Thursday, May 23, 2024

Column: 'Is Detroit as bad as they say it is?'

February 18, 2019
The skyline of Detroit is pictured. Photo courtesy of Vito Palmisano/Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau
The skyline of Detroit is pictured. Photo courtesy of Vito Palmisano/Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau

Meeting new people is always fun. But when it comes down to saying where I'm from, the reactions vary. Either we continue the conversation, or they ask me the dreaded question: “Is Detroit really that bad like they say it is?" 

I have been asked that question so many times, and it's a drag. Please stop asking me if Detroit is "really as bad as they say it is," because I see my city differently. I live there, my family lives there, I went to school there — my perception of my city, of course, is different than it's presented.

The Motor City — home of Motown, the coney dog, Better Made Potato Chips, Vernors ginger ale — the list goes on. But most importantly, it’s my home. 

When I think of Detroit, I think of the Thanksgiving Parade on Woodward Ave. that has gone on for years and years, Comerica Park, Ford Field, Little Caesars Arena (the latest attraction), chicken shawarmas from Bucharest and Sweetwater chicken from the Sweetwater Express on 6 mile. I think of a Lafayette coney dog or some chili cheese fries that are high in calories, and I think of all the famous artists that came from Detroit, like Diana Ross, Big Sean, Anita Baker and Stevie Wonder. 

I picture Belle Isle and its "Giant Slide" that gives you a mini heart attack and burns your legs at the same time. The annual fireworks show, "River Days" every June, Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles on Livernois Ave., the Detroit Institute of Art, the Detroit Historical Museum and the Michigan Science Center. 

Detroit is an experience. You're bound to see something interesting or unusual, especially in the summertime. Hearing high-powered cars race through your neighborhood and your house shake from people blasting their car speakers — I love it. Once I start seeing the basketball shorts and Nike slide combo, I know summer has officially arrived. It’s the culture of any other big city – fast,  busy and destined to be surprising, and I personally enjoy it that way.

I think of all the positive things and attributions. Yes, some areas are bad, but that’s with any big city. It’s a matter of knowing your surroundings, hanging with the right crowd and staying out of trouble. If I find myself in an unsettling or a strange situation, I most definitely will remove myself. I use my better judgement and sense of caution. 

Stop asking me, “Is Detroit as bad as they say it is?" I simply do not know. I see my city just as I see any other city that has its positives and negatives. But I have an idea. I could take you on an adventure and allow you to develop your own opinions about it. I will show you the good and bad. The blighted and the more well-represented neighborhoods. The restaurants, attractions and historical buildings.

Detroit is my home. I am a product of Detroit.

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