Cortrina Williams: Miami as Text 2022-2023

Cortrina Williams is currently a Senior majoring in Psychology at Florida International University. She has a love for research as well as the Social Sciences and with this, she aspires to become a research psychologist in the future. Her other interests includes traveling and learning about different cultures. She is originally from The Turks and Caicos Islands and moved to the United States in 2019 to attend University. One of her many goals is to help lower the stigma that surrounds mental health in the Caribbean islands. This in turn will hopefully allow the residents to feel safe and be more inclined to seek the necessary help if they need it.

Downtown Miami as Text 

“A glimpse from the past” by Cortrina Williams of FIU in Downtown Miami on September 7th, 2022

“Fort Dallas/William English Plantation Slave Quarters”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams // CC by 4.0

I have studied history for as long as I can remember. The Tainos in The Turks and Caicos Islands, the middle passage, salt raking, cotton harvesting: all the parts of my ancestry that my country deemed necessary to add to our schools’ curriculums. At first, I was rather reluctant to learn about these particular aspects of my history because I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be connected to something that is so deeply rooted in pain and suffering to the extent where present generations are still feeling the effects today. However, as I got older, I realized that some of the main reasons for teaching this history is so that we never forget that it actually happened and also so we can learn from our past mistakes and prevent them from happening again. 

As my classmates and I explored the Fort Dallas slave quarters, I couldn’t help but ponder the history of it all? Not just the events that transpired there but also the history of the building itself. Fort Dallas was originally located on the plantation of William English and in 1925 it was taken apart and reassembled in its present location in Lummus Park. The original layout, door frames and windows are still a part of this structure and perhaps even more impressive, the original oolitic limestone walls are also still there as well. You may be wondering how something seemingly insignificant as a rock can impress me and the answer to this question relates to the nature of limestone rocks as well as to my own connection to them. I grew up on an island where the literal foundation is almost entirely made up out of limestone rocks, my family home is made out of it, the chalk that I pretended to be a school teacher with as a child was made out of it. Basically, almost everything that surrounded me was made out of limestone. With that being said, I understand the very fragile, yet resilient nature of limestone rocks and this is the reason why I cannot help but admire them.  

In my home country, limestones were used for many different things in the past. I remember my grandmother talking about how they would use the rocks to scrub clothing when they did laundry, how they crushed it up to make homemade medicine and how they used it to help to purify their drinking water. While I am not familiar with the history of limestone in the United States, it is quite clear that the people of the past still found good use for it in their everyday lives; the structure of Fort Dallas being evidence of this.

During our class lecture, the professor encouraged us to touch the walls of Fort Dallas as a way of connecting to the past. This was one of the most interesting parts of the day for me because I was the only student who did not go up and touch the walls. I’m not entirely sure why I decided not to touch it, maybe it has something to do with the knowledge that I have of my history or the knowledge that I have of the slaves who previously lived within those very walls. Nevertheless, whatever the reason was, not touching the wall felt like the right thing to do. As it relates to the students who decided to touch the wall, my only hope is that they actually felt some connection to the history of that building and that it wasn’t just an opportunity to capture another selfie for their social media followers.

In conclusion, I know it may seem a little crazy, but perhaps we all could learn a thing or two from limestone rocks. The main lesson that I have taken from them is to never allow my history or genetics to define or limit me.

Overtown As Text

“The Lyric Theater”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams // CC by 4.0

The Unwanted Yet Wanted” By Cortrina Williams of FIU at Overtown on September 21, 2022

When I reflect on the history of black people in America, I cannot help but be completely perplexed. How is it possible for a race of people to be so unwanted yet wanted all at the same time? In the late 1700’s to the mid 1800’s slaves were the most desired investment. From house work, to field work, to the prestige that it could bring to a family’s name, it could be said that the advantages of owning a slave were endless. However, despite this longing to own one, a large percentage of the white population did not want to be anywhere near black people. A seemingly simple act such as walking through the same entrance or even making eye contact with a white person for too long was viewed as a great offense. Now, fast forward to the 1900’s and 2000’s, where things such as durags, cornrows, and certain genres of black music were often viewed as being tacky. Yet, despite this, a considerable portion of the white population still adapted these very same aspects of black culture and referred to it as the hottest and latest trends. Therefore, reiterating my confusion; “unwanted yet wanted”. 

As my classmates and I walked through the streets of Overtown, this same confusion was heavy on my mind. Black people helped to build this very city that we know as Miami today (both literally and figuratively). When Miami was incorporated in 1896, black voters accounted for 162 of the 368 voters that were present. It is important to note that the legal minimum for a settlement to be considered a city rather than a town was 300 so without those additional black votes, Miami would not have been classified as a city at the time that it was. To add to this, black labor also helped to build Miami from the ground up with things such as the railroad tracks and hotels. After they helped to incorporate and build the city, black people were still not wanted in Miami and they were restricted to live in specified areas such as Colored Town (Overtown) and Cocoanut Grove (Coconut Grove). Again, reiterating my point “wanted yet unwanted”. 

During the 1900’s, some black performers were often requested to perform at white only clubs. However, they were not allowed to use the same entrances or exits as the white crowd, they could not stay in the audience to watch the other performers and they were not allowed to stay in any of the hotels that were in close distance to the white venues. This led to many of these performers traveling to black towns such as Overtown to give a second show at places such as The Lyric Theatre. To this end, black towns such as Overtown became a central hub for musical entertainment. The strip that is located on North West 2nd Avenue was home to numerous thriving clubs so much so that it became known as “Miami’s Little Broadway” or the Great Black Way”. The Lyric theater was one of these thriving clubs. It was built for Gedar Walker (a wealthy black businessman) and it hosted many black performers such as Bessie Smith, Hazel Scott, and Nat “King” Cole. The building was also used for things such as political meetings, boxing and beauty pageants. The shows that were hosted in The Lyric Theater and other places along that strip were so good that many white people would also travel there to listen to it. That being the case, we see that some of the white population did not want to interact with black people, yet, they still listened to their music and traveled long distances just to be a part of the black entertainment culture. 

I remember a discussion that my history class had concerning the death of Bessie Smith (one of the black singers who performed at The Lyric Theater). Bessie Smith was said to be one of the greatest talents of her time, she was also one of the richest black singers too and she was often requested to perform at white only clubs all over America. On the day of her death, she got into a car accident and was refused entry into the white hospital that was closest to her location. Her ambulance ended up driving around trying to find a hospital that would treat a black person and she succumbed to her injuries. To this day many historians still believe that her life could have been saved if one of the white hospitals had taken her in and treated her. She was a highly coveted performer in both the white and black community but in her time of need they didn’t even view her as a human being. She was buried in an unmarked grave for 40 years until 1970 when Janis Joplin had a headstone made for her grave.  

I know that we still have a long way to go in terms of racial equality, however, every time that I look back at my history, I try to remind myself not to take for granted the little advantages that I have today. 

Chicken Key as Text

Photo 1 within this collage was taken and edited by Ocean Wise Aqua blog (showing microplastics under a microscope). Photos 2 and 3 within this collage was taken and edited by Cortrina Williams at The Deering Estate (showing garbage collection from Chicken Key)

“ The Unseen Killers ” by Cortrina Williams of Florida International University at Chicken Key on October 5, 2022 

For as long as I can remember, I have always participated in beach cleanups. However, I never really understood the true impact that they can have until now. Beach clean ups were a mandatory part of my Primary School education (US grades 1-6); our school administrators introduced them as exercises that would encourage us to develop our team building skills and so that is what I associated them with. Then in High School (US grades 7-11), when beach cleanups were no longer mandatory, I began to use them as an excuse to escape to the beach; yes, I would have to pick up trash for hours in the hot sun, however, on the bright side, I got to enjoy the cool water and make amazing connections with my group mates along the way. At that point I understood that the cleanups helped to lessen the eyesores which in turn could tremendously aid our tourism but still I didn’t understand that it went much deeper than that.

The first time that I encountered the word “microplastics” was during my freshman year Biology lab class at my university. We were tasked with completing an in-depth investigation into a popular water supply here in Miami and while we examined a sample of the water under a microscope, the glass slide lit up like a Christmas tree. Finally, the reality of this started to become much clearer to me. Those colorful strands that resembled very tiny confetti strips were much more dangerous than their outward appearance made them out to be. I further learned that microplastics can contain harmful toxins that can cause diseases such as cancer in humans and they not only affect us but can also affect the aquatic organisms that they encounter as well. For example, they can block the gastrointestinal tracts of fishes and initiate a full feeling which eventually can lead to the fish starving to death. Put simply, we cannot escape microplastics entirely; if we don’t ingest it through our water supply, then we can still come into contact with it through things such as our food supply. This widespread nature of microplastics is indeed a huge concern for us and with that being the case, we should be doing everything that we can to help reduce the effect that they can have on us and our environment. 

After my classmates and I pulled our kayaks into The Deering Estate and began to compile all of the garbage that we collected from Chicken Key, I was truly surprised by the amount of plastic that we collected. The area had experienced a hurricane just a week prior to our cleanup which could have been a contributing factor in the large quantity of plastic that we collected; however, it was still very eye opening for me. Chicken Key is a small island in Biscayne Bay that was formed by ocean currents depositing quartz and limestone sands in the same area overtime. It is surrounded by mangroves and has a diverse marine life (which makes it especially important).

As I listened to the professor talk that day about how the water surrounding Chicken Key was once as clear as the water in popular tourist areas such as The Caribbean islands, it was truly hard to believe the words that he had just said. The water that surrounded Chicken Key was very dark and murky, so much so that I could hardly tell where my black leggings ended and where the water began. Our pollution, our desires to take short cuts/the easy way out; we did this to our environment, maybe not you and I in particular but the human race as a whole. 

Chicken Key is still home to a diverse group of organisms, from crabs, to fishes, to the endangered terrapin turtles. While this does show how resilient some organisms can be, it also shows the dire need for us to continue to do cleanups on Chicken Key and other places like it so that these organisms can have a safe place to procreate and grow.

In conclusion, marine debris such as plastics and abandoned fishing lines is one of the most pressing and widespread pollution problems that is affecting the world’s ocean and waterways today and with that being said, any way that we can help to reduce this problem will be of great benefit not only to human beings but also to the other living organisms that we share this planet with too.

Reference

OceanWiseAquablog. (2015). Research reveals microplastics entering the food web. https://www.aquablog.ca/2015/06/research-reveals-microplastics-entering-the-food-web/

Vizcaya as Text

“Vizcaya Museum & Gardens”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams // CC by 4.0

Where there is good, there is usually bad” by Cortrina Williams of FIU in Vizcaya on October 19th, 2022

When I think of Vizcaya, the phrase that comes to my mind is “Go Big or go Home!!!” but in this particular case it was quite literally someone’s home. Vizcaya was built for the millionaire and well-known businessman James Deering. After Deering’s health began to decline, his doctor prescribed lots of sunshine to aid in his recovery and what better place to achieve this than the sunshine state itself? Deering, Paul Chalfin and a notable percentage of the Miami population then began the construction of Vizcaya or as I like to call it “the 1916 Playboy Mansion”.

As my classmates and I walked up to the front gates of Vizcaya, we were first welcomed by a sharp dressed superhero-like statue standing tall and proud with a globe at his feet and in the center of the globe stood Florida for all to see. I believe that this was the first indication to Deering’s guests as to what their stay had in store for them; the superhero perhaps symbolized conquering the impossible and Florida as the center of the Earth perhaps meant that his guests are exactly where they were supposed to be, at the center of all entertainment.

As we moved further in through the gates, the canopy of the dense trees bowed down along the walkway, almost as if they were introducing the guests as royalty and just when I thought that it couldn’t get any better, the canopy then opened up to reveal the lavish mansion and the alluring, blue water that hid behind it. I grew up in the Caribbean and with that the water is like a drawing card for me; no matter where I am in the world as long as I am near the ocean it feels as if a part of my home is right there with me. While standing in the second entrance to Vizcaya, overlooking the water, the stationary yacht and topless mermaids, it felt exactly like home to me (which is what I believe Deering was going for).

The astonishing beauty of Vizcaya definitely cannot be denied, however, wherever there is good, something bad is usually lurking right around the corner. It was quite clear to me that Vizcaya, like Miami itself, embodies the “show lifestyle” and what I mean by this is that both places exude luxury, sexiness and a promise of a good time but if we were to look deeper under the surface then we would see a much darker reality. As it relates to Miami, the yachts, condos, fancy cars and parties are all used to obscure the fact that 21% of the city’s population lives in poverty (US census, n.d). On this same note, the lavishness of Vizcaya obscures the stolen culture and the forgotten people. The entire architecture of Vizcaya is European in nature, a huge rug in the main house is Islamic inspired, many of the chandeliers and titles were imported from places such as Mexico, the large maze in the backyard is French inspired and there is a room with paintings and a table from Pompeii. I could go on and on like this but I think you got my point. With that being said, the most disappointing feature of Vizcaya for me, was Deering’s Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe was used in the French culture to honor great warriors who gave the ultimate sacrifice (their lives) fighting in battles such as the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars and it makes me wonder what did Deering sacrifice to earn his Arc?

We have to remember that it was a different time back then and as such the rules of society were much different than they are today. With that being said, we should keep this factor in mind before judging individuals from the past in a harsh manner (through the eyes of today’s society). However, at the same time, we should also not offer them a free pass for their actions either. Finding this balance of right/wrong or what is acceptable/unacceptable is quite difficult but I believe that it is imperative when examining history and holding individuals accountable for their actions.

References 

U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: Miami City, Florida. (n.d.). https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/miamicityflorida/POP060210

Miami Beach as Text

“A rib or the backbone?” By Cortrina Williams of FIU in Miami Beach on November 2nd, 2022

“Art Deco building in South Beach and statue of Barbara Capitman”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams // CC by 4.0

What would you do to secure your place in history? When I was younger, I realized that the history books about my island often talked about the hardworking enslaved men who toiled away in the hot sun and in the later years, it praised the brave fishermen who conquered the treacherous water to feed the population. If I am being completely honest, I never thought twice about the recount of those events until I heard the stories told by some of the older women who actually lived through some of those years. It was then that I realized that those books were missing key elements from our history; they never talked about the women who made up a large part of the workforce, they never spoke of the countless women who fished, or of the women who were the backbone of tourism for a really long time. Since moving to Miami, I realized that this is not a phenomenon that is unique to my island; all over the world the degree of women’s contribution (for the most part) has gone unwritten in history and those who actually make the print, their stories are still diminished in some ways. 

People often credit Carl Fisher with the creation of Miami Beach because his attempt to turn the area into a getaway spot for him and his friends led to Miami Beach being transformed from the mangrove-populated barrier island that it was, to one of the United States’ most popular tourist destinations today. However, if Fisher is the creator of Miami Beach then we can say that Barbara Baer Capitman was the preserver. Capitman would often go as far as chaining herself to different hotels so that they wouldn’t be demolished and even though many of her efforts were fruitless (because some of those hotels ended up being teared down anyways) in the end, Capitman was successful because she was able to get a square-mile of the Art Deco district in Miami beach listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In turn, this preserved space is now one of the key characteristics that attracts countless tourists to the South Beach area each year. Capitman did receive some credit for her contributions such as having a street named in her honor and receiving several honors that were awarded to her posthumously, however, during her life she rarely experienced such praise; she was often disregarded and seen as not being of sound mind. 

I have taken numerous American history classes in the past and in addition to this, on numerous occasions, I have visited the same area in South Beach where the statue of Barbara Capitman is located. Yet, up until our lecture I had not heard of the name Barbara Capitman before or even seen her statue. This being the case, I wonder how many other visitors and residents in Miami are as clueless in this regard as I used to be. Furthermore, if these women had to fight so hard for their place in history and we do not honor them by keeping their memory alive then what was the point of them fighting in the first place; they are a part of the history but they will be forgotten anyways. In the future, how can we better present/publicize the names and deeds of pioneering women such as Capitman so that they can truly live on in history at the standard in which they deserve?

Deering Estate as Text

“A Win for the Books” by Cortrina Williams of FIU at the Deering Estate on November 16th, 2022

“The Deering Estate hike”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams // CC by 4.0

Other than Vizcaya, The Deering Estate is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved locations that I have visited during my time here in Miami. As I was standing on the platform, overlooking the manatees in the clear water and the largely untouched mass of land, it was hard to believe that someone wanted to tear such a place down. However, this is precisely what nearly happened to the land that is included within the Deering Estate. After the last of Charles Deering’s heirs (Barbara Deering Danielson) passed away in 1982, the Deering Estate was eventually put up for sale and this being the case, this massive plot of land was heavily targeted for development purposes. 

As we have seen with countless other towns, the development route is not always the best direction (a good example of this can be seen in how the once thriving city of Overtown was practically destroyed once the I-95 and I-395 expressways were constructed in the town). Fortunately, in the case of the Deering Estate, there was quite a bit of protest from the public (especially environmental groups) which led to the developers not being able to purchase the land; the State of Florida eventually purchased the Deering Estate and later the land also became a part of the National Register of Historic places. 

As my classmates and I hiked through the estate, I was happy that this land was not turned into railroad tracks or into large condo complexes. Condos, high rises, etc, do have their own charm and they do attract a lot of individuals to the area in which they are located, however, for the true nature lovers, this purchase was a huge win because it added the Deering estate to the list of few places where we can simply enjoy the beauty of nature. Not only is the physical beauty of the estate astonishing but the area is also home to eight different ecosystems; a quality which is virtually non-existent in any other locations here in Miami. 

After the conclusion of our hike, I would have to say that the best part for me was our walk through the mangroves. We were able to visit the site of a plane crash that very few people get to see up close and personal. The mangroves were definitely more smellier and murkier than I remembered but they brought back quite a few good memories from my childhood as well. When I was younger, my siblings and I would walk through the mangroves that were located some distance from my parents’ farmland and even though we would often get stung by the jellyfish that occupied the water there, this still did not deter us from cooling off in the water. On my last trip back to my home country, I decided to visit this area again and it was almost unrecognizable; since the land was sold, the mangroves have been cleared away and vacation rentals now occupy the area. 

With my favorite part of the hike already stated, I would have to say that the most daunting part of this week’s class for me was not the 5 mile hike that we embarked upon or the fact that we walked through murky water (potentially harboring unknown creatures), instead it was the generous amount of poisonwood and poison ivy that were located in the area. Up until that point, I had never hiked in an area where poisonwood or poison ivy is located and therefore, I had no idea how to distinguish between them and the other plants that are located within that area. Thanks to our wonderful guide Ana and our Professor, (to my knowledge) everyone made it through the day without any dire accidents. 

Rubell Museum as Text

“Who determines what is classified as Art?” by Cortrina Williams of FIU at the Rubell Museum on November 23rd, 2022

“The Rubell Museum”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams displaying different artists’ work at the Rubell Museum// CC by 4.0

In one of my humanities classes this semester, we explored the topic of “What is Art?”. Our professor showed our class of 50+ students different images, videos and simulations and our only job was to unanimously decide whether we considered each piece to be art or not. This seemingly simple task took an interesting turn when the class ended up split on every single image that was shown to us. Then it dawned on me, us students with our unique personalities, different preferences, different backgrounds, different life experiences, etc., how could the professor expect us all to view the world from the same lens? Essentially, this was the point behind this assignment as well as the point behind my anecdote. Art is completely subjective and to this end, we all determine what is Art and what is not art; each and every single one of us.

This thought was heavy on my mind when my classmates and I visited the Rubell museum. The Rubell museum is one of the biggest privately owned contemporary art collections in North America and as my experience with contemporary art is very minimal, I tried my best to keep an open mind as we examined the different art pieces that were on display. I must admit, however, that I was completely stumped as we began walking towards one piece in particular. From afar (and with my poor eyesight) this piece appeared to be just a dirty mattress hanging on the wall and at that moment, the first thought that came to my mind was “Art is indeed subjective, I guess”. However, the closer that I got to this artwork, the more it started to come alive. In this piece that was created by Kaari Upson and entitled “Rubells”, I started to see the decades of two people lying next to each other; I saw their intimacy, their memories, the life that they created together and it was truly astonishing. 

The rest of our museum lecture proceeded in a similar manner for me until we came across a piece entitled “Family” which was created by Karon Davis. This piece showed a black family (father, mother and son) all sprouting antlers and embracing each other. Almost instantly I realized the meaning behind this piece (or at least what I interpreted it to be); as individuals of African descent (for the most part) we are very easy targets, exposed for the world to see and forced to grow up and experience the hardships of life before we are ready to do so. 

To my surprise, the entire exhibition on display at the Rubell Museum featured numerous pieces that were reflective of black culture/black life. However, not so surprisingly the majority of these pieces had meanings/interpretations behind them that were sad/depressing in nature. While I was truly ecstatic to see the degree of cultural exposure and educational awareness that was happening there, I have to say that someday I would really like to visit an art exhibit that portrays the other side of black culture; the more positive side where we are happy and succeeding at life, the part that doesn’t make me feel pity for myself and for my people.

Untitled as Text

“Art Should be Meaningful” by Cortrina Williams of FIU at Untitled Art Fair on November 30th, 2022

 “Untitled Art Fair”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams showing artwork by different artists// CC by 4.0

I have always held a fascination for creative individuals. I know that many of us are creative in some way, shape or form but for me, those individuals who are able to create something magical just from a glimmer of thought in their imagination, they are the ones who truly captivate me. 

As it relates to Contemporary Art, I must admit that I am very new to this field. However, if you were to ask me what is the key element that I believe every art work should possess, I would have to say that it should be meaningful; it does not have to be the prettiest masterpiece every created or bring tears to the eyes of every onlooker who comes across it but it should mean something to someone out there.

For this week’s class, my classmates and I had the opportunity to attend the Untitled Art Fair here in Miami and I have to say that it was one of the most eye opening experiences of this class for me. Untitled Art is an independent contemporary art fair that is held annually in Miami Beach. It was founded in 2012 by Jeff Lawson and each year it hosts numerous galleries from around the world. This year, there were over 100 international contemporary galleries on display at the fair and with this large number, one would expect that there would be some overlap in the different displays, however, every artwork was still unique in its own way; the styles, the inspirations and the mediums were different so it didn’t feel as if I was viewing the different versions of the same art piece over and over again. 

There were quite a few displays at the fair that interested me but I was most impressed by two pieces in particular. When examining the first piece from afar, it appeared to be paint splashes that were arranged beautifully on a canvas but upon closer inspection I came to the realization that this paint was in fact nylon pantyhose. This piece that is entitled “Theta Tati IV (talk to me father)” was created by Turiya Magadlela and it is inspired by Magadlela’s background growing up in South Africa. As Magadlela did not have ready access to the typical tools that are used in the creation of paintings, she began using everyday items in her work that were more accessible to her (ie pantyhose). I was not only amazed by the resourcefulness of this artist but also by the underlying meaning behind her work. This piece is meant to symbolize how little control women can sometimes have over their bodies and also the various abuse that they often suffer. I believe that this piece is important because so many women across different eras, different countries and different ethnicities can relate to it (a good example of this relatableness can be seen in the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade here in the United States).


The second artwork that amazed me was a piece entitled “Mother Nina in Transition” by Noel W. Anderson. This piece portrays the distorted face of the singer Nina Simone as she is experiencing different emotions. I was drawn to this piece because of my personal connection to it as a black woman; this piece is symbolic of the various “faces” that black women have to put on each day and essentially is a reminder that there is much more to us than what meets the eye.

Chosen Neighborhood as Text

“The Golden Town” by Cortrina Williams of FIU in Golden Beach Florida on December 1st, 2022

“Golden Beach”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams // CC by 4.0

When I think of the reputation that surrounds Miami, in theory a place like Golden Beach comes to my mind; where everyone is wealthy, living a comfortable and relatively happy life and they are at the center of all entertainment. However, as I have visited other neighborhoods throughout Miami, I can confidently say that this is not the reality of most places. 

Golden Beach is one of the most affluent and exclusive neighborhoods in the Miami-Dade County. It was incorporated in 1929 and today it has a population of 945 residents (Data Commons, 2022). Despite being a very small town (measuring in at just 1.8 square miles), Golden Beach has its very own police posting at the entrance of the Town and anyone who drives in through the gates must have their picture taken for security purposes. As it relates to transportation into Golden Beach, there aren’t that many options; the town can be accessed by way of bus, however, most residents use their personal vehicles to get around. 

Golden Beach prohibits commercial activity and therefore, as it relates to pastimes, there are very few options outside of going to the beach and going to one of the numerous parks. With that being said, Golden Beach is located within minutes of Downtown Miami and Hallandale Beach so the opportunities for dining and entertainment are endless. In addition to this, numerous popular shopping centers are also close by such as the famous Aventura Mall and the Village of Gulfstream Park. 

Golden Beach was recently the subject of public uproar due to the Town restricting its beaches from the general public. The houses on Golden Beach are deemed to be private property up until “the mean high-tide line” (Lipscomb, 2016). However, the problem with this is that there isn’t a specific definition as to what the high-tide line is or as to how far it actually extends. What this means is that the boundary is completely up to interpretation; which allows for the residents to continue to restrict the beach from the public. This is very similar to what has been happening in some areas back in my home country. There have been numerous other incidents in the past but just recently the community of Leeward was on the news for blocking access to the public beach in their area. When the law enforcement officers did not intervene in the matter, some of the residents took the matter into their own hands and tore down the cement poles that the homeowners had put up in the sand. The owners continued to replace the barricades every time that they were taken down and after a few more attempts, the public eventually stopped fighting back and accepted their fate. 

The number of privately owned beach residences is growing tremendously each year (both here in Florida and back in my home county) and if these privately owned properties were to keep blocking access to the public beaches then in the future, what percentage of the public beaches will actually be left for the public? In addition to this, how will this then affect other issues such as overcrowding on public beaches and tourism in the area?

While I understand the need for privacy and preservation in Golden Beach (the town is known for its wealthy residents such as Tommy Hilfiger and Bill Gates), I am still worried about the long term implications that this will have for other areas in the Miami-Dade County and also the example that Golden Beach is currently setting for other privately owned beachfront properties across Florida and in other areas as well.

References

About Golden Beach. Golden Beach A Town Unlike Any Other. (n.d.). https://www.goldenbeach.us/about/  

Golden Beach, Florida. Miami Luxury Homes. (2020). https://www.miamiluxuryhomes.com/golden-beach/#:~:text=Golden%20Beach%20is%20one%20of,of%20living%20in%20tropical%20elegance  

Data Commons. Golden Beach – Place Explorer (2022). https://datacommons.org/place/geoId/1226250?utm_medium=explore&mprop=count&popt=Person&hl=en  Lipscomb, J. (2016). Can the wealthy town of Golden Beach really ban the public from its sand? Miami New Times. https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/can-the-wealthy-town-of-golden-beach-really-ban-the-public-from-its-sand-8508263

My Miami Final Reflection as Text

“As it Comes to an End” by Cortrina Williams of FIU in Miami on December 9th, 2022

“The Authentic Miami”, photos taken by Cortrina Williams // CC by 4.0

When I moved to Miami nearly 3 years ago, I knew virtually nothing about this city. I was slightly aware of the reputation that it holds for boasting the flashy lifestyle but beyond that, everything else was truly a mystery to me. Being an international student, I desired to learn as much as I could about the places around me and hence, my friend and I began our journey of exploring the authentic Miami. After about two and a half years into this quest, I truly believed that we had seen all that Miami had to offer, however, this Miami in Miami class would later make me realize that we had only just scratched the surface.

When I signed up for this honors class, I was looking for a class that went beyond the typical university teaching experience. Essentially, I was in search of an unorthodox but effective way of learning and this Miami in Miami class appeared to check all of these boxes. Over the course of this semester, we have explored numerous locations ranging from the once flourishing city of Overtown Town to the talent ridden tents of the Untitled Art Fair and now at the end of it all, I can honestly say that each experience has been unique and informative in its own way. 

If I was given the chance to identify one location that has left a lasting impression on me, it would have to be the Jewish Museum. I was well aware of the discrimination that the Jewish people faced in German occupied Europe, however, I was misguided in my knowledge of the history of the Jewish people here in The United States. All of the history classes that I had taken up until that point portrayed the United States as being a welcoming ally to the Jewish people who were seeking asylum during that era but after our class lecture (which was told from the Jewish perspective), I realized that there are always two sides to each story. Overall, this experience with the Jewish museum taught me that essentially, we are all connected in one way or another; it may not be through genetics, or a shared culture but it could be through things such as our shared experiences.

This Miami in Miami class has been a unique experience for me and it has helped me tremendously in my quest to discover the authentic Miami. This class has taught me not only to look beyond the surface of everything but, it also taught me that we should never stop learning about the world around us. When listening to the history of Miami, it can definitely be hard to hear at times but despite this, the history still needs to be told. We can’t rewrite the past, but we can study and learn from it so that we do not repeat the same mistakes in the future. 

I truly believe that Miami has something for everyone; we just have to be willing to go out and find it.

Author: Cortrina Williams: Miami as Text

Cortrina Williams is currently a Senior majoring in Psychology at Florida International University. She has a love for research as well as the Social Sciences and with this, she aspires to become a research psychologist in the future. Her other interests includes traveling and learning about different cultures. She is originally from The Turks and Caicos Islands and moved to the United States in 2019 to attend University. One of her many goals is to help lower the stigma that surrounds mental health in the Caribbean islands. This in turn will hopefully allow the residents to feel safe and be more inclined to seek the necessary help if they need it.

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