The 44 percent: PPP loans and spring break

Alabama State University spring breakers Jacory Lee, 21, Justin Stephens, 22, and Terry Haynes, 22, go for a walk on South Beach Thursday, March 17, 2022.

Alabama State University spring breakers Jacory Lee, 21, Justin Stephens, 22, and Terry Haynes, 22, go for a walk on South Beach Thursday, March 17, 2022.

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Miami Beach is in a dilemma.

Elected officials have made it pretty clear they see spring break as a problem, but revelers keep coming every March. And why shouldn’t they? South Beach is an icon, a cultural staple thanks to the abundance of television, film and music that has made the area so appealing.

Although I never went to South Beach in college, I know one thing: spring break is spring break. The same things that happen on 10th and Ocean Drive are likely happening on South Padre Island, the Bahamas, or wherever spring breakers flock. Sure, South Beach can get a little wild at times, but that’s the image the city of Miami — and by default Miami Beach, as most visitors don’t know the difference — has created for itself.

The question now is who will give in first: Miami Beach or the tourists?

Author card.jpg
C. Isaiah Smalls II author’s card


Crowds fill the beachfront walk along Ocean Drive during Spring Break in Miami Beach, Fla. on Saturday, March 19, 2022. Daniel A. Varela [email protected]

“The only emergency is that there are blacks on the beach.” Critics slam Spring Break curfew:

Two shootings prompted Miami Beach to declare a state of emergency – and many were not happy.

“The only emergency is there are black people on the beach,” said Stephen Hunter Johnson, a member of Miami-Dade’s Black Advisory Board, adding, “I don’t understand how this city has been doing spring break for at least 25 years and can do it don’t believe it.”

Miami Beach imposed a curfew effective Thursday night through Monday morning from midnight to 6 a.m. every day.

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People walk down Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on Friday, February 25, 2022. MATIAS J.OCNER [email protected]

“We’re back to square one.” The spring break curfew reminds black visitors of Miami Beach history:

As Johnson alluded to, Miami Beach has historically not welcomed its black visitors.

For example after Boxer Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title at the 1964 Miami Beach Convention Center. Ali couldn’t stay on the beach because segregation laws barred blacks from the city’s hotels.

Though that law has changed, critics say these types of incidents in Miami Beach’s history have had some impact on the city’s current situation.

“If you don’t know your story, you are doomed to repeat it,” said Pierre Rutledge, chair of the Miami-Dade Black Advisory Board. “And it looks like we’re going there.”

Performance by Kenya safari acrobats. Tour group owner Karen Makange fought to have her Paycheck Protection Program loan waived. Karen Makange

PPP loans were made to be made. In heavily black areas like South Florida, many are not:

Miami-Dade and Broward counties have far lower PPP loan forgiveness rates than the national average, according to an analysis by the Miami Herald.

Why? The significant black and Hispanic populations of both counties, Ben Wieder reported.

The percentage of loans that are unissued in majority Black ZIP codes is more than three times higher than the percentage of unissued loans in majority White ZIP codes, while the percentage of unissued loans in majority Hispanic ZIP codes is more than twice that in the mostly white zip codes.


Insights into Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Harvard years:

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings had a little bit of everything.

Throughout it all, Jackson appeared calm and collected — a demeanor that, according to a recent New York Times article, likely sharpened during her time at Harvard.

“She’s fearless in a world where being fearless is sometimes scary,” said Lisa Fairfax, who was a college roommate with Judge Jackson and is now a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.


Atlanta, FX series COURTESY OF FX

“Atlanta” returns tonight:

Few shows have captured my attention quite like Donald Glover’s “Atlanta.” So much has changed during the show’s four-year hiatus that I’m nervous about even seeing it. Who knows if I’ll be in the room to receive the show like I did in 2018?

That said “Atlanta” is in my opinion one of the best shows ever created so tonight at 10pm I’ll be front and center.

Where does the name “The 44 percent” come from? Click here to find out how Miami’s history influenced the newsletter title.

C. Isaiah Smalls II is a race and culture reporter for the Miami Herald. He previously worked for ESPN’s The Undefeated as part of the Rhoden Fellows inaugural class. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Morehouse College.

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