I love how I can navigate my way around the city without relying on Google Maps. I love how friendly people are on the streets. I love the pride for Detroit that runs through the veins of its citizens.
I spent the last weekend with my cousins in Ann Arbor and we went to their friend’s barbecue one night. Their friends were asking what we’ve seen and were impressed that we checked off most of the Detroit Hot spots: the Motown Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Campus Martius, Eastern Market, or, as my cousin put it “the best Detroit has to offer.”
“Yeah that’s great… but you’ve seen the bad parts too, right?”
When I was asked this question, I was very quick to defend myself, assuring the man that I knew Detroit wasn’t all shiny and new. In that moment, I felt a sense of guilt. Yeah of course I knew about the hardships that Detroit has faced, I spent my last 6 weeks trying to delve further into the topic. But, there is so much more to grapple with.
In the news article I picked, the author writes about the gentrification in Detroit and consequentially the rise in poverty of disproportionally African Americans. He writes that “the big story in [this] city…is the persistence of concentrated, debilitating poverty and the decline of once-healthy, vital neighborhoods." This article really struck me as I try to dig deeper into the relationship of Detroit and it’s inhabitants and understand the true nature of this problem. He goes on to write “once we thought that giving a poor person a job was all we needed to do. But now we understand that unless we also deal with housing instability, public transit, child care, addiction recovery, educational achievement, and other underlying factors, a job alone will not deliver an answer.” I really agree with this sentiment that there are so many layers to this problem and no single solution. Detroit isn’t perfect and has a long way to go. And I know the rebuilding of Detroit has not been perfect. But in reality, nothing ever is.
The article also made me think of my other home in Durham. Even though I’ve only lived in Detroit for over a month, compared to the two years I’ve been in Durham, I feel a pride and connection to Detroit that is missing in North Carolina. One of my best friends who is working in Durham for the summer told me a lot about the complicated history with Duke and Durham and the effect it had on the no-longer thriving African American communities. This trip has inspired me to explore my connection to Durham.