Since moving to Detroit, while although I’ve seen many efforts of collaboration and support from all kinds of folks, I’ve also begun to catch on to this “Detroit vs. Everyone” mentality. In some respects, I can see this attitude as a sign of resilience and determination, perseverance and pride – on the other hand this kind of segregated mindset can also act as an obstacle, and sometimes a literal blockade to future progress.
I’m not usually one to write about politics or extremely heated issues. Not because I am not passionate about certain topics, nor because I disregard them as unimportant, but simply because I feel as though the level on which I am equally educated about both sides of many hot political topics is rather low. My preference is usually to sit and observe and listen to others engage in these conversations. I find I learn much this way. However recently, I had an eye-opening experience that I think is worth reflecting (please bare with my rambling thoughts).
Recently, I was in the suburbs visiting family friends in the Grosse Pointe area, and we had brunch at Red Crown, an awesome local diner that had been reborn from an old auto shop on Kercheval Ave. Down the street at a nearby intersection, I noticed what looked like a rather inconvenient structure that acted quite literally as a blockade to what I later realized was the property line of the City of Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park. After learning more about the history of this blockade, I learned that the mixture of sheds and slabs of concrete were placed in the middle of the road with intentions to close this historic east-west route for the summertime farmers market. However, critics view this blockage as an effort to keep mostly black Detroiters out of mostly white Grosse Pointe Park.
The good news is that shortly after I learned about the history of this blockade, I also learned that there are already plans in motion to break down this blockade and open up traffic on Kercheval Ave. between the two cities. But my mind was blown at how quite literally this line of black and white stood in front of me. Among many other things going through my mind as a reaction to learning about the blockade, the thought was reiterated about the “Detroit vs. Everyone” mentality. Although this blockade is a physical example of this segregational divide of the suburbs to city of Detroit, the segregation throughout the city is much more a psychological battle. If individuals are continually labeling “us” and “them”, how do we ever expect to see change?
Thanks for listening.