Everyone I know at some point during the past two years has approached me, as an ex-Detroiter and an artist, asking me questions like “Shouldn’t we all move to Detroit?” or “What is happening to the Detroit Institute of Art?” or telling me someone they know is going to Detroit for a “project” or to “study” what is happening there.
Of course we all know that Detroit, being the seat of the auto industry, has had financial trouble since the 1960s and 1970s. Some blame it on the difficulties between management and labor, some on corrupt city government, some on the importation of cars from outside the US. Whatever the genesis, the situation has worsened in past years to create a void both in population and infrastructure. Nature, hating a void, has filled it in with surges of people flooding into the city, each seemingly with his or her own agenda. What I am reading in the press is bizarre. Some seem to be drawn to cheap housing, some to the scene they read about is happening there, some to try and help, proudly buying someone’s foreclosed house for a pittance. Help? Hmm.
The question I keep asking is where are all the dislocated people? All the folks that lost their homes?
And what is the impact of this influx of hipsters-hucksters on what’s been a solid arts community and on the rest of the city?
The Detroit suburbs are strong and as stable as any others in the country. And although the city has lost an enormous amount of population and housing, there are and have always been real people there living very normal lives. Why then is Detroit ALWAYS portrayed as the ghetto? I feel as though the media treats it like a huge auto accident, portraying the destruction and playing to the voyeurism.
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