Archive for October, 2016

Politics? Business as always…

October 9th, 2016

This fall is the beginning of the final weeks of our Presidential Election. The name of this site is the title of my book to come out in 2017. It will be a half century since the insurrection of my native birthplace. Detroit, Michigan, today is very different from what it was in its glory as an industrial powerhouse. There is a new Detroit. It looks very impressive this new city. Yet, the old city a shell of the Detroit of earlier times. The social, economic state of the new Detroit has transformed into a technological city that is smaller, less government and segregated populations. What matters in the new Detroit is class, economics and marketable skills for employment. The old Detroit was based in working class jobs. Auto industry. The jobs created came from the industrial institutions and those support systems created directly and indirectly. This is not the same city as it was in 1967. At that time it was over a million citizens, tax payers inside the City of Detroit. It was considered the Model City for many in America. The secret was those not included in that Model City as full citizens. The explosion, exploding, imploding Detroit caught many off guard. What exists now is city of 700,000 citizens which means Detroit has found itself less a million citizens. Iconic Mayor Coleman A. Young, Jr. had worried about his beloved city in the midst of losing population, jobs, and the social challenges of the future during his tenure. In an interview he stated that losing a million people in any city has never been possible for its survival. Young had wrestled with the invasion of foreign cars that threatened directly Detroit’s position of being the automobile capitol of the world. While some found him controversial to say the least his insight was on target about the future of his beloved city. The pivotal shift was seen in the insurrection on July 23, 1967. As a young teenager of 17 that day has impacted my life in such a major way. The rage of those who I now study in what is the underworld and underground networks spoke loud. It is the voice that Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained as the voice that is rarely by the major dominant society. That rage existed in urban centers for sure. Did America understand that rage was also in many other dwellings of society?
The Southern segregation of black folks is historical. The slavery of the Africans is the foundation of the rage that has grown. Worse, we now understand that America from its inception believed for all its free will, democratic rhetoric that certain human beings were not considered human from the beginning. It was the native culture, its people that were here first that was abused, captured, treated unfairly and destroyed. There was indentured servants, and of course the most brutal inhumane enslavement of the African people. America has shown an indifference to others along the way. Asians, Arabs, and immigrants from nearby nations like Mexico. Today, the racial polarization is critical to the lack of progress in this nation. Race, along with class, sexuality, gender, are the issues defining our nation. The religious beliefs have added a discourse that has yet to consistently been allowed an open and frank discussion. Discussions? Indeed. America has been a world power and leader for some time. The moral ground of war, poverty and globalization has not found its way in the minds of many. Why not? The advancement of technology has rewards along with the denial that many people ignore. That ignorance underscores the mythology that the good old days of industrial unskilled labor will return to Michigan and other rust belt communities. Those jobs are never coming back in the way they existed in 1967. Those who don’t understand the shift, transformation of our institutions, culture and politics will be stuck in the past.
Detroit, for all its emergence of progress, new promising downtown, midtown, is not enough. The old neighborhoods, communities, schools, commerce have eroded. Some old blocks once filled with workng class families are now empty. Ghost town like areas with packs of wild dogs and feral cats have found Mother Nature retaking these abandoned areas. Homeless people, families are living in abandoned buildings, houses. Bootlegged utilities for many has become the norm. The State of Michigan has overtaken the public education in Detroit. This is the great challenge in American democracy. Can the State of Michigan or any state take away the independent voice, rights of American citizens for economic or social reasons?
Honestly, my first observations of this study was locked on Detroit who is the largest black big city in America. This observation is about the participation of all Americans. Many immigrants, legal or illegal, are part of this third city voice. It is about fairness, level playing field and Americans a voice in how the nation moves forward. This concept includes both new and old Detroit. Detroit stands on its own. It has been ignored and has suffered with bankruptcy and failed schools. High crime, no jobs, and dysfunctional families must be addressed. It is many times the centerfold for being the most dangerous criminal city in America. Couple that with it being the poorest big city in the United States makes it unique to say the least. Up the road, Flint, Michigan is not doing well in the face of General Motors leaving Flint too. The water crisis in Flint echoes Detroit and other urban cities caught in the post industrial transformation into technical information era. This demands education, training, an understanding of how technology is crucial in the new century, now. The base of this understanding once had public education as an ally. Today, privatization, vouchers, other means of educating communities have become center stage. Detroit Public Schools have been wrecked by the direct rule of a Republican charged legislation led by Republican Governor Rick Snyder. The State of Michigan has little to show of fixing the problems of Detroit schools. Few, if any public acknowledgment of the fact an unbelievable high number of children, youth are not in any school in Detroit.
Those children will grow into adults with no longer having non skilled decent paying jobs at their disposal. The challenge of being both illiterate and technologically ignorant gives way to burdens on society. Better to educate, train folks then to ignore or worst punish the needy.
The third city lives. It must be included in any true understanding of urban, suburban, exurban or rural communities. This is about all citizens in this nation.