Angelina Jansen: Miami as Text Spring 2023

Picture taken by Angelina Jansen at Patrica and Phillip Frost Art Museum

Angelina Jansen is a sophomore philosophy student at FIU who is currently interested in pursuing Environmental Law. Daughter to a Cuban mother and Sri Lankan father she was born in Toronto, Canada but has been raised for most of her life in Florida. She is a part-time working student who enjoys reading, listening to music, and sunbathing in her free time.

“Miami Reflection” by Angelina Jansen of FIU in Miami February 4th, of 2023

When I think of Miami

I think of the city lit at night, even though it’s so different from the ones I’ve visited and grew up in

I think of the terrible traffic and the bad drivers we have here

I think of the spots by the bridge that make you feel like you have your own personal beach away from the crowds

I think of Cuban coffee with Pastelitos and Spanish gossip

I think about how neighborhoods look like completely different worlds (even though they’re 20 minutes apart)

and despite the differences people always come together, having a Miami mentality you won’t find anywhere else

I think of the peacocks and white Ibis that stroll around

and the palm trees and boats by the ocean

I think of the unique biodiversity and tropical climate we have

I think about how even hurricanes do not scare us

I think of all of the amazing people and ideas I have been exposed to by living in such a diverse place

Miami is much more than just the Downtown area, Brickell nightlife, luxury hotels and Airbnbs. But it also goes beyond the suburbs and streets we call home. It’s a conglomeration of culture that seeps into every location, even though gentrification tries to keep it contained. Miami is nothing like Toronto, the city I was born in. It is also nothing like Fort Myers, the small town spent my childhood in. I am constantly learning something new about Miami that I had never heard before. Whether it is from friends, co-workers, or conversations I hear overhear in the street. In this class I hope to uncover more of Miami and understand its roots and why it is the way it is today.

“The truth of Miami” by Angelina Jansen of FIU in Miami , February 4th, of 2023

I have been living here in Miami for the last 10 years and like most people living here, I had never really explored Miami beyond the areas close to me and certain hotspots for events. After finding out we would be visiting Coconut Grove, my brain instantly drifted to multi-millionaire homes, lush neighborhoods full of trees, rich kids in rich schools, and restaurants all around. I was surprised to learn that the origins of Coconut Grove were starkly different than what they are today. The Coconut Grove that existed before inherited properties were the norm.

During our trip, we learned that the Bahamian people were the backbone of Coconut Grove. They cultivated their own communities by building homes, churches, and cemeteries. We were able to see remnants of the legacy the Bahamian people left behind, learning more about how they lived and congregated together. Unfortunately, based on the condition of structures like Mariah Brown’s home, we can see that the city has not done a good job of honoring these historical places by keeping them maintained.

I was in awe when hearing the story of E.W.F stirrup. He learned how to make homes with his two hands after realizing how important it was for the people in his community to own their own properties. He made over 100 houses in his lifetime, creating affordable housing in the grove for Bahamian immigrants. I can barely imagine what it would take to build one house on your own, building countless more showed how dedicated he was to the improvement of his community.

My favorite part of the class was visiting the Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery. Unlike other cemeteries I had been in before, this one was vibrant. Some of the graves were painted in bright colors or covered in glitter, serving as symbolism that we could not understand but was clearly important to those who had passed. I could only wonder what various objects on top of the graves could mean, large slabs of rock were among the most common item. In that moment though I felt like the swaying and the trees and the silence told me everything I needed to know. This was a special place where the Bahamian people mourned but also were able to celebrate the lives of people in their community

What truly was ironic about visiting all these sites, was that the areas surrounding were newly renovated homes that have no relation to the culture that was originally in the Grove. While our class was lucky enough to be able to admire these places thanks to Dr. Bailey, it is evident that most of the history of the origins of Coconut grove has been swept away. While change is inevitable, it is sad to see that this rich history is being erased with little to no concern. Business development and soulless white houses have taken over. It makes me wonder how other areas of Miami have reached this same fate because of gentrification and if there is any hope of having a balance.

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