I grew up outside of Detroit during the 50’s and 60’s. When my sisters and I were young, my mother used to take us downtown Detroit once a year at Christmas time to see the window displays at the Hudson’s store, go shopping in the beautiful department store that Hudson’s was in those days and then to see a children’s concert. My grandmother lived in Detroit then too. She lived right next to the State Fairgrounds. She had a beautiful rose garden and we loved to run around the slate paths in it and peer through the tall chain link fence into the fairgrounds.
Then came 1967 and the terrible riots in Detroit. I remember being afraid when my dad went to get my grandmother and bring her home to stay with us during those terrible days. There was so much destruction in Detroit then … and they never cleaned it up. A few years later, my grandmother was able to buy a house in our small town and move out of Detroit. Many other people had the same idea. They called it white flight and my small town grew ever larger and wealthier as the white and the rich moved away from the city that had lost its self respect. Eventually, some sad young people started the horrifying tradition of burning houses on the night before Halloween, adding to the number of abandoned and uninhabitable homes in the city.
How can a city’s citizens have self respect in a city that has none? People demonstrate that they have personal self respect by keeping themselves clean, dressing in a presentable manner, and behaving properly. Why can’t a city do the same? Detroit didn’t always have 78,000 abandoned buildings in it. It started with a few hundred. Why didn’t they clean them up before it got out of hand? It’s demoralizing to live in a city that is so full of burnt out buildings. How can people pull themselves up if everything around them is falling apart?
New York City at one time was not a pleasant city to visit. It was dirty, sloppy and full of crime. People had stopped caring. Rudi Giuliani started aggressively cleaning up the city and focusing on crime reduction. Some didn’t like it but eventually his policies paid off. Detroit didn’t have a Giuliani to care enough about its people to clean it up.
Will a multi-billion dollar bailout help Detroit? I propose that it will do nothing at all if no one in the city has enough self respect to clean it up.
I’m sure this is just one small aspect of a huge problem. What do you think about self respect and how can Detroit get some?