Chapter 15 from the book “EL NORTE” is entitled as: Miami, Florida, CA. 1960 – 80 (Gibson, 2019 p. 382 – 401). What I appreciated about this chapter is the familiarity of topic’s given that we are now moving into the years closer to the present, but we are now more informed about the history and can make connections from history to the present – to formulate an opinion, view, commentary and so on.

Freedom Tower originating from Mudejar Architectural design

Freedom Tower – Historical architecture can still be found in Florida as we have previously learned from the Spanish Missions within America, that should actually be sought for preservation as part of America’s National Heritage. I was especially excited to learn of the term Mudéjar. That especially links to our own religious family heritage / ancestry, that merges European and Islamic Design. Freedom Tower was built in 1925 – created originally for the location of the Miami news, which is today part of Miami Dade College. Freedom Tower was also utilized to help individuals who were fleeing to Miami, Florida (FL) at the time of the Cuban Revolution.The Freedom Tower contains the New World Mural. The art depicts the arrival of Ponce de Leon. The reoccurring theme of Art and its desire to speak and preserve history is also present within the New World Mural, with the beauty of the merging and meeting of cultures. Freedom Tower houses two (2) permanent exhibitions of the Cuban exile experiences, Cuban diaspora and legacy (2019, p. 382-383).

Inside the Freedom Tower – New World Mural, Miami, Florida
New World Mural – Miami – Florida

Henry Morrison Flagler – Flagler was a business tycoon who is also known as the father of Miami, FL. Flagler invested in the development of Miami including creating the Florida East Coast Railway System and Hotel Ponce de León – St. Augustine (p. 383). His investments were derived from his oil fortune and company called Standard Oil that was based from Ohio.

Cuban Revolution – During this time the Cuban revolution had an impact upon the influx of individuals who were entering Miami, Florida. Such as Cuban, Haitians, Venezuelans and a mixture of individuals who live in Tampa Bay, Miami, Florida. In 1953 Fidel Castro launched an attack from the South City of Santiago, Moncado Barracks. Which was marked as the beginning of the Cuban Revolution (p. 383). The Cuban Revolution intersected with the topics of immigration within the United States of America. The Common themes of migration and immigration echo the United States’ involvement within Latin American conflicts including the Guatemalan “regime in 1954, the coup against President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973; “(p. 388). The United States census estimated that 12 Million Guatemalans and Nicaraguans arrived as first generation immigrants to the United States of America.

  • 1966 – Cuban Adjustment Act – Any Cuban who lived in the USA for more than a year was able to become a permanent resident (p. 386).
  • 1961 – 1971 – Cuban Refugee Program – Any Cuban who was not reconciled with the Cuban Revolution (p. 387).
  • 1980’s – there were Cubans who were born in America and lived in the USA
  • 1989 – Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was the first Cuban who was elected to the United States of America’s congress (p. 398)

Macro-Economic Events – I reflected upon the 1970’s oil crisis that was triggered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC). From a macro-economic view, whilst the study is of Hispanic American History, we cannot rule out what is happening in other parts of the world and the ripple effects. Given the Flagler investment and the direct impact upon Miami, Florida. Cuba was also directly affected because it no longer received the sugar subsidy due to the collapse in the Soviet Union / Russia and Germany. This was known as the Período especial (p. 390).

Language – Whilst macro-events took place, Miami was also within its adjustments as populations arrived and settled within Miami, FL. Anglos did not feel threatened by Cubans. However it was noted that there was a socio-cultural and psychological threat derived from language. I reflected upon this point and could see why the word threat was utilized. From a social – psychological perspective language is viewed as a way human beings bond together to form in-groups, relations, and to strengthen the communal bonds, that also create the out-groups. As those who do not fit the group requirements are viewed as outsiders. However the view of language shifted in the 1970’s to that of a renewed source of interest and pride (p. 392). Which also intersected with the events taking place within the communal microcosm of the school environment.

Schooling – I reflected upon capitol punishment within the schools described as “3 licks on the knuckles” (p. 392). Which did remind me of being hit with a wooden stick by a teacher when I went to school in Pakistan almost 30 years ago, because I did not pass a test. I pretty well knew that I wouldn’t especially because I was a new student and was not familiar with the math teaching techniques, and of course reading and writing the mother language, urdu was still in the early days of being learned. I went home and could still feel the pain. My cousin told me to put lemon juice on my palms to help ease the pain. This experience emphasizes the value of language and effects of culture upon learning outcomes.

With the recognition of language the Bilingual Education program was introduced in Miami, Florida, 1968.

  • Proposition 227 – Bilingual Education Program
  • Proposition 227 – 1 – Year immersion program

Text Books – I reflected upon the case for a school text book to teach Mexican-American heritage, as advocates wanted the inclusion of the Hispanic contribution within schools. I thought about my own teaching, reading and writing that was spurred from my Masters research, and later to want to learn more about American History. This began with a text book entitled U.S. History that is utilized for undergraduate / freshman students taking a university level course. For the purposes of a school course that is similar to that of a mandatory American history course that students could take to build inclusion, to integrate American History heritage. However, it is important to remember that “Mexican” is also a construct. As we cannot put out a book about Mexican history that leaves out Spanish American heritage. But is also does not mean that it is not possible, it absolutely is possible.

It simply means to include a learning unit within the course, and of course what the teacher / educator decides to focus on is dependant upon the learning community. I also think that within the K-12 or particularly the high-school levels where students are beginning to learn about societal issues of concern, history, social sciences, that courses are developed to water the interest of the student. It is from this point that the student will decide with the support of educators / education guidance counsellors, if this is an area for further study through elective courses, community college, higher education programs, as well as developing skills through community programs.

Spanish – The rise of Spanish speakers took place from 1980-2000, Spanish was the prevalent language spoken in California other than English. The promotion of English took place through Government funded T.V. sitcoms especially to help Spanish speakers to improve their Spanish language. Emmy Shifer who was a Nazi concentration camp survivor advocated for the English language. In 1988 the Florida constitution was amended making English an official language (p. 393-394).

The Invention of Hispanic – There is an uneasy solidarity with those who are forced to take up the term of Hispanic as a form of identity to group together Spanish speaking individuals or from Puerto Rico, Dominica, Cuba, East, West and Central America. There were searchers for better terminology, and heated debates took place when deciding which term to utilize – Hispanic, Latino, Latina, Latinx. Flores-Hughes who worked for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) decided to back the term Hispanic, as “that best identified those person with Spanish surnames that claimed their origin was Spanish” (p. 395). In 1975 the term Hispanic was incorporated into federal language. I appreciated the thoroughness for the development of census questions. I also could related to the use of the term Hispanic, especially to describe populations, the tensions I felt during the research process. Sociologist G. Christina Mora (p. 396)was critical of this term. As definitions and terms were being formulated, community groups such as Univision tried to embrace culture through the creation of community. I found that Spanish was taken out and being watered down from what is Hispanic, or the creation of Hispanicness to be drawn from Mexico.

Food and culture helped to keep traditions and customs alive. Charles Lummis noted in my earlier blog posts and chapters from this book wrote an introductory essay in 1903 about Spanish American Cookery. Some foods that are now very common are Tacos, Burritos, Corn chips, Salsa, Beans,  jalapeño peppers, Tequila, Margaritas and Nachos.

Spanish Tequila

Concluding Point – I found that Spanish was taken out and being watered down to Hispanic, or the creation of Hispanicness to be drawn from Mexico. This chapter provides room for further explorations and development in-terms of art analysis, schooling programs, education and research that intersects with specific populations.

Lamb Nacho Chips with Salsa – Personal Picture. Yummy!!!

Related Blog Posts: iHeart Fiesta is drawn from Chapter 15 p. 400-401.

Bougainvillea flower plant is one of Florida’s Native plants

Reference: Reference: Gibson, C. (2019). EL NORTE The Epic and Forgotten History of Hispanic North America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

Image 1 – Link Freedom Tower Miami.

Notes: These thoughts were originally hand-written on November 7th 2021.  Please note that these are my thoughts and views upon my reading to gain an understanding of American history of what interested me within this chapter, there are many more points that have not been discussed within my writing. All personal experiences are my own and are shared to help with the learning process and are part of a learning strategy.

With Love & Kindness! 🙂

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