How It Be In The D

December 15, 2006

Detroit-A Rural City?

I once heard someone at a party say perhaps one of the most fascinating and profound statements that I think summarizes Detroit. He said that he almost thought of the City as a rural town. At first, his logic didn’t make sense though it became clearer as he went on. He said that if you look at Detroit that it depends heavily on the suburbs. Mornings welcome people to the image of the massive surge of people—those people going to work at the office. Evenings are slowed down by the mass exodus of people returning to their homes in the suburbs. The ability to purchase goods is practically non-existent. Many residents venture to the shopping centers in the suburbs. While there are some shops, they don’t address most of the needs of the City’s residents. Detroit can no longer sustain itself independently as if once could.

One thing that I don’t like is when everybody slams Detroit. The suburbs are full of critics who know little if anything about the goings-on in the City. However, this gentleman was until recently a Detroit resident. Also, the more that I thought about what he said the more that he made sense. No matter what anybody says, Detroit is isolated and nothing without the suburbs.

During the course of traveling through Detroit for pleasure or for work, I have seen various segments of the City. Of course, I’ve seen some impoverished areas—houses with big holes in the roofs, burned out houses and streets littered with trash, discarded furniture and other remnants of things that people forgot about long ago. I have also seen rehabilitated areas that show promise. Nonetheless, I cannot yet say that the rehabilitated areas are representative of Detroit as a whole.

At the expense of simplifying Detroit’s troubles, I won’t provide answers—for the simple fact that I don’t have very many. While I am learning more about Detroit, I don’t know everything. I don’t think that anybody does. Also, one thing that I’ve learned about Detroit residents is that they don’t fit neatly into a box. The news would have you believe that Detroiters are muggers and murderers attacking anything and everything that walks the streets. This statement describes a portion of Detroit residents but not all. I don’t think that I could do justice to describing those residents that have stayed and are at the front lines in the struggle to bring Detroit back to its former majesty. I wish that I could say that I was one of them. However, my parents felt that they had no choice but to move in order to provide my brothers and me opportunities that we would not have had otherwise.

Whether we care to admit it, Detroit is isolated. Many of Detroit’s residents have left the City. Stores and business abandoned it. The media has condemned it. People come to work in Detroit but don’t live there. The sad reality is that the City is on life support. If we don’t do anything about it, then Detroit will continue to crumble until there is nothing left but the historical markers that designate the only places worth keeping. Detroit deserves more.

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