Yes, white folks are moving into the city in droves, and they are only part of a wider group of people bringing density and the customer base to Detroit’s booming core. And some folks are not hip to it. Shame on Nolan Finley of the Detroit News for giving this loon, and others like her, serious air time and consideration. Folks like Shirley Stancato are now referred to as Detroit’s “race warriors.”
As my Detroit: From Rust to Riches blog has been documenting for some time now, Detroit has become the place to be, and has thus moved from being a city known for white flight to a city where all kinds of people – including white people – can’t get here fast enough. Occupancy rates in popular Midtown have pushed over 95%. I’ve lived here my whole life and I have never before seen such a fun and amazing hodgepodge of people that are living in the dense downtown areas. And there are still some naysayers kicking up a fuss over gentrification, housing prices, and … white people moving back to the city. To quote Nolan Finley:
Downtown, meanwhile, is a magnet for creative and upwardly mobile young people of both races, but the tilt is heavily toward whites.
What he didn’t add was that during Detroit’s pre-2007, pre-renaissance period, young whites who would graduate from local colleges would leave here as fast as they could pick up their paper diploma and pack their vehicle. Human capital came, graduated, and went. These same young folks are flooding into the city to live the creative and exciting urban life that was never before available to them. Empty nesters who left during the reign of the city’s worst regimes have also come back to their roots. Here’s a simple quote from Finley that explains a bit more about why Detroit is thriving while the world expects it to be dying.
Downtown seems immune to Detroit’s broken finances. It’s booming thanks to private investments and its sudden emergence as a cool city for young people to live and work in.
Private dollars take care of everything from street clean-up to security within the downtown and Midtown zones.
Aha, he gets it! However, while private investment ramps up and takes over basic services; commences restorations; builds new housing; and provides creative entertainment, dining, and nightlife, “race warrior” Shirley Stancato says white people coming downtown “is an issue” and “are we willing to have a conversation about it?”
This story drew 500+ reader comments almost overnight, and the reason is that people here are sick and tired those who cannot let go of the past, and instead, they hash over the same old rusty ground, pulling out the race card along with class warfare. I’ll quote from a friend of mine, Thomas E. Page, whose comments appear in the comment thread:
Finley, Stancato and the media should be celebrating increased diversity downtown and midtown. What’s happening in Detroit has already happened in cities such as Atlanta and Washington, D.C. More white folks have moved into the City and more black folks have moved into the suburbs. Look at the region as a whole and these demographic changes indicate that the region is being less segregated. And that’s good.
The way to put race behind this community is to put it behind us. I don’t know of any other community that wallows in the past, and then puts a racial spin on just about everything. I refuse to get sucked into that vortex that goes nowhere. Most Detroiters want the same things: City services that serve; a fair tax system; police who respond when called; trash that gets picked up when scheduled; street lights that work; places to shop; places to work; cultural opportunity; etc. And the color of someone’s skin is totally irrelevant to this. My neighbors, most who are black, complain about the exact same things I do. The establishment of Council by Districts and the recent mayoral election are proof that people – black, white, brown, yellow – welcome, in fact demand, change.