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The Third City: The Challenges of Families and Education

August 20th, 2016

The individuals, collective groups within the American underground, underworld societies are disenfranchised from the other two American experiences.  In the late 20th Century the riots of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s had one common thread.  The concept of the underground, underworld network is what we have defined as the third city.  At the end of the riotous national demonstration the government was given a stern warning by the Kerner Commission led by the former governor of Illinois Otto Kerner.  The commission was assembled to review, study the issues, factors that led to the civil disorder in urban America.  In that final report it was stated that The United States of America was heading towards a uneven, bifocal society dictated by both race and class.  Over the past half century America has not only become the two distinctly different experiences it has kept another level of existence for those Americans who are merely surviving opposed to living daily.  That is the third city existence that manifests itself as in an ignored, almost invisible life in America.

In reviewing the history in Michigan the massive migration from the southern states combined with the large foreign immigration it is clear of the many obstacles, barriers that have lend itself to great polarization.  The social, economics and transformation from agrarian to information technology effect has been devastating for post industrial Flint, Detroit and Pontiac.

Detroit has come back with a strong showing downtown, midtown Detroit in the last decade.  The success of a smaller, smarter, and manageable Detroit is evident.   Yet, there was the old neighborhoods, abandoned miles of land, buildings, residential and commercial zones that are now ghost like in their declining days of decay. The old Detroit, abandoned residential neighborhood and ghost of small businesses are a reality.  The fact is clear, damage done and worsen by the continued neglect.  Politicians have failed in any serious attempt to find a solution to address the thousands of abandoned homes.  The tearing down of abandoned buildings has found the ugly head of corruption rearing its head again.  The last question is how will Detroit bring back a fair, equal foundation for basic education?  Without formal education to give citizens a semblance of knowledge society suffers.  Education is a critical aspect of human development.    I have asked a veteran Detroit educator Janice Rowley to reflect on her experiences that cover an unique perspective including K-12, community college and university teaching experience.  The ability to learn, socialize, and function in an educational environment that is challenged by an atmosphere of brutality that has overtaken many segments of Old Detroit.  Crime, brutal violence, anti-intelligence attitudes leaves a great deal to be desired.  The collapse of our public school system in Michigan at the notion that business, corporations are more important for the state is naive at best.  Education is the cornerstone of American democracy.  The changing shift from industrial age to the new technology, information age is here, now.  The inability to read, write, comprehensively read, think, understand words, books, has created a society of people who are not able to take themselves nor contribute to society overall.

The nuclear family has been dismantled over the past half century.  The male dominated society has found the liberation, awakening of female society an event of momentous change that is lasting.  The role of families and its actors has found drastic changes beginning with the liberation of women from the old roles of secondary status to equality and at times superiority .  It is imperative that in this discussion that families is left, diverse, cultural and class aware.  In our study we have observed that the family in general is the nucleus historically in the United States.  In general we feel this is true universally, globally in some form or another the family institution is the beginning of the social development of human beings.

The challenge is Detroit is tremendous, it has been abandoned, twisted, denigrated, and denied as an entity to teach youth.  Once a system that had reached proud heights it is now an inconsistent, half baked, confused entity that is not able to give the public a strong graduate to face the real world.  Why not?  Or who says?  The outcomes are measured by different measurements.  The sterling example first is that enrollment has dropped significantly over the past half century.  That is to be expected with massive population loss in Detroit due to the collapse of the economic anchor in the industrial powerhouse, the automobile manufacturing.  In the last decade the technological power has replaced human beings in many jobs.  Detroit in post industrial era has been leveled to a playing field that leaves little in terms of employment from the old system of good jobs for non-skilled laborers.  That term in American society has become endangered if not obscured.  In all the small businesses directly and indirectly depended on the workers in the auto industry has been reduced drastically.  Detroit is the micro viewpoint of the shrinking of the labor forces that once dominated American urban centers.  Now what?  How do you provide families with work?  More critical at this point is what happens to the neighborhoods, communities that were created by the development of economic and social development rooted in the industrial powerhouse of American prosperity.  This was textbook case of capitalism working.  Or was it?  The family was front and center in this wonderful improvement of moving up the economic ladder for many ethnic groups.  It was indeed special for the African-American experience escaping the dreaded institution of slavery.  The unholy experience of being brought into America as the only people enslaved has left many scars, memories of the inhumane treatment of the continent of Africa.  The unraveling of the diabolical systemic structure of oppression is deeply rooted in the controversy of the third city and families as they attempted to learn to read, learn, educate themselves.  The south was horrible for the slaves, their dysfunctional families at that very time held out the fact that the slavers had purposely designed to destroy, erase any semblance of family, tribal connections previously held in their native homes.  What the black community began with from slavery was hellish from the very beginning.  It is here that America has used selective memory in not making certain that those who were impacted by the ungodly institution of slavery.  Education was needed then and now.  It is the bridge to improvement, to hope for the future of those mistreated, left out of the basic application of equality that is promised in the American democracy doctrine.  Now the debates are always around about what is owed what.  Today, the need for strong families hinges on the ability to gain access, have knowledge how to stand on ones own merit in a society that declared social justice as its flagship.  The third city shows us an unequal application of being a full fledged citizen in this society.  Poverty, crime, and bad government policies along with corruption have established bad lands, impoverished communities and dysfunctional families that are drowning in the misery of ignorance and violence.  In the future articles we have enlisted professionals from varied backgrounds, professions to address the challenges of those who have been disconnected, denied and disenfranchised.