Rule No. 1 for campaigning in Detroit: Not all blacks are black. In order to win here, you've got to resonate with those citizens of what Michigan State University sociologist Carl Taylor calls the "Third City," an urban sub-culture born of poverty and neglect. Taylor is the author of several books about urban culture including "Dangerous Society."My response to Ms. Cooper and the Detroit Free Press:
"In the Third City, you have citizens, noncitizens -- people who participate in an underground economy, but not in mainstream civic life -- and anticitizens -- people who defy authority and accept criminal activity as normative," said Taylor. "There's a strong identity of 'us' against 'them' -- the white power structure and the black bourgeoisie."
Desiree Cooper's article (Kilpatrick's win was not really a surprise) resonated strongly with me.
My three closest neighbors are an automotive plant supervisor, an industrial engineer and an engineer who owns his own consulting firm. They maintain their property well and are all out-going, friendly and helpful. Their children are well-behaved and get along well. They appreciate a good place to live. Two just happen to have much darker skin than the third. But in Detroit, those two would not qualify as "black" according to Ms. Cooper's article.
Ms. Cooper's article is perpetuating a myth of what being "black" is. You know... style over substance, slang versus educated speech, posing versus profundity... diamond ear studs, Lincoln Navigators and wild parties at taxpayer expense. Sadly, rather than aspiring to better themselves and their city, a majority of Detroit's voters chose to be "represented." It is that thinking that has emptied much of Detroit of it's intellectual and financial resources. When the people who qualify as citizens of a "Third City" are the role models for the future, then the future is a "third-class city."