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.

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