On June 29, during a meeting with three site leaders, Ray, and the other DCERP fellows we discussed gentrification and its effect on of Detroit. The place I call home. It forced me to reflect on where I stand as a Detroiter and how I can be active in increasing opportunities and access to different resources to the parts of the city that need it most.
I can remember sitting in my classroom on the sixth floor and staring outside of the window. It was hard for me to focus because I was watching the new Little Caesar Arena being built down the street. I thought to myself, “Wow, how exciting! Detroit is finally getting something new that would bring more attention to the city.” I wasted no time attending basketball games, concerts, and any other large events taking place at the arena. I honestly thought that this was the best thing to happen to Detroit in a long time. During our meeting I found out that the large investment took away funds that could have been dispersed among the Detroit Public Community School District. You can imagine my disappointment. While I was busy enjoying myself at all of the amazing events put on by the arena it didn’t really dawn on me that this could possible have a negative effect.
This meeting helped me put into words what I had been witnessing taking place in the city, but I didn’t have a name for it. Over the last few years neighborhoods in and surrounding Downtown, Midtown, and Cork-town have been the only places taking part in the revitalization of the city. This area that I describe is referred to as the “7.2” because it literally only makes up 7.2 square miles of Detroit’s land mass. It is no wonder why natives of the city constantly claim that all of these new buildings, business, etc are not for them if funds are being poured into only a small part of the city where the majority of residents that has access to all of these nice things are middle class newcomers.
I am grateful that we had a meeting discussing the reality of gentrification in Detroit. It helped me better understand why I have had bittersweet feelings toward the renewing of the “7.2” and also put into perspective some of the goals I have for Detroit in regards to equitable opportunity and access.