This is black history month.
It is also the month that the Emergency Manager who took political power and control from the mostly African American residents of Detroit has presented his plan to bring the city out of the bankruptcy he steered it into. Black people are by far the largest racial or ethnic population in Detroit, which has the highest percentage of black residents of any American city with a population overIt continues to be an underreported story that a white state legislature and white governor took over the city and forced it to file for bankruptcy against the will of its elected representatives.
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The fact that nearly 1. But when the auto industry began abandoning Detroit, it had nothing to do with unions.
No American union gets to decide where Big Capital invests. White Detroiters followed the auto industry out of the city because the good jobs moved there, because land was plentiful in the suburbs, housing and schools were newly built, and because they wanted to get away from their black neighbors and buy homes in the racially segregated suburbs.
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Government was deeply involved in the racial segregation of the Detroit metropolitan area, as it was in the nation. The new homes in the white suburban communities around Detroit were built with G. Government was involved at a more micro level as well. I grew up in all-white Grosse Pointe, one block from the Detroit city limit.
The Pointe system kept black people from purchasing homes in any of the five Grosse Pointe municipalities during most of the 20 th century. Other suburban communities, including Dearborn, the home of the Ford Motor Co. The first great race riot in Detroit occurred in Juneleading to the deaths of 34 people, injuries to more than others, and a military occupation to restore order.
Racial equity highlights
An influx of black workers from the South into a city with a desperate housing shortage led to friction with white residents and tensions in the workplace. When blacks were allowed to work alongside whites in a Packard defense plant, 25, walked off the job in protest. And when blacks tried to move into newly built housing projects, white mobs burned crosses and formed picket lines to keep them out. The riot lasted three days and ended only after arrests and the arrival of federal troops with armored cars and automatic weapons.
Meanwhile, the white population fell by , and by anotherin the following decade. The race riots of came in the midst of this white outmigration and gave it further impetus. The riots were even more violent and destructive than the riot, with 43 people killed and massive amounts of looting and arson.
Once again, federal troops had to be called in to restore order. The census showedwhite residents of Detroit.
Byonly 75, remained. So, why is Detroit bankrupt?
Its median household income is about half that of the state of Michigan as a whole, and the median value of its housing is less than half. Its tax base has been decimated, nearly 40 percent of its residents live in households with income below the poverty level, and its unemployment rate is the highest of any of the top 50 cities in the U. This did not happen because unionized employees demanded too much; this is what happens to a city with a minority population totally abandoned by its better-off, white population, a process that in Detroit was abetted by federal, state, and local housing policies, urban development and transportation policies, and a culture of racism.
Working Economics Blog. Posted February 25, at pm by Ross Eisenbrey. Tagged Retirement Public-sector workers.
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