📸: Photo courtesy of Michae E. Allen (A Sharp Photo)
Hi Mimi! Let’s start with the basics: Who are you? What do you do?
I am a Bahamian-made but Miami-bred woman who loves God and loves people. In 2020 I founded the Courageous Creatives Leadership Collective, a safe space for the next generation of Creative Leaders. From the success of that project, I was asked to do the same kind of work for adult professionals. In January of 2021, The Empowerment Via Education (E.V.E) Consulting Firm was born. I’m a former MDCPS teacher turned social entrepreneur who combines her passion for leadership development and social justice initiatives to empower multiple generations of people.
How does Miami help you do what you do or influence your work?
Because I get to be who I am for a living, my work is deeply informed by the culture and the community of ‘the Miami that raised me’. I am excited to share that I was recently awarded a 2022 Community Grant with The Miami Foundation through a partnership with PATH, Inc. (Preserving, Archiving, and Teaching Hip-Hop) to launch the Sustainable Sankofa Project. This work galvanizes the Black and Brown communities of Miami in a safe space to collectively amplify our work, centralize our resources and strengthen our cultural impact and engagement with the public. It’s a Herculean task, and we need all hands on deck, so if you wish to help by financially supporting or mobilizing this work, please donate via our partner website. Your donations are tax-deductible, and in advance, we appreciate your financial support and volunteerism.
Wax poetic for a minute and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?
I’mma quite literally take you up on the dare to wax poetic.
Miami Moves you
Even when you’re standing still.
The bodies of Miami’s waters
is like finding peace atop a hill
Strobing city lights, purple skylines is what tourists come to see
But residents of Miami are like,
People who live down the street from Disney.
What brings me to life here are not the flashy things at all
It’s rolling by my old elementary school
Remembering the tinted-brown water-stained walls.
Running into friends that I knew since I was ten
Putting my feet in the ocean at sundown
Cause it’s how I breathe again.
They say, the more things change the more they stay the same
I hope for our sakes change don’t mean
Using a pencil to erase
all the things we carved in stone
The stories. The histories. The Lessons.
The gifts that still come
When you get a mother’s blessing
Miami has as much hope we save for it.
Keep it alive in your hearts
Not in the back of your jean’s pockets.
What’s your favorite Miami memory?
Being taken to Miami beaches (childhood favorite – Haulover) when I was a kid. I’m a first-generation ‘Bahmerican’. I’m an island girl natively, so when one child got sick, we’d “wash the cold out” at the beach; my parents believed that salt water is the source of healing. Today for me it’s all of that and more. The ocean puts me on pause and resets me. It’s my space of peace, relaxation, writing, and reflection. I call it my ‘outdoor sanctuary.”
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Conch — fritter, salad, stewed or cracked — it’s ALL good! If you want authentic Bahamian food from real Bahamians, Conch Heaven (locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale). I’m also a sucker for a really good plate of Chicken & Waffles; the most recent best version was Tap 42 in Aventura.
Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Miami day.
If you couldn’t tell by now, the beach! I got a lil nook in Surfside that’s a favorite hiding spot of mine. The Underline for a live music event near Brickell City Centre, a new find of mine. Finally, my car — driving around the city taking in the land and peoplescape.
What’s your favorite local social media account to follow and why?
I actually am not super plugged into a favorite feed or channel, but if I had to use this space to make a shameless plug I’d say check out @evolutionaryartslife on IG. The next gen of Miami’s stars are literally born there.
What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?
From the visitor’s perspective, we look like what people refer to as the global ‘melting pot,’ but this is in name only. We are detrimentally siloed and we must do something about it. There are socio-cultural and geographical silos (within silos) in Miami and the future of our humanity is at stake if we don’t respond urgently. My work is so important but it takes courage because it requires breaking the silence with clear intentions and a willingness to lead with integrity. I’m all for disrupting old constructs if it means that in the same breath we are COLLECTIVELY building new ones.
If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?
Don’t make any assumptions about anything you think you know of Miami. There is so much hidden, rich history, culture and story that has been either erased, lost or yet to be discovered. We are a relatively young city in terms of our history. There is lots to learn, understand and explore about Miami’s makeup.
What are you looking forward to this year?
This year, and the year after that, and the years after that…
Deeper connections within old and new communities; strategic partnerships/relationships with leaders from multiple generations in Miami; opportunities to tell my Miami Story (and create new ones) on a platform where I am seen, valued and celebrated as a Black Woman. This allows me to broaden the platform for others to tell their stories and show up as their best selves to do their greatest, highest calling and work. Our mantra is “We empower WHO you are for WHAT you do!” I wish to do this work in Miami for as long as I possibly can.
That’s a wrap on this week’s Locals to Know. Know someone who ought to be featured or would like to be featured yourself? Reach out by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TNT Locals to Know 2022.” If chosen, you might just see yourself or a friend in a future newsletter.