Letters to the Editor

Our readers sound off on Greater Detroit, getting along and an angry voice mail we got

Suburbs can't save Detroit

Re: "Titanic's dance band" (July 13) and Jack Lessenberry's proposal to merge Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties as a way to save Detroit is creative but unrealistic. Suburbanites have been living near the rotting core for decades with little complaint, and outlying communities — whether cities or counties — have their own fiscal challenges these days. I can't envision their voters coming to the rescue. Even if they did and new homes were built, who would buy them? What's the attraction? What would be the incentive to move from beautiful suburbs that already have good schools and public safety, such as the Grosse Pointes next door?

Private efforts that don't require taxpayer funding, which is unavailable anyway, may be the answer. Some already are happening. Kudos are due Compuware, Quicken Loans and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — not to mention GM — for staying put, moving or expanding downtown. Today The Detroit News reported five big companies will offer incentives for employees to live downtown or nearby. Hooray for that!

More good news was in the Free Press today, announcing that Somerset CityLoft is opening — giving middle class shoppers a nice place to shop in the D rather than relying on suburban malls.

Detroit needs more of the same, and its leaders would be wise to offer incentives towards accomplishing that. Let private money lead the way. Depending on suburbanites to save Detroit isn't realistic in this most racially divided region in the country.  —Jack Thomas, Harrison Township

Region must get real

Like other readers ("Displeased," Letters to the Editor, July 27), I was surprised to see Jack Lessenberry assign "some truth" to the notion that responsibility for Detroit's condition lies with shiftless blacks who didn't keep up their houses ("Titanic's dance band," July 13). The depressing history of their white neighbors' attempts to redline, bulldoze and firebomb them suggests otherwise, and if you don't believe me, I have a book by Thomas Sugrue to lend you.

This isn't to say that only blacks were victims. Working-class whites stuck in Detroit as others suburbanized got screwed pretty badly too, and it's important to note that our region is still racked by economic inequality as well as racial segregation. Yet, in any case, we're kidding ourselves if we don't acknowledge that Detroit's predicament owes more to decisions made by powerful — and yes, white — individuals in corporate boardrooms and real estate offices, and backed up by popular prejudice, than it does to the people who live there today.

As Jack argues, consolidating the tri-county region might help us get back on our feet. Before reconciliation is even possible, though, we need an honest understanding of what the truth really is, as the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion hopes to help us gain by examining housing discrimination. Without coming to terms with our history we'll remain, in substance if not in structure, a house divided. By now we ought to know how well that stands. —Joel Batterman, Ann Arbor


In response to last week's Letter to the Editor column, Taw7commissioner posted:

As to the anonymous voicemail "Swearing Mad," it's this kind of mentality that will keep this city from being inclusive. I'm a Detroiter and I don't "love" Kwame Kilpatrick — and, as a matter of fact, I was glad to see him get his just due! His state in life was not caused by the white media. Kwame is his own worst enemy and is responsible for his plight in life and the position he finds himself in today. He's a self-serving, egotistical, narcissistic sociopath. So, to the few Kwame Kool-Aid-drinkers who still have their heads stuck up in his lower bowel, you can have Kwame — "with his flaws." 

And by the way, I'm black.

And CRae posted:

Kwame should have never been in office. He robbed the city blind, and now, he is trying to make money off his craziness! If one decides to sign up for public office, he should understand that the "oath of office" means honesty, integrity, ethics and giving back to the people. ... And to "Swearing Mad," don't be so ignorant. There are good and bad people of every race, culture, color and creed. Remember, without some whites and other minorities helping us with the Civil Rights Movement, we as black Americans may still be drinking at "Black Only" fountains and riding in the back of the bus. It takes a whole nation to cure an illness. And by the way, I'm Black and proud too.

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