What Makes You a Detroiter?

Much has been written about the two Detroit’s, but I count at least five and wish we had more.  Local and international journalists have written about the “jarring” difference between the mostly white community that fills Dan Gilbert’s skyscrapers on one hand and the mostly African-American neighborhoods of Detroit on the other.

This perspective completely ignores the huge Spanish community in Southwest Detroit that has its own cool buzz of bustling businesses in densely packed neighborhoods.  It’s as if the community doesn’t exist because we can’t fit Latinos into our black and white view of the world.   But they are definitely comprise a distinct contribution to Detroit.

There’s also a rich tapestry of differences within the rest of Detroit’s neighborhoods that precludes them from being lumped together as one, and then there’s a whole slew of people who don’t live or work in Detroit and are proud to call Detroit home.  This seems like a miracle to me.  For much of my life, folks wanted to distance themselves from the city.  Many of those same people now say there are from Detroit with pride.  We should welcome them.  The divisiveness of the past was killing us.

In my view, you are a Detroiter as long as you:

  1. Still cheer for the Lions despite only one playoff win in your entire lifetime.
  2. Find yourself rooting for the underdog even when they are complete strangers and arguing that we should give people a second chance.
  3. Want good things to happen for Detroit and the people in it.

When you have been around the city long enough to do these things, you can be a young hipster, a lifelong resident, or an immigrant from anywhere in the world and still be a Detroiter.

If you are a Detroiter, and you want good things to happen for people in Detroit but aren’t sure how to help, here are four things you can do–each of which I have a deep personal investment in and would be grateful for your support:

  1. Help Detroit PAL give 12,000 kids a chance to play on a team next year by donating to my crowd-rising page.
  2. Become a coach or reading mentor at the SAY Detroit Play Center, a slice of heaven on the northeast side of Detroit.
  3. Attend the Leverage 2016 conference on November 10-11 to learn how your church or company can partner wi th schools and impact organizations to improve some of the most difficult conditions facing children in Detroit.
  4. Pre-order a copy of my book, The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty and let me know if you’d like to join my launch team.

What did I miss?  What makes you a Detroiter and what are you doing to make Detroit better?