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A Virtual, Visceral Visit to Miami

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

It’s Official. Spring Break in Texas has started.

My social media feeds exploded with the photo-verified, self-declarations of a diaspora of wealthy Texans to Florida for the March holiday. Inspired to join in on the spirit to visit the Sunshine State, albeit in a more virtual and potentially socially conscious fashion, I found a great DJ set from Insomniac TV, which features DJ Tchami on the rooftop of the One Thousand Museum building in Miami, Florida. At the 26 minute mark of this YouTube trending video (with over 600,000 views), Tchami launches into a song about a woman raising her kids in “the ghetto”.

If you enjoy dance music, great cinematography and the city of Miami, then you should watch the whole thing. At least the first 30 minutes or so.

In the context that International Women’s Day was earlier this week, and witnessing all of the creative posts on LinkedIn (many in front of the legendary Fearless Girl statue at the base of Manhattan island - who broke the proverbial glass ceiling in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, in link below), this modern-day poetic commentary on popular culture appears to me to be an Intersectional Feminist anthem - a woman, also of color, dealing admirably facing a destitute situation. This track implies not only hope and defiance, but also highlights the plight and the inequity of America’s haves and have nots.

Let me set this Miami scene for you.

The DJ is at the summit of one of the tallest, most opulent skyscrapers in the Miami skyline, a location that is, in no uncertain terms, definitely NOT “the ghetto”. Miami, Aspen and Austin have been the hottest COVID-era destinations for the rich and famous in the US, and as the sounds reverberate through the breathtaking drone footage of Miami at sunrise, one ponders a modern America which can be absolutely accepting about domestic income inequality yet also aware of a sobering sense of social injustice simmering away in the Freudian subterrain of our minds.

The lyrics of the song are poetically modern, expressing centuries of inequity-induced frustration:

“I was born and raised in a ghetto

I was born and raised in a ghetto

I'm a woman of the ghetto

Listen to me, legislator

How do you raise your kids in a ghetto

How do you raise your kids in a ghetto

Feed one child and starve another

Tell me, tell me, legislator

How do make your bread in the ghetto?

How do make your bread in the ghetto?

Baked from the souls in the ghetto

Tell me, tell me, Legislator?

I'm proud, free

Black, that is me

But I'm a woman of the ghetto."

Powerful stuff. If you missed PBS' recent drama, The Long Song, about the slave uprising in 1800s British Empire-era Jamaica, you should watch it. The show's disturbing realism literally had me in tears in the first episode.

Similarly, I loved Amanda Gorman’s poem at the Inauguration, as her inspirational words optimistically explored the ironic dichotomies of modern society. She read:

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms...

...That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried

The Miami video clip, Amanda Gorman's poem, and the awkward Spring Break we are currently experiencing in this weird COVID world of 2021 in which we live - reinforces to me the irony of modern existence. Love many times goes unrequited. Talent many times is not rewarded. The worthy are put through the most dire and savage of tests. The ones who should not die, succumb to the circumstances. We have all seen this in our collectively-shared, year-long pandemic which will define generations to come. I believe that only with a kind, curious and hopeful attitude will we be able to have the fortitude to tackle the numerous challenges the modern world presents us.

BTW - if you want a spiritual pick-me-up, relive the 1985 classic "We are the World".

SO WORTH IT. See how many singers you recognize - the Pride of Texas, Willie Nelson makes an appearance. In my mind, Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Wonder steal the show. MJ puts in an appearance too.

The message in the historically significant "We are the World" video might cause socially-aware Americans of all generations to first strive to understand all aspects of today's current national mask and reopening debates. Then, one can contemplate each side's argument within the framework of our historical, shared, aspirational societal responsibilities as espoused in seminal American documents like the Constitution and Declaration of Independence as well as in the afore-mentioned song "We are the World", which, over 35 years ago, entranced American popular culture and opened the floodgates of our compassion for the starving citizens of Africa. You may come to a judgment. Do we feel the same about our fellow American citizens in terms of protecting our globe's health and safety in 2021 as we did about the African crisis in 1985? Or have times changed?

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Instagram: austinfromaustin1

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