Detroit, we may have a problem.


Academia has invaded. Do you hear me? Academia has boots on the ground.

How can this ever be cause for concern? Concepts are introduced in text, but transforming them into live action becomes a rarity as the magnitude of societal ills are leveled. Newly degreed academics are often well-intentioned with a sense of understanding, but difficult to impress. After escaping the suffocating heat of the cap and gown, academics pack up their ideals and hit your ‘hood. The real neighborhood, you know. At this point, after all of their coursework and skimmed readings, your thoughts on your community aren’t so relevant to their purpose.

Practicum isn’t so patient by this point.

“You know, I can’t even talk to these parents, I never see them! They don’t care!”

From what I’ve seen, many new city transplants come in with high hopes and see Detroit as essentially unchartered territory. A brand new playground for their plans and coursework. Why did I describe them as “difficult to impress?” They are! How else can you describe a teacher who explains their struggling parent-teacher relationships as being strained or nonexistent because the parents just “do not care.”

Or other commentary about how so much more could be done with the neighborhoods. The open lots should be community gardens. It’s not enough that folks from the block takes turns mowing the yard and pulling weeds.

Complains people are really rude and need to focus on building community for development. Then when you manage to pass while walking, their eyes are averted.

Or just refusing to take some laps around the block because the air quality is poor.

Nothing is good enough for the academics who hit the city with a covert view of Detroit as a playground. The dreamland in which they can build a utopia; major co-operative living spaces, a friendly relationship with police force, short bike ride to work, the market with high ticket items in which the owner knows their name, sunflowers, and saviorism. Saving you, your kids, and restoring your ‘hood into what it could’ve been had you only known better. Oh! And craft beers, bih! And to think, you could’ve had all of this had you been equipped with the theories.

Pay no mind to the everyday graces that Detroiters are who and where they are in spite of: negative media commentary, criminalization of everyday citizens based on zip codes, housing discrimination, sky high taxation, rapid destabilization if community institutions, undervalued labor force, suburban competition, competition for natural and procured resources (remember the DIA auction risk, Belle Isle), and Eminem making the entire country think 8 Mile is a neighborhood.

Detroiters persevere and aside from trying to play out their studies, the academics want that touch of cool you get from Detroit finesse. No, you will stay out of the Stacy Adams’. These are big shoes to fill and we got linen suits and some Belle Isle fire pits to tend (but never light up) this summer. See the squad when they step out with the windows down and music pumping when the Sun runs low. There’s undeniable magic in the love that shines once you break through the shell formed from societal pressure and metro-Detroit battery endured by the average Detroiter over the years.

It’s sauce.