This year has only a few more days left. I find it a difficult ending to a year that was good, bad and ugly. Detroit had a historical first in being in bankruptcy under the rule of an Emergency Manager. Detroit is an unique city. The new Detroit downtown, Midtown prosperity is not shared by all Detroit, communities, citizens. The common folks, residents living inside the blocks of tattered neighborhoods, abandoned businesses remain restricted, limited in their daily dealings. Some of Detroit found a new path, foundation to commercial success. The challenge is as much class as it is race that blocks the integration of a new era for Detroit. Downtown has become a new safe haven for entertainment, residential and commercial experiences. The return of a strong downtown is needed. Yet, the bad means that successful rebound does not reconstruct the poverty in the city. Post industrial Detroit is filled with ugly situations that remain a reminder of what challenges ahead.
The past decades Detroit public education has declined to the point of near extinction. The new boundaries have declared that Detroit is smaller, slimmer, more efficient, sustainable. The city has yet to figure out what to do with the challenges of no legal employment that has plagued the city, region with the transformation of an industry centered on manufacturing. The new revised economy is connected to the new information and technology age. The once good paying non skilled market is ancient history. The fact is workers need specific skill sets in the work place today. Whispers of not trainable uneducated workers is the ugly fact. The education dilemma is married to the employment reality producing a failure that leaves old traditional neighborhoods helpless, isolated and forgotten. With a large number of youth dropping out of school compounded by an unknown number of youth not ever entering public education the future is damned. Damnation, an emotional response for certain. I have not enjoyed this strange, surreal observation of the city, place I grew up and still love. Detroit needs a great deal of support. Where is that leadership, guidance going to come from? The nuclear family crisis has evolved over the decades. Looking at the totality of Detroit is physically tough and mentally unnerving. 2014 was a year of revelations as politicians and business people formed the viewpoint of progress in the new Detroit (Emerald City, downtown). The ‘Everyday People’ as Sly Stone sung are what? Do they have worth? Can they work? Are there jobs for them? Control Crime? Reformation is deeply needed in urban America. Perhaps I should say in poor America. Urban can be misleading after all the Money Elite live in urban America. Poverty in the ruins of Detroit means more citizens without steady or no employment at all. A poverty that has grown immensely in the last half century.
The city has many social and economic woes despite the new downtown recovery. Public education, prison ree-entry, youth unemployment, crumbling families, public health and crime control. The divide in the polarized region is not being addressed. The new Detroit is position to leave thousands of citizens and those denizens of the Third City out of the reconstruction. Big mistake, poor education will produce resentful denizens from the underground, underworld societies. Folks who are not stakeholders is dangerous to breed by ignoring and allowing them to live in hellish conditions. This mistaken disinvestment of human beings leaves the door wide open for destructive forces, street crime to play to their survival. No education, no interactions with others in the Greater Detroit region, trapped in a socially failed environment is not the solution. 2014 offered much in extreme weather, bankruptcy, shrinking public school districts, continued high illiterate rates, and serious crime leaves Detroit in an image unforgivable.
The social levees broke on July 23, 1967 with the explosion changing the socio-economics drastically. triggering massive decline in population in Detroit. Today, many neighborhoods remain isolated, with high crime rates. The comeback is not about those borders beyond ‘Emerald City’ of professional sport venues, theater, cultural centers and upper class living. A decreasing police force can not respond to the large metropolitan Detroit. Pubic service has been poor for most of the city for the past decades. In 2014 the normalization of ignorance and violence has planted itself strongly in many pockets surrounding the new downtown and midtown Detroit. Will the prosperous rosy new Detroit welcome everyone? The truth is about class as much as it about race. Even when Governor Snyder calls for welcoming new immigrants to come to Detroit there is a backlash not acknowledged by the mainstream media. What about those who live in Detroit already. Journalist Chastity Pratt Dawson wrote an excellent article titled ‘As good jobs finally arrive, few Detroiters have skills to fill them.’ This truth is rooted in the inferior school district and the anomic state of families. The fact is reform is needed in education, employment and economics for Detroit. Post industrial Detroit can not sustain itself in the face of technology changing the playing field. Without public education those who come from impoverished environments will be sentenced to lifetime poverty with little chance, opportunity for any positive change. Such thinking and acting will build the prison budget more. Street crime will become the institution that welcomes the have not’s. Poverty shadows the hopelessness turning people to social Darwinism. Hopefully, 2015 will begin with hope, open minds that can humanize our fellow man.