Burning Down the House: Detroit, Affirmative Action, and the end of Black-Rule in The Motor City

Coleman Young, Detroit’s first Black mayor, presides over a city his people inherited from white flight and promptly destroyed through neglect, affirmative action, and a general inability to innovate or ability to maintain the city’s infrastructure

What if you could see a city where the logical conclusion of the consequences of affirmative action play out, where the desire to rectify past inequities in hiring patterns turns into an orgy of trying to add every conceivable Black person in the city onto the public payroll?

What if you could see a city where the founding population was ethnically cleansed after two disastrous race riots (1943 and 1967) and continued high rates of criminality made it impossible to justify living there? Robert Conot’s American Odyssey: A Unique History of America Told Through the Life of a Great City offers a direct window into why white people fled Detroit. On p. 448 of the book, we learn that in 1960 – when Black people were only 28 percent of Detroit’s population – that “the number of crimes reported in the city jumped from 54,700 in 1957 to 68,500, and major economic crimes (Robbery, burglary, and grand larceny) increased 40 percent – from 18,000 to over 25,000. During the latter 1950’s black suspects began to outnumber white suspects (in 1960 there were 18,936 black and 13,603 whites arrested), and as a result the spotlight was turned upon “Negro” crime.”
It was this increase in crime that drove 1 out of every 4 white people to leave Detroit in the 1950s, as the white population in plummeted from 1,545,847 to 1,182,970 in 1960. At the same time, the Black population increased more than 50 percent.
On p.466 of American Odyssey, we learn the severity of Black crime in the city of Detroit:
“There had been 9,500 Negroes among the 35,000 person arrested in Detroit in 1940. There were 23,000 among the 36,000 arrested in 1963… In 1963 the number of major economic crimes was nearly double what it had been in 1952, and almost four times what it had been in 1939. Most of the victims of crimes committed by Negroes were Negroes. Negroes were one of the most vocal segments of Detroit’s population demanding better police protection.”
In 1939, Detroit was 9 percent Black; in 1952, Detroit was 16 percent Black; by 1963, the city was 32 percent Black. Funny that Black people would demand better police protection in their neighbors, as Detroit would unveil the STRESS unit that specifically tried to deter crime in these ‘hoods but Black people would immediately claim brutality.
In 1973, Coleman Young would run for mayor of Detroit on a platform of ending STRESS, saying this fascistic program unfairly targeted the Black community. He would win (in an incredibly racial election) and immediately disband STRESS. Crime hasn’t stopped since, with most of deserted Detroit no longer under the protection of 911 services. And it is Black people being preyed upon by other Black people still.
But what of affirmative action, you ask? Look no further than the police, where more than 63 percent of the Detroit Police Department is Black:
Currently, twelve of the department’s fifteen upper command members including the chief, assistant chief of operations, assistant chief of administration, and all six of the department’s district commanders are Black.
What of the rest of the city?
Todd C. Shaw’s Now is the Time!: Detroit Black Politics and Grassroots Activism offers this glimpse into the world of public affairs in Detroit, with p. 78 – 79 reporting that Detroit’s first Black mayor, Coleman Young, solidified by Black monolithic support by implementing affirmative action:
Nonetheless, Young strongly influenced the dominant contours of public affairs in Detroit. Racial loyalty ensured that Detroit’s first black mayor enjoyed support among important sectors of the African American community – for example, senior citizens, churchgoers, civil-rights leaders, and Black Nationalist spokespeople. After all, it was Young who reformed and completely integrated the police force, achieved affirmative action goals, aggressively defended Detroit and black political control against a hostile (white) media and the suburbs, and averted financial collapse of the city in the early 1980s.
Funny, it took an emergency injection from the Jimmy Carter Administration in the 1970s [Black people became the majority population of Detroit in 1972] of $46 million (called the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) after Young was forced to layoff 4,000 employees of the city in fiscal year 1974-1975 just to keep the city going then.
On p. 79, we learn to the extent of the affirmative action policies in Detroit:
This mattered to African Americans, for by the end of Young’s term [1994] and into the Archer administration, roughly 70 percent of all city employees were African American. The administration was also responsible for administering and dispersing millions of dollars in public contracts and grants in pursuit of affirmative-action goals. In Young’s first term alone, city contracts with minority firms rose from a mere 3 percent to 20 percent.
Only Ze’ev Chafets book Devils Night and Other True Tales of Detroit offers a more comprehensive look at who exactly has been in charge of Detroit and, more importantly, the group of people responsible for the impending collapse of the city. On p. 176-177, we learn:
Coleman Young is the black mayor of a black city, a fact never from his consciousness.
As Arthur Johnson observed, in no other place in the country have blacks succeeded in gathering so much political power into their own hands; specifically, the hands of the mayor. After four terms, he has cast the city government in his own image. Five of the nine members of the City Council are black [this book was published in 1990; now, all members are Black]. So were the chief of police, the fire chief, all four police commissioners, and the heads of most city departments (and, although Young does not appoint them, both congressmen, the superintendent of the schools and a majority of the city’s judges).
In city departments, where they are a minority, white often feel like outsiders. One senior official told me that she received bomb threats from colleagues because she was not part of the “black political mafia.”
But Young has done more than broaden access to the pork barrel. Under him, Detroit has become not merely an American city that happens to have a black majority, but a black metropolis, the first major Third World city in the United States. The trappings are all there – showcase projects [Renaissance Center], black-fisted symbols [Joe Louis Statue], an external enemy and the cult of personality. Detroit has even developed a quasi-official ideology that regards the pre-Young era as a time of white colonialism, ended by the 1967 insurrection and its aftermath. An official city publication describes the police department as having been a “hostile white army, entrusted by white authorities with the job of keeping nonwhites penned up in ghettos.”
Once those Black people were unleashed, look what they did to the city of Detroit.
This is what happens when you allow the inmates to run the asylum (Patterson Fears Detroit is Headed for Bankruptcy, Unrest, The Detroit News, March 27, 2012, Mike Martindale):

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said Wednesday he is concerned that harsh comments against a possible consent agreement to solve Detroit’s financial crisis could foster economic chaos and even civil unrest.

In an interview, Patterson expanded on remarks he made before a Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday morning at Oakland University. During the event, he described Detroit as a “tinderbox” and criticized a minister’s comments made at a Detroit town hall meeting.

The outspoken Patterson also predicted Detroit couldn’t survive without an emergency manager “yet continues to borrow money in an effort to get out of debt.”

“Detroit is in a desperate economic struggle and appears headed towards the cliff we call bankruptcy,” said Patterson. “An emergency manager may be the only way out of it. We have seen that in Flint, Pontiac, other cities, struggling with money problems. In Pontiac, we went from hundreds of employees and eliminated police and fire departments, much of city hall, and will probably be down to about 20 before it is all done.”

He also criticized Detroit City Council’s vote Tuesday to borrow $137 million to allow the city to make two upcoming debt payments.

“Trying to borrow your way out — like trying to sell $135 million (in bonds) like the council is talking — doesn’t solve anything,” Patterson said. “It just increases your debt. You don’t get out of debt by adding to it.”

Patterson said an emergency manager is “not pejorative” in his dictionary.
“The (emergency manager) may be all that stands between economic chaos and bankruptcy,” Patterson said.

Patterson also criticized comments by the Rev. Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party at a Detroit town hall meeting Monday on the fiscal crisis. Shabazz told state officials, “Before we let you take over our city, we will burn it down first.” in reference to any state ordered takeover by an emergency manager.

“That kind of talk is inflammatory and is getting dangerously close to the line of incitement to riot,” said Patterson, a former prosecutor. “You don’t have to riot. You just have to incite people to riot. “

Riot? Again. Hasn’t Detroit had enough Black riots? Charlie LeDuff of Detroit’s Fox Affiliate interviewed Rev. Shabazz, getting these hilarious words from the man of the cloth:

“What … is the matter with you?” LeDuff asked Shabazz.

“I love freedom,” he said.

“I know, but dude, like freedom requires some responsibility. So, when you’re like saying burn the … town down, you’re out of your mind,” said LeDuff. “You know that thing’s ricocheting around town today.”

“Well, as a student of history, I look at Saginaw, I look at Benton Harbor, I look at Inkster, I look at Flint, I look at Highland Park, I look at Detroit, all of the African-American majority populated cities are being taking over by emergency manager. But I see fascism being inflicted upon the peoples of the inner cities of Michigan,” Shabazz responded.

“But what about this, look, I mean, people got to live in this, right?” LeDuff asked as he motioned to a decrepit home in Detroit. “So how is this white supremacy when finally white dudes want to help fix this?”

“Because — and when I say white supremacy, that’s not an assault on my white brothers and sisters — I’m talking about institutions, power, financiers, bankers, they willfully, skillfully and purposely through subprime lending depopulated and deconstructed Detroit, which leaves us in this dilapidated blight,” Shabazz explained.
“Do you agree it’s time we did something here?” asked LeDuff.

“We need to do something,” Shabazz replied.

“Do you agree it’s time to get a reign on our budgetary process here?” LeDuff inquired.

“I agree,” said Shabazz.

“Do you agree that the people are suffering because the status quo won’t work?” LeDuff further asked.

“This status quo is not working,” Shabazz stated.

“So, tell the people what you want them to do,” LeDuff said.

“What I want the people to do? I want you to unite — black, white, blue — unite, come together, deconstruct this wicked, reprobate-minded society and let’s build a new one,” Shabazz explained.

“And, don’t burn it,” said LeDuff.

“Don’t burn it down,” Shabazz said. “Don’t burn the city, but burn evil and injustice and white supremacy, not white people.”

“And you want to apologize?” asked LeDuff.

“No sir,” said Shabazz.

  White supremacy had nothing to do with Detroit’s collapse. It was, simply put, Black people who engineered the disaster that has been unfolding in Detroit since Coleman Young’s election following the Black insurrection of 1967. White people just fled to the suburbs, escaping Black profligacy in the process.

There’s nothing to burn down in Detroit that hasn’t been set into a mighty conflagration on Devil’s Night or destroyed by highly flammable destroyer of working civil services known as affirmative action.

Detroit is the case-study for why this policy should be abandoned immediately. In fact, Detroit is a shining example of why freedom failed.



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