I’m sharing column real estate with my editor, Myriam Marquez today, having gotten a rare shot at a Sunday. This week’s topic: ethnic relations in Miami, always a hot topic, though rarely in mixed company. BTW I got some great responses to the column, so thanks for all the feedback! Except for Werner the neo-Nazi. That one was just scary…
I was at Bayside for a taping at a local production company. With some time on my hands, I decided to head to one of the stands that sells Cuban coffee.
I stood for what seemed like an eternity, while the two women operating the stand chatted with other customers, glancing past me, over my head and seemingly in any direction but mine. I was tempted to walk away. If you’ve been black long enough, you learn to detect the subtle signals of prejudice. But I know enough Spanish that I decided to make a point. I asked one of the women, in Spanish, if she didn’t want my money. She seemed taken aback, but briskly got my coffee.
Thankfully, that experience wasn’t typical for me. But I haven’t been back to that coffee stand.
Miami is, in its essence, an international city. But I wouldn’t call it a melting pot.
It’s been 31 years since the deadly riots following the acquittal of five white police officers in the killing of Arthur McDuffie; 21 since Miami and its first Cuban-American mayor, Xavier Suarez, snubbed South African leader Nelson Mandela. Yet Miami often seems to be a city not at war, but locked in a cold peace.
Black Miamians — whose roots stretch from Georgia to the Bahamians who founded Coconut Grove, and whose ranks have been swollen by immigrants from the English-speaking Caribbean and especially Haiti, will tell you, in impolitic moments, that they often perceive a mixture of bias and dismissal from Cuban Americans.
The current manifestation is the divide between Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito, who leads a mostly Hispanic force, and a black community that plainly doesn’t trust him. As shootings of and by police pile up, those tensions are getting worse.
It hasn’t helped that the two groups largely find themselves on opposite sides of an epically nasty national political divide.
For blacks, there’s an added indignity to perceiving disdain from a fellow minority group — particularly one with such diverse racial backgrounds themselves.
But in Miami-Dade, Hispanics are not the minority. They represent some 62 percent of the county population, compared to about 20 percent who are black and another 18 percent white. …
Read the rest here.
And be sure to check out Myriam’s column here. In which she reminds us about one of many disturbing things about Rick Scott: the guy doesn’t blink. I mean literally. And she examines Florida’s very own pendng public union-government showdown.