Detroit mayoral RACE politics
The anonymous white drinker who runs http://detroitblog.org usually writes about exploring abandoned buildings, but occasionallyveers off into hockey and local politics.I don't live in Detroit or know these characters, but I am likingthis piece, because I usually like it when a writer stands on whatthey believe to be the mid-line and calls bullschitt on either side.Kind of like Frank Zappa's lyrics in "Trouble Every Day" on Freak Out.However, I'm wondering if it's only the anonymity that would allowone to use the phrase "black trash" in "print".The Detroit mayoral race:September 23rd, 2005 The region is still abuzz over last week???s mayoral debate, mostly due to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick???s race-baiting, reminiscent of the political and social climate of Detroit in the Coleman Young years. He even got kneejerk Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson worked into a suburbanite froth, just like Coleman used to do! That???ll stick it to ???em!And that was precisely his intention, to tap into the Us vs. Them mentality that defined local politics in the 70s and 80s and still underlies a lot of local politics but which had faded somewhat thanks to concerted efforts by both sides.That???s Kwame???s only hope for reelection, to resuscitate the racial polarization of the 70s and 80s. He???s appealing to the poorest, least-educated Detroit residents, the same kind of people the country has been watching in New Orleans for a month. The hurricane in New Orleans instantly did to that city what has been happening in Detroit in slow-motion for a half-century: the people who could get out ??? rich and middle-class whites and middle-class blacks ??? fled, leaving a core ghetto of the poorest of the poor, those who are trapped even in the worst of disasters. In Detroit the educated, the affluent, the middle-class and even blue collar workers fled to the suburbs, leaving a core that grows more impoverished and unemployable as the educated and skilled leave at the rate of almost 15,000 per year, a core quite left out of the improvements downtown.One-third are dirt poor; one-half cannot properly read or write at an elementary school level. One-half. The difference is, in New Orleans almost all the educated and middle-class residents who left are coming back. In Detroit, almost all of them are gone forever. So despite this election, they???ve already voted ??? this time with their feet.The demeanor and body language of the candidates at the debate said it all ??? Kwame stood aggressively, spoke confrontationally using thug language, ???taking the gloves off??? as he once said, and was ???looking to hit someone??? as he said the night of the primary election. Less like a statesman and more like a gangster, a stance crafted to appeal to the crass emotions of the portion of the city???s population that is poor and largely illiterate.Then there was Freman Hendrix ??? professional, well-mannered, gentlemanly, almost aristocratic. To Kwame and many of his supporters this, among other things, makes Hendrix white.This is part of the self-defeating breed of ghetto mentality that educators cite repeatedly, that many black students think reading is ???white,??? that learning is ???white,??? that being a gentleman is ???white.??? It???s a tragic pathology that enforces the notion that ignorance is cool, a self-defeating mentality that sentences kids to stupidity and uselessness in a 21st-century society.That???s what Kwame is appealing to - the black trash vote. Obliquely accusing Hendrix of essentially being white and viewing Detroit school children as ???savages??? serves to portray Hendrix as a suburbanite or a pawn of the suburbanites (i.e. white outsiders), who are the enemy in the Old Detroit mindset. It???s the same technique some suburbanites use when referring to ???Detroiters??? when they speak of black people. It???s all not-at-all-subtle code language, and it???s the kind of thing Kwame hopes will lead him to a dirty victory. Then again, maybe Kwame is, sadly enough, the appropriate mayor for a city whose fleeing white and black middle class has made Detroit the poorest major city in the country, with one of its most illiterate, crime-ridden, and undereducated populations. In substance and style, and through what he strives to represent through his words and actions, Kwame is now the Thug Leader of the Ghetto. For someone who once aspired to be the country???s first black president, it is a shameful descent into the lowest of expectations. What a proud legacy.