Community Conversations

Is Miami a place where we have shared spaces but live separate lives?

Miami Skyline from Thursday, April 19, 2012.
Miami Skyline from Thursday, April 19, 2012. El Nuevo Herald

We asked the following question on MiamiHerald.com this week: Is Miami a place where we have shared spaces but live separate lives? Thanks for all of your responses. Below are some of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network at MiamiHerald.com/insight, and check back next week for another conversation.

“I do agree that Miami is a place of shared space and separate lives. I don’t see the drive to become one unified culture of Americans in Miami. It isn’t encouraged at all. Instead, we encourage separate, but equal, treatment that takes us back a century. That we even identify the culture, race or national origin on applications — or refer to it in the media — is a mystery to me. What difference does it make? Ask a person on the street what their nationality is. See how many say they are Americans without qualifying it. I love the flavor the multi-cultural society has given us. The country is evolving and growing. I just wish the us-versus-them attitudes would evolve into US as in USA. I have faith in our youth though. They are growing up much more accepting and willing to unite.”

Winnie Smith, Miami

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“If you are not bilingual, it is very easy to feel isolated. A simple trip to the grocery store can make you wonder what country you are living in, let alone what city.”

Geri Wegner, Pinecrest

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“There are plenty of opportunities to connect and engage in Miami. Whether or not one chooses to participate is their own choice. These opportunities are certainly growing, as well as the ability to learn about them, but people have to be actively looking, rather than passively waiting for someone to come knock on their door. If one feels separated, they need to look to their own personal biases, rather than at a community that is waiting to welcome them.”

James Echols, Miami Beach

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“Yes, Miami is a place where we have shared spaces but separate lives due to cultural, political and economical climates that can cause social hurricanes at times.”

Lionel Lightbourne, Liberty City

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“Yes and such is true with every community. One of the great myths is that one can ‘know’ a community or live long enough to be a ‘part of a community.’ That simply is not true. We all live separate lives and view our individual worlds differently. It is possible to identify with segments of a community but not possible to overcome our individuality and ‘know’ the community as a whole. H.T. Smith may wish to imply that our segmentation is something of an aberration but it is not. He might as well have noted that there are men and women in our community but the proper response to that assertion as well as his is yeah so?”

Sid Kaskey, South Miami

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“I’ve lived in Leisure City for 37 years. I know five or six neighbors out of 22. I’ve only been in the homes of four neighbors and those same four neighbors have been in my home. For the most part I know very little about any of them except one of my closest neighbors. We truly share space but live separate lives.”

Robert Reyes, Homestead

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“Yes, because so many of us insistently identify only with our own ethnic, economic, age or cultural groups. Our work brings us together, and at quitting time we part. We occupy many of the same neighborhoods and are generally cordial, often without much other interaction. That’s natural and predictable, but to an idealist it’s a shame that we tolerate or accept one another in certain situations without really connecting beyond that. H.T. Smith is right, but what can he do about it? Little if anything.”

Arnold Markowitz, Miami Shores

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“We live in Sunny Isles Beach, aka Little Moscow. My wife and I are Americans — me from Kansas City, she from New York. The affluent folks who give our town its name mostly occupy expensive condos on the beach and a large hi-rise complex called Winston Towers. They live different lives from the rest of us but there is plenty of room for the rest of us, who are from everywhere. We form a mixed and quite warm community. I live close to our new K-8 school and I like looking at the student mix. It’s a little of everything and they love their school. Miami-Dade County seems to work well here as a place to be accepted for whoever you are.”

John DesJardins, Sunny Isles Beach

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“We are such a transitional place that we haven’t had any real opportunities to bond. With that said, however, I don’t think interracial bonding should be the goal. Because, frankly, until we have economic parity with each other, we’ll never come together since economic disparities and inequalities breed distrust and resentment.”

Roger Williams, Miami

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