Saturday, February 23, 2013

Detroit's White Flight in Reverse

After decades of white flight from the city, including the flight of dead, white bodies from Detroit cemeteries, the flight path has taken a 180-degree turn back to the city. As Time magazine's "Detroit Blog" reported back in 2010:
According to new studies, white people are moving back into Detroit proper in increasing numbers for the first time in nearly 60 years.
Yes, the city has become cool again, especially the central downtown area and its adjoining neighborhoods - Midtown, New Center, Woodbridge, Lafayette Park, Corktown, and the Riverfront. The new residents represent a diverse demographic group: professionals, retired empty nesters, hipsters, students, and the creative class. Mostly, they are members of the curious and adventurous middle class.  

The data above shows that the greater downtown area of Detroit is experiencing a much larger return of white flight than the rest of the city. While 2010 census data shows that 21% of downtown residents were white, only 11% of the residents of the city as a whole were white. That said, a general uneasiness exists among some of the poorer black residents who are concerned about the new productive class. One black resident is quoted as such:
“Nobody’s saying we don’t want white people in Detroit. Nobody’s saying that. We recognize the economic benefits to that. But in the same token it’s not fair that you can come in on the block and build up and buy this lavish house and mine’s is falling apart and I’m trying to get illegal cable and water. I’m not even going to say cable. I’m going to say basic water and electricity and heat and I’m rigging up stoves and opening up stoves to be hot at night. But you got a loan to pay off your house?”
My observances, as well as that of my friends, would acknowledge that these types of attitudes are in the minority and are not representative of the population as a whole. Still, these small pockets of resistance to change and gentrification are visible and vocal. On the whole, Detroit, and especially the greater downtown area, has become a melting pot of diverse and interesting people who have been willing to invest their time, money, and lives in a city that has been painted as a graveyard by media bobbleheads who have never even set foot here.

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