What About the Kids?

Saturday I met up with some family members at the Detroit Zoo. Over the years I’ve made several trips to the Zoo starting in elementary school. Whether it was with my parents as chaperones, tagging along as they chaperoned my siblings’ trips, or just going with my classmates I’ve been to the Detroit Zoo at least a dozen times.

Back in the day even if your class didn’t go on any other trip for the rest of the year, you could count on going to the zoo. For Detroit Public Schools I assume it was a top choice because it was nearby and economical. Though my parents made good money the majority of the kids I went to school with were from lower income households.

As I was walking through the zoo with my family all I could think about is how much it’s changed. For one thing it’s expensive. Kid’s tickets are ten bucks and adult tickets are fourteen and parking is six bucks. The train which was a free attraction as long as you paid admission back in the day, now requires a fee. Even the price to rent a stroller is outrageous.

I know prices change, but I think that something educational for kids should be more affordable. Walking through looking at the expensive treats and souvenirs I couldn’t imagine a struggling single mom, like my mom was, being able to afford to bring her kids. It’s not Disney World.

When I think of The Detroit Zoo, I think of an inexpensive place to take kids where they can learn about the world around them. Why should people have to pay a premium price for their kids to learn?

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Stick a Fork in Me, I’m Done

Detroit Blight

I grew up in Detroit. For nearly thirty years, I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. Seven years ago I along with a few thousand other people made a mass exodus out of the city limits.

Today I was surfing internet news, when I found a story about Detroit being the carjacking capital. When I see news like this all I can do is wonder why people who are able to move out stay behind.

Things were getting so bad before I left that I, Ms. Non-Violent, Wouldn’t Hurt A Fly, was considering getting a gun permit. Yes crime was that bad and now it’s even worse. Everyday I watch the stories, murder, home invasions, car jacking, corruption, hit and run accidents; you name it and Detroit has it. Lawlessness rules.

The city services suck, in an emergency you can forget it and you’d better be ready to help yourself. My brother even had a friend who died because he had an asthma attack. They wasted precious time waiting for an ambulance before deciding to drive the young man to the hospital.

The neighborhoods are in ruins. On some streets you can find one house surrounded by the rubble of the neighboring houses. You’d be lucky to get the grass on city property cut and even luckier if the abandoned houses on your block are torn down.

Mackenzie High School in the midst of demoliotion

My alma mater, Mackenzie High School is no more. That once beautiful, art-deco building with the marble pillars that was built with so much care and dedication was torn down about two years ago. The last time the alumni tried to get together for a picnic it erupted into gunfire and the crowd scattered.

I remember the days when a city job was really worth something. Now those workers who spent their lives working for the city are in danger of losing the money they worked so hard for.

Every time I hear someone talk about revitalizing the city I can’t help but shake my head. Sure you have the defiant ones, the elderly hangers on who refuse to leave the house they’ve owned for decades. Then you have the hipsters, the young people who want to make a statement and live in the city. I just hope they’re not proving a point at the cost of their safety.

You hear the promises from the city’s leadership, it’s all about what they’re going to do to change things, but I think it’s just too little too late. Detroit has had too many people who don’t care, leadership and residents alike. I think the damage is already done or maybe I’m just cynical.

When I moved to the suburbs it felt like I moved to a different planet. I can’t really explain the feeling, it’s just different, like I’m finally breathing oxygen. Now I don’t have to take a twenty minute trip to the burbs to shop; the stores I want are right around the corner and convenient. If I need to call the police, there’s no delay; they’ll even bring and ambulance, the SWAT Team, and the fire trucks just in case.

Crime is everywhere, I know that. You’ll never catch me saying ‘bad things don’t usually happen in a place like this’. Bad things happen everywhere. And to this day I still keep a Club on my car, never can be too careful. As far as me ever returning to the city, that will never happen again. Though I pray for the best, I expect the worst.

I’m Not Mad at Tyler…..

Over the past few weeks, local radio stations here in the greater Detroit area have been advertising the upcoming Detroit Women’s Empowerment Expo 2014. This event is supposed to cover women’s health, entrepreneurship, marriage, and a lot of other topics that concern women. As I listen to the commercial, the one thing that doesn’t seem quite right is the fact that Tyler Perry is supposed to be the keynote speaker.

I have nothing against Tyler. He has one of the most inspirational stories you can ever imagine. In just a few years time he went from homeless to a major power house in Hollywood. I have no doubt that he has things to say that will leave the guests in attendance inspired. That’s fine.

What I don’t understand is why a man would be the main attraction at an event that’s supposed to be all about women. Tyler Perry can’t tell us about the discrimination he faced being a woman or how many doors were slammed in his face because he wasn’t taken seriously because of his gender. What does he know about women’s health or sisterhood for that matter? What advice can he give a woman when he hasn’t walked in our shoes?

There are a lot of women out there who have stories just as inspirational. They could have chosen Melody Hobson, Judy Smith, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah, etc… These women have their own success stories to tell and would have been more suitable for an event that’s supposed to cater women and be about women.

My reasoning for the event organizer’s inclusion of a male figure tied to this event is possible name recognition. Who doesn’t know Tyler Perry and his name is likely to sale more tickets. I just wished they’d taken the time to do some thinking before they reached that conclusion.