That one man: Black studies professor Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis [Twitter], who published Abandon Detroit, Abandon Black America back on June 2, 2010 at the now defunct black paper, the Atlanta Post. It lives on at the black website Madame Noire (and here’s the Archive.org link). It gave me the idea to write my own book Escape from Detroit: the Collapse of America’s Black Metropolis.
[VDARE.com note: Since publication of this piece, Lewis has changed his name to "R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, also known as Dumi Eyidiyiye". Don’t ask us why. ]
Right in Lewis [whatever]’s first paragraph, any confusion about the origins of Detroit’s collapse is blowtorched away:
Detroit is a microcosm of Black America. I believe if you cannot love Detroit, you cannot fully love Black people. The Detroit Metropolitan area represents the best and the worst that Black folks in this country have to offer. The Black middle class was solidified in and around Detroit with steady unionized blue collar labor in the auto industry.
The middle class expanded as more Black folks with college educations occupied managerial positions. Detroiters experienced and vigilantly fought the racisms of housing redlining, riots, as well as White and Black flight. Detroit has benefited and suffered at the hands of White and Black leadership. If there is a city that tells us about the promise and perils of Blackness, it’s Detroit. I’m so interested in what happens in Detroit because if we can turn it around, we can turn around the rest of our cities.
“The promise and perils of Blackness.”
With the yawning financial deficit Detroit faced, the promise of “Blackness” apparently proved to be too perilous to overcome.
Although DeMint, Dr. Stanley, Williamson, and Hodges fail even to mention the demographics of Detroit, it is “Blackness” that Detroit once reveled in.
Though everyone knows that race is merely a social construct, neocon court historian (and fanatical immigration enthusiast) Tamar Jacoby acknowledged in her 1998 book, Someone Else’s House: America's Unfinished Struggle For Integration, that it was in “Blackness” that Detroit found its raison d’etre after the 1967 riots:
In the black mythology of Detroit, 1967 became the point that blacks finally stood up for themselves – what Ebony magazine called “the birth pangs” of a new city. Former head of the Detroit NAACP Arthur Johnson used the same metaphor.
“What we had in 1967 was a surprise pregnancy,” he said. “The baby had to be delivered… We had to go through some kind of trauma.” It would be a few years before Detroit would technically become a black city – before the population tipped and political control fell into black hands. But plainly, for most residents, the riot was the turning point that mattered. People began to talk proudly about the emerging “Black Metropolis.”
Coleman Young was elected the city’s first black mayor in 1973
Inadvertently, Jacoby offers the kind of history lesson National Review, the Heritage Foundation and anyone connected with Conservatism Inc. would like to forget:
On this and most things, black Detroiters rallied around the mayor. His election and the transfer of power that followed had had a profound effect on the mood of the city. Detroit was now a proud black town, the largest black-majority city in the country – and the one where blacks wielded the most political power. The mayor’s office, the school board, the city council and the courts were increasingly African-American.
Outside of government too, black professionals were gaining ground. Though most finance and industry were still in the hands of whites, a small black elite was emerging: sleek, well-dressed developers and money people, many of them newcomers, doing a thriving business with the city government. As exciting for many Detroiters, the public face of the city was changing. The images on billboards, the mannequins in department stores, the television personalities and radio announcers all seemed to have changed color overnight.
Black music filled the airwaves; soul food restaurants opened around the city, and even traditional restaurants downtown were suddenly filled with black people. For many city residents, it added up to a cultural revolution. “Blacks,” one resident noted jubilantly, “are saying ‘Detroit’s ours now’.” The change was palpable and apparent to any visitor in people’s bearing, their clothes, the proud way many kept their houses and lawns. Even the culturally remote New York Times understood. Detroit was becoming the black capital of the nation, it wrote, “certainly, the black working-man’s capital.” [Blacks See Detroit as Their Own, and Hope to Rebuild, By William K. Stevens, The New York Times, July 26, 1976(Links added by VDARE.com)] (p. 318)
You won’t see the New York Times print such a direct acknowledgement of Detroit’s demographics today. It might get people thinking about why armed guards and a signed release form excusing the city of Detroit from possible injuries or death were recently deemed necessary before Wall Street creditors could take a bus tour of Detroit’s worst areas. [Orr cancels creditors' bus tour of Detroit, by Robert Snell, The Detroit News, July 9, 2013]
“Detroit’s ours now.” Jacoby no doubt wishes she hadn’t published that quote, since it makes clear that demographic change is responsible for the largest city bankruptcy in the history of United States—at exactly the time when she is a well-paid Washington D.C. lobbyist seeking to impose similar demographic change on the whole of America through the 2013 Amnesty/ Immigration Surge Act.
But no part of Conservatism Inc. wants to face the implications of this demographic reality. Indeed, in a self-parody that no Dissident Right critic would have dared imagine, the Heritage Foundation has actually published an article claiming that school choice is the answer to Detroit’s problems! [Broader School Choice May Be Detroit's Best Hope, Heritage Foundation, January 31, 2013].
Both President Obama and Attorney General Eric “My People” Holder have called for a dialogue on race relations among Americans in the wake of acquittal of George Zimmerman. But the bankruptcy of Detroit is a more fitting starting point for this dialogue.
Only yesterday, Detroit was a city where an intensely color-conscious people bragged about exercising more “black political power” than anywhere else in America. Today, the result is undeniable disaster.
R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy/ Dumi Eyidiyiye was right—the “promise and perils of Blackness” is exactly what the bankruptcy of Detroit represents.
But Conservatism Inc.—the so-called opposition party and its ideological mouthpieces—prefers to cower behind color-blind clichés.
Paul Kersey[Email him] is the author of the blog SBPDL, and has published the books SBPDL Year One, Hollywood in Blackface and Escape From Detroit, Opiate of America: College Football in Black and White and Second City Confidential: The Black Experience in Chicagoland. His latest book is The Tragic City: Birmingham 1963-2013 .