How important was the movie, Detroit?  What were the implications of the city’s historic past?  Even more so, what will be the motivation for future prosperity?  I begin with these questions, as there are undoubtedly tons more, but in my mind, these may be the most important ones.

First off, be assured that this is not a movie review.  So before you start thinking about whether the movie is deserving of a positive or negative review, I’ll give you the heads up that you will not find that here.  Commenting on some various parts of the movie is imperative though in order to connect the movie to the history.

The Riot

Versions and theories of what triggered the riot in 1967 vary from person to person.  Depending on who you ask, there may be a specific incident that is discussed.  On the other hand, others say it was due to a pot of oppression boiling over. Some don’t call it a riot at all. It is often referred to as a rebellion. Whichever is true to your experience may dictate how you felt about this film.  Nevertheless, it does not diminish its importance.  The importance of describing an event during the time period that others around the world are unfamiliar is indescribable. I guess to a degree it is necessary. It is necessary to give the rest of the world a history lesson on Detroit, but also to serve as a reminder of what can happen when oppressed people continue to be oppressed. The story of Detroit can be used as a model, not just for others, but for ourselves.  A model of purpose.

History’s Purpose

Most might not admit to it, but that is the major component missing in our culture.  Too many people unclear on their particular purpose.  Unclear of their worth and value.  The riot or rebellion in 1967 was a product of people who knew their worth.  People who had known their purpose and were unwilling to have that purpose subdued by oppression. The movie, in part, was supposed to illustrate this notion.  Whether it did this in an effective manner is not for me to judge, however it is a source of conversation.  An uncomfortable, sickening, yet incredibly needed conversation. This conversation is of the city’s beginnings.  A time where Ford offered jobs where African Americans forged a way into middle class.  This conversation is important because in spite of African Americans owning homes and creating businesses which could have led to generational wealth, there was an undermining of this process.  An undermining that is often overlooked, especially in this day and age where it has been proposed that racism no longer exists. It should not serve not serve as a reminder of sickening oppression, but the movie should create a conversation of focus.  A conversation of once again finding our purpose and moving in a direction where our self-worth is realized. This movie, unfortunately is held to this responsibility.  However, since it is a movie, artistic by nature, it runs the risk as not being received in that way.

Back to the Future

Now that the movie has been and gone from theatres nationwide,  we’ll see if America forgets Detroit since the credits rolled a few months ago. I know some people are worried about the depiction of the city in a bad light.  Truth be told, that was bad time.  I’ve been contested on that theory as well.  Some people say that the rebellion was necessary and should not be shown in a negative manner.  Despite your position on this, the movie began the conversation.  The conversation that many Detroiters have been having for all of the years since that time in 1967.  The difference is now the entire world will be able to get a better idea of what Detroiters were dealing with at that time and arguably still as gentrification threatens to increase the divide yet again.  Don’t believe me? Just ask Detroiters what happened to Paradise Valley.  Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE.

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