Tuesday, July 9, 2013

CounterPunch Weighs In on "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City"

Flint Expatriate Michael Donnelly has a compelling and very personal take on Flint and Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing city at CounterPunch:
"My closer-to-downtown Flint neighborhood around now-shuttered Cook Elementary School was one of the first to succumb to White Flight and shift in a matter of years from white to mostly black back in the 60s. Like its larger shrinking city neighbor Detroit, America’s most segregated city, Flint had been and still is one of the most segregated communities in the land. As the Cook School environs changed overnight, it became a very dangerous place for a teenage male – black or white. I, my siblings and friends – black and white – all carry scars – physical and internal – from the many ever-escalating brawls, assaults and attacks that were based solely on the color of our skins.

"The first African-American family to move in down the block was the Johnson’s. Jimmy and his brother Anthony (Cleo) were the same age (11 and 8) as me and my brother Mark. We became quick friends, sharing interests in sports, music and, not-so-oddly really, injustices towards Native Americans. Jimmy and I played on a very good basketball team that had five white guys and five black guys from the neighborhood. It was so unusual that someone from the city did a slideshow documentary on us. Cleo is a family hero as he single-handedly saved my sister from a serious assault.

"I, like Young, had a family that believed/believes in Integration and the collective prosperity that would come from it. My uncle Dr. William Donnelly was instrumental in the Open Housing movement which outlawed “redlining” in Michigan – the segregationist practice of providing or denying mortgages in areas solely based on race. Uncle Bill lost a lot of his suburban pediatric clientele over it. He responded by opening an Inner City office and becoming the head of pediatrics at Pontiac’s public hospital. He helped many young black students, many he attended the births of, to get into his Alma mater: University of Michigan."

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.