Academic journal article The Journal of Law in Society

Imported from Detroit: An Examination of a City in Crisis

Academic journal article The Journal of Law in Society

Imported from Detroit: An Examination of a City in Crisis

Article excerpt

Table of Contents    I. INTRODUCTION      A. Is Detroit Different?      B. Challenges      C. Opportunities  II. BACKGROUND      A. Federal Housing Administration      B. The Birwood Wall      C. Shelley v. Kraemer      D. The Fair Housing Act III. ANALYSIS      A. Redevelopment Conflicts--Gentrification vs. Revitalization      B. The Litmus Test for Equity and Opportunity         1. Historical Analysis         2. Examination of Privilege         3. Inclusion and Empowerment         4. Asset-Based and Place-Based         5. Personal Narratives and Storytelling         6. Transformative Organizing      C. Applying the Litmus Test to Current Re-development Efforts         1. The Detroit Future City Plan         2. Michael Ilitch & Company         3. Dan Gilbert      D. A Call for Transformative Change      E. Building From the Ground Up: Transformative Work in         Detroit      F. The Truth Seeking Process      G. The James & Grace Lee Boggs School      H. Community Gardens         1. Earthworks         2. Detroit Black Community Food Security Network/D-Town            Farms         3. Brightmoor      I. Businesses/ Entrepreneurship         1. Avalon Bakery's New Model         2. On The Rise Bakery         3. COLORS Restaurant      J. Arts Community      K. Alternative Media      L. Regional Transformation  IV. CONCLUSION 


"[T]his isn't New York City. Or the Windy City. Or Sin City. And we 're certainly no one's Emerald City. This is the Motor City. And this is what we do." (5)

Imported from Detroit, a redefined view of the contribution of a "town that has been to hell and back" (6) was summed up in a two minute 2011 Super Bowl commercial. Chrysler's powerful ad featured famed local rapper Eminem, a car, a gospel choir, and diverse images of Detroit showing the gritty, resilient and artistic side of the city that has been in crisis and under fire for decades. (7)

While the commercial resonated with the nation as one of the best Super Bowl commercials ever shown by Chrysler with all the bravado and swag combined, it did something more for those that love and live in Detroit, it made us proud of who we are and what we do. (8)

Despite the ground swell of scholarly analysis, international reporter curiosity and journalistic dissection, everyone has an opinion about Detroit. A two-minute commercial effectively summed up a sentiment that reflects the essence of a city. Even with the consideration that a white face was used to represent a city that is more than 82 percent African-American, the commercial only scratched the surface of the complexities of what this post-industrial city is experiencing. (9) Nonetheless, it was still an important moment in reframing our narrative.

Detroit is a unique place. Once considered the industrial capital of the world, an Arsenal for Democracy, the Motor City, and Motown, it has always stood out as a city that can reinvent itself. (10) When considering the question "Is Detroit different than other postindustrial cities?" the answer seems to be yes. However, the response is as complex and contradictory as the people who live here. Given the scope and magnitude of the city and its challenges, either "yes" or "no," may be right given the subject, time of day, and current local news story reported.

Detroit faces pervasive challenges that have been magnified by the legal and social legacy of the past one hundred years. Spatial racism and segregation have informed the contemporary issues that the city currently faces. Our legacy is also an opportunity for the future of the city and the future of the nation as other cities are watching. Today, all eyes are on Detroit.

This Article examines conditions in Detroit today, the city's history of spatial racism, and provides a critical analysis of our contemporary climate and how transformative change will be essential to fostering health and prosperity in this great city and throughout the state of Michigan. …

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