As many of you know, I’m a southern girl from Charlotte, NC and I’m used to being in my little Carolina bubble. I’ve been around various cultures during my time in the Carolinas, but not quite like the ones in Miami. Prior to my moving here, so many people told me I needed to brush up on my Spanish and prepare myself for the “culture shock”. I was raised on Frankie Beverly & Maze, The Electric Slide and of course to hate the Duke Blue Devils (sorry Duke fans). I knew what it was like to attend a majority black high school and have majority of the city know your family members. What I didn’t know while living in the City were the different Island cultures.
I only knew these classics as far as Island music goes:
When I went out for the first time in Miami, I probably only heard two of the songs listed above. Everyone around me was winding to the music and the lyrics were flowing out of their mouths so beautifully. I felt so left out and confused. I couldn’t relate to majority of my peers because I didn’t know the music and I didn’t know what the artists were saying. As I began to meet people and continue going out more, I learned more about Dancehall and SoCa music. Back home we just called everything Reggae and Lord knows I apologize whole heartedly for not knowing any better. I’ll just say this transparently: being black in Miami is not common.
What I mean by the above statement is its very rare for black people in Miami to just be BLACK. There are Haitians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Bahamians, etc. Just about everyone who looks like me knows where their family is from, except me. I’ve actually had the following conversation a few times:
Shea, where are you from?
I’m from Charlotte, NC.
No, like what’s your ethnicity?
Having that conversation with someone who knows where their family originates from is a little defeating at times. I recall years ago inquiring about my ancestors and what country we come from originally. The furthest we could go back to were my great great grandparents as freed slaves in Wadesboro, NC.
I wish I knew where my family came from so I could indulge in the culture and have the connection with my people. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by so many amazing cultures and people I’m often adopted by many. For example, when I went to Carnival Miami I represented Jamaica and Nigeria because of my friends. I didn’t know any of the songs, but I jammed to it like it was Webbie and Boosie.
I’m so open minded with life as it is now that I take an extreme interest in learning about different cultures and their food. I’m used to eating pig feet, neck bones, collard greens, chitterlings, macaroni and cheese and chicken gizzards. Down here its curry goat, légume, tasso, soup joumou, oxtails and so much more! I haven’t tried any of those dishes yet, but I will as long as they’re pescatarian options.
Any of you all in Miami or other cities going through the same thing as me? How have you handled it? Let me know in the comments section!