klux Klan meetings are displayed on the wall for people to understand the cruelty that has been created against the Jewish people. It is sobering to realize that many modern day events and statements being made by people like Kanye West can be hung up right next to these dehumanizing accounts of anti semitism.

My older brother and I share the same mother but a different father which in turn makes him Jewish by descent and not me. When I was in middle school my brother started letting me wear his silver chain that depicted the Star of David. I would wear it because I wanted to be as much like him as possible and because I thought it was beautiful. Being much older, I recently asked why he let me do that when I had no real attachment or tie to the Jewish heritage or culture by blood. My brother explained that those who wear the Star of David often do so to represent the fact that they consider themselves to be a friend or ally of the Jewish people. Since then, I have decided to make it a point to not only symbolize my support of the Jewish people, but rather express it through awareness. Anti-Semitism is being given a platform that must be destroyed immediately before irreversible and unforgivable actions take place that harm blameless people. Today if you walk through Miami Beach you can spot restaurants and even sidewalks painted in support of the LGBTQ community which were once discriminated against so harshly on those very streets in the same way Jewish people were. Anti-Semitism must be dealt with harshly and quickly before a fire begins that no one can put out. Prejudice and discrimination have existed for too long in the many facets of racism, homophobia, anti-semitism, and classism. When people with power make grave statements supporting any of these discriminative facets I make it a point to obliterate any standing or support I have with those people, and I also encourage my peers to do the same. Being aware and alert of these threats to human equality is just the first step to the solution, but it is an incredibly dire one in this age of social media influence.

Deering Estate as Text

“A Tendency for Chosen Amnesia” by Julianna Rendon of FIU at Deering Estate on November 24, 2022

You Cannot Shade Truth” taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

As it seems, the beauty of most of Miami cannot be credited without the acknowledgment of the hostility behind it. When one looks upon the majesty of Viscaya Museum and Gardens it is essential to remember the number of underpaid laborers that worked to create that beauty, all with the hopes of sustaining their own lives or their families. Furthermore the history of the Deering Estate is no different in its story. James Deering used immigrant workers to build Viscaya, so his brother James followed a similar method. Afro-Bahamians worked tirelessly to build the popular Deering Estate which so many people utilize for relaxation in modern times. Standing next to the boat basin and being forced to squint my eyes because of the reflection of the sun on the water, helped to serve a personal remembrance of the terrible heat conditions the workers had to endure. Miami is well-known for its ruthless and unpredictable weather, and one cannot begin to imagine the environment along with the meager wages the Afro-Bahamian laborers had to accept. Much like the rest of America, it seems an amnesiac tendency is applied to the remembered history of what people of color had to go through.

A news article that ran on November 29, 1916 is the exemplary embodiment of the reality behind the mistreatment of the immigrant individuals who were working to build the Deering Estate. In the column, it lists 9 men who were killed or injured as a result of 30 sticks of dynamite places on the barge within the property. The sticks of dynamite detonated, leaving four dead and five injured. The situation was severely worsened seeing as medical aid failed to arrive before nightfall, causing neighbors to have to drive the injured to the hospital.

As the case is even to this day, the urgency of a situation tends to be lessened according to the color of a persons skin. Perhaps the most aggravating part of this history, is the failure of many to truthfully record and remember situations and conditions such as the aforementioned. Feelings of deja-vu were sparked within me as I searched the web for deeper insight on the injustices that occurred to the Afro-Bahamian workers who were so malevolently treated when the foundations of Miami were being established. Much like my earlier research on the topic for my other Miami as text assignments, search results produced scarce findings. There isn’t much that can be found on the reality in its historic faults, which is why work as simple as research and findings for a college assignment can feel so significant. Ive learned more in the reflections of my classmates and my own research, then I have in any news article or book I have come across in the history of Miami. Acknowledgment and acceptance is of dire importance in the review of our city and country’s history, and I find educating myself and others is the first step in attempting to heal the past.

Rubell Museum as Text

“Every Version of Me” by Julianna Rendon of FIU, December 1, 2022

“Mirror” taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

There is something intimate yet unsettling about being alone with myself. It’s the same feeling I am aware other people experience as well. When you are alone in your car, or after your friends have left your house, or when you are the first person in class seated alone at your desk, a distinct atmosphere of vastness and solitude takes over. People are social creatures by both design and habit. Oftentimes we lose ourselves in a crowd or in the masses and subconsciously surrender our personal capacity to think for ourselves. This convergence allows us to feel comfortable yet static in both our thoughts and actions. If one cannot be alone with owns one self then perhaps that is due to either a lack of intellectual thought, or a fear of insecurity. Art is subjective in nature, but good art always causes you to feel or think something.

Within Miami’s Rubell Museum lies an immersive art installation known as “Narcissus Garden” created by Yayoi Kusama. Kusama is a contemporary artist known for her pop art, sculptures, immersive exhibitions. “Narcissus Garden” is a grand installation of 700 stainless steel orbs placed on the floor in different variations atop the Rubell Museum floor. Paths are woven in between the orbs allowing for onlookers to navigate through the metallic landscape. The garden of orbs is named after the mythological story of Echo and Narcissus. Echo was a nymph who was rejected by Narcissus in her nature of love for him. In turn, Narcissus became cursed to receive an equal punishment of unreciprocated love. Upon finding a body of water, Narcissus was unable to take his eyes away from his own reflection because of the sudden love he had for his own looks. Either from lack of nourishment because of the trance he was in, or because Narcissus fell into his own reflection in the water and drowned, he perished. Kusama’s “Narcissus Garden” can be interpreted in various ways, but the idea is that your reflection is looking back at you and intending to mean something. As a result of the fact that there are hundreds of mirrored balls, I feel inclined to believe that the numbers are a representation of one’s identity being your only company. Though there are so many spheres, they are all reflecting the same individual. Perhaps in addition to that, the number of spheres imply there are various facets of yourself you choose to put out. Though the materials for the orbs are solid and steel, the reflective nature of them causes an organic effect that makes the orbs look malleable and moving. “Narcissus Garden” is an engaging experience that enthralls you to ask if you are comfortable with residing among only your own self. What image do you project and what image do you want to project?

Miami Art Week as Text

“Hard to Hear, Easy to See” by Julianna Rendon of FIU, November 30, 2022

“Simplicity” taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

It is necessary to preface this by explaining that though I am a long time lover of the arts, I have not really given the time to understand contemporary art, especially as it is displayed within the culture of Miami. I have been stunned by the sheer grandness that is the Louvre’ in Paris, or the exemplary collection of masterpieces the Metropolitan Museum in New York boasts. I have always understood modern art to be a sort of wayward deviation from the classic grandeur artist’s such as Botticelli, Titian, or Monet were able to encapsulate. However, it wasn’t until this recent year, when I started getting involved in the world of contemporary art and picked up an internship at the Waltman-Ortega Fine Arts Gallery, that I began to truly percept the impact and meaning this scale of art produces. It is so easy yet ignorant to look at a piece of art in whatever form it may embody, and dismiss it purely based off perceptual impression. Technical proficiency, expression, and creative factors are stripped from a piece when an individual looks at a piece of art and doesn’t try to learn or gain an experience from it. Art defies time by producing an object that visually shows the beginning, middle, and end of something all at once. Art also produces a physical representation of topics one may be too afraid or naive to have.

The amount of art that I was able to take in at the Untitled Art fair in Miami Beach on November 30, 2022 was both exceptional and overwhelming. An exhibition space within the fair represented a gallery called Dimensions Variable. This gallery aims to present artists and pieces that tend to be underrepresented or overlooked in the contemporary art world. One of the artists they represent is Leyden Rodrigues-Casanova, an artist born in Havana,Cuba who know resides in Miami creating installations and works utilizing organic and minimalistic materials and styles. His works often depict a rigid architectural structure layered with contrasting elements in order to represent implications of culture and settings in a singular place. Casanova’s work titled “Gate Composition” is composed of both soft and hard materials that symbolize the challenges of migration and the social marginalization that comes after it. Being a refugee, Casanova is heavily inspired to represent the struggles and realities of his perception of modern life being an immigrant. My parents both immigrated from Colombia in their 20’s, my father being a refugee. Though I wasn’t born when it occurred, I know the struggles and hardships they endured to build their lives up for my family from virtually nothing. From my understanding, I do believe many people take for granted the advantage they have to be born in a country that isn’t oppressing them, and the advantage that provides to living a full and happy life. When I was younger I used to be embarrassed when my friends would make fun of my father’s broken English. They never understood what it was like to speak in a tongue that was so alien to what he was accustomed to, and seeing an artwork that embodies the sort of struggles immigrants face coming into the United States was powerful. Casanova’s piece seemed so minimalistic and simple when it first met my eye, but after understanding the notion behind its creation I felt connected to it in every way. Immigrant reform is vital for the rebuilding of a system in America that continues to fail so many daily. Art that can depict such a serious issue in such a way everyone can perceive and absorb, appeals to those who might not be informed of the policies circulating today that effect families and the country as a whole. I deeply appreciate art that is able to represent something deeper than beauty, while to masterfully embodying the modern touch that is contemporary art in Miami.

My Miami Final Reflection

“As a Whole” by Julianna Rendon of FIU on December 4, 2022

“Sum” by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

Ignorance is the ground so many individuals bury themselves within. Whether it be purposefully or dismissively, in this culture I find it prevalent to a) address the mistakes of the past and b) accept and change the way we think about them. Miami in Miami was nothing like any class I have ever taken before in every aspect. I have always perceived Miami as a bustling city brimming with diversity and acceptance. I truly knew nothing about its segregated and dark past. Miami in Miami was nothing like what I expected, but everything I didn’t know I needed. The first class of the semester involved exploring Downtown Miami around Brickell. I grew up in that area and have always found it to be my favorite part of Miami, so it was shocking to hear the Tequestan history of that region. I never knew about the ancient burial grounds that weaved themselves through the modern skyscrapers Brickell is so well known for. Furthermore the research I had to conduct in order to write my as text assignments educated me even further on the truths buried beneath Miami’s soil.

I stand by the premise that human history and struggle is being forgotten by the modern age, and the vitality to educate ourselves only increases with every year that we forget more. This class embodies this sort of knowledge, and I feel fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to take it and learn so much from it. Sexism, racism, and classism are just a few of the prejudices I have come to find out so dominate historic Miami culture. Out of all the lessons I learned in our numerous trips, one of the most significant was the history behind Diane Crump at Hialeah Park Race Track. Similar to so many other places this class introduced me to, the Hialeah Race Track was somewhere I had never even heard of, much less even visited. It is a serene place that lies mostly unpopulated by the busy nature Miami is so accustomed to. However after hearing the story of Diane Crump and her tumultuous journey to be able to race against men in the same jockeying sport, I was astounded. The fact that Diane Crump attempted to race in the Hialeah Race Track’s seventh race, only 53 years ago was incredible to me because of the sexist backlash she faced. The fact that several male jockeys tried to boycott the entire race because of the mere fact a woman was competing, was astronomically awakening. I was truly inspired by Crump’s story and the research behind my as text assignment only furthered that.

A characteristic I can summarize about my entire experience with learning the history that is Miami, is the realization that often times in the places hatred took place, there is nothing of remembrance. In Brickell at the mouth of the Miami River, the only thing that lies in recognition of the incredible archeological find that was the Tequestan burial site, is an unidentifiable circular ground marking, secured by a flimsy gate. What’s more, is that it lies in the middle of what has now become a dog park. The fact that I cannot even recall if there was a sign explaining what lay in that historical site tells me that even if there was one, it was hardly memorable in comparison to the extraordinary grounds of history that lay there. Furthermore at the Hialeah Race Track lies a beautiful statue of a horse…. but not one of the first woman to race there and break societal and cultural boundaries. As I have mentioned in my blog posts, Diane Crump deserves a statue or other memorabilia at the park, signifying her culture defying feat of the mid 1960’s.

In addition to the cultural enrichment I found, Miami in Miami emphasized heavy significance on a topic I am passionate about: environmental awareness. The opportunity to clean up Chicken Key, and the mere fact we were allowed to even visit closed natural sites on the Deering Estate, was beyond what words of significance could describe. For every assignment and area we ventured into, I found something I was passionate and excited to learn about. Miami’s anti-Semitic nature was completely unbeknownst to me, and when I wrote the blog about Miami Beach’s institutionalized discrimination, I learned so much about how an erased history really impacted the struggles that so many people once faced. Moreover, the prejudice and discrimination so many faced not that long ago, is still prevalent in modern times. Just because things like racism, sexism, and discrimination aren’t laced into the very words of our laws, doesn’t mean they don’t exist within the hearts of so many people alive today. It is knowledge such as this which moves me to realize how significant a class that can unveil so much, has on the development of my peers and myself. I follow with the hope that the educational experience we gained from this class, morphs into a butterfly effect that impacts others with the realities behind a city we view as paradise.

Neighborhood as Text: Homestead, Florida

“Rural Paradise” by Julianna Rendon of FIU // CC by 4.0


South of the busy city of Miami we know so well, lies an agricultural treasure of a place called Homestead. When I was younger I used to beg my mom to make the 20 minute drive from Palmetto Bay to Homestead so I could experience a piece of Florida that resembles something out of a western cowboy movie. My family grew to love Homestead so much, we ended up moving there when I was 12. Having lived there for all of my middle and high school years, I have been fortunate enough to come across some truly magnificent hidden gems. Homestead definitely has that small town syndrome: people who live there want to leave, but once they do they will always miss it.

Rolling fields of corn, papaya, and avocado trees spread out within acres of land, is one of the first sights visitors will behold arriving in Homestead. Homestead is known for a section called the Redlands which houses beautiful farmhouses and fields acres away from each other. The landscape setting is so different from the usual crowdedness of anywhere in Miami. People who own property there own farm animals such as horses, cows, chickens, and goats that can be seen freely roaming gated pastures. Milkshake and fruit stands are common throughout the city, each selling varieties of desserts and produce you can’t find fresher elsewhere.

Heritage Market

Taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

Nestled on Krome Avenue lies a beautiful farm called the Heritage Market. Heritage is an organic farming location open to the public offering bakery items, milkshakes, fruit picking, and relaxation areas. They boast a colonial style building with fruit fields behind it, as well as some of the best hamburgers and lunch items one could ever hope to have. Once you order a milkshake, you head out back to pick it up straight from a small trailer that makes all the dessert items from scratch. Seasonally, Heritage Market offers strawberry and blueberry picking people of all ages can participate in. Around Christmastime, Heritage sets up a Christmas tree tent where locals and visitors alike can go to find beautiful pines ready to take home.

Heritage Market used to formerly be known as Curbside Market when I was in high school. The farm was owned by the parents of schoolmates of mine, and after school on Wednesdays, a group of about 5 or 6 of us would make the mile walk to hang out at Heritage Market. The place is so unique on its own, there really is nowhere else like it. Heritage Market produces comfort and beauty in a way that makes it welcoming to everyone who visits. Live concerts and food trucks can be found on the property almost every other weekend, and once you go more than twice, familiar faces will always be identifiable. Heritage is open year round from Wednesdays to Sundays at around noon. It is truly worth the visit to experience incredible food and the charm Homestead has to offer embodied into a singular place.

Location: 29100 SW 177th Ave, Homestead, FL 33030

The Rope Swing

Shot from Video taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

Close to the Homestead Speedway Race Track, lies a gem locals refer to simply as “The Rope Swing”. There isn’t any information about this spot online, the only way to know about it is through word of mouth; usually through the ramblings of teenagers making after school plans on any particularly hot day. Once you park your car at an unmarked gravel pathway near the side of the road, one can walk to the designated canal surrounded by tall trees. The canal is different from other canals because of its distinctly clear blue waters. Occasionally you can spot small alligators lazily swimming through, but they wont bother you if you don’t bother them. On a few of the giant trees there are a few wooden boards leading up the trunk to a thick rope tied to one of the sturdier branches. There are different ropes on various trees, so swimmers can decide what type of risk they’re looking to take that day. The water is cold and refreshing, but the real thrill is taking one of the 25ft jumps from one of the rope swings into the canal. On any given weekend you can find huddles of cars parked near the water loudly playing music as their passengers utilize the canal for swimming and jumping. The spot is unique and not exactly an official location, but worth the adventure. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, my sister and I would visit this spot every week to get a taste of what normal high school days were like. The Rope Swing is timeless entertainment for all, and lasting in its memory.


Royal Palm Grill

Taken by Julianna Rendon // CC by 4.0

If you ask anyone where the best breakfast place in Homestead is, they will direct you to the Royal Palm Restaurant right off of north Krome Avenue. Any local who has lived in Homestead long enough, will go get breakfast at Royal Palm at least once a week. The spot may not look like much. The building is old and attached to an old fashioned drugstore that no one really understands why is still in business. However, the food is satisfying and memorable enough to keep locals going back for years even if they don’t live in the area anymore. The waiters and waitresses that host the small restaurant are the same ones that have done so for decades. If one visits the restaurant it is of vital importance to order “The Royal Breakfast”, a generous portion of pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage that never disappoints. Once you’re done with your meal, order a large iced sweet tea to-go; the recipe is homemade and known as something of a legend around Homestead. Similar to almost every place worth visiting in Homestead, once you go once you’ll always go back.

Location: 806 N Krome Ave, Homestead, FL 33030

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