More Than Meets The Eye - Part 1
A Discourse on Social Action & Political Oppression in Detroit
by David Rambeau
There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
This is a time of huge social and economic change and challenge, and the question facing black people in Detroit is whether we'll be docile victims of the tidal wave, or whether we'll unite and fight the Power: the Mayor, the City Council, the State of Michigan, the credit/bond agencies, the banks, the corporations and the federal government. Formidable opponents, all of them aligned with economic principles, practices and mind-sets designed first to blame, and then to punish the poor, the weak, the uninformed and the black.
The signs are all around us: sub-prime mortgages, foreclosures, layoffs, pay-cuts, benefit cuts, job loss, health insurance loss, migrating manufacturing plants, credit constriction, income and wealth disparity. The unemployment and underemployment rates in Detroit have skyrocketed with devastating social consequences: increasing crime and a population exodus. All a run-up to the city-wide election in November.
The current focus and struggle is centered on the announced cutback of bus service on Saturdays and the discontinuance of service on Sundays by the mayor, and the layoff of hundreds of workers in the Department of Transportation.
At the eight public hearings mandated by the federal government (otherwise I doubt the mayor would have sought any citizen input), the overflow crowds forcefully presented their disagreement and disdain for mayor's oppressive and reactionary strategy, his tunnel economic vision. Interestingly, the public meetings were held after all the research had been completed, and the plans officially put in place and publicized,
The mayor hasn't even shown up for the hearings; he has sent a top aide, Charles Beckham, to run the script, the party line. After an hour at Tuesday's morning session at the downtown Transit Center, Beckham exited, and left some mid-level management to absorb the crowd's fury and pointed analysis. In the Tuesday evening session, neither Bing nor Beckham appeared, only the bureaucrats, still stylishly dressed and mute. Also absent from both sessions were sitting council members and candidates. Odd that when the people turn out for a political showdown, the politicos can't seem to fit presence in their schedule.
In the case of the mayor it's understandable. As a former basketball player and a corporately selected auto parts supplier, he's had no previous political experience, so he's probably busy being tutored in Political Science 101 by a grad student seeking to meet his rising tuition fees. How can the mayor be expected to attend public forums; he's got to study up on how to be a mayor. Thank God we don't elect our heart surgeons, our dentists and our engineers. Don't laugh; training and experience are central to any endeavor.
Which still leaves us with the need to organize and educate our disparate community forces, workers and unions, parishioners and clergy, bus drivers and bus riders, students and seniors, the physically challenged and the politically sophisticated to confront the tidal wave that's drowning our community. And, we need to work to bring about a new social and political order. We must be clear: it's not about the money; it's not about the buses; it's about the people.