Detroit is Colorful

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Summertime is an amazing time in Detroit. It is green, beautiful, gritty. You see more people on their bicylcles and their bikes.  The ice cream trucks going up and down the streets.  I love it. One of thegreatest things about it is this is festival time. From July 4th weekend all the way to Labor Day weekend, Metro-Deroiters can find free entertainment and fun for themselves and thier families. There is so much I am going to give you this link to look at.  There are a couple of fee-based festivals. Those tend to have a specific audience there. Fees tend to exclude people from taking part. This is so outside of the Detroit philosophy. That is a different blog post. This blog post is about a free festival that has been going on in Detroit for over 30 years. World Fest.  

I almost missed it. Work was so hectic, but you know, my nieces were bored and it was 7 PM at night. Why am I working? I stopped and we went.  You could hear th music as we parked. It was wonderful from music from Ghana, to Raggae, to Jazz, music from the Middle East. You could not help but move to it. The music was the beginning. The mateiral, clothes, art, jewlery, frangrances.  

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The people. I saw so many different types of black and browns in the sea of people. From the darkest of skin wearing skater jeans to a light skin sister with dreads and a dashiki. Look at how colorful Detroit is? I felt real and connected to my city through this experience. What I saw, you don't see in media. Positive and lovely – black and brown Detroiters having a good time. Engaged with their city. Loving what it brings.  More of that needs to be seen becasue, in actuality, this happens on a daily basis in Detroit somewhere. That is its reality just as much as the other things we see all the time in the news. 

My nieces loved it and we planned to take $200 with us next year so that we can go home with some cool material and fragrances.  I would had to have kicked myself if we missed that experience. 

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Funniest Thing You Ever Said

yellow_traffic_lightWe were sitting in traffic. No one likes sitting in traffic, but, what made it worse, things were tense between us.  By this time in our relationship, the tension was happening more often. I wanted to get to our location. We could see the culprit that was making this long trip longer. He was a couple cars ahead of us, somehow blocking more than one lane.  I can't remember verbatimlly, but I do recall saying, "I wish we could blow the horn and only a specific person would here it" and you said, "Yep – what if your horn could say "Move MotherF$#*@er". I so laughed. One, you hardly ever used profanity and two, I could imagine that message scaring the receiver or making them really really angry. That joke took away the tension for a while.  I remembered how funny and out the box you could be sometimes and it made me happy. Simple stuff but memorable. It's been almost ten years and I still believe that was the funniest thing you ever said and one of my favorite moments of you.

New Yorkers in Detroit

 

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I was reading this amazing article written by native Detroiter Rollo Romig, currently living in New York. It was about his life here in the D and his perspective now that he lives elsewhere. It lead me to other articles about New York and Detroit and I was shocked to learn that there is kind of a campaign encouraging New Yorkers to move to Detroit.  Hmmm. I had to look into this. Why would a New Yorker want to move their lives to little ole Detroit?

Here's are bigger questions: Is this migration a good thing? Or is this another carpetbagging moment where New Yorkers are moving to Detroit only for opportunity. Will they come, take advantage, build their world despite those who are already living here?

We know the story –  affluent people go into cities or countries, usually filled with poor and the working class, looking for resources to increase their wealth or wanting something new, different and adventurous. That search tends to bring them an experience with people and space that they may not have had before. Some honor the experience but too many want to capture it and make it their own.  With their resources, they do just that. Instead of learning about the surroundings and people in these cities and countries, the entitled in their ignorant way,  bring their old world into this new one, removing the color and flavor that attracted them to the space in the first place.  People call it a needed process, a cycle of life, gentrification, colonization. Whatever word you use. I don't care for it. It scares me that people are coming to Detroit sometimes. Our history shows that in most cases, people similar to me do not bode well in these changes. Are New Yorkers just the next wave of people to give me the shaft?

I have experienced New Yorkers in New York and other places. From 2010 to 2013 I took trips to Brooklyn, more specific to Bed-Stuy. Each year my trips got longer from 10 days, to 20, to 40.  I LOVE Brooklyn. I may have said this before in other post, but Brooklyn made me feel real free about my blackness, my creativity and my direction. It unshackled me after years of running in the rat race. It got me ready to create in Detroit with a ferocious fervor that I would not have had without those trips. I will continue to take my annual trek to Brooklyn yet Detroit will always be home to me. But knowing what Brooklyn gave to me made of think, wow, that energy in my hometown would be positively explosive. On the opposite side of that coin is this story.

In Detroit at a meeting, I introduce myself to a guy who sat across the table from me and before my hand left his, he was boasting about who he knew, what he was doing, how much he makes, how many hours he work, what businesses he own. I thought several times about how much of an ass he was and how I wanted the conversation over. Oh how his ideas and businesses help so many Detroiters. Oh how much money he's brought to this hopeless city (my interpretation not his words). Who gives a flying fig? I don't know if he was trying to persuade me that he belong or persuade himself.  Instead of chalking this up to his New York status, I hoped it was another case of the horrible disease that many Americans have – entitlement and ignorance to other people's struggle-itis.

Let's be real, most New Yorkers are coming to Detroit to take advantage of the opportunity and resources. It's true. They realize that their resources stretch longer and do more in this city. They have space to move and to be. But something happens when they get here. They may have come thinking I, but find out that to live in Detroit and make it in this city, you must be a We. That feeling of belonging instead of competing with your fellow city-dwellers is different for New Yorkers and it is that spirit, I believe that real genuine-ness of the Detroit spirit has stopped what could be a toxic mix and so far has made it a good experience for all – most of the time.

With all this said, a caution to New Yorkers, or anyone coming to Detroit. Come, we welcome you and your experience, your pocket books and more importantly your love – but know, you don't run this. Your money, the fact you may come from a city better known…don't mean a damned thing to Detroit. Your word and work ethic, honoring those who are here and the history of it all. Being honest, open and real will get you far in these Detroit streets and with Detroit people. 

Curious about the New York to Detroit Campaign?

Real Friends

Sometimes I feel alone or want to just talk to someone. I look through my phone and though there are so many names, I feel that there is no one I can talk to. I am usually a listener. I sit, I call someone and they talk. I use to give advice, but I've lost dear friends over that. Friends I can't afford to lose. How can I feel that there is no one to call with a phone full of numbers. Do I have any real friends?

I called someone tonight and they asked, "Did you call to check on me?" I didn't. I called to talk business. It's hard to catch this person and so when I did, I was in business mode. I did stop and ask how he was. It is raining and storming kind of bad tonight and he was concerned about his ride home. I got it. I sympathized. Living in Houston and seeing what rain can do I cautioned him to stay where he was and not push going home. After that, I went back into business mode. I can tell he didn't want to  hear it and he shut down the phone call.  I text an apology. You know, it is never my intention to make people angry, frustrated or anything else. But life; work, Hulu and Netflix, family, more interesting friends and other miscellaneous stuff keep us from talking and connecting on a regular basis where maybe I could have been more attentive to the person and not the business.

At one time, I considered this person in my close circle. To me, a person in your close circle is one you can call anytime, say a few things or a lot of things and its not a huge deal. A person in your circle will make time for coffee or tea or to shoot the breeze. He isn't in that circle any longer. I've known that for a while. But the call tonight made it very clear. That doesn't mean I like or love him less, it's just that commitment is different and I get that. Life happens.

They say as you get older you find that you only have a few real friends. For me, that has always been the case. So it is challenging to come to a conclusion that a person you were once close to or a person you wanted to be close to — you are not. It has been a very long time since I've had a best friend or a confidant. Many things, feelings, I put on paper and hide in a special box. Sometimes I am brave and I put them in my blog. But, what I really want to do is pick up a phone or go over to someone's house and share. AND, and I want to do it and be open and not censored or shot down with "there, there" or anything like that. Simple human desire to share, be heard and know someone will be there.

I know I am not the warmest of human beings. I have a guard up and that makes it harder to know me. I know it. Sometimes the guard comes down and because of that, I have made some really beautiful friends in my life. I honor them here: Toya, Celeste, Nikita, Markena, Iyantta, Annette, Phaza, TJ, Angelia, Raphaela, Donny, Philip.

I sigh because most of these friends are not in my close circle anymore. I see them on Facebook, keep up with their lives and remember them when they were in mine. I don't reach out to rekindled because that was then and this is now, but the love they gave still resonates in my life today.

Last thing before I go. I have an ex that was not faithful. Our lives and they way we moved about made our times together short and intense. That taught me how to be in the moment and to treasure moments even if the whole relationship may be a hot bowl of "fill in blank here."  This has been a good lesson. Sometimes you have a good relationship with a few bad moments. Other times it is the other way around. You need to know which is which and at all times enjoy the good and learn from the not so good. I tell you about this ex and this great lesson because moments are how I get through life now. Instead of the expectation of relationships – friendship or other – my expectations have simmered down to moments. They are with less commitment, less hurt, less need, less rejection. It makes my life where real friends are hard and sometimes impossible to come by, make more sense. It makes me seem less broken.