I’ve come to realize that Detroiters have a mindset unlike many other urban areas. The mindset that Detroiters have is one that says that Detroit is the only place on Earth where there are difficulties – in the school systems, in the economy and in the workforce.
That mindset is untrue.
However, that mindset permeates throughout the community, regardless of how many times we see other urban school districts show their educational issues or hear about how many absentee fathers there are in other cities, or see other people talking about how difficult it is for them to pay bills and buy groceries. Detroiters still believe they stand out and alone in every area. To a degree, we do. But we don’t. We have the same identical issues that almost every other urban area in the United States has. We really do. The difference is that we don’t use the same mechanisms they use to change our situation here. We think we’re SO different from everyone else that what has been done somewhere else, just won’t work here, without even trying it first. That’s what keeps us separate and unequal.
Detroit doesn’t TRY to make changes using the examples set by leaders in other urban cities to change the way things are in Detroit. Detroiters don’t like change. They like to complain. Detroiters don’t believe in tearing down buildings to rebuild. They just build new buildings next to the old ones. Detroiters don’t like to try anything new. Detroiters just seem to like doing the same things the same way, over and over again.
Fear of CHANGE holds us hostage in Detroit more than anything else does. And excuse making is holding the gun to our heads.
Although I am the first to admit that we do have issues, including the lack of reliable mass transportation that other urban areas do have, I get tired of people who live in Detroit complaining about what we don’t have instead of using what we do have to make things better. The idea that we don’t have successful people living, working and contributing in Detroit is why magazines like UPTOWN, which prints a monthly Detroit edition, only has about 4 pages in it about Detroit. As a publishing company I’m sure they are thinking ‘Why print it if no one cares?‘ As a businesswoman, I see their point of view. As a writer, I want a freelance job to prove them wrong and showcase my own talents.
Entrepreneurs often have a difficult time using the ‘if you build it, they will come’ model of business ingenuity when it comes to Detroit. There are so many people who live here, yet they don’t know what’s going on in the city, who people in the city are or what the city has to offer. However, other people move here from other cities, and countries, open businesses, become successful and talk about the opportunities the city has to offer like this city was built yesterday.
Why is it that people outside Detroit see the potential in the city, but people who live here don’t? I think that is a large part of all of the issues. If you live here, but don’t know what good there is here, how can you take advantage of it? That, of course, is rhetorical.
Detroiters complain about the school systems and that children aren’t receiving quality educations. Yet Detroiters don’t use head start programs for their children or build an educational and disciplinary foundation at home so teachers don’t have to be wardens and teachers for eight hours everyday. Teachers in DPS are some of the most underpaid and over qualified teachers in comparison to other school districts and charter and private schools. Detroiters complain about the lack of jobs. But when companies open locations in downtown Detroit and hire, they don’t apply because they don’t want to work downtown. Or people won’t seek and attend job training for jobs that are available because they want to stick to building cars. Detroiters complain that there aren’t any upscale venues to go to dine or be entertained, but when upscale venues open, they don’t support them. Then they complain when the venues close.
Detroiters are so hard to please.
No city is an island or the epitome of all-inclusive. I travel because I like to see what other cities have or don’t. I like the experience of something different from what I’m exposed to in Detroit on a daily basis. As a result, I see the differences and still appreciate what Detroit has to a degree that I don’t think many other people do. But I’m just one person. I vote, I’m involved in the community, I stand up and fight when necessary against the things I see that are wrong on behalf of others regularly. But I’m just one person who is trying to set an example that I hope someone else will continue one day. Yes, I get it…I really do. Detroit has its problems; education, transportation, economic and societal. But Detroit’s biggest problem is the people within the boundaries of it and how we see the city as a separate entity, independent from its citizens, instead of as a result of what we don’t do to make it better.
Detroit makes you want to quit. In my travels I’ve experienced different types of events, venues, locations, and attractions. I would love to bring the new hotness here for people to enjoy. But just like everything else that is new, it takes Detroiters a long time to embrace it… or even notice it for that matter. By the time Detroit knows about something, it’s already extinct in other cities. Sometimes I feel like we’re the only city in the world moving backwards instead of forwards. I understand why creative people feel the need to leave the city. I get it…I really do. Thanks to the encouragement of my team, who worked so hard, I’m going to try, just a few more times to see if I can bring Detroit forward. I decided to press ahead with Sequins & Suits and coordinate it with the I Feel Good: Mind, Body & Soul Women’s Conference in August of this year. I’m changing venues, and eliminating the bad business relationships and bringing in people who want to partner and produce something positive, new and necessary.
BUT I’m not going to keep giving Detroiters chances to disappointment me over and over. Much like J. Dilla, I can take my talents elsewhere and leave a mark as a legend. I have those options and other cities love creative people with fresh ideas and approaches – particularly ones that can become financially lucrative. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m pretty. So even if Detroit doesn’t believe in Super Woman, somewhere else definitely will. I’m going to do what I said I would, and hold to my commitments, because that is how I am. But Detroit needs to show up or there won’t be anymore Super Events held here.
♦ Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. – Proverb