Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Playing the Race Card" in Detroit?

This Tuesday, 7:00 pm at the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center,  we'll be discussing Detroit: an Autopsy, journalist Charlie LeDuff's look at the crumbling infrastructure and hopeless corruption that continues to plague the Motor City. This may seem an odd choice for an African American literature book group, since the author is white, and much of the book's sympathies lie with white working class families. African Americans tend to be either victims or perpetrators, (note City Council woman Monica Conyers absurd argument with a 13 year old, shown in the video below) p 69.

While LeDuff focuses much of his anger on callous Wall Street and automobile executives,  he accuses former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of "playing the race card" and sympathizes with a police chief accused of excessive force (and of murdering a 7 year old girl),: "Citizens were complaining that the police were too tough, but at least they were alive to complain"(p 281) . LeDuff also opines that "Factory work tends to give you perspective on the importance of things. Of course in the hip-hop world, work was for suckers" ( p145). Then there's his less than evenhanded description of the Black Muslim brotherhood (p 229).

So is LeDuff a racist, or at best an apologist for racism? What did you find valuable or insightful abut this version of the fall of Detroit? What part of the picture is he missing?

For some other critical examinations of what went wrong, take a look at the article Motor City Breakdown, an excellent review of recent fiction, nonfiction and film about Detroit. I'll be interested to hear your reactions at our meeting this Tuesday!

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