At the disruptive heart of racialized capitalism is its re-occurring process of asset stripping, land and wealth dispossession, forced migration, and confinement and segregation of people of color to designated geographical spaces — the ghetto, barrio, reservation as well as particular zip codes, cities, and towns. When I lived in Detroit, I saw the operation and effects of this pernicious and racist process at first hand.
When I visit there now, the city seems to be rebounding, and that is understandably welcomed by many Detroiters, but the rebound appears to me lopsided, uneven, and still in the hooks of the re-occurring process mentioned above, albeit in new forms and conditions. Indeed, the new centers of wealth making and economic activity, in this overwhelmingly African American city, while dynamic in some ways, fail, using my very unscientific eye test, to radiate across the city and combine with a sea of deep and endemic poverty, dispossession, depopulation, long term unemployment and underemployment, desolate neighborhoods, struggling schools, and more of the like.
All of which makes me think that any resolution of Detroit’s long crisis will require, first of all, a political fix, that is, a new correlation of democratic and progressive political power at the city, state, and federal levels, supported and nudged along by a sustained surge of grassroots activity. It goes without saying that defeating Trump and his Republican acolytes next year at the ballot box is absolutely essential.