An Ethnic Enclave Shifts

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written by Eddie Arroyo

Tethered in time and subsequent history, the space is vulgar, littered with narcotic refuge and graphic literature along the interior of its walls. Still in the early efforts to cleanse this apartment building – it’s quite easy to unearth baggies around the property. A contemplative moment as colors dance and the sky and seen in the water’s reflection. She is a one story structure. Rectangular in design, adjacent to the Little River as Richard Haden resides over her renovation. Consistent with his previous series of work witnessing and documenting the urban street walkers of Little Haiti, Haden finds solidarity in this space stating, “Back in the 80’s those who squatted / homesteaded in the ‘Lower East Side’ we’re called YUCies, an acronym for Young Urban Campers. Nostalgia called…back to being an urban camper.

No doors or windows and no keys to any locks is a nice change…”

A sentiment carried in the hot the summer humidity which harkens the cities’ heritage in the early farming days when it was called Lemon City. After urbanization and the wave of Haitian immigrants settled in the 1980s, the city moved into the most civil and economically challenged area in Miami. The apartment building serves as an archive of this period in time with its graffiti and drug idled artifacts. Due to the successful gentrification of the Wynwood and Design District it would seem Little Haiti is destined for such a transformation. The Federal Census of 2010 showed 12,800 residents vacated since 2000 and it’s been observed that a large portion were of the Haitian Creole and Francophone decent. It has also been noted that there is a strong dislike for the Little Hati name due to the preference by residence in names such as Lemon City, Railroad Flats, Little River, and Buena Vista. A sentiment compounded by depictions in the news and media in the form of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. There is tension to maintain cultural identity through its history and with the retention of the Little Haiti name as the influx of other ethnic groups and investors continue to grow.

Walking from room to room in this structure thoughts of what if any history will remain to her. The walls will be painted, doors will be placed, kitchens bathrooms renovated and she will change.