Miami tech bros
Yes, I made this map, and yes, I changed to title to make it more accurate.

You’re a recently-arrived tech worker/venture capitalist/angel investor/entrepreneur driven to Miami’s shores by the promise of perennial sunshine, palm trees, and Cafecito Talks. You might not have found that fabled $600/month waterfront apartment, but you’re probably snuggly ensconced in some trendy yuppie neighborhood like Brickell, Downtown, or Wynwood. Now, as born and raised 305-Til-I-Die Miami native, I feel duty-bound to suggest you pause—just for a second—before opening your mouth to discharge all manner of tonterías (don’t worry, there’s only a bit more Spanish) mixed with the reservoir of buzzwords sloshing inside your head.

Below is a list of phrases that swarm around Miami tech events like semantic mosquitos. I’d know because I’ve been to my fair share. And, just like Miami’s most irritating bloodsuckers (mosquitos, not venture capitalists) they’re more than likely to bite you in the ass. So, as a manifestation of pure philanthropic goodwill, I also provide a description of how those utterances may sound to other residents of the Magic City.

I highly encourage you to slog through the snark—and there will be a king tide floodplain of snark—to the end of the piece because, though I and many of my compatriots are uncertain of your motives, my preference is that you become a responsible, respectful, civically-minded Miamian. The first step toward that goal is to ensure you stop sounding like an ass.

What you say: I don’t know anyone who’s actually FROM Miami.
What we hear: Minorities terrify me and I’m uncomfortable interacting with them outside of service roles.

You are surrounded by Miamians, 88% of which are either Black or Latino. We serve your food, wash your car, fix your cracked iPhone, and flick you off in traffic. If you squint a bit harder, you’ll find we’re your bosses, elected officials, educators, and cultural elites. If you don’t “know” a single one of us, it’s because you willfully choose not to. I understand you may be unused to minorities being at or above your station. Nevertheless, what you probably meant to say is that you run in social circles with others who believe themselves to be apart, and almost certainly above, Miamians.

What you say: Why doesn’t anyone here speak English!?
What we hear: Boo-fucking-hoo.

My and most of my friends’ families came to Miami fleeing war, violence, despots, and economic despair. You came to Miami fleeing… state taxes? Our antecedents then did this other crazy thing: maintain their cultures. That entailed speaking Creole, Spanish, Portuguese, Patois, Mikasuki, Russian, Hebrew, Lucumí, Kongo, and/or French whenever they damn well pleased.

Did the Publix sandwich lady call you “mi amor?” Are you worried you can’t understand what the brown people around you say? Does the terror of not being the default ethnicity perturb you? You’re not in Kansas anymore, papa. You’re in Miami. We apologize for the discomfort caused by this passing insight into minorities’ lives elsewhere in the U.S. Also, most of us speak English, and those who don’t have no obligation to explain themselves to you.

What you say: Does everyone spend their lives at the beach?
What we hear: I live on the fucking moon.

Most of us wouldn’t go near South Beach even if we didn’t have to deal with the crush of sticky, clueless, touristy humanity. Miamians generally reside very far from the setting and spirit of MTV’s Spring Break Libidopalooza. We have no interest in dealing with tolls, traffic, or $30 parking for the privilege of lying next to a gaggle of peacocking Midwesterners. Last I checked, the sun is free. If we want tans, we can get them in our yards, balconies, or rooftops.

What you say: I love all these spicy Latinas!
What we hear: I’m a rapey bigot!

Pump the brakes, Anglo Don Juan. Firstly, most of our resident Latinas are Caribbean, so they don’t eat or cook with the spices you have in mind. Secondly, don’t refer to women, or anyone, for that matter, as food. They don’t exist for your consumption—a lesson they will happily impart with a spicy slap to the face.

What you say: You don’t really need a car in Miami!/The public transportation here is great!
What we hear: I’ve never been west of SW 3rd Avenue.

Oh boy, where to begin… Outside the Downtown-Brickell core and a few smaller transportation nodes, taking public transit in this city is like running a marathon in stilettos: you can do it, but it’ll be slow, inconvenient, and painful. We have the worst daily commute time in the country (56 minutes minutes), the third-highest cost of owning a car, and our local policymakers would rather spend decades rearranging our highways than doing something wild like extending the Metrorail or expanding the bus fleet.

What you say: Does everyone here drive Ferraris?
What we hear: I’ve never left the confines of Bal Harbor.

Very few of us have the disposable income to buy sports cars, which is why d-bags cough up a few grand to rent a Lambo for the privilege of burning a gallon of gas per mile to inch down Collins Avenue. Wages are low, cost of living is high. Average annual per capita income in Miami-Dade County is $28,224 while median gross rent alone is $1,328/month ($16,000/year). You breathe rarified air indeed if you think we’re all swimming in cash, not bills.


Well, that was a whole lot of snark. Some may even call it vitriol. But I’m not necessarily saying we don’t want you here. Should you decide to venture outside the insular enclaves along the coast and remove your techie-colored glasses, you’ll find that Miami has huge systemic problems—transit, education, housing, corruption, racial justice, health care, you name it. We could use your help and expertise in solving them. You can put that time-honored startup mantra of “making the world a better place” into action by actually bettering the lives of your new neighbors.

There is no due date for when you officially become a Miamian. You don’t need to spend five, ten, twenty years here to claim the 305. This city’s foundations were literally built by immigrants (shout out to the Bahamians). You just happen to be the latest, if perhaps most moneyed, iteration of that trend. What you need to do is care. Commit to learning about our complex tapestry of cultures with a sense of openness and humility. Work with us to improve the lives of all Miamians, especially the most disenfranchised, and you will be welcomed with open arms. I’ll then happily apologize for my aforementioned snark over a cortadito at your local ventanita.

That said, your presence in this city will inevitably raise already untenable rents and draw our politicians’ goldfishlike focus to a new affluent class and away from chronically underserved communities. You’re starting off in the negative, buddy. The only question is whether you’ll use your resources, networks, and privilege to help those already living here, probably in far less swanky housing. However, if you only came to party, make money, and turn Miami into a San Francisco-esque hellhole of outrageous inequality wrapped in a veneer of techno-utopian bullshit, then don’t bother staying.

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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.


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