Boggs Center – Living For Change Newsletter – October 2nd, 2017

  Jimmy and Grace  
 Grace Lee Boggs 6-27-1915 – 10-5-2015
____________________________
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
October 2nd, 2017

3

Thinking for Ourselves

Democracy and States?
Shea Howell

This week, as much of the nation’s attention has been riveted to the devastation of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, the Michigan Legislature is quietly continuing its efforts to destroy local democracy.  

This time the Republican controlled house passed two new gun bills, aimed not at guns, but local city councils. The first bill shifted the legislation around carrying concealed pistols. Instead of classifying carrying a gun after a permit has expired a felony, the bill makes the action a civil offense, subject to a fine. It seems republicans want to “make sure a normally law-abiding citizen doesn’t lose their right to carry a concealed firearm because of an expired permit.”  This action raises interesting questions about other felonies that we should consider reclassifying and for whose benefit.

But it is the second piece of legislation that is most troubling. It is intended to stop local governments from enacting any ordinances to control the use of guns. Representative Gary Howell’s proposed legislation would impose a $500 to $2,500 fine on any local government official who knowingly adopts “a gun ordinance out of line with state gun laws and does not repeal the ordinance within 90 days after a formal complaint is brought against the official over the matter.” One way to think about this effort is right wing republicans want to prosecute local officials for attempting to protect children from guns while protecting state officials or emergency managers from law suits for poisoning cities and destroying schools.

This effort is referred to as a “super pre-emption.”

What is pre-empted of course is the ability of local councils to respond to local constituents and local needs. The effort to destroy local decision making is part of a broader effort by right wing republicans to reduce the capacity of people in cities and towns to control our own lives.

Earlier this summer, a similar effort was launched against sanctuary cities to prohibit local communities from limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Local officials, including law enforcement officials testified against such bills. Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said that the bill would discourage immigrants from cooperating with police when they investigate crime.

“Most of the police service leaders recognize that fighting crime occurs with strong and trusting relationships with community members, who work as witnesses and help develop solutions to neighborhood problems,” he said. “The trust and strong relationships that I speak of is often a very fragile thing.”

These latest efforts are part of a broad pattern of actions by right wing state legislatures to undermine democracy at the local level. From gun control to protections of basic human rights, and emergency managers, state level legislators are pre-empting or overturning the judgments of local cities about the values and policies we want to define our shared lives.

These efforts diminish all of us. They are raising fundamental questions about whether or not representative level state government is compatible with developing a vibrant democracy. Each time the state legislature moves to restrict, control or overturn local decision making it attacks the basic capacities that enables us to define our civic life. Creating sovereign cities and towns is an essential part of developing a human future. State level legislation is increasingly at odds with what we need to develop our region and our people.


AMC

What We’re Reading

Visionary organizing, not protest, brings change
Fran Salone-Pelletier

Grace Lee Boggs, a life-long activist who died in 2015 at the age of 100, believed and lived as a visionary woman. As stated in an article from The Daily Good, “She lived and breathed her truth and believed that tending gardens, caring for the self, and caring for others were ways to nourish activism. In a sometimes harsh world, these simple acts of kindness end up restoring the energy needed to carry on the hard work of social change.”

Those were, and are, life-saving actions for me to contemplate. My computer is inundated with emails requesting support for innumerable issues. Daily, I receive multiple surveys to complete and return — with personal comments, if possible. I’m asked my opinion, whether or not I am knowledgeable about the stated concerns. Obediently and loyally, as a person dedicated to the pursuit of truth, justice, mercy, and peace, I have complied. I am now depleted, drained by the effort to protest what I believe to be lacking in authenticity and discouraged with the apparent failure to be effective.

KEEP READING


 

october 14


 

How does the State take over our schools 3

2How does the State take over our schools


 

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.
Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Lee Boggs – June 27, 1915 – 10-5-2015 100 years and 100 Days

At almost 100 years old.

By Grace Lee Boggs  –  June 27, 1915 – 10-5-2015 100 years and 100 Days

August 2014

At almost 100 years old, I experience falls, new levels of pain, and difficulties moving. I also feel the need to record the most important influences in my life over the years. When I started college I had no idea what I was going to study. Japan had just invaded Manchuria so I thought international relations and political science should be my field of study. But in the middle of my sophomore year, the great depression started and I dropped all of my classes and decided to take philosophy even though, at the time, I could not tell you what it meant to study philosophy. Somehow, in my late teens, I was beginning to ask what life was all about, and that has been the question that has shaped the more than 80 years that have transpired since then. That’s where philosophy begins.

What is life about? How do we know reality?

Philosophy begins with conversation. We ask ourselves what it means to be human, how do we know reality.   What a wonderful gift to be able to talk with one another.

Conversation is a wonderful gift and not to be replaced with speakerphones or emails that are so unilateral and not mutual.

Socrates believed in dialogue and he was afraid that the new technology of writing would replace dialogue, where human beings actually interact with one another and through this they discover what they truly think.

In my living room I have a hundred books that I have selected from the thousands of books in my library. I am going to record why each of these books is important to me. They are about education, they are about philosophy, they are about this city.

 

On the first shelf are the books of philosophy. There are books from Socrates, who created the topic of philosophy, all the way to Lenin and Mao and Hegel. And then on the second shelf are books on the history of cities, including the history of Detroit. These are the books that I share with the people who visit.

As I think about my nearly 100 years and these 100 hundred books, I want my life to challenge people to think philosophically. I want people to ask themselves and each other what time it is on the clock of the world.

Naming the Enemy

By Grace Lee Boggs

 A spectre is haunting the American people– the spectre of destruction by capitalism. In its limitless quest for profits capitalism has defiled our human relationships by turning them into money relationships. It has transformed Work from a precious human activity into Jobs which are done only for a paycheck and which have become increasingly meaningless and increasingly scarce as the profits from our labor are invested in increasingly complex machines. It has undermined the Family ties by which human beings down through the ages have absorbed naturally and normally the elementary standards of conduct and the sense of continuity with the human race which make us human. By encouraging us to value material things more than social ties, it has turned us into a society of selfish individualists and materialists, seeking to compensate for the spiritual emptiness of our lives by the endless pursuit of distractions.It has despoiled the Land, Waters and Air on which our lives depend.

Up to now, most Americans have been able to evade facing this destructiveness because it was primarily other peoples, other races, other cultures which were being destroyed. For the sake of westward expansion the Native Americans were massacred and their survivors driven into the world’s first concentration camps. To clear the land and build the agricultural infrastructure necessary for industrial development, millions of Africans were enslaved and the ideology of racism created. Convinced that it was our destiny to rule the entire continent, Americans seized the Southwest from Mexico. When we came to the end of the American frontier, we reached out to Latin America and the Pacific. When capitalist expansion and centralization created the Great Depression, we got our economy moving again by producing for World War II. After the war we used our economic power and monopoly of nuclear weapons to protect capitalism in Europe from socialist revolution and to crush revolutionary struggles in the Third World by supporting and installing military dictatorships.

Ever since World War II it has been able to keep going only by producing weapons of destruction and by turning us into mindless consumers, unable to distinguish between our Needs and our Want, utilizing the mass media with the same cunning with which Hitler turned the German people into collaborators in their own destruction. New shiny cars and appliances have been pushed as sure ways to win love for ourselves. Women (and men) have been turned into sex objects. Credit cards have been promoted as badges of status.

As this brainwashing process has gained momentum over the last few decades, the moral and social fabric of our society has been steadily undermined. Our small towns and communities, in which neighborliness and character were more important than money, have been replaced by suburbs. Our judgment has been so distorted that we now consider “square” those who still value self-reliance and hard work, while we admire the “big spender.” Banks and loan sharks, whom we once viewed with suspicion, we now consider our friends, while more and more we fear those closest to us, our families, co-workers, and neighbors. Crime, mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, teen-age pregnancy and venereal disease have reached near epidemic proportions because, instead of depending upon each other for company and comfort (as human beings have done down through the ages), we look to more colorful goods and new, more exciting experiences to make us feel good.

Pursuing private happiness in the form of material goods, we did not care that we were passing on these materialistic and individualistic values to our children. Instead of recognizing that we were breeding criminals by the supreme value we had put on material things, we tried to project the blame for crime onto others. We ignored the growing threat to our health from the Love Canals that were being created by the dumping of industrial waste in our waters and our earth. We closed our eyes to the degrading lives being lived by the millions whom capitalism had already cast onto the Welfare rolls, little dreaming that the same fate was being prepared for us

But now the chickens have come home to roost. While we were collaborating with capitalism by accepting its dehumanizing values, capitalism itself was moving to a new stage, the stage of multinational capitalism. Big capitalists have been swallowing up smaller ones, creating giant corporations who buy and sell other giant corporations all over the world. A few hundred multi-national corporations now move capital and goods everywhere and anywhere, according to where they can make the most profit.

These multinational corporations have no loyalty to the United States or to any American community. They have no commitment to the reforms that Americans have won through hard struggle. Instead of giving more each year, they demand that we accept less or else.

If American workers do not accept wages and benefits competitive with those of Japanese or Mexican or Filipino workers, they do not hesitate to shut down a plant that has been the heart of the economic life of a city or region.. City workers and school teachers find that they are no longer needed; small businesses go bankrupt. So millions of workers, skilled and unskilled, blue collar and white collar, have already been laid off . Whole cities have been turned into wastelands by corporate takeovers and by runaway corporations. Yet our city and state officials, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, white or black, continue to compete with one another to offer tax breaks and reduced worker benefits to these corporations, knowing full well they will pick up and leave when they can make more profit elsewhere.

Meanwhile, because American capitalism no longer dominates the world market, our government can no longer afford the reforms with which all administrations since the Great Depression have tried to make capitalism more palatable. So social and Welfare programs are being ruthlessly dismantled; unions are being busted or immobilized; the moral, environmental and civilized restraints on capitalist expansion which have been won only after decades of struggle are being abandoned.

That is why we must now make a second American revolution to rid ourselves of the capitalist values and institutions which have brought us to this state of powerlessness or suffer the same mutilation, the same destruction of our families and our communities, the same loss of national independence as over the years we have visited upon other peoples and other nations.

 

Riverwise Issue 3 – Now Available

Note from Eric Campbell Riverwise Editor:

Look for issue 3 of Riverwise at area bookstores, grocers, cafes and community spaces today!

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Look for issue 3 of Riverwise at area bookstores, grocers, cafes and community spaces today!
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(A bonus column from Riverwise editorial member, Shea Howell)

Changing Schools

Shea Howell

Labor Day has passed, and people are returning to schools systems in crisis. Nationally, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has vowed to destroy public schools.  Her commitment is to private, religiously based schools. Recently, Julian Schmoke, Jr. joined her as the Director of the Student Aid Enforcement.  He comes to us from DeVry University which was just forced to pay a massive $100 million to settle a lawsuit for lying to students. Michigan, home state of Betsy DeVos, and long suffering from her meddling, ranks at the bottom on national tests. State spending for education at all levels is among the lowest in the country and has dropped 14% since 2007-2008 for colleges and universities. Detroit with a new Superintendent and some measure of local control for the first time in two decades faces teacher shortages, turmoil and lack of basic supplies. The annual ritual of beginning school is fraught with anxiety, uncertainty and lack of care for the emotional and intellectual well being of far too many of our young people.

When a system is facing this much dysfunction, it is time for us to ask deeper questions. Certainly DeVos and her cronies, emergency managers, state interference and irresponsible legislatures have their share of the blame in creating this chaos. But this crisis comes from a more fundamental problem.  Our system of education no longer has a clear vision or purpose.

School years begin after Labor Day as a reflection of our agricultural heritage. Hands were needed to harvest and preserve foods. Schooling happened after the work was done. As industry replaced agriculture, schooling became necessary to do the work of an expanding economy. Schooling happened so people could do jobs.

Tying schools and education to the demands of work has always had its critics, spurring some of the most progressive and thoughtful efforts to enable young people to develop as full, responsible, creative human beings.  More than 100 years ago, John Dewey published Democracy and Education. In the shadow of WWI and facing a rapidly changing society, Dewey offered ways to think about education as a creative process to help people develop themselves and their society humanly in the face of ongoing change. But these efforts have never been at the core of US schools. For most people, schooling has been about jobs, skills and survival.

Today, it is obvious to everyone most schools are little more than containment camps for children. Daily practices are tied to mastering information for meaningless tests designed to advance a few at the expense of the many. Clearly we need to shift to a new paradigm for education.

In arguing for this paradigm shift in our thinking, Grace Lee Boggs, a student of Dewey’s and educational philosopher, wrote in The Next American Revolution, “Our schools must be transformed to provide children with ongoing opportunities to exercise their resourcefulness to solve the real problems of their communities. With younger children emulating older ones and older children teaching younger ones, they can learn to work together rather than competitively and experience the intrinsic consequences of their own actions. Children will be motivated to learn because their hearts, hands, and heads are engaged in improving their daily lives.”

Across the country, people are evolving ways to educate one another to transform schools and communities. They understand that young people are not problems to be contained, but have the energy, imagination and desire to create communities that reflect the best in us. All of us concerned about the future need to find ways to support and enhance these efforts.

for a copy send Name Address and $5.00 to Riverwise 3061 field st Detroit, Mi  48214

 

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Boggs Center – Living For Change Newsletter – July 31st. 2017

Jimmy and Grace  

We may Be Able to Change the World if our Imagination is rich enough.

Grace Lee Boggs

Living for Change News
July 31st, 2017
 Riverwise   special edition 67 Rebellion  riverwisedetroit.org
2017-1196 Riverwise Rebellion w-notes

Thinking for Ourselves

Science and the Mayor       Shea Howell
Mayor Duggan is acting like a mini-Donald Trump. This week he went after scientists. Duggan simply refuses to accept the fact that his policy on water shutoffs is a failure. He is risking the health and safety of the city by refusing to declare a moratorium on shutoffs. He ignores the advice of economic experts that shutoffs make no economic sense. He denies clear evidence that his assistance programs are not adequate to protect people. This week he demonstrated a new level of bullying and paranoia, spying on activists and confusing a meeting of health professionals with potentially violent protests.Community groups have been trying for months to get the Mayor to recognize that the scale of water shutoffs is not only a violation of human rights, but it posses basic health hazards to all of us.  Realizing that common sense would not sway the Mayor, local activist groups partnered with Henry Ford’s Global Health Initiative to look at emergency room data that might be related to water shut offs.

The study used block level data and analyzed 37,441 cases of waterborne illnesses to see if there was any connection between incidents of the illnesses and shutoffs between January 2015 and February 2016.  They found two statistically significant correlations:

  • Those who were diagnosed with a water-associated illness were 1.42 times more likely to have lived on a block that had experienced a water shutoff.
  • Those patients who came from blocks that experienced a shut off were 1.55 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a water-associated illness.

This information was released in a press conference in April. It received little attention. Moreover the researchers at Henry Ford began to back away from any public use of the information. They talked about this being an “extremely limited study” and are concerned about the “political purposes” for which the study is being used.

The Mayor and his GLWA cronies have chosen to focus on what they consider the “politics” of the study, ignoring the science. Even while distancing themselves from the study, Henry Ford officials were forced to acknowledge that it is at the least the findings call for further study. Brenda Craig, of the Henry Ford Global Health Initiative said, “Additional studies with multiple factors and controls would be necessary. At this point, we remain open to talking with city and other officials about appropriate next steps.”

Unlike the Mayor, activists are concerned that the possibility of serious health issues become part of the public discussion around water shutoffs. Thus they invited standard health scientists from around the country to review the study and offer suggestions for what we should do to protect our people.

The panel of experts who gathered at Wayne State University this week concluded the city should declare a public health emergency and stop water shutoffs. One of the panelists, Dr. Wendy Johnson, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington said that Detroit water shutoffs are a public health crisis. “Water-related diseases are now occurring in Detroit as the result of water shutoffs,” Johnson said. “Access to clean and safe water is a basic human right that is essential from a public health standpoint to prevent infectious diseases. We have run out of time and solutions must be immediate.”

Johnson said the connection between a lack of water and illness is not rocket science: People without access to water are not washing their hands as often and are at higher risk of contagious diseases and waterborne illness, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The actions the Mayor should take are obvious. He can walk into any Coney Island in the city and be reminded that he should wash his hands after leaving the bathroom. Yet he persists in policies that deny this basic gesture to thousands of people every day. He is endangering everyone by his refusal to acknowledge science and by his efforts to silence those who care only to protect everyone in the city.


WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO

WDET

1967 Was Decades Before They Were Born

Find out what some young Detroit students think of the uproar that happened in their city 50 years ago.

LISTEN

AND

Democracy Now!

Fifty years ago this month, rebellions broke out in the cities of Newark and Detroit. It all began in Newark on July 12, 1967, when two white police officers detained and beat an African-American cabdriver. Shortly after, on July 23, police officers raided an after-hours club in an African-American neighborhood of Detroit, sparking another mass rebellion. Forty-three people died in Detroit, and 26 were killed in Newark, while 7,000 people were arrested. The rebellions reshaped both Newark and Detroit and marked the beginning of an era of African-American political empowerment.

Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, and Scott Kurashige, author of the new book, “The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the U.S. Political Crisis Began in Detroit.”

LISTEN

Please Support the Boggs Center

With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
beloved communities.

This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?

These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.

Over the next few months we plan to raise  $100,000 for the
initiatives below.

Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)

Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)

Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
($10,000)

You can contribute directly at our website:  –
www.boggscenter.org  or mail a check  to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

98th Birthday – James Boggs May 27, 1919 July 22, 1993

Our comrade friend mentor and fellow Revolutionary Jimmy Boggs Passed Away 24 years ago 1993.

James Boggs (activist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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For other people with this name, see James Boggs
James Boggs
James Boggs and Grace Lee Boggs.jpg

James Boggs and his wife Grace Lee Boggs
Born May 27, 1919
Marion Junction, Alabama[1]
Died July 22, 1993(1993-07-22) (aged 74)
Detroit, Michigan
Occupation political activist
Spouse(s) Annie McKinley (1938)
Grace Lee Boggs (1953–93, his death)[1]

James Boggs (May 27, 1919 – July 22, 1993) was an American political activist, auto worker and author. He was married to philosopher activist Grace Lee Boggs for forty years until his death.

Biography[edit]

Born in 1919 in Marion Junction, Alabama,[1] James “Jimmy” Boggs was an African-American activist, perhaps best known for authoring The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook in 1963. He was also an auto worker at Chrysler from 1940 until 1968.

Boggs was active in the far left organization, Correspondence Publishing Committee, led by C. L. R. James from around the time it left the Trotskyist movement in the early 1950s, until Boggs and Grace Lee Boggs led a split in 1962, breaking with C. L. R. James. When Correspondence Publishing Committee earlier suffered a split in 1955, led by Raya Dunayevskaya, and lost nearly half its membership, James and Grace Lee Boggs remained loyal to Correspondence Publishing Committee. The group was advised by C. L. R. James, who was at that time exiled in Britain. In 1955, James Boggs became the editor of their bi-monthly publication, called Correspondence. However, political differences with C. L. R. James over time would eventually lead Boggs to take control over Correspondence Publishing Committee in 1962 and continue publication independently for a couple of years. James Boggs expressed the reasons for the 1962 split in his 1963 book, The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook.

In later years, he would play an influential role in the radical wing of the civil rights movement and interacted with many of the most important civil rights activists of the day including Malcolm X, Ossie Davis and many others.

Boggs and Grace Lee Boggs, who were married from 1953 until his death in 1993, “built a durable partnership that was at once marital, intellectual, and political. It was a genuine partnership of equals, remarkable not only for its unique pairing or for its longevity, but also for its capacity to continually generate theoretical reflection and modes of activist engagement.”[2]

Works[edit]

  • The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1963).
  • Book Manifesto for a Black revolutionary party (Philadelphia, Pacesetters Pub. House, 1969).
  • Racism and the Class Struggle: Further Pages from a Black Worker’s Notebook (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970).
  • Lenin Today; Eight essays on the hundredth anniversary of Lenin’s birth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1970). (with Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff)
  • The awesome responsibilities of revolutionary leadership (Detroit, Mich: Committee for Political Development, 1970). (with Grace Lee Boggs)
  • But what about the workers? (Detroit: Advocators, 1973). (with James Hocker)
  • Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974). (with Grace Lee Boggs)
  • Issues in race and ethnic relations: theory, research, and action (Itasca, Ill: F. E. Peacock Publishers, 1977). (with Jack Rothman)
  • Conversations in Maine: exploring our nation’s future (Boston: South End Press, 1978). (with Grace Lee Boggs, Freddy Paine and Lyman Paine)
  • Towards a new concept of citizenship (Detroit: National Organization for an American Revolution, 1979).
  • Liberation or Revolution? (Detroit: National Organization for an American Revolution, 1980).
  • These are the times that try our souls: the questions we have yet to ask ourselves (Detroit: National Organization for an American Revolution, 1981).(with Grace Lee Boggs and James Hocker)
  • Historical development of our social forces (Detroit: National Organization for an American Revolution, 1982) “Cadre Training School, Dec. 1-5, 1982.”
  • Our American Reality (Detroit: National Organization for an American Revolution, 1982) “Cadre Training School, Dec. 1-5, 1982.”
  • The urgent plea: a call for Black leadership (Philadelphia: National Organization for an American Revolution, 1985).
  • What can we be that our children see? (Detroit: New Life Publishers, 1994).

 

REBUILDING DETROIT: AN ALTERNATIVE TO CASINO GAMBLING

By James Boggs

Public Speakout, 1st Unitarian-Universalist Church

Friday, June 24, 1988

Monday night I went to the graduation for one of my grandsons in Ford Auditorium at which Mayor Young was the main speaker. The student who introduced Young said, with a smile, that he was the only Mayor she had ever known. Young then said in the same joking vein that maybe some students should come back in ten years and run for Mayor because by then he would probably have retired. Everyone laughed, but it is no joking matter. The sad truth is that his honor has been Mayor for so long he thinks he owns the town and seems to have forgotten that the people elected him and may one day retire him before his vision of Detroit leads us into even deeper chaos.

Coleman Young was elected Mayor of Detroit fifteen years ago because the city was majority black and the time had come for a black mayor. Also blacks were furious with STRESS, the decoy system that the Gribbs administration had created to catch street criminals. When he was elected, Young had no program for stopping crime. All he could propose in his inaugural speech was that the criminals should hit 8 Mile road. But he did have a dream, the dream that he could get the corporations to stay in Detroit by bribing them with tax abatements.

Today Young’s dream has turned into a nightmare. Crime has not hit 8 Mile road, but industry has. Parke-Davis, Strohs, the Mack Ave. Chrysler plant are all gone. Young promised us 6000 jobs if we allowed him to bulldoze 1500 homes, 600 businesses and 6 churches for a new GM plant in Poletown. Today our taxes are still going to pay for Poletown, but there have never been more than 2500 workers at the Poletown plant and most of those are from GM plants which have been closed down in other parts of the city, creating a wasteland in once thriving communities, especially on the southwest side of the city. At the same time the east side around the Chrysler Jefferson plants has been bulldozed so that it looks like a moonscape. Despite protests small businesses have been forced to leave, as in Poletown.

The reason Coleman Young’s dream has turned into a nightmare is that it was based on the illusion that we can bring back the good old days when Detroit was the auto capital of the world and hundreds of thousands of workers came to the city to do manufacturing jobs at the decent pay which had been won though the organization of the union. But today cars are being built all over the world, not only in Japan and West Germany but in South Korea and Yugoslavia, and multinational corporations have exported manufacturing jobs to the Third World where they can make more profit through cheaper labor. Coleman Young knows, as we all do, that large-scale industry is not coming back to Detroit. That’s why he is now calling casinos gambling an “industry” and trying to force it down our throats, promising us it will bring 50,000 to 80,000 jobs as the auto industry once did.

The workers, who came to Detroit during World War II, particularly from the South, had a lot of hope. They also brought with them a sense of family and a sense of community or of people living in harmony with one another. Working in the plant, they developed a sense of solidarity, at the same time earning enough money to buy homes and raise their families. As a result, Detroit became known as one of the best organized and disciplined cities in the United States, with the highest percent of working class homeowners north of the Mason Dixon line.

Today, however, the great majority of Detroiters no longer have any hope or solidarity with one another. Born and raised in the city, they have no experience of the culture which was second nature to those who had lived close to the land in small Southern communities. At the same time, they can no longer look forward to the well-paying manufacturing jobs which enabled their parents and grandparents to buy their own homes and raise their families. So rather than accept the minimum wage jobs which offer no hope for the future, an increasing number of our youth are attracted to the fast money and big bucks which come from selling dope. The result is that instead of being the auto capital of the world, Detroit has become the murder capital of the world.

However, instead of calling upon Detroiters to embark on a collective reassessment and exploration of how to rebuild Detroit, Young is becoming more arrogant and more stubborn every day. We, the people, he is convinced are too dumb to know what’s good for us. So he set up a commission stacked with his friends and appointees to study casino gambling. Unable to win a majority in the city for casino gambling, he created his own majority.

Today a person has to be really socially-conscious and farsighted to care about the people of Detroit or for that matter the people of any of our big cities. I emphasize this because we are living today in a society where most people only care about the here and now. To rebuild Detroit we need a long-range perspective and not just a quick-fix solution. We need to think of human beings as more than just bodies to be clothed and housed or bellies to be filled. Most of all, we need a philosophy which gives young people the basis for the kind of hope that their grandparents had: the philosophy that people and the relationships between people are more important than material things and instant self-gratification and the confidence that we can create a better tomorrow if we live by this philosophy. We know that the welfare state has failed to give them this perspective. We also know that big industry is not coming back, and that from now on, large-scale industrial jobs will be done in the developing countries or the Third World.

Historically, capitalism has always made sure that the people on the bottom get the leavings, and in this day and age the large-scale industrial jobs are the leavings and the people in the Third World are at the bottom. We also know that a free marketplace economy only serves the interests of the capitalists and that the capitalists are in business not to serve the human needs of working people but to make profit. Therefore when we think about rebuilding Detroit, we have to think of a new model of production which is based upon serving human needs and the needs of the community and not any get-rich-quick schemes.

The question which Detroit and other industrial cities are now facing is “What is the purpose of a city?” Up to now, because it has been our historical experience for the last 75 years, most Americans have thought of the city as a place to which you go for a job after you have been driven off the land by mechanization. But now we know that the large industrial corporations are not going to provide those jobs in our cities.

What then is going to happen to the one million people who still live in Detroit, half of them on some form of public assistance; not only blacks but Chicanos, Arab-Americans, Asian and poor whites? For most of them, Detroit is the end of the rainbow. They can’t go back to the farms from which their parents and grandparents came because these have been wiped out by agribusiness. There are no new industries coming for Detroiters. So if we are going to create hope especially for our young people, we are going to have to break with most of the ideas about cities that we have accepted in the past and start with new basic principles.

To begin with, we have to stop seeing the city as just a place to which you come to get a job or to make a living, and start seeing it as the place where the humanity of people is enriched because they have the opportunity to live with people of many different ethnic and social backgrounds. In other words, we have to see that our capital is in the people and not see people as existing to make capital for production or dependent on capital to live.

The foundation of our city has to be people living in communities who realize that their human identity or their love and respect for self is based on love and respect for others and who have also learned from experiences that they can no longer leave the decision as to their present and their future to the market place, to corporations or to capitalist politicians, regardless of ethnic background. We, the people, have to see ourselves as responsible for our city and for each other, and especially for making sure that our children are raised to place more value on social ties than on material wealth.

We have to get rid of the myth that there is something sacred about large-scale production for the national and international market. Actually, our experiences over the last 75 years has demonstrated that large-scale production, because it is based on a huge separation between production and consumption, makes both producer and consumer into faceless masses who are alienated from one another and at the mercy of economic forces and the mass media. Instead, we have to begin thinking of creating small enterprises which produce food, goods, and services for the local market, that is, for our communities and for our city. Instead of destroying the skills of workers, which is what large-scale industry does, these small enterprises will combine craftsmanship, or the preservation and enhancement of human skills, with the new technologies which make possible flexible production and constant readjustment to serve the needs of local consumers.

In order to create these new enterprises, we need a view of our city which takes into consideration both the resources of our area and the existing and potential skills of Detroiters.

Detroit itself is in the Great Lakes region, so we should think of how we can take advantage of this resource. We can start by developing a fishing fleet. This would mean training young people to fish for a living as they do in New England and along the West and East coasts. It would also mean building docks and cleaning facilities along the river bank in order to supply fresh fish for the whole area.

Michigan also has the best sand in the world. In the past this sand has been used mostly in foundries. We can use it to produce glass; glass to replace the broken windows that we see all around us; glass for the storm windows which will enable us to save energy and use the sun to heat our homes and our water. We can also use glass for greenhouses all over the city, so that we can grow vegetables for the local market all year round. During the spring and the summer we should “Green Detroit” by planting gardens in the thousands of vacant lots all over the city.

Every day on the expressway we see hundreds of trucks and vans equipped with ladder, electrical tools and lumber, bringing carpenters electricians and other skilled workers into Detroit to do the work of repairing Detroit homes. Meanwhile, inner city youth, black and white, stand around doing nothing and waiting for the dope man. Our community colleges should be organizing crash programs to train our youth to use their hands and heads so that they can be doing this work to improve our communities and our city instead of depending on suburbanites.

Detroit has raised many talented clothes designers, but they have all left for New York or California because we have only been able to think in terms of large-scale industry and haven’t recognized that Detroit could become a clothes-producing center for the state of Michigan.

Over the years Detroiters have become locked into the mentality that a party store is the only small business that the average person can create and that shopping malls in the suburbs are where you go to buy most things. We need to be creating all kinds of locally-owned stores in our communities so that we can not only buy our necessities locally but so that our young people can see stores not just as places where you spend money to buy what you want but as places where people are working to meet the needs of the community. In every neighborhood there should be a bakery where families can purchase freshly baked bread and children can stop by after school to buy their sweets. In every neighborhood there should also be food shops where working people can purchase whole meals to take home to eat together, instead of living off McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. This has been a common practice in other countries.

We also need a fundamental change in our concept of schools. Since the World War II our schools have been transformed into custodial institutions where our children are warehoused for 12 years, with no function except to study and get good grades so that they can win the certificate that will enable them to get a job. What kids learn from books in school has little if any relationship to their daily lives. While they are growing up, they are like parasites doing no socially useful work, spending their time playing and watching TV. Then when they become teenagers, we blame them because they have no sense of social responsibility. We have to create schools which are an integral part of the community, in which young people naturally and normally do social necessary and meaningful work for the community, for example, keeping the school grounds and the neighborhood clean and attractive, taking care of younger children, growing gardens which provide food for the community, etc. etc. Connections should be created between schools and local enterprises so that young people see these as an integral part of their present and future. Our goal should be to make Detroit the first city in the nation to use our schools to support the community rather than as places where our young people are upgraded to leave the community.

Because of our declining population many school buildings in Detroit have been abandoned or are about to be abandoned. These schools can be turned into day care centers to care for the children of working mothers and fathers. They can be developed into political and cultural centers for the community; the place for town meetings or for a local museum where the arts and crafts are proudly exhibited.

These are only a few examples of the kinds of things we can do to rebuild Detroit once we realize that we can no longer depend upon the corporations or the politicians to save us and begin thinking for ourselves about what we can do and must do. At this point, what we need to do is to begin discussing how we are going to rebuild our city, in every block club, every church, every school, every organization and every home –because for the rest of this century and most of the next, the major question in this country is going to be “How will we live in the city?” Up to now we have come to the city expecting somebody else, meaning the corporation, to provide us with a livelihood. Now we are stuck here and we can’t run or hide anymore. We can’t go back to the farms, we can’t keep running from city to city. We must put down our roots where we are and put our hearts, imagination, minds and hands to work, so that we can empower ourselves and one another to create an alternative to casino gambling. Coleman Young’s crisis is our opportunity. Let us start the discussion here tonight.