Detroit we know where this is headed if we just Sankofa
"As long as we do our part to fight against fascism and white supremacy, we give meaning to our lives and the lives of our children. However, when we decide not to fight against white supremacy and fascism we allow the life to be sucked ou
t of us!"
"Continuing to re-act is further perpetuating the hopelessness that exist, but by being pro-active breeds hope and close the gap of desperation. We can only be pro-active by having our finger on the pulse of the people, and we achieve that by being connected, serving and having programs that breathes life into the people."
Those are just two of the many quotes that resonate with me from the following blog post from comrade in struggle Yusef Shakur. What is going on in Detroit is the '
' theory at its finest and what is most frustrating/sad/dangerous is the number of 'us' folks that so actively participate in our own demis
e...running down the road after false solutions (basically anything that starts out "we need to get them to..."), playing gossip games, posturing for $ from the hand that rips our tongues out as it "feeds" us, not holding city, county, state governments and non-profits accountable to justice based principled work, and on and on and on. The
is in full force...especially with the added incentives for "Black Flight" that we have been led to believe equate to a certain type of success.
We know where this is headed if we just Sankofa. We have to think and create strategically ahead of the ball, on paths pre-determined by history instead of running behind it or, even worse, precariously doing a jig on top of it...the ability to maintain THAT dance is a real distraction! Why do you THINK Detroit is such the hot commodity? What natural resource are we sitting right smack dab in the middle of? AND on an international boarder as well? The export and import capabilities (read - exploitation for capitalism).
Detroit: What is all the fuss about?
by Yusef Bunchy Shakur on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 2:25pm ·
“Detroit: What Is All The Fuss About?”
Detroit is a city that became 95% Black and Brown by default and the surrounding cities became 95% white by design. In order to further overstand the social, economical, educational and political plight which has been imposed on Detroit, we should examine the embargo that amerikkka imposed on Cuba over 60 years ago. A similar embargo has been imposed on Detroit by the surrounding white suburban cities (aka Metro Detroit), which engage in unfair treatment of Detroit. These majority white neighboring cities are openly engaging in institutional racism through attempts to buy off pieces of Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Departments as well as open racist (white supremacy) acts towards all of their neighboring Black and Brown cities like Benton Harbor, Pontiac and Highland Park, which have all had their “Democratic Rights” assaulted by imposing “Emergency Financial Managers” (aka white dictatorship with Black or Brown faces, i.e., Neo-Colonialism) on all of them. Recently Detroit, because of financial debt, was threatened with being taken over by an “Emergency Financial Manager”. For several months leading up to this dictatorship decision, current Mayor Dave Bing (an in the closet republican) publicly lobbied to Governor Rick Snyder that he himself be appointed as the “Emergency Financial Manager” of Detroit, instead of lobbying for the 100 plus million dollars the State of Michigan owed the City of Detroit, which would have taken Detroit out of the red. However, Governor Rick Snyder switched the game up and developed something called the “Consent Agreement”, so instead of coming in and completely taking over Detroit, he backed the current Detroit City Council into a corner to accept a deal that undermined the power of this city for a few pennies. The current Detroit City Council was hoodwinked and bamboozled by granting more power to the Mayor, bringing in a financial advisory board, which the city is stuck with paying the majority of the tab for. They have also lost the majority of their power by agreeing to an agreement which superseded the “City Charter” which was also imposed on the citizens of Detroit, who have rejected their colonialism and fascism agreement. To overstand what has occurred with Detroit we need to take a deeper look at the historical patterns of racism (white supremacy) that has impacted this city that has a 95% Black and Brown population.
We have witnessed a tragedy of Black politicians openly betraying the people they were elected to serve by selling Detroit out to the highest white bidders. Many of them openly choose to cater to the white elite by developing “Downtown”, “Mid-Town”, and “Cork-Town” for white people’s enjoyment and places to live, while neglecting other neighborhoods that resemble “third world conditions” and leaving Black and Brown people to suffer in them. The foundation of any city is its neighborhoods and failure to invest in the neighborhoods is a complete betrayal and jab at the heart of the city. When resources stopped coming into the city, neighborhoods began to dry up like a river and the people began to subscribe to a survival of the fittest mentality. This is detrimental since amerikkka’s northern cities are as segregated as the racist south was almost 60 years ago. The illusion of racial progress and racial equality in this country is a joke, because at the core of amerikkka is white supremacy.
The migration of southern Blacks to northern cities exposed the racism of northern whites which had fallen under the radar. However, the brutality here was not as visibly open as the brutality Blacks were facing daily at the hands of southern whites. Upon arriving in northern cities in inordinate numbers, northern whites demonstrated their racist attitudes towards their new Black neighbors by burning crosses in their yards and exploitative practices like “Blockbusting”. White home owners would sell their homes below market and Black folks were forced to buy the same homes at higher than-market price from white real estate companies. In addition, many of the grocery stores sold bad food to poor Blacks daily. The influx of more Black people migrating to northern cities for job opportunities sparked a trend of more and more white people moving out.
White flight became the social movement to deal with Black people’s quest for equality in education, housing and employment. The equality never came to fruition because Black people found themselves facing the same wretched social and educational conditions that they faced down south, only this time with a northern white racist flavor. This migration also gave birth to a popular Black neighborhood such as “Black Bottom” in Detroit in the 1950s. “Black Bottom” became a beacon of social, cultural, educational and economical hope for Black folks suffering under the iron fist of white supremacy. It spoke to the history of Black people in amerikkka, which was developing and creating social beauty out of some ugly racist conditions! Many successful Black-owned businesses, social institutions and night clubs which sustained a healthy community were developed during that period. In 1920, there were 350 Black-owned businesses, including a movie theater, the only Black-owned pawn shop in the United States, a co-op grocery store and a bank.
This successful Black community became a target for what was deemed as an “urban renewal project” and was demolished and replaced by the Chrysler Freeway (Interstate 75) and Lafayette Park, a residential development. This new expressway and park took priority over Black life. Black people were forced to relocate to other parts of Detroit as if they didn’t matter, which is a common theme in amerikkka. “Black Bottom” is a forgotten history of Detroit where the reliance and self-determination of its people was destroyed and is rarely spoken of.
In order to overstand the complexity of race relations in the City of Detroit, we need to include other neighborhoods, in particular, Southwest Detroit. In primarily Latino neighborhoods, many of its community members are being deported daily by border patrol police snatching family members after dropping their children off to school or leaving church. Also, recently here in Detroit, with the ongoing assault of the public school system by the “Emergency Financial Manager” dismantling the whole public school system by closing schools, students across the city from Western International High school, Southwestern High school and Fredrick Douglass High school decided to walk out of school to challenge the barbaric decisions by the “Emergency Finical Manager”. These students were expelled for taking their democratic education into their own hands! Whatever social, political or educational progress was gained in the 50s, 60s and 70s from the “Civil Rights” struggle has fallen to the wayside because as Malcolm X taught us, our fight isn’t about “Civil Rights”, but “Human Rights!” These students mustered up the courage to remind us that we have a right as human beings to demand a quality education, community and employment, when those in power deny us those things. As long as we do our part to fight against fascism and white supremacy, we give meaning to our lives and the lives of our children. However, when we decide not to fight against white supremacy and fascism we allow the life to be sucked out of us!
Many of the conversations about Detroit is being lead by the "Haves" of Detroit centered around the "Have-Nots" of Detroit, that I consider are safe conversations in safe environments, which is doing a disservice to the "Have-Nots". I don't proscribed that you have to be from poverty to help folks that is stuck in poverty, but it is required that you are willing to go where the people is at and engage them. Safe conversations will not get that done. Far as I am concern that is a newer version of the missionary mentality! By engaging the people you become a fabric of them and they become a fabric of you. We can't continue this approach of "revolutionary imperialism"...Forcing what we think is good for the people on the people, which is actually only good for us. That is like going to church and preaching to the choir. That ain't getting it done!
If the work, conversation and involvement are not connected to the heart of Detroit: the "Have-Nots". The most oppressed communities, the Black and Brown folks in this city, we are wasting our time and the time of the people. If we are not sharing our time, love and resources with the most oppressed communities in Detroit, we are wasting our time and the time of the people. The most needs of this city that needs to be met are of Black and Brown people, and we have to begin to assess their needs and begin to organize them around their needs! Bringing in folks who can't meet that need is a waste of time! By not going to where the people to learn from them, where they can learn from us are a waste of time. This is reactionary and not revolutionary nor transformational! It is imperative that we become rooted with the people, which puts us in a great position of winning the hearts and minds of the people because without that we are like flies on an elephant ass...We ain't making no impact! Continuing to re-act is further perpetuating the hopelessness that exist, but by being pro-active breeds hope and close the gap of desperation. We can only be pro-active by having our finger on the pulse of the people, and we achieve that by being connected, serving and having programs that breathes life into the people.