It’s been almost a year since I moved to Detroit, Michigan, much to the chagrin of family and friends in Denver, Colorado. “Didn’t Detroit file bankruptcy?” Or “But the crime rate is so high,” were common responses I got when I told others of my plans. Both statements hold more than a modicum of truth to them. But, neither concerns stopped me from moving then, nor will they cause me to leave now.
Forget the fact that the expense of moving half way across the country should be motivation enough to cause me to stay. Forget the largest bankruptcy ever filed by a city, with an estimated value of $18 billion dollars. Put aside a crime rate of 4 out a possible 100 when it comes to safety, and an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent. I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, this city is more like home to me than one I grew up in.
Many would avoid this city like they would the Black Plague. Pardon the pun. Because Detroit boasts the highest population of African American residents, more than any other city in our great nation. For many, that is reason enough to avoid the Motor City. Especially considering that I came from a city that is predominately white and Hispanic, with much lower unemployment and crime rates than my new home.
I felt I had no choice but to move when I couldn’t get a job interview for the myriad of job applications submitted for technology, elementary, and business teacher in the Denver school district where the African American student population hovers around 14 percent, and Black teachers comprise about four percent of the teachers there. In Detroit, I had an interview and job offer from a school in Mexican Town within a week of submitting my application.
I also considered the expense of living in Detroit versus Denver, where my rent for a two bedroom apartment with a view of the Detroit River, Belle Isle, and Canada is $400 a month less than my rent in Denver for a one bedroom apartment, in a not so desirable neighborhood near the airport.
Detroit, for me, will become the home I live for and will probably end my life in. Why? That’s simple. Economics aside, the spirit of the people is worth more to me than the popularity of the city I left behind. In Detroit, I feel welcome, like I belong, unlike the city I was born in. People don’t judge me by the color of my skin, or how many zeros are on my pay check.
I have all the comforts of home here. Sports, entertainment, and excellent restaurants. In fact, Detroit has as much to offer in the diversity and quality of cuisine as New York. It’s quickly reclaiming its spot as one of America’s primary tourist destinations. And teachers can get a 50% discount on housing if I stay in the city.
I tip my hat to Detroit and it’s residents. Detroit shimmers now, but will shine like the bright star it is very soon. Thank you, Detroit, for welcoming me, after the city that birthed me turned its back on me.