Detroit is a place I’ve traveled to quite often throughout my life. From ice-skating at Campus Martius, adventuring at the DIA, going to Tigers games, and running 5k’s in Corktown and Belle Isle, living 40 minutes away from the city has allowed me to gain an appreciation for Detroit that most Americans don’t possess. Granted, this also means that I may never fully understand the struggles many inhabitants of Detroit must face on a daily basis in order to provide for their families.
My LAS cohort and I are preparing to embark on a 30-hour trip to the D tomorrow, and I am beyond excited. For starters, it will be really interesting to see the looks on people’s faces who haven’t been to a big city like Detroit. But I am most anxiously awaiting to facilitate at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and to participate in community service projects. I have so much love for the city of Detroit, but I want my knowledge and appreciation of the city to deepen further than just the surface level.
What do I mean when I say surface level? Well, most of us Michiganders see the glamour of Detroit, or should I say the ‘hustle,’ and believe that saying things like “Detroit vs. Everybody” will raise it from the ground up. And although this is how many become inspired by this, that inspiration means nothing if it isn’t acted upon. The struggles within the city of Detroit need to be emphasized and made more apparent. My goal is to witness and educate myself on the harsh realities that plague the city’s reputation, and to learn about some of Detroit’s strong qualities that need just as much representation (if not more).
Being from the Metro-Detroit area, I have grown up watching the Detroit news stations and seeing the immense amount of negativity. I have been made aware of issues such as crime rates, poor quality of education, and racial inequality. It has always been something that has saddened me, but I never thought I could be one of the people who can work towards improvements. But as a CMU student, I know that this experience will truly be “preparing [me] for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society” (this is the Leadership Institute’s purpose statement). There is a static idea that Detroit is a bad place- but the conditions of the city are ever-changing. This is why we need to go through an experience such as this; many of us would have never known about all of the good things happening. Also, this will hopefully bring mine and my cohort’s attentions to a variety of social issues and urge us to become more active members of society. Even though we may not creating drastic change (I mean, it is only 30 hours), I think this will make each of us more aware of social issues and more willing to participate in our communities.
In preparation for the trip, I was doing a bit of research and came across an article on the Huffington Post about 11 stereotypes Detroiters are tired of hearing. Number 11 sparked my interest the most…
As my cohort and I take on Detroit tomorrow, I most definitely want to keep this thought in mind. Detroit is neither a city of ruins nor is booming with wealth. It has a great deal of potential, but it is in need of help. And I truly believe that with the support of many, great change can take place.