January 2, 2018:
As I was driving to work, my first day back after the New Year, I must’ve said 100 curse words during my commute. I had just made it a New Year’s Resolution to stop swearing as much, but how can I with all of these damn potholes in the road? If you live in Detroit, MI then you completely understand my frustration. If not, just imagine driving down the highway 70mph, and having to swerve every five seconds to avoid these large chunks of the road that are missing. That’s what it’s like driving in Detroit. What does this say about Detroiters though? What stories do these potholes tell?
Thinking about this topic irks me almost as much as our president, but I’ll save that for another day. For me, these potholes raise many questions. Why are they so bad? When did they get like this? Why is there no effort in fixing them? If Detroit weren’t a predominantly Black city, would the road conditions improve? These questions have led me to making further observations. Not only are the roads bad, but our communities have progressively gotten worse over the last 25 years while the communities around us have grown. In fact, the neighborhood that I grew up in, has not received any significant contributions from local, state, or federal officials in my lifetime; and these scenarios are far too common across the city.
What do these things say to Detroiters? How are we receiving these messages? It is a historical fact that Black Americans have always been disenfranchised, whether it be physically, mentally, spiritually, socioeconomically, etc. Have we gotten used to this? Are we accepting this burden? For years we have been used to subservient conditions, but because we have been able to survive, our voices have gotten lower and our resistance has gotten weaker. Why?
Is survival enough? Did we really forget that the most important part of life is to live? Yet, we lie dormant. No other community would accept the conditions that we have grown accustomed to. Do we really need a liquor store on every corner? Especially if we don’t own it? What do you see on the other side of 8 mile? It’s less liquor stores, hardly any dispensaries, and increased speed limits. What’s the bigger picture? Complacency? Fatigue? Lack of hope? For me, it’s that our communities seem to have been constructed to keep us a step behind. Everything from the potholes on our streets to the liquor stores on our corners are speed bumps in our quest for equality. There’s beauty in it though. Every roadblock is a reminder of our strength. Don’t be content. Don’t be a victim. Be aware. Stay present. Don’t fall for the traps Black Man, Black Woman, Black Child; because there will never be a shortage of prison beds, and our economy thrives off our exploitation.
It’s a new day.
Written by: Steven Farrar