Foreclosure and the murder of the Black American Dream

So, anyway, it’s no longer news that Michigan has the weakest economy in the nation, right? If any state is worse off than we are, they will most likely have ceased to exist by the time I finish writing this post.

So long. Farewell.

In Wayne County, which is the county where I happen to live, we have just about the worst economy in Michigan. And in Detroit, which is the city where I happen to live, we have the worst economy in the County. I’m  not quite sure about the economic ranking of my particular block, but judging by all the vacant houses up and down the street I’m afraid to ask. So that means I live in the city with the worst economy in the County which has the worst economy in the State which has the worst economy in the nation.


This also happens to be the city with one of the highest rates of home foreclosures in the nation. The same city that used to have the highest rate of single home ownership of any city in the nation.

And, finally, this is the city with the largest black population of any major American city. I believe we’re also the poorest major American city, last I checked, although Cleveland is right up there and at one point was ahead of us. There is a lot more desperation here than education, which explains why predatory lending flourished here like a weed in a pile of fertilizer. It also explains why the casinos are considered to be our great and powerful salvation, but I’ll deal with that some other day. Suffice it to say that you can build a casino on every block and it still won’t save you from a mayor posing beneath the weight on an eight-count indictment and a city council with four members being investigated by the FBI. Figure it out.

It’s long been said that, at least in this country, the ownership of land is the basis of all power. Columbus didn’t “discover” the buffalo, nor did he “discover” the “Indians.” What he “discovered” was the land that gave sustenance to all of them. And when the “Americans” (not the “Indians”, right?) decided they needed to be liberated from the British, well…why was that? Largely because they wanted this land for themselves, not as representatives of the British. Besides, the British were becoming a pain in the ass with all that taxation without representation bullshit.

So now let’s move forward a few centuries to Detroit’s muscle years, back during the city’s heyday. At that time it was (justifiably) considered remarkable that more African Americans owned their own homes here in this city than any other city in America. Here in Detroit, in the motor that drove America, black folks owned their own piece of the rock. We owned land.

But now here we are in the new millenium, not quite a half century after the good old days (??), and what’s happening? The blackest city in the nation is now suffering from  more home foreclosures than anyplace else in the country. And that same pattern of blacks being disproportionately slammed by foreclosures is happening all across the country. So the piece of the rock we once owned is now chained around our collective neck as we are being tossed aside to make way for whoever is coming to sweep up and rebuild once we’re out of the way.

If we don’t figure this out, and I do mean fast…?



~ by Keith A. Owens on July 14, 2008.

2 Responses to “Foreclosure and the murder of the Black American Dream”

  1. Sadly it is my belief that everything rises and falls on leadership. Detroit won’t rise until they improve on the leadership from the mayor’s office…

    peace, Villager

  2. You’re absolutely right that it starts at the top. As long as the mayor’s office and the city council are all caught up in this never-ending mess, we’re paralyzed.

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