“Powerfully breaks up ‘diverse South Florida’ as image and practice of anti-Blackness and white supremacy. McInnis critically dialogues with the storytelling testimony, pleasure, and resistance of African Americans, Bahamians, Haitians, and Afro-Cubans, showing how multiple Black South Floridas, in the keenness of literature and film, make up and unsettle Miami.”—Antonio Lopez, author of Unbecoming Blackness: The Diaspora Cultures of Afro-Cuban America
In this book, Tatiana McInnis examines literary and cultural representations of Miami alongside the city’s material realities to challenge the image of South Florida as a diverse cosmopolitan paradise. McInnis discusses how this favorable “melting pot” narrative depends on the obfuscation of racialized violence against people of African descent.
Analyzing novels, short stories, and memoirs by Edwidge Danticat, M.J. Fievre, Carlos Moore, Carlos Eire, Patricia Stephens Due, and Tananarive Due, as well as films such as Dawg Fight and Moonlight, McInnis demonstrates how these creations push back against erasure by representing the experiences of Black Americans and immigrants from Caribbean nations. McInnis considers portrayals of state-sanctioned oppression, residential segregation, violent detention of emigres, and increasing wealth gaps and concludes that celebrations of Miami’s diversity disguise the pervasive, adaptive nature of white supremacy and anti-Blackness.
To Tell a Black Story of Miami offers a model of how to use literature as a primary archive in urban studies. It draws attention to the similarities and divergences between Miami’s Black diasporic communities, a historically underrepresented demographic in popular and scholarly awareness of the city. Increasing understanding of Miami’s political, social, and economic inequities, this book brings greater nuance to traditional narratives of exceptionalism in cities and regions.
Tatiana D. McInnis is instructor of American studies and humanities at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.
Publication of this work made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.