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Escaping Like Thieves in the Night: the New Wave of Black Flight

Posted to MichiganNow.org on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

After years in the business realm, Lauren Hood sought work that had more meaning. While studying for her Masters in Community Development at the University of Detroit Mercy, she developed a passion for engagement strategies, recognizing that long time city residents, like herself, are often left out of the planning process. She advocates for inclusion in planning and development and equity in all aspects of life. She conducts immersion experiences around equity issues for her LLC, Deep Dive Detroit and is on the board of directors for Preservation Detroit. This is Lauren’s first appearance at Michigannow.org.

My dad has a new friend. It’s his first neighbor friend at the Farmington Hills town home he and my mother have lived in for the past year.

For those that don’t know, my parents were held up at gunpoint in the home they owned for 45 years on the Northwest side, they had stayed beyond several waves of “flight” and by choice, as they always had the means and the capacity to leave.

Dad’s new friend had a similar story. He too had been a Detroiter for several decades and only fled to the burbs once he was held up at gunpoint, in the middle of the day, at a gas station near his home. What are the odds that two black male senior citizens would find themselves in the same Farmington Hills housing complex, both victims of the same unique “circumstance”? What if the circumstances weren’t that unique? How many other urban refugees are recent residents of outer ring suburbs? I know of at least one other senior couple on my parents old street that fled to the burbs for the same reason, also residents of the same home since the late 60’s.

This most recent round of “flight”, long time residents, black, middle class, stable, civically engaged, good stewards, etc. is probably the most damaging. The city is now losing those that stood by its side for the longest, those that toughed it out in the neighborhoods until the last possible second, the second a gun was pointed at their heads! I become enraged when I hear people say the way to improve the city is to increase the tax base…Detroit is hemorrhaging tax base every time a family like mine, and that of dad’s new friend, flees, traumatized to a “safer” suburb.

Detroit to me, now, feels like a shuffling Sambo doing it’s best soft shoe to attract all the fine young professionals from other places, meanwhile the loyal OG’s, Detroit’s ride or dies are forgotten about, overlooked, left to fend for themselves in the place they believed against all odds would give back to them in the way they had so selflessly given to it for so many years…Dance Bo Jangles, Dance!

2 Responses to “Escaping Like Thieves in the Night: the New Wave of Black Flight”

  1. S. Hughes says:

    Nice story Chris! What a Shock !

  2. Darius Wells says:

    I agree with the reason why lauren Hoods father fled to the “safer” suburbs but I am not a supporter of his decision. After being a victim of robbery myself I can identify with Mr. Hood’s feeling of being traumatized. My first thought was to flee like many others but I thought to myself; Detroit was the city I was born and raised in. So by running from this situation is not going to create a solution and this problem is going to continue on to the next victim. As a proud Detroiter I decided to stay in Detroit and take a stand as a advocate in my community I’ve been holding public elected officials accountable for increasing the safety in the community. Also taking preventive measures myself by having my CCW. I really feel like fleeing to the suburbs is an excuse for not protecting and uplifting your community as a real “OG” should.

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Lauren Hood, at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, on lunch break from work at Loveland Technologies, July 28, 2014.

Lauren Hood, at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, on lunch break from work at Loveland Technologies, July 28, 2014.

The family home from 1969 to 2013, when "the incident" occurred. Photographed here in 2009. Detroit's Northwest side. Over a year has passed since the house was sold, but we still feel attached to it. My parents and I take turns driving by to check on the place from time to time.

The family home from 1969 to 2013, when "the incident" occurred. Photographed here in 2009. Detroit's Northwest side. Over a year has passed since the house was sold, but we still feel attached to it. My parents and I take turns driving by to check on the place from time to time.

Mom Ida, 74, and Dad Lawrence, 78, always smiling, despite coping with the anxiety of having to flee the city and the home they lived in for 45 years.

Mom Ida, 74, and Dad Lawrence, 78, always smiling, despite coping with the anxiety of having to flee the city and the home they lived in for 45 years.

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