‘Gentrification’ or ‘Urban Revitalization’… or both? – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

‘Gentrification’ or ‘Urban Revitalization’… or both?

My blog post title poses a question, which I do not have the answer to. I know many people have strong opinions about gentrification in urban areas (and I also acknowledge the fact that many people feel indifferent towards it unless it begins to impact them in any way). While reading the Detroit section of “How to Kill a City”, I felt very frustrated and a sense of exhaustion. As someone who has been born and raised in this city, someone who is African American, and has interacted with many parts of Detroit, it was tiring to see (in mostly the later chapters of this section) that gentrification was yet another issue that had deep implications and roots in historic, systemic racism. But I also appreciate that we got to read this book, it really piqued my interest and I feel more knowledgeable about a subject that I felt the effects of but couldn’t quite pinpoint. For example, I never really went downtown to hangout until more recent years ( 2016 – present), but as these ‘revitalization efforts’ increased, I and others began to go downtown more for simple fun. Something I learned from reading the book was the power of private companies in the city and how they have little to no accountability to the city or its residents. If someone were to attempt to blame one of these executives for only focusing on Midtown or Downtown and creating a sort of bubble, they could (and do ie Sue Mosey) easily rebuttal that it isn’t their job to help the rest of the city with services like transportation. I also learned about how much the population has decreased. Many of my peers speak of leaving Detroit, especially those who have grown up in struggling areas. Something that stood out to me and really just pains me is that people are being displaced out of their homes for reasons that shouldn’t be reasons. And it amazes (not surprises) me that there is such a divide in the city. In 2021, Detroit is 78% Black and 14% White (https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/detroit-mi-population) and it seems like this 14% is concentrated in only a few areas. Overall, I would say my biggest takeaway from our reading is that there is much work for us to do and ignorance is no longer an excuse, at least not for me.

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