Saina Ysaac: Miami as Text 2022

Photo By Saina Ysaac/CC by 4.0

Photo By Saina Ysaac/CC by 4.0

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

Deering as Text

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

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

Saina Ysaac

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

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

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

Vizcaya as Text

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

.

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

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

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

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

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

Downtown Miami as Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Beach Miami as Text

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

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

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

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

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

Saina Ysaac: Declaration 2022

“The Last Queen Of France” By Saina Ysaac of FIU on April 24th, 2022

“At age 19, I was throne as queen. I was sent to marry the king of France to ease the conflict between France and home. I spend my days being annoyed with my dim-wit husband, Louis XVI. Instead of pestering him, I find pleasure in engaging with others in the court and pestering around with my right-wing woman, Princesse de Lamballe. Sometimes we order the maids to make us a faux farm, so Princesse and I can play dress up. There’s only so much one can do in a chateau like Versailles.”

Adapation of a diary entry, Marie Antoinette (1779)

Early Life

Maira Antonia Josepha Joanna was born on November 2nd, 1755 in Vienna, Austria. She was the 15th child of 16 children ( only 12 survived and reached adult age) of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and the Habsburg empress Maria Theresa.

She spent most of her childhood in Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg Palace learning the basics of German and the principles of religion and moralistic values.

Although her grades in learning were less than satisfactory. Her European family knew that she could be used as a pawn later. She was born during a time of political unrest. Less than a year after her birth, the Seven Year War broke out, as the French, British, and the Spanish fought over land in the Americas or “New World” in 1756.

England had just declared war on France, this became a priority for Empress Maria Theresa to ensure an alliance with the French. It was common to use matrimonial affairs to create alliances with other countries, this is the reason why many wars were simply family disputes.

“Mein Kleiner löwenzahn , you don’t have to try too hard in school as long as you are pretty and keep your posture. One day you will be remembered by all for being a queen. You were chosen by God, to make this country proud.”

Empress Maria Thersa told her daughter as she brushed her ash blonde hair. (1766)

“I will do my best mother”

Replied by young Marie (1766)

Becoming Queen

Young Marie was pledged to marry the 11-year-old grandson of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste in 1765. In 1768, Louis XV sent out a tutor to assess young Marie’s academic abilities along with her temperament. The tutor reported back, “More intelligent than it has been generally supposed” and “she is rather lazy and extremely frivolous, she is hard to teach.”

At the time, Marie was only 14 years old and by May 1770, she was set out to France to get married to the 16-year-old prince.

On May 16, 1770, in Versailles, an extravagant wedding ceremony was held with over 5,000 guests, 57 carriages, 117 -footmen, and 376 horses escorting the newlyweds.

“Madame, my very dear mother, I have not recieved one of your dear letters without having the tears come to my eyes.”

An actual exerpt from one of Marie’s letters to home (1770)

15-year-old Marie did not adjust to matrimony very well. Being 652 miles away from Vienna, barely knowing the man she just was forced to marry, and forced to put her makeup on in front of courtiers, made her time in Versailles miserable. 

“I absolutely fathom my time spent here I have been forced to marry a man I just met, he’s rather unattractive and immature. He lacks the prestige of a future king. I can not believe God choose a clown to run this country.”

Adapation of a Diary entry, Marie Annotinette (1770)

The couple had issues consummating the marriage, it took serval years before completing the task in front of courtiers. Other than the young age, which could be the reason for the lack of sexual development. The pair, could not be as more incompatible, as their personalities clashed with each other. Louis-Auguste was more on the introverted side and Marie Antoinette was on the more extroverted side.

In 1774, Louis XV died and Louis-Auguste took the throne as Louis XVI, making Marie Antonette the queen of France at just the ripe age of 19 years old.

The personality of the married couple differed more as they grew older. Louis being more introverted and shy, began going to bed before midnight, leaving his wife to continue her pleasures in playing cards and spending the country’s money away on frivolous activities such as luxurious fashion and partying. She would wake up right before noon to begin overindulging again.

She found her life in the court rather difficult, as she found politics rather unamusing. Rumors began to form around the speculations about the couple’s love life. People began to believe that Louis XVI was impotent and Antoinette was having an affair with other men, while Louis XVI had a mistress named Madame du Barry, whom Antoinette had conflicts with.

Antoinette found herself as a victim of spiteful remarks from the public. Being a foreigner and the Queen of France made it all more of a reason to poke fun at her. Because of this, Antoinette needed a place away from the public.

Before the Revolution

In 1780, Antoinette spent her days in Petit Trianon, a private castle in Versailles that was designated for mistresses, without Louis XVI.

“As I stare in my vanity mirror, I see my gray-blue eyes softer than an ocean wave. My ash blonde hair and my untanned skin. A figure appears behind me, my lover, the Great Count Axel von Fersen from Sweden. His love is sweeter than an orange-gold fruit called “Kittseer Marille “ (apricot) in July from Kittsee. The only place from pestering gossip is in my woman cave, Petit Trianon. It was created based on my desires. Oh, how I finally love being able to shy away from pestering eyelookers . No rules, just la jouissance.”

Adapation of a Diary entry, Marie Annotinette (1780)

This is around the time rumors began to speculate that within Petit Trianon, Antoinette engaged in relations with Swedish diplomat Count Axel von Fresen.

Pamphlets circulating in France began accusing Antoinette of adultery, ignorance, and extravagance. Cartoons were drawn labeling her as “Madame Deficit “. During this time the French government was falling increasingly into debt, which was blamed mainly on the Queen’s overspending on luxurious items and a festive lifestyle.

In 1776, Antoinette and Louis XVI adopted Armand Gagne´

In 1778, Antoinette gave birth to a daughter, Marie Therese of France.

In 1781, Antoinette gave birth to a son, Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France.

In 1785, Antoinette gave birth to a son, Louis XVII.

In 1787, Antoinette and Louis XVI adopted Jean Amilcar, Antoinette had him manumitted.

In 1785, a thief posed as Antoinette and stole a 647- diamond necklace smuggled the necklace to the borders of London, to be resold in pieces. Despite not having any association with the thief, the public continued to slaughter her name. This is the scandal that made Antoniette notorious.

In 1786, Antoinette disregarded all libels formed against her and decided to begin building a retreat called, Hameau de la Reine, right near Petit Trianon in Versailles. This is where Antoinette and Princess de Lamballe would dress in peasant clothing and pretend to be a milkmaid or a shepherdess.

There are rumors going around that I am a whore.  I simply do not understand the folk in France, I do nothing but tend to myself in the chateau. Maybe if I wasn’t nobility, I would be miserable just like them. And blame all my issues on nobility. It is not my fault, God decided them to be poor.

Adapation of a Diary entry, Marie Annotinette (1780)

These stories fueled the anger in the already unhappy bourgeoisie and lower classes. It seemed that the Queen did not care about the people or even understand the hardships that were going on in the streets of France. This sharp contrast became the division that ignited the revolution.

Madame Deficit” and the End of Noble Privileges

France’s increasing debt can not simply be blamed on the lone hand of Marie Antoinette as the American Revolution was quite pricey on the hand of the French. As the first estate and nobility had no taxes to pay, they increased the tax on the people causing them to become resentful, as their money would be wasted away on the expenses of the rich.

Louis XVI and his delegators attempted to impose an equitable tax to ease the tension against the people, but the nobility declined. The press began labeling Marie Antoinette as “Madame Veto”, although she is only one member of the nobility, she was again to blame.

Anger continued to rage as during the National Assembly, which turned out to be a loss for the third estate, as the nobility and clergy declined their entitlement. After this, the French people began to believe that the nobility and the monarchy were plotting against them. Pamphleteers continued to bash Antoinette’s name, labeling her as l’Autrichienne (“Austrian whore”) accusing her of adultery, lesbianism, and incest.

In October 1789, a mob of about 10,000 angry Parisians protested in Versailles and took the King and Queen and imprisoned them in Tuileries Palace.

Although according to historians, it’s almost impossible for Marie Antoinette to have said ‘let them eat cake’, in response to hearing that the people had no bread to eat. This is because despite how the people pictured her, Antoinette was known to give to charity and actually had concern for her country’s common class.

In June 1791, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled Paris to the Austrian border, with the help of Count Axel von Fersen, where it was thought that Antoinette’s brother was waiting to invade France and restore the nobility in the country. This made the people label her as a traitor, and she was condemned for treason.

On Wednesday, October 16th, 1793, Maire Antoinette was sent to the guillotine. After being put on a two-day trial for treason and theft and charged with incest with her own son. She was found guilty by an all-male jury.

“The guillotine is set up, still droplets of blood dripping off of the shiny blade. Today is the day that the Queen is to be beheaded. Oh what a glorious day, God has finally given us a chance to change the country for the better. I am somewhat frightened for the future sake, but I can wait to see the head of that blonde whore in the basket. Everyone is chanting, “KILL THAT WHORE, KILL THAT WHORE !!!” People are spitting as far as they can, if she was someone else I might have felt somewhat sorry for her, she’s getting what she deserves for being such an ignorant piece of s***. Pardon my french, but finally, Marie Antoinette will be put to death alas.”

An adaptation of a cillivan POV on Oct.16th,1793

Personal Relevance

Marie Antoinette will always be remembered as a vile queen. Her “wrongdoings” will always overshadow the truth.

As a woman in the 18th century, speaking your mind in front of patriarchy is quite intimidating. Being frowned upon by accusations that your male counterpart is also doing is infuriating. Antoinette was sadly, the product of her environment. Being a forgneier and showing no desire to visit Paris, fueled the people’s dislike of her.

Even though she is the stepping stone for French fashion and beauty along with being named as the reason for the revolution. It is important to note that once an individual reputation is tarnished, it is impossible to clear the air.

After completing this project I see the contrast between being a 19-year-old woman in undergrad, and a 19-year-old queen of France. her responsibilities were forced upon her without forewarning and attempted to live her best life, even if it was a the expense of the lower class and bourgioue. But she is not the only person to blame, there is an entire nobility committee, she had no say as a woman and queen, who possess no political power.

Even if she wanted to fix the country, she would have to do it by playing by ear thru Louis XVI, who was a horrible king that lacked confidence in his ability to reign the country.

As a woman, culture expects you to be a perfect flower. So others can adore and admire you as if you are more than just a man. Being a woman means no faults and no mistakes, a perfect track record. Whereas the men are applauded for having the least satisfactory remarks.

Antoinette was labeled as a whore, even though her husband was having an ongoing affair. Antoinette was labeled as “Madame Veto”, even though she had no power to do so. Antoinette was labeled as a thief, even though she had no connections to the scandal. Antoinette was a victim of how others perceived her rather than who she actually was. A young queen thrashed upon a patricidal world, attempting to navigate through the difficult hurdles by the French people.

Citations

Biography.com Editors. “Marie Antoinette.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 10 Sept. 2019, https://www.biography.com/royalty/marie-antoinette?li_source=LI&li_medium=m2m-rcw-history.

History.com Editors, History.com Editors. “Marie-Antoinette.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/france/marie-antoinette.

History.com Editors, History.com Editors. “Seven Years’ War.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 12 Nov. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/france/seven-years-war.

Hope, Jessica. “The Life and Death of Marie Antoinette: Everything You Need to Know about the Last Queen of France.” Marie Antoinette, France’s Final Queen: Facts About Her Life, Death & Execution | History Extra, History Extra, 7 Apr. 2022, https://www.historyextra.com/period/georgian/marie-antoinette-facts-life-death-cake-buried/. 

Jennifer Llewellyn, and Steve Thompson. “Marie Antoinette.” French Revolution, 23 June 2019, https://alphahistory.com/frenchrevolution/marie-antoinette/.

%d bloggers like this: