[A-List] National Factor . . . certain aspects/ dateline Detroit
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Thu Sep 23 09:44:58 MDT 2004
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Africa Town plan will hasten Detroit's demise, not stem the tide
By Laura Berman / The Detroit News
Laura Berman <http://www.detnews.com/pix/folios/voices/bermanmug.jpg>
It's wacky, irresponsible, arguably racist, almost surely illegal. Mostly,
though, the Detroit City Council's $30 million-a-year plan for Africa Town
is a painful wail of the city's abject failure to help black Detroiters move
On Monday, the council authorized the city to earmark $30 million a year for
a race-based entrepreneurial zone that would be called Africa Town.
They based this action on the report of creative thinker Carl Anderson and
his PowerNomics Corp. - a $112,000 report that argues the city's black
majority is acting like a minority, despite political power, spending power,
and the power of sheer numbers.
And - try to follow this - because the majority isn't starting businesses or
owning the means of production or even spending its own $11 billion within
the city limits, city government needs to re-invent segregation.
PowerNomics, Anderson's idea, is a kind of Advanced Victimization Theory
with a twist of immigrant envy.
As part of its Andersonism, the City Council voted to name black Detroiters
the city's "under-served majority" - a new super-minority class entitled to
special funds no other group could apply for.
The funds would, in the PowerNomics universe, be used to transform Detroit
into "the Pan African capital."
This would - theoretically - enable black Detroiters to start acting more
like immigrants, who harness energy and a sense of community to create and
While some of Anderson's observations can be refreshingly blunt, his
conclusions - and the City Council's decision to follow them - are
wrong-headed, if not downright suicidal for the city.
Anderson embraces the sort of race-and-culture-based theorizing beloved by
He points out that black Detroiters - despite their numbers and local
political power - are mired in disproportionately high poverty, infant
mortality, unemployment and crime.
"It is totally American for blacks to aspire to progress by owning and
controlling the means of their own existence," argues the report the city
paid $112,000 for.
What isn't supposed to be American, though, is racial discrimination, or
government set asides for specific ethnic or racial groups.
Although the mayor has already noted that the plan is certainly
unconstitutional, the City Council overrode his veto this week.
Only two council members - Sheila Cockrel and Kay Everett - voted against
What will it do? Essentially label Detroit as an officially black city,
where investors outside the "under-served majority" are viewed as exploiters
looting the city.
It's a plan to accelerate the city's demise, not stem it.
While immigrants elsewhere in America are revitalizing urban areas, they're
moving straight to the suburbs here - and revitalizing them, notes Kurt
Metzger, the research director at Wayne State University's Center for Urban
Instead of trying to welcome new settlers and encourage opportunity for all,
most of Detroit's City Council is embracing tragedy: Sanctioned segregation
and a new class of government dependency.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Laura Berman's column runs Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday in Metro. Reach her
at (248) 647-7221 or e-mail lberman at detnews.com.
<mailto:lberman at detnews.com>
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