Whom will the stadium benefit?
By Cynthia A. Johnson
(Over a) week ago, I requested we make every attempt to refrain from using race in our daily conversations. By no means, am I oblivious to the reality of racism, which, like behaviors of prejudice, we all exhibit. Racism or stupidity doesn’t belong to one race or gender. But as a Black woman, I am sometimes disappointed in some of the things I see in my people — the Black ones and the white ones.
On Feb. 4, I went downtown Detroit and the parking structures near the (Coleman A. Young Municipal) Building were full at about 9:30 a.m. Even the street meters surrounding the building were taken. I finally found a parking space around 9:50 a.m. I wondered what was going on, and while on the elevator, a professional-looking Black woman who worked in the building entered and pressed “13.” I asked her what was going on and like a snub she reluctantly responded by saying there was a city council meeting. I then asked if she knew what the agenda was. Again, she responded, but in a way that told me she really wasn’t interested in having a sharing session. She then said she didn’t know what the meeting was about and the agenda is not known until you go into the meeting.
Now, hold it; I know better than that. Most people who attend these meetings have some idea what the meetings are about, and as I thought this to myself, it was time for me to get off on the 5th floor. (I am officially a candidate for State Representative, 5th District.)
I found out later why the parking was overwrought with people when I saw the 5 p.m. news. As the camera panned across the auditorium, all that were seen was a sea of white faces appearing to fill every seat in that auditorium to observe and listen to the request for a new Red Wings stadium to be built in downtown Detroit. Six-to-3, the vote carried by the Detroit City Council to approve legislation to advance the new Red Wings arena project, despite opposition because there is no guarantee Detroiters will be hired to work at the arena once its built.
Voting “NO” for the transfer of the public land for $1 to support the project were City Council President Brenda Jones and Councilpersons James Tate and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez.
The following people voted “YES,” despite no job guarantee for Detroiters: Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr., and Councilmembers Andre Spivey, Saunteel Jenkins, Gabe Leland, Mary Sheffield and Scott Benson.
Now, what is my point? In the city of Detroit with more than an 85 percent Black population and city council comprised 90 percent by people of color, when it comes to issues in Detroit that concern white people, and mostly non-residents, they come out and are listened to. Don’t be upset when they get what it is that they “want.” That’s what happens when people come together on one accord. So, lady in the elevator, you have not arrived and your business attire does not define you. It just shows that you are a wanderer without a home.
One last thing, thank you Brenda Jones, James Tate and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez for thinking first about the people!
Cynthia A. Johnson is the founder of Stand Up Now! — a Michigan nonprofit. She is a candidate for state representative in District 5.