Angry Detroit Activists Complain City Isn't Black Enough

A lot of nights you can stand in downtown Detroit and think you were in Minneapolis


Oh no! There are white people in Detroit! Someone do something quickly to stop the racist presence of white people! Only when Detroit is 100 percent black and one hundred percent bankrupt will... well no that won't fix anything either.  (via Maggie's farm)

The divide around here once was between Detroit and the suburbs. Now, in the words of race warrior Shirley Stancato, it’s becoming between “downtown and those other people.”

Whitey, go back to the burbs and stay out of Detroit!

“It’s an issue,” says Stancato, whose organization is dedicated to closing the racial divide. “It’s a symptom of concerns that are just underneath the surface.”

Is complaining about white people in a black city really closing the racial divide?

The resentment broke through during the recent Detroit mayoral campaign. The downtown vs. neighborhoods conflict became a sub-theme that both candidates had to address on the campaign trail.

How could it not? 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.

It’s a different story in the neighborhoods, where the city’s inability to fund basic services is evident on nearly every block.

Those evil white people. They pay to pick up their own trash. They bring investment into Detroit. Someone get Eric Holder on the line.

Something else is bubbling, too. A lot of nights you can stand in downtown Detroit and think you were in Minneapolis instead of at the core of the blackest city in America.

With a few exceptions, the new hip hotspots have an overwhelmingly white clientele. Often, the downtown crowd is an almost exact reversal of the city’s 80 percent black, 20 percent white and others racial makeup.

And? Are there armed guards keeping black people out of downtown Detroit? Is a city run by black people really incapable of tolerating a white enclave?

I talked with several downtown denizens over the past few weeks, and all seem to have noticed the same thing, but they can’t say for sure why it’s happening. Most say diversity is one of the things that draws them to Detroit.

Diversity seems to be code for "No White People Allowed."

Stancato says it’s not something we can shrug off. “The response has to be intentional,” she says. “Are we focused on this and are we willing to have a conversation about it?”


Detroit is bankrupt. It can't keep the streetlights on or pick up the trash. But by all means, let's have a conversation about how the small number of remaining white people are upsetting black people by being too white.

New Detroit is working on programs to help white and black young people, particularly those living in Detroit, get comfortable with each other.

Interracial flash mobs anyone?