Sam @CUSP Conference 2015

Friday, August 31, 2012

Everybody has an opinion about Detroit

"Detroit is a terrible place because..."

Lately, I've seen a ton of opinion pieces, articles, tweets, etc. about Detroit. Most of these have been negative. And, it seems that most of them have been from people who "grew up outside of Detroit", heard about how "terrible" it is on the news or got their perspective on the city from some third-party source.

There was an author on Twitter who posted about the city and in essence she said that it is probably the worst place to live and best example of the government's failures. Of course, she is not from Detroit.

I am in no way saying that Detroit does not have its problems and I am definitely not saying that there isn't a lot of work to be done. But, I will say this as someone who didn't hear it from the media, who wasn't told by a friend of a  friend who drove through the city once, and not as a person who grew up outside of the city, Detroit is a great place to grow up and live.

I won't lie to you, there was a time when I did not like Detroit at all. Infact, I packed my black 2004 Saturn Ion and made a dash to Las Vegas. I was beat down by all of the negativity I heard about Detroit and some things that I experienced socially and in my professional life. I felt I didn't fit into the social scene here in Detroit as a hard rock loving, indie film watching, NPR listening, opera snob of a black girl (not to say that there aren't others, I just didn't know any). And, my job at the time said they couldn't give me a raise after years of working there because of the economy. I felt there was something better out there and I packed everything I could into my sedan with $1000 to my name and left.

After experiencing almost a year of professional turbulence in Vegas, I returned home. Yep, it turns out that employment woes aren't exclusive to Detroit. Whodathunk?!

I came back to the city almost four years ago and discovered that this city is made up of dozens, hundreds and thousands of citizens like me who love the arts, who are ambitious and want to build careers here, who have had hard times but the city has given them the thick skin to make it through them.

There is something really beautiful about coming from place that so many people doubt or turn their noses up to. The city is even more charming as an underdog than it was during its "heyday" that people love to nostagically talk about.

Now that most of the doubters and naysayers have left, the city is made up of committed, strong, resilient and proud people. There is so much power in that!

Enough with the documentaries, tweets, stories, articles, blogs, blah, blah, blah that wants to tell the nation how "terrible" this city is. It's a story that has been told over and over again. We get it! You've made your point. Let's move on.

When you're done writing and spewing all that negativity about the city come for a visit and go to the DIA, MOCAD, Belle Isle on a quiet Sunday morning, Detroit Opera House, The Fisher Theatre, Fox Theatre, DSO, Campus Martius, Ford Field, Comerica Park, see the art at YMCA Boll, eat at The Whitney, tour Wayne State, see a show at Hilberry Theatre,...I could go on. And, then write another opinion piece, article, tweet, whatever.

Enough already!

-Sam

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