Wednesday, April 02, 2014

No Habla

In the city of Miami, 78% of residents count English as a second language with half that percentage saying they don't speak English well, if at all.  Add on top of that the percentages that speak Portuguese and Haitian-Creole, and English falls further down the ladder.  The Non-Hispanic White population is about 16%.  As a businessperson, it is impossible to get anything done unless you speak Spanish and/or one of the other two languages fluently.  There's simply no need for residents to learn English because of the vast number of people who either cannot or choose to not speak it.

I ran into this problem almost immediately when I began my job search in Miami back in June 2013.  I underestimated the need for me to be bilingual, if not multilingual.  It's imperative to know Spanish in order to live and work in Miami-Dade County.  It would also be helpful to know Portuguese and Haitian-Creole as well.  So many companies and industries here do business with Cuba and South America.  I am not fluent in Spanish.  I guess I am just the bearish version of Demi Lovato.

To be honest, I don't even know if my finding a job in Miami would have changed anything about how we felt about living there.  Latin culture dominates the city and causes Americans to feel alienated, perhaps unlike anywhere else in the country.  Race isn't the issue in Miami - but rather culture.  And if you are from a non-Spanish speaking culture, life in Miami is inherently frustrating.