Stacey Bazile: Miami as a Text 2023

Photo by Stacey Bazile

Stacey is a Public Policy major in her junior year at Florida International University. She is passionate about environmental policies and hopes to ignite change in todays environmental crisis. Upon graduation she will attend law school and become an attorney that advocates for environmental legislation. Stacey also enjoys weight lifting, biking, and jump roping. Another one of her hobbies is eating (lol). She enjoys trying different cultures of food, her current favorite is Thai.

Frost Museum/ Photograph taken by Ted Milfort“An Escape”

An Escape

By Stacey Bazile of FIU in Miami, January 27, 2023

Two things come to mind every time I think about this journey. The first is that I’ll have two months to myself, during which time Stacey will be going through a period of reinvention or at least that’s what I vision. The second is that, by the time this trip is over, she will be bankrupt.

Being a first generation Haitian American, my family has not really had the luxury of traveling across the world or taking much time off from work. Hopefully, I can persuade my mother to go with me a few weeks before so we can experience it together. Unfortunately, I have never been to Europe. I will actually be the first person in my family to visit there. Fortunately, I’ll be able to go with a group of people who share my interests and will be led by someone who is knowledgeable about Europe. Between you and me, I chose on France because I had an image of myself in front of the Eiffel Tower wearing a beret and perhaps a cute French boy by my side. As ridiculous as it sounds, that’s kind of how I imagined it: like one of those corny Netflix movies where the girl travels to a different country for a brief period of time, meets the love of her life, and decides to move in with him or pack up their belongings and spend the rest of their lives together. Regardless of how delusional it sounds, that’s my fantasy and I’m sticking to it.

All jokes aside, France has an important place in my history because it colonized Haiti, and as a result, much of our language and culture are influenced by it. It was only natural for me to choose France as the destination for my first trip to Europe. I truly want to understand French culture and connect it to the many traditions that Haitians practice, many of which I’m sure came from the French. I’ve actually started studying French; I suppose it counts as a refresher. I am technically an abomination to Haitian culture since I do not speak French very well. I speak Creole extremely well, but not so much French, so when family members speak French during gatherings, I simply shut up and nod. 

I anticipate having a memorable experience in the class, based on my first impressions of it. I anticipate that this course will fundamentally alter the way I view culture and history. The Versailles story is so captivating that I can’t wait to see it for myself and connect the dots in my mind between what I see and the story as a whole. I’m sick of seeing images, so I have to go witness for myself how much talent and culture are represented in Versailles. I also aim to get knowledge about the French Revolution’s birth in France. This movement sparked a global uprising against oppressive authority. Additionally, it was one of the historical occasions that ushered democracy in Europe. We may discover justice, peace, and unity in the present by taking the time to reflect on how our past has shaped the world we live in today. Ultimately, what I study in this course will better prepare me to serve the public as an attorney.

The Reckoning

By Stacey Bazile of FIU in Miami, February 10, 2023

Image by THE GRANGER COLLECTION NYC/ Thomas Paine in 1791

I firmly believe that society was incredibly divided before the enlightenment. There were only two sides: the wealthy and the underprivileged. There was no middle class like there is today, and there were few opportunities for people to move up the social ladder. A lot of people in that culture relied on luck and hoped they were born into noble families. The society continued to function in this fashion for hundreds of years after accepting its fate. A significant religious split also existed in this period prior to the Enlightenment. Catholicism was beginning to lose some of the authority it had held for so long. This division was amplified by the Enlightenment, which resulted in significant bloodshed over their authority.

As a result of the Enlightenment, people were able to see through the illusion that monarchs and religious authorities controlled their destiny. They started to understand who they are from their own viewpoints rather than what the church or their king said about them. As a result of this revelation, individuals started to doubt the institutions around them, including governmental and ecclesiastical absolutism. Rulers were previously chosen by “God”, with a little backing from the church… (*wink wink*). If the people started to doubt the church, it would follow that they would also doubt the authorities that the church had endorsed. People were not permitted to study the Bible for themselves or pray outside of church, and the Catholic Church imposed many restrictions on how they should pray and comprehend the Bible. Their financial contributions to the church were the only means by which their souls could be rescued. Protestantism, which believes that one can know God for themselves and have a personal relationship with him by praying and reading the Bible, eventually infiltrated the deceptive system that catholicism constructed. The enlightenment encouraged this form of religion since it was an individualized approach that did not consider the income or social standing of the adherents.

In order to free themselves from the chains of authority that had bound them, the people needed the enlightenment. Today’s culture would not have produced as many advances in literature, technology, automobiles, and other fields if it did not support individuality and religious freedom. Innovation is created when people are given the freedom to create their own ideas and thoughts in a supportive setting. The enlightenment era witnessed a dramatic development in society that had not been possible under a government that permitted only one point of view and little to no freedom.

Above all, Voltaire trusted in the power of reason. He thought that reason might be used to advance society and that no authority, whether it be religious, political, or otherwise, should be impervious to the power of reason. Faith is the conviction that something is true even when there is no supporting evidence and it may not be demonstrable through empirical or logical means. Reason is the mental faculty that enables us to make logically sound decisions. Given that there is only one truth, reason and faith can coexist. Both of these views have rational justifications. We rely on faith when we believe in God, at least I do, but there is a logic to it. It may not be a reason that has been supported by empirical data, but it is still a sort of reason. The explanation may be based on the Bible itself or a spiritual experience that someone has had.

An Erased City

By Stacey Bazile of FIU in Miami, March 12, 2023

Tower of Snow/ Photograph taken by Stacey Bazile “An erased city”

I was unaware of how manufactured Miami culture is. In terms of the city’s physical features, our collective culture, and our educational institutions, so much of Miami’s culture has been lost. I always lived by the notion that “you cannot know where you’re going if you do not know where you are from”. Growing up in Miami, I gained knowledge of American history, revolutions, racial injustices, world wars, etc. I’ve always admired the states above us that have contributed to American history and have held onto it. But when it came to Miami, the most I discovered was how swampy our land was and how the Spanish had originally claimed it. Miami can’t be completely discounted, either, as we also learned that it served as a haven for a great number of different ethnicities. from Jamaica, Guatemala, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other countries. The Miami we are in today was founded on the Tequesta, black Bahamians, Seminoles, fugitive slaves, Spanish, and northern settler populations, I learned during our journey.

Being raised in Miami is fascinating because everyone lives in a separate bubble. My family and I don’t even claim to be from or live in Miami as Haitian Americans. We see it as a miniature version of Haiti, and I think other Hispanics or people from similar backgrounds in Miami feel the same way. You may no longer even be in the United States, depending on the area of south Florida you are in. We believe this to be our history because we have shaped certain regions to be versions of our nations. Since my family in Miami believes that our history is in little Haiti, listening to and reading the presentation about Miami’s history was almost offensive and foreign to me. 

This journey exposed me to a great deal of tragedy from the past and even the present. Having a tragic past is one thing but suppressing the past and preventing us from confronting it in the present is an entirely different matter. In this lecture, Bailey said something that really stuck with me: he said that to prevent similar tragedies from happening again, we must face the past, good, and terrible. If we don’t deal with the past, it will probably happen again since we didn’t take the time to understand the reasons why it shouldn’t happen again. For instance, a Whole Foods was constructed over the Tequesta tribe’s ruins. There was a chance to identify this tribe while learning more about who these people were, even though we know virtually little about them. Although Miami has thousands of markets, it felt that adding another would better serve the community than thousands of years of history. The idea that they felt a mural of the tribe would appease the fact that they had built over Miami’s past saddens me the most.

Essentially, Miami has a lot more history than I thought, and I’m puzzled as to why we don’t teach our communities about it more. I’m pleased I got to go through this because it has given me the opportunity to see downtown Miami as a location that holds the essence of Miami rather than just a place to go for entertainment and sights.

The circumstances that led to the France we know today were ultimately tragic, but I’m not sure if I can claim they were unavoidable or unnecessary. The cause behind bloodshed is ever justified, but we are living the way we live because these tough decisions were made.

Does revolution Justify Violence?

Bassville’s assassination (French agent in Rome) at a banker’s, January 13th, 1793. Ink and feather, gray wash.

By Stacey Bazile of FIU in Miami, March 12, 2023

The French Revolution was a remarkable historical event that continues to have an impact on modern culture. During this time, the people overthrew an institutionalized government that served the monarchy rather than the people. The most well-known form of government was this one. For many, it was radical to consider dismantling an institution that had stood for absolutism for hundreds of years. Nonetheless, the people endured a desperate position and was prepared to give up everything to pursue justice and freedom.

Three fundamental goals surrounding the French revolutionaries’ movement. The first was liberty, the right of each person to do as they like as long as it doesn’t harm others. The second principle was equality, everyone should be treated equally, without the frequent wealth-based discriminations that were prevalent at the time. The last is fraternity, which is a sense of kinship and unification among the people and the government. Early on, the goals of the French Revolution were successfully achieved, but as dissatisfied leaders longed for and abused power, they were gradually abandoned. I think that the goals of the movement as well as the prospect of retribution contributed to the tipping point of violence against the monarchy during the revolution. These people had been tortured by their power for hundreds of years, and they were finally able to make them to suffer as they did.

Nothing, in my opinion—regardless of whether the person is royalty or what is deemed a “peasant”—justifies the taking of life. But, there haven’t been many historical instances where freedom or justice have been won in pure peace. For some strange reason, it is in human nature to have to battle for things that seem simple. One of the tragic consequences of war is The Lost King of France. As a young child, Louis XVII was subject to France’s animosity and maltreatment. It reminds me of when parents split, and the child is thrust into the middle of their parents’ turmoil. A child should never have to deal with the repercussions of decisions made before their time. That became quite personal… lol.  Nonetheless, the point is that there were a lot of different strategies revolutionary leaders could have used to handle the monarchy’s heir. Even though they were advocating for change, they behaved in this circumstance in a manner that was similar to the behavior of their oppressors. On the other hand, I could only imagine the number of kids and individuals who pass away from neglect, malnutrition, and other causes because those in positions of authority didn’t care.

The circumstances that led to the France we know today were ultimately tragic, but I’m not sure if I can claim they were unavoidable or unnecessary. The cause behind bloodshed is ever justified, but we are living the way we live because these tough decisions were made. We should never take for granted the lives of both the monarchs and the people that were lost to create these principles of Liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Copy & Paste + Enhancements

By Stacey Bazile of FIU in Miami, March 19, 2023

Vizcaya/ Photograph taken by John Bailey “Copy & Paste + Enchancements”

Vizcaya is a representation of Europe that has been pasted into Miami. I firmly feel that the wealthy in Miami are unique, and they truly set themselves apart from people in other areas. What we see in the wealthy in Miami now may have its origins in James Deering, who demonstrated that you should make things come to you instead of trying to get them. I thought of it like how I manifest every day to draw joy, success, and all the marvels of life to me. Deering, however, did more than just manifest a European Chateau, he built it. Not so similar to me. Deering constructed what is known as Vizcaya, a remarkable project with villa and landscape designs inspired by Renaissance European, Greek, and Mediterranean architecture. Seeing a slice of Europe right in my backyard was a lovely experience.

I still find it difficult to comprehend how much of Miami’s culture is concealed when we travel to these various locations that contain fragments of its history and culture. The folks who created Miami are still unknown to the general public. Black Bahamians, Tequesta, and Seminole, who were instrumental in the establishment of today’s Vizcaya and many other historical sites, are seldom mentioned in historical texts or writings about them. Every piece of history has a part to play, and in the Miami community, I think the underrepresented haven’t really had an opportunity to do so. For instance, my opinion of Bahamians has altered because they were among the first African Americans to come to this country voluntarily. It’s horrible to see how culture has been plagiarized all across Miami. It really hit me when I was speaking to a Bahamian friend who had no idea of her own or Miami’s history. She was not even aware that Bahamians helped build Miami. Nevertheless, in this instance, it was merely cropped out of the image.

Viscaya/ Photograph taken by Stacey Bazile “Copy & Paste + Enchancements”

Despite acknowledging the people who created Vizcaya, James Deering had vision. He reminds me of King Louis, who constructed Versailles, but he actually utilizes his own money rather than the money of a nation to finance his dreams. Each created their incredible fantasies out of a sense of self – indulgence. They probably didn’t envision their works becoming what they are now. King Louis would have no doubt imagined it with him bringing out and everything given his ego, after all. Vizcaya features a wide array of art and design that looked like some of what I saw in the film Versailles. It is interesting to see how Deering was a modern-day king in Miami with his creation, people from all over the world have recognized it. As Louis did during the building of Versailles, he imported furniture from Europe. Like Louis, he also hosted parties and activities all year round. There are many similarities between their storylines despite taking place in two separate eras. Luckily it wasn’t, Deering’s home might have been confiscated or set on fire if he had been in the same time or location as Louis.

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