Tuesday, July 25, 2017

DETROIT THE MOVIE AND REALITY--THEN TO NOW.

In order to understand the MOVIE Detroit, you have to become familiar with the "Algiers Motel Incident."

The motel was a basic flop house with and adjacent building, it was in that building where 3 teenagers were murdered during the rebellion. Although the facts of their deaths are still clouded to this day, within a year after the fires died, 3 Detroit White cops were acquitted by all white juries. There is a boatload of information available about the AMI.

I personally doubt that the 3 kids had guns or were sniping at police and national guard, but rather the cops knew the Algiers Motel, as a place of drugs and prostitution and were there so --- why not kick in some doors?

On July 29 or 30th my 14 year old brother organized about 5 kids younger than him (I was included) and we rode our bikes all the way down 12th street, eventually making our way to the Detroit River.

The things I saw that day both going and coming back by the same route have stuck with me to this day. I remember what the area looked like, the near zombie like look on peoples faces as they wandered through the ruins and shuffled along the sidewalks just taking it all in. Most likely many of them were in medical shock.

For years afterwards I would take the Fenkell bus downtown which ran 12th street as a part of its route and for years I would see the same ruin, the city could have well afforded to bulldoze them. It did not, it did nothing to erase the scene of such vast destruction.

There was no Marshall Plan for Detroit. Right after the rebellion is when White Flight took off, fear took over--hide the women and children, get out of Dodge, the darkies are coming to rape and pillage.

That Blacks had been a part of the fabric of Detroit since the 18th century didn't mean much, that an all white jury in 1925 acquitted a black man of murder 1 of a white man meant nothing. Just sell now and get out.

The other great movement out of Detroit was it was the beginning of the end of the auto industry in the city. Plants had changed the way cars were manufactured. Henry Fors (and everyone else) was using mostly small footprint multi-level plants with conveyor belts to make a car.

The fram would start on the third floor and works its way down to the exit completed on the first floor. The new plants were designed for large footprint single floor manufacturing. Detroit simply did not have the room for those plants and the Big 3 found it easier to abandon the old plants and polluted land for new digs spread across the country. Easily accessible jobs left, as more time went by a fifth grade education was no longer viable for a middle class, union job in a plant.

This was another turning point where the power that was missed the mark--education never held much sway in most of the city because for well over a hundred years anyone who could make their mark could get a job.

before cars, Detroit manufactured more stoves than anywhere else in the world, it has always been a town of sand and grit. One would think it was the great melting pot come to reality but that was never so.

Detroit was always segregated. The Blacks, whites, Eastern Europeans,Southern Whites,Poles, Arabs, Chaldeans, Germans, Hispanics, and you name it all came to Detroit but the only place there was any mingling was on the shop floor.

At the end of shift everyone went to their own enclaves and preserved old country ways. Detroit and now the entire metro area, is still not only one of the most segregated 400 sq miles in America it is the most prejudiced as well. Division and not reconciliation is the fabric of this society here. Though the media whores and politicians never talk about it, few really want change from the 300 year old status quo.

Like most cities of the north we talk the talk but once the civil war was finished, that was about as far as we were willing to integrate into a core belief that all men are created equal. Few here believe that and fewer here are willing to stake their wealth and commitment to the principle. Over the past 50 years some have come and gone who tried, there was even limited success at certain points for certain demographics but in the end--disillusionment has taken over as the New Detroit emerges by the river while the other 125 sq miles of the old Detroit rots.






The above, Ford's first plant complex Highland Park MI,was replaced by The Ford Rouge Plant which was the first plant to take in raw material from ore to silica and make every single part of the car on site--parts of the plant are still in use today.




4 comments:

  1. So sad to see the great cities fall like this

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  2. Come here, friend Mark then ... cuz Alberta seems fine in the summer ... but maybe you wanna bring your long underwear and any woolies you might have and don't forget them heavy boots and a 22 gun for hunting protein for food ... but other than that ... welcome to the jungle called earth. Love, cat.

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  3. Thanks for the insight into the background of the movie.

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  4. I Can't help thinking of Aleppo and Mosul and Gaza and Yemen and on and on. Hope that you are well and enjoying the summer.

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So Walking Man I was thinking...