In the recent stages of Detroit’s redevelopment, Detroit’s Water & Sewage Department is illegally triple charging residents periodically, anywhere from $300 to $700 in one month out of the year. The house meters are outdated and the city is not correcting these problems. Consequently several Detroiters fell behind on their water bills leading to water shut-offs. In contrast to popular beliefs (negligence), some Detroiters miss payments due to not being able to afford the overcharged bills, others refusing to pay unfair rates. How is it that Detroit is the main source of fresh water constituting 40% of the world’s water supply, yet Detroiters pay quadruple the amount of everyone elses in the nation? Not including the spontaneous $300.00-$700.00 water bill charge you might get a few times out the year, I’ve witnessed this with my own bare eyes on several occasions. Now with the current Great Lakes Water Authority deal made in June which entails sharing ownership of the water with surrounding counties, only imprudent intentions for Detroiters seems to lie ahead.
It’s safe to say with the well planned water shut-offs, erroneous housing foreclosures and discriminatory policies (such as the attempted curfew that got struck down) that are being implemented, that one can conclude this is only a ploy driven to move the lower class (specifically black) people out of Detroit in the most subtle way via Classism. But why in a city that’s high in crime with 34% of the population below the poverty line would anyone be so interested? Well, suburbans have always had an economic interest in Detroit. The Great Migration from the south to the north that started in 1910 which consisted roughly of 6 million Africans pose a severe threat to the economic welfare of white workers across the North. Especially in Detroit who had the highest influx of blacks proportionally with an increase in the city’s population by 611%.
White’s were infuriated and rejected the presence so much that their first massive rebellion came in June of 1943 known as the Detroit Race Riot that lasted for 3 days. In the course of the three days of fighting, 34 were killed, 25 were black of whom 17 were killed by police, 600 were injured, 75% were black and 1,800 were arrested (85% black). This race war caused the onset of the White Flight in Detroit.
Twenty years later, Detroit had its infamous 1967 riot that finalize the migration of whites to the suburbs. Detroit ended up being the blackest city in United States, with the election of Mayor Coleman Young in 1973 along with the Big 3 that was considered at the time the anchor of the economy and the addition of having the country’s largest fresh water supply, Detroit destiny for greatness seemed inevitable. It overtly was the haven for black people who wanted a decent life because of the abundance of blue-collar jobs available. At least at the time it seemed that way. But with high crimes, poor political leadership and gradual migration of middle class blacks to the suburbs, the once strong black city begin to dwindle. Loosing its once had 1.6 million population reduce to 600,00, became a major hit to the once known Motown/Motor city economy. But the most devastating blow came of recent when the Big 3 took a big economic hit, Detroiters became disenfranchised and conflicted with employment opportunity. Along with the Coleman era that ended, the former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick scandal and successors that follow who sold out Detroit, added to the irreversible damage to motor city’s reputation and leadership. Now filled with Blight and new leadership, D-Town is ready for a new surge of authority and this time without the company of black leadership.
So to redress the question, Why is suburbans so interested in Detroit’s economy that seems to have depleted immensely? For one, it’s an import/export city lying right below Canada, as I stated in my aforementioned, 40% of fresh water comes from Detroit Great Lake Huron accounting for over 2 thirds of the city’s revenue. Billions of dollars are passing via Detroit monthly, the transportation system is a multi-billion dollar industry comprising 13 billion annually of USA revenue via the Ambassador Bridge export/import business. The recent controversy over a new bridge being built-in southwest Detroit at Riverside park, caused a lot of havoc. Hence, leaving residents with no alternatives but forced to move because of the deal made by mayor Mike Duggan and multi billionaire Manuel Moroun owner of Ambassador Bridge which is the busiest international border crossing in North America.
Now if you ever wondered how the TransAtlantic slave trade was so efficient in taking slaves out of Africa. Observe exhibit A, Detroit. The poor black leadership was bought by higher rank white officials for crumbs. Subsequently black officials delegated on their behalf in gentrifying, refining the socioeconomic structure in opposition towards black people . We were sold out by our own people just like we were 500 years ago. This isn’t white supremacy that’s making them do it, this is some pure greedy, self-indulgent emotions that’s enabling this behavior. The same emotions that lead to Africans handing over other Africans to Europeans regardless if it was indentured, they were handed over. White Supremacy wasn’t even in effect yet, so what was it then that caused such treason acts? It was those emotions I mentioned, there’s some unresolved African tendencies that we haven’t abolished. And its prevalent till this day. There’s still hope, with the new surge of leadership of people like Meeko Williams who took a personal oath to dedicate his life in the fight for water in Detroit. New Era Detroit, The Black Coalition Struggle, and elders like Monica Lewis Patrick whose efforts have been nothing but a mere success. Although the rise of young leadership is admirable and commendable, the load of damage may be too irreversible. Observe the depletion of Detroit that once had black leadership, witness the Black Flight!