With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Whitenizing of Detroit

I'm heading to Detroit next week for the annual meeting of the North Dakota Study Group. I used to attend every year for at least part of the meeting. But since it was moved from near Chicago to Motown, I haven't been able to make the trip. But withdrawal has been tough. I miss hanging out with some of the best progressive educators and public intellectuals in the country who are doing some of the best democratic education and social-justice work -- people like 98-year old movement hero, Grace Lee Boggs, who will once again welcome NDSG to Detroit. So it's back on the road. Hope to see some of you there.


As everyone knows, Detroit has become the poster child for post-industrial urban devastation, corporate dis-investment (forced bankruptcy) and white abandonment. In Detroit and other hard-hit cities in Michigan, voters no longer have the power to elect their own local government and school systems have been privatized and handed over to corporate operators. I can still remember the chilling headline in the Detroit Free Press a couple of years back, which asked: "Is Detroit Public Schools worth saving?"

Detroit’s population loss may even leave Michigan without a black representative in Congress for the first time since 1955, a shift that would punctuate the erosion of African-American power in a region.

Michigan's Tea Part Gov. Rick Snyder
Now Michigan's Tea Party Gov. Rick Snyder is putting the finishing touches on his plan to whitenize (ethnic cleanse?) Motown by the further push-out of thousands of African-Americans and their systematic replacement, through a special visa program, with 50,000 white and Asian imported immigrants.

A New York Times editorial criticizes the localness of Snyder's plan but is generally okay with it. In one chilling scenario, the Times editors write:
One way to avoid the unwieldiness of a one-city visa program is to go big. Angelo Paparelli, a prominent immigration lawyer who grew up in Detroit, has suggested doing for immigrants what the “Race to the Top” competition has done for schools.
Race To The Top indeed. 

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