Being Black in Miami.

It Doesn't Matter if You're Black or White.jpg

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:

Welcome to Jamrock x Damian Marley

Sim Simma (Who Am I) x Beenie Man

Redemption Song x Bob Marley

Dude x Beenie Man ft. Miss Thing

I’m Still in Love With You x Sean Paul ft Sasha

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?

Ummm, black.

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!



12 thoughts on “Being Black in Miami.

  1. Great article Shea! Keep learning and exploring. Remember Miami is the gateway to the world and use this exposure to venture even further.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Growing up in Miami and “Being Just Black” I have felt many of the thoughts and feelings you have!.. the thought of not really knowing where “My People” are from still bothers me.. and one day I will trace back! (Bucket List Item)

    Over the years and especially after attending an HBCU ive learned to just love who I am and to embrace everything and everyone around me.

    The more you attend events with other cultures you will begin to learn the music/songs/dancea more and more!.. having great friends and circle like urs makes it easier!..

    Enjoy the process 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for checking out the article! I’m so glad I’m not alone. I’m the beginning I felt a little uneasy about not knowing my background but now I just say loud and proud “I’m black and I don’t know where I’m from”. ☺️


  3. Love the article girl!! You know I got some Nigerian dishes you can try but FYI mostly all the dishes have meat! But they can always be picked out!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Growing up in New York is the same thing! Most parties/clubs play Caribbean music! It’s rare you find anyone who is just black. I’m actually Bajan/Barbadian, but my boyfriend is American. I’m calling him honorary Bajan and plan to raise him in the culture lol. If you grow up in Brooklyn or NYC like we did, you know everything about Caribbean culture. I missed my culture when I traveled to Atlanta for undergrad. But its great that you’re open! Keep wuking and whining gyal! 💜


  5. Hi Shae! It’s Jackie from the Bossi Brunch. I had the chance to check out your blog and this post is so true! I’m Haitian and I have had this conversation with a friend who, like you, knows she’s Black, but doesn’t know where exactly to trace it back to. In reality, after tracing back to Haiti, I wouldn’t know where to trace it back to after that either. It’s awesome that you’re being real and actually putting it out there that this is “a thing”. I hope you’re enjoying what Miami has to offer and if you ever want to try soup joumou or legume just give me a ring. My best friend is a vegetarian and my mom tweaks it for her when she knows she’ll come around. =)
    P.S.: I’ve never had chicken gizzards. Maybe we can do a trade off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for checking out the blog Jackie! So glad you could relate! It’s been about a year since I moved here and I’m still learning about the different cultures and having people come up to me and ask me questions. I think in the beginning it was frustrating and disappointing because no one understood, but it’s getting better now. We must def have a trade off of food asap! 🙂


  6. I’m a whole year late to the party, but this is SO true. I’m from VA and while ive learned so much, I definitely miss sharing cultural experiences with other black Americans.


  7. “There are Haitians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Bahamians, etc. Just about everyone who looks like me knows where their family is from, except me.” That’s just nonsense! All of those other Black people are descendants of Slaves, same as you. The only difference is that they proudly I dentify with their home country while you act like you are some how NOT American. SMH


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