One recent example that comes to my mind of civil rights issue in South Florida would be the violence experienced this past Memoral Weekend 2011. For years, Miami Beach residents have resented the Memorial Day crowds that crowd the city and it’s tough not to notice that many of the visitors are African-American — or “urban,” hence the politically correct nickname “Urban Weekend.”
The memorial day weekend 2011 ended with two shootings, one of which led to a dead suspect, three injured cops and four more wounded bystanders. Gay activist Herb Sosa wrote a letter asking the city of Miami Beach to end urban week, in his letter he wrote “this is not a race, economic or ethnic issue, it is an issue of visitors who have a total lack of respect for our community, its property & citizens.” The fact he said “race” and criticized Urban Weekend is an indication that race is an issue, considering he threw in this context: “If this was PRIDE weekend, The Boat Show, Fashion Week or Art Deco Weekend – would we allow this to go on each year.”
As a worker in south beach I had a firsthand experience in the racism and fear sparked in many knowing that the majority of people attending the memorial day festivities in south beach were African American. Many residents left the city for the weekend, stores and shops closed early and many were not happy with the visitors arriving on the beach this year. On social networks like facebook, radio shows and television there were warnings not to go to the beach as if violence doesn’t occur in other of the city’s events. I definitely did feel the racial tension this weekend and I questioned how far have we really come along with race issues, discrimination and the seperation of South Floridians. I mean yes we do have many races and nationalities living in south Florida but not always are we united or walking side by side. The division line can be felt if one goes to certain neighborhoods, clubs, schools, restaurants and malls. Yes, discrimination is far less than what it once was years ago but us as residents of this growing melting pot in South Florida must learn to tolerate each other and work on ending these racial division lines.