Part of being from Detroit is telling people you are from Detroit. The second, and not-so-fun, part is watching the reaction of people after you tell them you are from Detroit. Accompanied by declaring yourself a Detroiter in front of others is a reaction of complete horror or complete shock; the person you are speaking with will either be completely afraid you will shoot them or completely shocked that someone, an actual human being, has managed to escape the armpit of America alive, without injury or harm.
For some reason, there is a universal notion among Americans that Detroit is a city without morals, safety, humanity, and civility. There is a universal notion among Americans that Detroit is literally hell on Earth. Furthermore, anyone who escapes is either out to kill you or wants your help because they just barely survived. It is inconceivable that any sensible person would ever choose to live anywhere near The Motor City.
I blame the media for fueling a false narrative about the city. Hardly a day goes by where Detroit isn’t associated with something negative. News outlets constantly show pictures of dilapidated buildings and bums sleeping on park benches. Also, while watching the lovely pictures of “ruin porn” (as we Detroiters have dubbed it), viewers can hear about all the crime and killing that goes on in the city. Now, there is a small amount of truth in the narrative that Detroit is a “bad” city. There are undeniable problems that plague Detroit but it really isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. Detroit is a city recovering from a difficult past and a laundry list of structural and cultural problems that are hindering the success of the city.
That being said, I still love being from this town. Part of this blog and my work in Detroit as an intern at Shareable will be to show you the Detroit that isn’t in the news. It will be to show you the real Detroit through the actions and lives of working Detroiters who have stuck around here through thick and thin; they tell the real story. More importantly, I want to capture the new excitement and energy that is fueling innovative projects like the Heidelberg Project, a community art neighborhood in one of the roughest areas of the city. I want to show you the Detroit I know, the city I grew up with, the city that was once written about with admiration, as in the New York Times: “And this is Detroit at the beginning of 1943 — a city amazed and often confused, but a miraculous city, a city forging thunderbolts.”
So, welcome to Detroit…..The D….The Motor City…Motown…my backyard.