Building Bridges Healing Our Community came about as a
result of the "Elian Gonzalez" incident. This issue brought
to the surface all the racial and ethnic tensions that have been bubbling
below the surface for many decades.
The people of Miami-Dade County speak many languages and come from more
than 150 different cultures. Because of these disparities, many times
when different ethnic or racial groups react to a situation with behavior
we deem negative, we, as a community, find it difficult to be supportive.
Perceived lack of support is what often creates divisiveness. We don't
have to like our neighbors or necessarily agree with them, but we must
learn to tolerate and respect our differences.
CFCA has met with activists and leaders of various racial, ethnic,
and religious groups to identify some of the concerns within their communities.
Priority issues include language barriers, as well as racial, ethnic,
and economic disenfranchisement. The Black and Anglo population cited
a lack of social and economic opportunities. Cubans cited they feel misunderstood
and misrepresented in the media and that non-Cuban residents cannot empathize
with the political and social factors that fuel their passionate fight
against Castro. Haitians cited the unfair immigration treatment they receive,
as compared to other immigrant groups. Anger, frustration and pain results
every time there is an incident involving one ethnic or racial group that
negatively imposes their point of view upon the others. At times, this
anger subsides, but any new incident fuels the emotions. Communication
among Miami-Dade residents is essential to address these problems and
unite the community. This project provides this forum.
Building Bridges Healing Our Community involves members
of various racial and ethnic South Florida communities. In workshop sessions,
the participants are asked, "What is it like for you to live in Miami-Dade
County? Have you ever had an experience with a member of another racial
or ethnic group? How did this interaction make you feel? Do you feel like
you are part of your community? Why? Why Not? What or who do you see as
the cause of problems in your community? The participants are shown how
to visualize these experiences, write them down, and then create images
to go along with their narratives. These vivid pictures and descriptive
stories form a mosaic-style movable mural that is touring south Florida.
Building Bridges Healing Our Community is designed to stimulate
dialogue and improve the quality of life for Miami-Dade County residents.
To further ensure that this project receives maximum community participation
and exposure, workshop participants are invited to continue their experience
by taking part in inter and intra racial and ethnic group discussions
hosted by Many Voices-One Community, a program of Miami-Dade County Mayor
Alex Penelas' Mosaic Initiative 2000, created to address conflict in the
community. The mural is used at these dialogues to further stimulate discussions.
As more workshops are facilitated, the mural grows in size. The mural
helps to raise the consciousness of the greater community to the divisive
issues, and sensitizes them to one another's feelings and needs.
To bring this mural project to your neighborhood, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Excerpts from the Project
"...If these Cubans feel left out of America, it's because they never
accepted America, never embraced her people, never joined her cause..."
"...Cubans think with their hearts and that is where
the passion comes from, and sometimes 'passion' oversteps common sense..."
"...I have been in elevators and they ... will hold their purses extremely
close. Their faces become red and I can feel their uneasiness..."
Do I have to learn Spanish to talk in my own Country,
where English is supposed to be the mother tongue?
"...No, I don't speak Spanish! This is America and I am an American..."
"...I have become sick and tired of hearing the 'plight'
of the Blacks. All they ever have to say is 'discrimination.' Anything
and everything comes back to that. Now, I'm seeing the Whites and Blacks
joining forces against the Hispanics..."
"...We want solidarity, but we limit our own to those
that think like us. We want to be understood, but we are not willing to
understand the others..."
"...The pressure is ever present. Who am I? Where do I fit in? As a seventeen
year old Jamaican/Indian young man, I live these questions every day..."
"...Recently there have been cases of police officers
pulling over cars driven by African-Americans for a reason that has been
called DWB or Driving While Black..."
"...We didn't have the right to vote until the late
1960s, and when you have been ignored for so long and then you get a voice
(vote) it takes longer to get the ear of those in power to listen..."
"...'Shut up, he's Cuban, he should be beat up!' I pulled my friend off
of the little boy. Even though I'm not Cuban, I felt insulted because
I'm Hispanic and I felt bad for the little boy. If I were Cuban, would
my 'friend' have beaten me up, too?.."
"...Cubans left Cuba to get away from Castro, but they
have brought with them all the things that they resent in Castro. Because
their freedom of speech was taken away in Cuba, they in turn take away
other's freedom to speak a different view in Miami..."
"...I'm often confronted by the attitude that this Country owes something
to a group of immigrants that, rather than having expectations and making
demands, should be kissing the ground they walk on in gratitude for this
Country's abundant generosity and tolerance..."
"...I will never forget a declaration made by one of the 'leaders' of
our beautiful Miami-Dade County that made me cry inside and out and has
kept me in pain for many years. This came from another minority in our
county, a person that should know what pain, discrimination and abuse
is all about. We, the Cubans, have always recognized and identified with
the discrimination suffered by them. Of course, there are exceptions in
every community, on one side and on the other side..."
"...I have no memories of a homeland I was never allowed
"...When the boat that carried 422 Haitian men, women and children arrived
in U.S. shores January 1, 2000, and were all deported without being afforded
the right to due process, I was frustrated and angry. When I protested
against the double standard in the way we were treated vs. the Cubans,
I was told that Haiti was different than Cuba..."
"...The people that inhabit my community have the
lowest percentage of registered voters in Miami-Dade, yet they have the
audacity to complain about political affairs..."
"...The politician should help in the melting pot theory, not stir up
trouble and keep certain ingredients from becoming a part of the whole..."
"...During the 70s the pie was cut to help all minorities.
The Cubans have two advantages, being white, and a minority. This limited
employment opportunities for Blacks. As long as a business had a minority,
it didn't have to hire a Black person..."
"...I want my friends back, even if I have to temper my remarks in their
presence. I want them back, even if it requires that I put myself in their
shoes, no matter how imperfect their fit might be. It would be nice, too,
if they would put themselves in mine..."