Monday, June 15, 2015
Detroit gets made fun of by people who know not what caused its supposed "downfall" nor care about any sort of return, poking fun at the city in ways that have a strong undercurrent of racism; it was the people who voted "thugs" into power, or the unions who ruined it all, or the culture, or what have you, not realizing that Detroit was a ticking timebomb, at it's peak it was literally the single most sprawling city in all of America, a spacious example of terrible urban planning, and then white flight hit, then college educations became more important, than manufacturing got replaced by service industries, and the city fell to many of the same ills that other rust belt cities have fallen to. People make fun of it because they're too lazy to learn and it's easy to take pot shots, walk around the downtown though, and you'll find Detroit is like any other American city. There are restaurants with copious outdoor seating, rooftop bars, sports pubs, nightclubs, casinos, a monorail that is a small but cheap and efficient public transportation service, a rather architecturally beautiful riverfront, you can walk from Comerica Park, to Greektown, to the RenCen and be surrounded by pedestrians and commercial spaces and things to do. Sure, divert from the center of downtown and you'll stumble upon goliaths of deserted, crumbling buildings, fire damaged houses, empty lots sprawling with garbage and overgrown weeds, no street lights, no people. Nobody is denying Detroit has its challenges. But next time you want to take a potshot at it, realize that there are real people just trying to make a living there, and that Detroit suffered not at their hands, but at the gratuitous racism of white flight and community blocking, of terrible city-wide planning, of bad political leadership, the lack of a top tier university in the city, and decades of manufacturing jobs requiring only high school diplomas being quickly replaced by a need for service jobs and college diplomas. Detroit is still standing, stubbornly, and while it will never, ever be what it once was, it doesn't have to be. It's fine just the way it is. Let the rest of the country laugh at it, if they so desire. Detroit is more hardworking and American than most anywhere else.