Forty years after the 1967 riot, Detroit has made great strides in rebuilding its downtown and riverfront, but many neighborhoods are poorer and shabbier than in 1967. Flight continues, but now many African-American families are moving to the suburbs.
As the region's economic crisis lingers, many suburbs are experiencing the population loss and commercial abandonment that were the first signs in the 1950s that Detroit was in decline. Once fast-growing Warren lately has been losing a higher percentage of residents than Detroit, and the question of how to handle blight has become one of the city's major political issues.
Race relations remain complex and problematic, and they pop up in everything from actual assaults, to regional debates about the zoo, to the water system and expanding Cobo Center.
There is no white or black public figure who can be considered an outspoken leader on improving race relations: If you are white and from the suburbs, appearing too sympathetic to Detroit can be career suicide. If you are a black Detroiter, appearing too sympathetic to suburbia can get you branded as an Uncle Tom.
The ongoing integration of suburbia eventually could change the racial dynamic across 8 Mile.
Some year, metro Detroiters might be able to debate issues, like rebuilding the region, without racial rancor. Some year, the riot might seem irrelevant.
And that's where you really can get into the riot's legacy. Is Detroit much better a place to live for the average black family? I'm willing to bet the Freep and News and the rest of our rah-rah media wouldn't like a lot of the answers they'd get.
McGraw also threw in this little nugget:
Reynolds Farley, a University of Michigan sociologist, said this week: "For some decades, Detroit has been the most negatively stereotyped major city in the country. Part of that, I suspect, is attributable to the riot and its consequences."
No fucking shit, Einstein. And that might be the best pompous twit professor name ever.