Poster by Melinda MeMe Anderson

Growing OUR Power!
This text was written as a facebook status update on August 7th, 2020
by Piper Carter

          Over the past decade Detroit went through aggressive gentrification & went on a campaign to remove folks from their homes with fake & double mortgages, mostly through Quicken Loans. Under the emergency management plan which is basically financial martial law, which also caused the Flint Water Crisis, they went on a massive water shut off spree cutting of over 144,000 people’s water, massive school closures shutting down over 250 neighborhood schools, and a divestment/investment plan called the “Right Sizing Plan” initiated under Mayor Bing where they did all of this plus cut off street lights and city services completely.
         This plan was created to move populations from certain neighborhoods. And they named I believe nine different neighborhoods as “healthy” neighborhoods worth of investing into. There’s an elaborate plan you can find that they call the 20 year plan which ends in 2030 where you can read about it & see the maps of planned green space vs planned gray spaces. They have not specified what gray space means but it’s definitely not green. The thing is though in each of these neighborhoods you have at least 10,000 people living there mostly seniors, children, formerly incarcerated, single parents, poor folks, the working poor, sometimes even bottom middle class.
          So they made decisions to remove everything that would make it a healthy community and in the process created aggressive campaigns to convince folks to move out of the city. And within that campaign they also promoted that folks should also give up ownership to move into renter situations and to younger folks they promoted renting over owning.
          This is the handiwork of developers, along with city officials, but led by developers. Now there’s this new jobs program where they pay residents to take pictures of violations of their neighbors’ homes and report them so they can take their homes. And of course because of the unemployment rate folks are jumping at this “opportunity”. They give them a sheet with a list of violations to look for. Their neighbors don’t even know that they are in violation nor that they are being reported. By the time they find out, they’ve revived a long list of blight tickets & other tickets they can’t pay. That’s a Quicken Loans program.
          The city water department also adds unpaid water bills to the taxes on the house and uses that to strip folks of their home. They also send Detroit Police and Child Protective services to the homes to deliver the shut of notices and remove the children from the homes. Even if the person pays the delinquent bill, they now have to find resources to fund their legal battles against being charged with neglect and abuse plus fight the state to get their children back. It’s a mess.
          Plus the city of Detroit has been over assessing folk’s homes by something like 300+% and using that to take folks’ homes away. That’s how Detroit went from something like 85% homeownership to like 30% homeownership. Remember, this is stil an 85% Black population. It’s just that now the power has shifted. And where Detroit previously had strong Black leadership from the top, now it’s pretty much run by developers and corporations. It’s crazy.
          We must take back power as citizens. I believe this is done both in the streets & through the tool of electoral politics. It’s necessary to vote folks in who will actually create and enforce policies that support life affirming circumstances for living and healthy, safer, more thriving neighborhoods. We also need to uplift and create our own candidates.
          It’s also crucial to push the folks elected whether we like them or not to serve our communities because that’s their job plus the tax monies, no matter how much, have been collected to do exactly that. It’s also equally important for us to be self determined and not solely rely on government. 
          We’ve got to get folks who have access and resources to invest into communities. This is a mentality. Many of the Black folks who have money and resources and access want to mostly look good doing charity. (I’m only talking about Black folks reinvesting right now). This is a very neoliberal mentality. Taking pictures serving poor people or homeless to prove they care etc.
          Many of the churches in the neighborhoods are not open to help folks in the communities unless they join the church. That’s unGodly to me. There are some who are not like this so not condemning the church, I’m talking about the ones who have their doors locked except on Sundays for service (even before COVID) and don’t do food distribution nor have programs for teens and who’s congregations mostly drive to church but no one knows the neighbors and surrounding businesses.
         The local business are suffering right now financially because of COVID but there must be some kind of bridges built between residents and local businesses where they have something serving the surrounding residents in community. There must be more investment into programs for folks to purchase the homes they currently are renting as my brilliant cousin Dianne Dew suggested. And investment into programs for folks who currently own their homes to make repairs. This is what celebrities and folks with resources can do honestly. 
          Also, we need massive political education in communities. Our folks need to understand government and how it works and should work for us. Civics and government were removed from public education about 40 years ago so we have multiple generations of folks who don’t know the duties of elected officials nor the power of citizens. So they don’t know who to complain to about what nor how to go about doing so nor that that there is an option. We also have lots of folks around who do, and these folks need to be digging in to do massive education even on a small scale so we can lift up together.
          At the same time, I’m aware of different folks in communities around the city building slowly on their block. This is the key. Each of us must work together and support one another in sharing our lessons of building in community, dealing with bureaucracy, funding resources, hiring skilled labor, bail out programs, legal support, etc.
          Our biggest asset is our relationships. Over the past almost four decades the trust in community has been destroyed as a result of the war on drugs & the war on crime & the war on poverty, because the biggest casualties of these wars has been The People. I am not from the neighborhood where I live and I purposely walk down the street and speak to my neighbors. This mistrust is not in vain. Some really nefarious stuff happened to folks and my neighbors have some horror stories. We all do. But we must make our neighborhoods safer, cleaner, and more desirable. And this means pressuring elected officials to give us what we are owed which includes reparations and it’s going to take us stepping up to our power and building better stronger relationships with one another.
           Many folks in the hood move around a lot so many folks don’t take up roots. And it’s difficult for folks who are not rooted to take up this struggle, it’s not impossible, but I’ll say it can be challenging enough fighting to survive. But some of us are rooted and some folks are Elders now who have been doing all of this fighting and they are exhausted.
          This is election time. Folks who are fighting for seats need to do right by all citizens, not just their donors. It’s the right time to apply pressure. The nine healthy neighborhoods will be alright because their funding is already being activated. The rest of us are on our own like the Wild West and they expect us to implode. But we are building together and we are talking to one another and we are sharing resources and we are investing in our neighborhoods.

I Believe that We Will Win✊🏾💜

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