Fall is truly a beautiful time of year here in Michigan. Trees trade in their uniform green leaves for a vast array of red, yellow, and orange decor. Kids head back to school with stories of the past summer to tell and I spend a few hours putting my Chucks and shorts in storage. While putting away my summer clothes, I hoped to put away fond memories of another summer in Detroit along with them. However, This was no ordinary summer.
Thanks to all of you, This blog has been hot topic in many social circles. I cannot thank you enough! This summer was huge in my development as a writer. I have met a lot of interesting people and a host of new friends. All sharing a love for the city of Detroit. I had a chance to sit down with local jazz artist, Lord Yancyy. I saw him about a month prior gracing the stage at Chene Park. His performance was nothing short of enjoyable and provided the perfect soundtrack to a warm summer evening. Talking to him was enlightening. He was not what I expected as a musician and I have met several musicians in the past. He was humble, spiritual, and thoughtful. He had a sense of his impact to all those around him. He expressed to me his fear that our young people are losing good music. More importantly, the very music they are listening to was poisoning them. Even worse, it’s being forced fed to them for profit. I’ve listened to some of the Hip Hop music he referred to and I have to agree…It’s grown folk music. Anything that is highly profitable will be made available to anybody regardless of age. He said something else that will stay with me the rest of my days. He said “It’s not about me, It’s about my audience.” If I am to succeed as a writer, I must keep those words close to my own heart.
My heart however, was dealt a serious blow over the summer. Many children in Detroit will not return to school this fall. These children were among the many that lost their lives to senseless violence. Murdered for reasons beyond them. My son’s oldest brother was one of them. He was not my son by blood but it didn’t matter. Our time together was filled with jokes and whatever advice I had to give. He watched as me, his uncles, and aunts all lost our jobs due to the economy. After seeing enough, I guess it became apparent to him that his role models were struggling. The example we were trying to set of working hard for a paycheck was blowing up in our faces. He felt that his alternative was to work for those who do not value life. That choice cost him his life.
In the midst of everything, Kwame is shopping his book around town. Holding on to his Plea of Innocence like a child holding on to his last piece of candy. The media are eating it up! His political fall pulling much-needed attention away from our falling society. Kwame’s story will make a lot of people rich in Hollywood and may even win somebody an Oscar one day. I am sure of that! We needed our media to focus on and raise awareness of more important issues concerning the city such as the poor quality of Detroit public schools and our incredibly encouraging dialogue regarding Michigan’s high Unemployment rate. Improving our schools and getting people back to work are the keys to turning Detroit around and dropping our crime rate. Any news on Kwame could wait. We’ll let justice handle him.
Our local and state governments response to conditions in Detroit this past summer was breaking ground on a new $300 Million Wayne County Jail September 13th. A week later, on September 20th, a plan was announced to cut the jobs of 1,500 teachers over the next 4 years. And a federal judge had to step in and stop the Governor from cutting 41,000 people off welfare on October 1st. The judge described the State’s process of cutting welfare as “Slight of Hand”. He didn’t halt the entire process, however, he only ruled that the state has to provide proper notice of the coming cut off…but cut offs are coming none the less. In addition to cutting off welfare, I am certain that our Governor Snyder will side with his fellow Republicans and shoot down President Obama’s Job’s [creation] Bill. Remember these people are supposed to be representing us and serving you in your state and local governments. They were voted in and can be voted out. Detroiters have to vote smarter.
This past Summer has led me to a startling conclusion. If you live in Detroit during this economy, your state and local governments would rather spend $300 million to lock you up than spend $300 million on education and employment. I guess you can make more money off criminals than working people. Court costs, fines and property seizures alone could pull in a nice chunk of change. Why not create criminals? After all, it’s good for business right? And the Republicans who work for the super rich will love it. Who cares if it’s bad for Detroit?
This summer further enforced that even though a few people are successful the community as a whole can still fail. It appears to me that the political hand is indeed quicker than the social eye! Its time we became more aware of the real slight of hand of those currently in office and put a stop to this madness! Holla if you hear me!
– K. Greene