racism in miami

You just moved to Miami. Hooray! What should you expect? Much of that depends on your ethnic background. Let’s delve into your possible experiences.


Congratulations, you reached Hispanic Valhalla. Reggaeton, salsa, bachata, and cumbia blast from stores, houses, and open car windows. Your heritage is celebrated publicly. You’re guaranteed good food from la madre patria. You can start a business, attain professional success, and retire without utilizing English. You won’t be judged for speaking your native language, just for being darker or having indigenous features. Also, don’t expect decent health care, housing, transportation, or a functioning political system—you know, like the rest of Latin America.

White People

You’re a minority here! People will stare because you don’t look, speak, or dress like everyone else. Other communities control the political and corporate levers around you. You’ll be subjected to overt and unconscious hostility everywhere because of your appearance aaaaaaand this last sentence is a lie! Phew! Had you sweating for a second.

Don’t worry, you’ll still receive unwarranted privileged treatment, but you might be addressed in Spanish at the Publix deli line, which I’m sure is really tough. We apologize for the discomfort caused by this passing insight into minorities’ lives elsewhere in the U.S. You can expunge it in the insular downtown community of expats who unceasingly assure each other that “no one’s actually from Miami” and “public transportation here’s a breeze!”


You’re walking along, minding your own business, when… Holy shit! Is that another Asian across the street? Is he Salvadoran? No, he’s definitely Asian. Should you wave? Do you say something? There are so few of you here. But your parents taught you not to disrupt the nature flow of things… Fuck! He made eye contact. Now you’re both staring. No one’s saying anything. You’re walking by each other—and he’s gone. Ok, well that meets your quota for the week.

I’m not going to lie, we don’t get a lot of you here. Welcome. Other than a few stores down Bird Road, it’ll be really hard to find decent traditional ingredients. Of course, not all Asians work in tech, education, and professional services, but a whole lot of you work in tech, education, and professional services. People will still speak to you in Spanish.

Black People

Same shit as the rest of the country, only the folks at the top are bilingual. You’ll be confused for that one other black person, followed in stores, and disrespected when people think you’re out of earshot—even when they might be darker than your relatives. Some Latinos will appropriate your culture and the N-word with nary a thought. They’ll also grin, rub their forearms, and mention “el Cuco” or “el Negro,” assuming you don’t know what that means. Though they’ll look over their shoulders a few times first.

Middle Easterners

EVERYONE will assume you speak Spanish. You’ll dissent. Whoever happens to be addressing you will pause, flash an odd look, and keep right on truckin’ in el idioma de Cervantes. I mean, come on. You look just like a Nicaraguan. Or a Colombian. Or a Dominican. Or a Venezuelan. My point is, you’re brown and that confuses all the other brown people around you. It also doesn’t help that a ton lot of Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Turks, and Egyptians migrated to Latin America in the 20th century, so your features are pretty well mixed into our genes.

Native Americans

You were here before the rest of us, so if anything, you should be explaining what everyone else should expect. To the Miccosukee and Seminoles who survived a half dozen wars, forced relocations, outright thievery, and virulent diseases: sorry about that. We drained, razed, bulldozed, and paved over your ancestral land to make way for Marlins Stadium. Truly, an astounding metaphorical middle finger, if there ever was one. Sure, my family happened to be in Cuba when this went down, but they were busy doing the same to the Tainos, Ciboneyes, and Guanajatabeyes.

British People

How on God’s Green Earth did you end up here? Seriously. Did your 18th century ship of the line fall into a wormhole, wrecking you centuries later on what you thought would be Spanish Florida? Do you miss hardtack? What was Queen Anne’s War like? I need to know!!!

If you like our stories, check out our latest book.

Andrew OtazoAndrew Otazo

'Miami Creation Myth' author Andrew Otazo has advised officials on Cuba policy, worked for the Mexican president, fired a tank, and ran with 30lbs of trash.

Check out the first free chapter of Andrew’s upcoming book here.


Enter your email to be the first to hear the latest updates on The Miami Creation Myth.

¡Gracias! Stay tuned for more.