Miami As Text (’19-’20) by Jessica Horsham

Jessica Ann Horsham is a currently studying international relations at Florida International University, and is in her senior year as an FIU Honors student. She is heavily interested in pursuing a career in law, with current aims to focus on human rights and injustices within the justice system. Though her career will eventually divulge her in tons of paperwork, Jessica loves to explore the outdoors, exercise, and be near the beach; traveling is one of her favorite things to do as she loves to emerge herself in different cultures and truly learn about what makes each place special. Her current endeavor, the Miami in Miami class taught by John W. Bailly, will take her on this journey of emerging her in her very hometown to discover all of its unknown and secret places. These are her Miami as Texts.

Metro As Text

The Melting Pot: Connected by Jessica Horsham of Florida International University traveling via Miami-Dade Metrorail on September 11, 2019.

When people think about Miami, it is always the typical beaches, late night clubs, and other debauchery that is associated with the memory. When people try to describe Miami, it then focuses on the people who live here, which is always essential, they describe it as a melting pot of different races, religions, walks of life, and ethnicities. However, what people fail to realize is that this very concept is reflected in the city itself, its layout and its neighborhoods; and on September 11, 2019, we were able to fully explore this via the Miami Dade Metrorail, a vein that runs through the heart of Miami and its neighborhoods. In the 1980s, the metrorail was adding more stations and expanding in the post-World War II economic success that the U.S. was experiencing. However, as Miami’s city planning has proven to be inefficient, the city continued to grow and the metrorail simply could not keep up—the citizens needed more, and this has pushed the dependency of most people towards cars and private vehicles. Today, the metrorail, metromover, and the metrobus struggles with ridership as these other means continue beat out the rails despite it being less efficient. Today, we got to experience the true Miami for what it is, beyond its people, through the most efficient means: the metrorail. From the Lowe Art Museum, hosting two of the most incredible El Greco pieces—who was a Greek painting in Spain, how Miami is that—to Vizcaya’s unique blend of Europe, the Americas, and Tequestas to Overtown’s amazing Jackson’s Soul Food, these spots are all representative of the true Miami melting pot. Each neighborhood filled with some history that links all of us “Miamians” to one another and to our land. Too often we feel as though we never have any linkage to the city where we reside and call our hometowns, however, if you ever just take the time to look, as we did, you too will find your roots in Miami. 

Downtown Miami as Text

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Photos by Maria Cruz of FIU

Justice for None by Jessica Horsham of Florida International University in Downtown Miami on September 25, 2019. 

Despite the cultural infusions that have been present for many years, no piece of land in the United States has served as an exception to racism, prejudice, and inequality that once was rampant. However, it is presumptuous to assume that though things have begun to heal, these scars no longer affect us in the “land of the free.” As a result, people continue to ignore these scars, there is no denying its remnants, even in our “diverse and progressive” city. As you walk through the streets of downtown, it is clear to notice one of the most prominent distinctions between the homeless, most of these disenfranchised people are black—how is this possible where are supposed to be considered equal in a land of opportunity? One of the most appalling stops was the Longhouse and its similarities to our current Miami Dade County Courthouse. Both of these structures that were meant to uphold justice for all were places wherein many injustices occurred to individuals who often times were innocent; they were only guilty because of their genes—a pigment in their skin. From slave houses to courthouses, our justice system in its most basic and tangible meaning has been built upon structures that continue to emphasize the paradoxical meaning of equality for all and innocence. In the front of our current justice building, the Miami Dade Courthouse, there is a plaque wherein our citizens are simply labeled as “negroes.” How do we let this derogatory and degrading plaque still stand? In a place of equality? This specific amnesia and ignorance surrounding our history and our current system is what allows these divisions to continue to divide our nation. This is the exact reason why I have chosen to practice law and dedicate my life to it. Too many times does the system designed to protect the innocence corrupt it and unequally punish its offenders. Our justice systems need those dedicated to fight for our citizens, rather than those motivated to send them to our overflowing prisons and ultimately change their lives and those around them forever. Justice is supposed to mean something more, to protect all people, its current affairs does not reflect that and that is why we must change it. 

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