I have been struggling for months to write this article, first because I endeavor to write at least one article a month related to spiritual awakening, and second, because I did not want to write an article regarding the current turmoil thrust upon the citizens of the City of Detroit. When I wrote in my first Examiner article that Detroit was under siege, many scoffed at the implication. The lack of response or comment made me wonder if I was again, taking the pessimistic – glass half empty – view. Fortunately, I ran across this article by author William Copeland entitled Spring 2013 State of Black Detroit, that was disseminated through the Detroit City Of Hope group. The following description of the true nature and depth of Detroit’s woos is brilliantly and succinctly addressed:
“I learned recently that collective punishment was made illegal by the Geneva Convention. That’s ironic because collective punishment is the exact term I use to describe the conscious policies of economic underdevelopment that were applied to Detroit from the early 1970’s until recently. So now, even though there is an onslaught of development and investment within the city limits, Detroit’s poor are often insulated from these benefits by [sh—y] education, removal from the labor market for years, non-living wage jobs and criminal criminal justice policies.”
Yes, make no mistake, what is happening to Detroit is no accident, it’s not the fault of the people, and it surely is not the regrettable result of an unbiased and stable global economic structure. Detroit is slowly and systematically being dismantled, and all of the black people who so aggressively showed their disdain for an industry that rescued them from the hell that is the South, will now suffer the full force of corporate retaliation. Never forget Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921 massacre), Rosewood, Florida (1923 burn out), and The Black Bottom in Detroit, Michigan (1969 urban renewal), and I’m sure thousands more in between. On the picture above, My Street, over half the homes are no longer primary residences, where 40 years ago, every house on this street was a primary residence.
Ignorant of the true value Detroit holds being the largest city surrounded by three Great Lakes and bordering a foreign country vital to the “Americas Union,” Detroiters enjoyed thirty years of expanded opportunities (aka equal to marginalized whites), and cultural enrichment heralded in by Coleman A. Young (Michigan State Senator from 1965 – 1974 and Mayor of Detroit from 1974 – 1994), but the destruction had already begun. When Detroiters could not develop new tax sources for the city, believing that the auto industry would never abandon them for cheaper labor and less regulation (which equals higher profits), they inflated the value of the auto industry and cheapened the potential of the people. They didn’t hear the president of General Motors when he said, what’s good for GM (higher profits) is good for America.
Ignorant of and unprepared to ward off the onslaught that would descend against them on a global level, many Detroiters fell into the post-slavery traumatic stress syndrome psychosis of – what someone else has is always better. So they packed up their things and chased the American Dream to the suburbs and shoddily built homes. They abandoned Detroit and were followed 40 years later by those forced out because of “downsizing,” further destroying the city’s tax base, leaving the citizens vulnerable to greedy, lying politicians and even greedier, elitist corporations.
The aftermath of 44 years of the collective punishment Mr. Copeland described above are evident from the Detroit River to Eight Mile Road. Detroiters are left with a city, once brimming with small and medium-sized Black businesses and acres of brick single-family homes, now ravaged with acres of burnt out and stripped down neighborhoods for insurance profits and a severely shrunken base of small or medium-sized businesses owned by Detroit residents. Everyone is poised to make money in Detroit, the plans are drawn, the boundaries set. In the same way educated Black people and returning Black enlisted men were forced from the South to satisfy the labor demands of the booming industrial revolution in the 1940s, they are now being forced from Detroit to satisfy the global corporate agenda. This point was confirmed in the Governor of Michigan’s speech confirming his determination to install an Emergency Financial Manager for the City of Detroit, to whom all elected government officials and union representatives must bow down (or bend over). I listened to the speech broadcast on public radio, and not once did he mention of the citizens of the City of Detroit…no acknowledgment, no expression of concern, nothing! It’s the republican way, if you know they didn’t vote for you, it’s ok to ignore them.
Except for the fact that as American citizens, the people residing within the city limits of Detroit, Michigan have paid into the coffers of the city, state, and federal governments in exchange for representation of their choosing. This is a legally binding agreement that the city and state have reniged on, and the people need to wake up and smell the coffee…no one cares about you or what you want. The paternal mask is off, and it is now the responsibility of the citizens of the city to understand that our leaders are merely corporate employees and were never meant to be depended on to defend the people’s will. Coleman Young came to teach each of us how to be leaders to show us that we can be self-reliant.
In a city full of churches, we need to begin to teach a higher lesson of self-reliance and self-determination. People like Amos Wilson and Claude Anderson have already laid out several plans. Several groups of people have done this work in the areas of food production and education, but these efforts must be focused and accelerated. Citizens of Detroit must learn to consolidate their energies, have a clear direction, and not be sidetracked by plans that are not in the best interest of the people. Our professionals in the community have to get off their high horses (and out of the casino) and commit to working with the people (especially the youth) to develop a place within Detroit where they can thrive as a community. Cause We Aren’t Going Anywhere!