Has someone ever come into your home and document third-person a horrible moment in your life’s history? No? Neither have I until “DETROIT” the movie. Having your city’s history displayed cinematically, left me feeling surreal and somewhat watching it unfold in slow motion. There I sat in the midst of my home’s history so close that I can walk outside and within fifteen minutes touch the infamous streets where this tragedy occurred.
No. I wasn’t born in 1967, but I was born into what remains the aftermath of what happened in Detroit in 1967. I can still touch the faces of people that experienced it and empathically being a product of this city; I stand in their story…our story.
Once I viewed the scene where a young man was bleeding out underneath a car after being shot while running from the police with only groceries in his hand, I knew this review would be different. It was only minutes into the film, and already I felt heavy and emotional knowing this has happened in my city. No, I could not write this review unbiased, after all, I am a black woman born and raised in Detroit, this hits home, this is personal.
It’s human nature to sympathize and on a base level empathizes as the saying goes, “until it happens to you.” And while the cast of “DETROIT” embodied the skills and the research to execute this story, it still will be viewed to those outside of Detroit just as an event, a good story, although to director Kathryn Bigelow it’s one that must be told.
Bigelow admitted as a white woman, she may not be the best person to tell this story.
“I really, obviously, analyzed it long and hard, and I thought: ‘Am I the right person to make this film? Absolutely not.’ On the other hand, this story needed to be told, and that kind of overrode any other hesitation,” she said.
“I heard this story, and thought, ‘All right, that’s fifty years ago, but it’s today, and it was yesterday, and it’s potentially tomorrow. This story is not well-known outside of Detroit, and there are so many more stories like it in other places.“ she continues, “I don’t know how to stop it other than to try to create a situation or a platform where there can be meaningful dialogue.”
In Detroit, fifty years later, are we still having the same conversation?
Gentrification the new systemic racism
In the book Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, & Future Reparations author Joe Feagin illustrates that the legal recognition of racialized slavery is a cornerstone of a racist social system in which resources and rights were and are unjustly given to white people and unfairly denied to people of color.
“Systemic racism is very, very real.” ~ John Boyega (Melvin Dismukes)
With the current development of Detroit in the “New Detroit Burroughs” of Midtown, Brush Park, Downtown, West Village and Corktown, there is a similar energy brewing whether it’s acknowledged or not.
The effects of gentrification can be tied to systemic racism as it zeros in on earmarked neighborhoods intentionally due to minorities being the majority of the working class with no access to capital due to years of targeted racial oppression, now enters gentrification to capitalize.
Additionally, it puts a pause to the debate of change being mutually beneficial when those within the communities are displaced, shut out or put at a detriment in the name of progress. Only to be viewed as a visitor in their neighborhood or not even seen at all as in the recent Bedrock marketing debacle.
“I’m not gonna cause any trouble, but I’m not gonna lie down for you either.” ~ Green (Anthony Mackie)
Although, Detroit’s Police Department is one of the most diverse in the country, headed currently by a black Police Chief and although we have not experienced the tragedies of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland or Philando Castile to name a few, doesn’t mean we are exempt. This film and the current divide of not just Detroit but our nation shows that fifty years has not been enough time to change to the storyline. But if not now, when?
The conversation of change in Detroit to move from the point of the racial divide and conquer game to inclusion and equal opportunity for ALL of Detroit is one that needs to happen, openly, honestly, unapologetically. We must begin to stand in each other’s stories and viewpoints to try and understand our past to change our future.
From the Forbes 500 CEO to the dive bar owner on Second, a change towards not just diversity, but inclusion MUST happen lest we find ourselves met with the same tension and unrest of ‘67 brewing in 2017 between Detroit vs. New Detroit.
DETROIT opens in theaters July 28th