I remember when being Latina was cool. I was invited to all of the society parties, fashion events, restaurant openings. People wanted to learn about my culture. Women wanted to obtain the secret to effortless Latin sexiness. Everyone wanted to speak Spanish with me and hear my stories about growing up in Argentina between the European Buenos Aires flair and the rustic chic ranch life. Everyone loved my South American food and wine. But that was when I lived in San Francisco, California.
I moved to the Miami – Ft. Lauderdale area about a year and a half ago. And being Latina now is a whole different thing. My first year here was all about digesting this new Latin environment. In a way I felt like I had traveled back in time 15 years and was back in Argentina. My first close encounter with the Miami Latin atmosphere was on the highway. Cars speeding, horns honking, nonexistent lanes, cell phone talking, a true survival of the fittest. Don’t you dare get distracted by looking at the billboards advertising Brazilian butt lifts and silicone breast augmentation along the highways. The driving here requires your full attention and your best skills. And you will be driving on highways that are permanently under construction. As I understand, Florida has a huge income from tourism, and a lot of this money is used to build, rebuild, tear down and redesign highways. It feels like being inside a manic video game. You never know what to expect.
The second thing that shocked me was the trash. Miami is a beautiful city, with amazing paradisiac beaches. But sadly, everything, even the ocean water, is full of trash, plastic, glass. Recycling here is starting to catch up now, but unfortunately not among Latinos. As I see it, if it takes effort it will not be done. It’s all about comfort and personal benefit. Many Latinos here are successful and wealthy. A lot of them bring a lot of cash from their countries, buy real estate and luxury cars, and use the system to their own benefit. But sadly, give nothing in return. There is no sense of community, of taking care of the environment and of giving back. It is very selfish. And maybe that is why Miami lacks a soul.
Finally, I was surprised when I went to the city the first time and people looked at me as if I had come from Mars when I spoke in English. Nobody speaks English! It easy to forget that you are in the United States while in Miami. Even business is done in Spanish. It’s unbelievable. I really enjoy multicultural environments, but in Miami, Latinos are not willing to learn English. Which makes Miami a one-dimensional Latin city where Spanish is the official language. As a Latina who immigrated for Argentina to the US more than 10 years ago, I think this is very wrong. If you come to a country that gives you everything: a chance to start over, the possibility of buying a house or a car on credit, great free public education for your children, safety, security, and freedom, please at least learn the English language.
The Miami area gives a lot to many Latinos. It is a beautiful growing modern city. It welcomes thousands of Latinos every year who decide to make it home. It is up to us to keep it clean, to make it more international, to take care of its natural spaces, to recycle, to respect the environment, to give back to our wonderful schools, to learn the English language, to be open to meeting English speaking people, to show that Latin women are much much more that just a tight butt and perfect breasts, to show the world that we have the best food, music, culture and people. It is only up to us to be Proud Latinos again.
Consuelo Lyonnet firstname.lastname@example.org