detroitjukebox asked: Could you tell me one of your best memories in Detroit?
A friend of mine recently tweeted about how funny it is when people who aren’t from Detroit try to describe the city. Anybody who’s from the Metro Detroit area has experienced it at some point. There’s a variety of responses and reactions you can receive when you tell someone you’re from Detroit or right outside of it but usually it’s something along the lines of how Detroit is ghetto, dangerous, abandoned, etc. You get the point. I can see where stereotypes like this got started, and while some of them might have slight truth (yes, Detroit obviously isn’t the safest city, and yes, there are a LOT of abandoned buildings), most of them are based purely on ignorance, fear of the unknown, and watching 8 Mile one too many times. I’m not going to pretend that I’m some sort of expert on Detroit, because I’m not at all. However, living 20 minutes outside of the city for my entire life, I feel like I have a decent grip on what it’s like. Whether good or bad, I can’t deny that Detroit has shaped a large part of who I am.
Both of my parents have worked in Detroit their entire professional lives; My mom as a referee for family court, and my dad as a history professor at a small private college. Growing up, I would spend a lot of time going to work with them, specifically my dad. As a history professor my dad has always been extremely interested in Detroit and as a result my brother and I took part in many activities throughout the city. From frequent trips to the different museums such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and Detroit Historical Museum, day camp at College for Creative Studies and the Detroit Science Center, shows at the Fox Theater, and various art/food festivals, some of my most prominent childhood memories were made in Detroit.
As I grew up and entered my teenage years, trips to the city became less frequent and were instead replaced with after school activities and typical teenage angst. But in the midst of all of that, I managed to have one of my best memories in Detroit. An important thing I should mention before I move on is that my entire family is extremely political, like, alllllll of us. There’s never been a family gathering where politics haven’t been discussed and debated at great lengths. Therefore, one of my best memories I’ve ever had in Detroit is in 2008 when I went to an Obama rally at the Detroit Public Library. I was 17 at the time and while I was missing the voting age by less than 6 months, I was still following the election religiously so when my dad suggested going it was an obvious yes.
It wasn’t solely the fact that I went to the event that allows it to qualify as one of my best memories in Detroit. While going to your first political event is exciting, everybody knows that politicians visit cities throughout their campaigns and obviously people go to their rallies, so there’s nothing particularly unique about that situation. Perhaps a combination of being the age I was and being wherever I was mentally and emotionally, going to that rally ended up meaning more to me than just that. Detroit, as many who live here or have visited know, is not a typical city in the sense that unless there’s a very large-scale event going on it isn’t particularly crowded anywhere. So to see the mass amount of people who were standing in the line that was weaving in and out of the streets of midtown all for the same cause, was pretty powerful. The Obama rally was the first time I really felt as though I was a part of something bigger than myself, which for a young adult is a pretty big deal. Also, While I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly patriotic individual, I felt an enormous sense of pride for the direction my country could take and for my city on that day. Even though I was young, numerous people asked my questions and I felt as though my opinion as a citizen of The United States actually mattered. Watching Detroiters and Metro Detroiters come together as a community in the way that a city should be reminded me that Detroit, while it may have it’s problems, is a place of promise and hope.
Now 4 years later, with another election quickly approaching us, it seems like it was so long ago that I saw the man who is now our president speaking to my city about the auto industry, women’s rights, and the war, just as a candidate. Since then, much to my disappointment, I have not had the opportunity to see the president speak again or any other politician for that matter but I’ve still managed to have many other great memories in Detroit. This year in particular has been a great for Detroit and I. I’ve been able to explore the fashion and art community more and like I’ve said before, I’ll say it again: Detroit does have talent. If anything that’s what I want people who aren’t from here to know. While Detroit and the midwest in general may not be the cultural mecca that New York, or other larger cities are, it doesn’t mean it lacks in talent, passion, or people who care and want to make a difference. I’m no expert but trust me, we have plenty of that.
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