Tag Archives: black

Being Black in Miami.

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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!

 

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Formation

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By: Shea Harris

I. Am. A. Black. Woman. I’ve never tried to hide it or deny it. From elementary to high school, I didn’t necessarily have to worry about the color of my skin. I never thought my skin color intimidated people or threatened them. I knew my history as a black person and I knew what my people went through. For some reason as a child, I gave people the benefit of the doubt that times had changed. I was so disappointed to find out at a young age we had not made much progress as a country.

I joined the Clinical Research industry at the end of April 2014. As a new young professional I made sure I was polite to my coworkers and avoided office gossip and drama. I truly believe my outlook changed once I was more aware of the injustice occurring. The more I looked at headlines, read articles and skimmed through twitter, I saw an increase of black faces being treated unfairly. I couldn’t help but think what the hell is going on?

I started uttering the words I’m scared to have a black son. As time went on it turned into I’m scared to have a black child. I think about Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and the list goes on of the unnecessary killings. I think about how I always have to be on guard when walking around. I think about how others are so unhappy with themselves and choose to hate us. What makes these events even more unfortunate is that I would normally find out about the occurrences while on my way to work or as I’m sitting in my cubicle.

Dealing with the injustices in the black community as a young professional is a touchy subject for me. It’s not touchy because I don’t want to talk about it, it’s touchy because I have to keep my composure in the office. One particular situation comes to mind as I reflect on my young professional journey. The news stations continuously highlighted the riots in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray. As a black person, the knowledge of another dead black man hurt my soul. When I was informed it was in the custody of police officers, it made my blood boil. I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but there is a time and a place to express your thoughts and the work place isn’t one of them.

The morning the governor declared a State of Emergency on Baltimore, MD because of the riots, I began to hear a lot of whispering in the office. I can remember it like yesterday when a coworker said: I don’t understand why they are tearing up the city. Why would you riot? I hope they can gain back control of that community. If they want to gain back control and not hurt anyone, why don’t they just use rubber bullets?

RUBBER BULLETS YALL. RUBBER. BULLETS. When I tell you I was pissed off for the entire day and couldn’t even get any work done! How can you be so stupid? You didn’t say oh I hope everyone is okay. You suggested rubber bullets like an idiot. To put the icing on the cake, the fellow who suggested this brilliant idea was a white man.

I, being a black woman, knew the work place wasn’t the best place to discuss these unfortunate events. In that moment I realized, common sense isn’t common at all. When the gentleman suggested rubber bullets, my mind went straight to the use of rubber bullets in Ferguson, MO. I remember clicking through pictures of those injured in Ferguson by rubber bullets. I remember the hurt and pain displayed upon the faces of those in Ferguson and that same look was on the faces of those in Baltimore.

Just reflecting on the past year alone in the black community is hard to cope with. It’s even more difficult going to work and making sure my attitude doesn’t reflect my thoughts and feelings. There have been numerous times I have had a terrible attitude and shown disgust on my face because of the reporting of injustice. If I’ve learned anything over this past year and a half in the industry, I’ve learned to make sure I always have headphones.

I don’t need to hear your justification of the death of black people. I don’t need you to hear you say what they should have done.  I don’t have the time or energy to explain and beat into your head over and over why what’s happening to my people is dead wrong. I don’t have the time and energy to explain to you why songs by J Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé (to name a few) are necessary. I am exhausted. I need YOU to do your research. I need YOU to stop being the victim. I need YOU to see that MY people are suffering and have been suffering for years.