Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Masters at Work: Trying to Understand Detroit? Eugene Rivers, William Julius Wilson, and Michael Dawson Talk Race, Black Politics, Globalization, Neoliberalism, and the Age of Obama

I enjoyed my appearance on The Ed Schultz Radio Show on Tuesday where Mike Papantonio and I discussed Charlie Rangel's "cracker controversy". It has been more than a few months since doing radio, but my sea legs came back to me pretty quickly...and without a yardarm inspection. There is a "no prize" for folks who get the joke.
Detroit is dead. Long live Detroit. Thus, a paradox: those who are following Thanatos' visit to a great American city see the many opportunities available for those with the resources and good fortune to make a play.

What do the rest of Detroit's denizens do? I am unsure. I send them positive thoughts and energy to get through the current crisis.

Despite what conservatives and some others would like to suggest, Detroit was not destroyed, broken, or killed by black folks. Detroit is a bellwether and the miner's canary. Neoliberalism and globalization practiced their yeomen's infectious and dirty handed surgery on that once great city.

Those who vivisected and killed Detroit were interns in the 1970s and late 1960s; those same economic hit men are now running the hospital in 2012. Patients die. Deal with it. Be silent.

If these economic hit men have not arrived in your community already, they will most certainly be there soon.

Are you ready?

Michael Dawson and William Julius Wilson are two of the preeminent social scientists of their (or any) generation. To watch them vibe and freestyle as they talk about race, class, globalization, black politics, and neoliberalism is a privileged opportunity made possible by the Internet.

What were once called "Chocolate Cities" and sung about so lovingly by George Clinton were not just undone by local mismanagement and folly. They were set up to fail by white flight, tax policies which destroyed their revenue, a hostile federal government, and a patronage system which exacerbated the pain and did little to bring any value added to the already significant economic and business challenges faced by America's central cities.

Were the victories of black electable officials in America's chocolate cities in the 1970s Pyrrhic in nature? I would suggest that the answer is "yes".

And once the same models of neoliberal governance and austerity further destroy suburbia, what will the logic of  racial rationalization be as applied to that case? Are the white folks that are in charge of majority white and now economically failed rural, suburban, and ex-urban communities as incompetent as their African-American counterparts? Or will other other more race neutral explanations be offered?


uncommongood said...

Once the useless and parasitic micro-minority is expunged from the urban cores, these still useful and valuable assets will be reclaimed by the ethically, professionally, and managerially competent folks who felt it necessary to distance themselves from the riff-raff in the first place.

detroitcracka said...

What is the race-neutral explanation for the inability of the black leadership that had total political control of Detroit for 40 years to do any economic development or job creation?

canthandlethetruth said...

8000 elected black officials and a black president and not a damn thing to show for it. Economic conditions worse than in 1960.

Complete and utter incompetence personified.

Why do blacks continue to listen to anything that preachers, politicians, and public intellectuals have to say?