When I tell someone my family is from Detroit, the person will respond by saying, “Oh, Detroit!” in one of two ways: the first is suspicious, as if I had said that I was just released from prison the day before; the second, now that Detroit has become a national buzzword for either hopelessness or high expectations, is the inauthentic enthusiasm reserved for the perennial stories in the national media about the city’s so-called “renaissance,” many of which focus on the small pocket of Corktown, a white enclave that is the site of the popular Slows Barbecue restaurant. “[T]he area is now a vibrant community of passionate restaurateurs, stylish shopkeepers, meticulous coffee connoisseurs and craft cocktailers,” went one article in The New York Times, from June, which argues implicitly that the area is good because it doesn’t resemble Detroit at all.
Such optimism tends to ignore details like a city of 700,000 being run during bankruptcy proceedings by an emergency manager, a non-elected lawyer from Ft. Lauderdale named Kevyn Orr, and city officials turning off water for thousands of residents with delinquent accounts, which has drawn the attention of the United Nations. All of these realities in turn give way to apocrypha mongering such as: droves of helpless souls dying of thirst in their houses while the city callously hoards precious fluids, or residents frantically swimming across the Detroit River to escape to the safe haven of Canada. Detroit, like anything else, is never as bad or good as people make it out to be. Read More