22 thoughts on “Blog: Week 4 (May 13th)

  1. Acelya Ördü

    While reading Boyd’s “Black Detroit – A People’s History of Self-determination“, I was confronted with the term “STRESS“ for the first time, so I decided to look into that. In the foreword, S.T.R.E.S.S. is mentioned as follows: “Throughout Detroit’s history, black Detroiters have been ever vigilant when it comes to overzealous police, and the suc­cessful fight against S.T.R.E.S.S. (Stop the Robberies and Enjoy Safe Streets) was emblematic of that resolve.“
    It really caught my attention and I found out that, from Detroit’s founding in 1701 to 1860, the city didn’t have an organized police department, but army commanders formed local militias to protect the public. Eventually, despite local opposition, the Detroit Police Department (DPD) was officially formed on March 12, 1861. As the DPD expanded during the 1920s in order to handle increasing crime, the situation became more and more controversial: citizens claimed that there was an intentional policy of recruiting white southerners who would keep black residents in check. And while Detroit’s population began to change in the 1950s, most of the white citizens moved to the suburbs in the north, east and west. New and remaining African Americans often had to face the predominantly white police force.
    The climax of this crisis was reached in July 1967, when police raided a nightclub in a mainly black neighborhood, where 82 people were arrested. Consequently, violence erupted in the city, leading to a riot. City officials utilized this “opportunity“ to create a special police task force called S.T.R.E.S.S. Racial tensions and discrepancies escalated even more due to this, since civil right leaders accused S.T.R.E.S.S. of displaying unjust behavior against African Americans. Then in 1974, Coleman Young disbanded the S.T.R.E.S.S. unit. After that, by 1998, nearly 61% of the police force in Detroit was African American. Still, the reputation of the DPD is enormously tarnished.
    What also caught my attention is that S.T.R.E.S.S was also addressed in the series “Crimetown“. It’s a podcast-like series (available on Spotify), where the culture of crime in various cities is investigated. In Season 2, Detroit’s identity regarding race, poverty, policing and riots is examined. Episode 1’s introductory synopsis offers us following lines:
    Detroit, 1971—a city riven by blight, racial strife, and rising crime. “In the first episode of Crimetown Season 2, the police form a controversial undercover unit called STRESS—Stop The Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets. One of the unit’s cops kills so many black men that he earns a nickname: Mr. STRESS. Can anyone stop him?“
    Sounds very interesting and promising 🙂

  2. Stefan Becker

    After reading “Black Detroit – A People’s History of Self-determination“ by Herb Boyd, I noticed that some parts of the American History can be compared to the history of Detroit. Of course, it makes sense because the city is also in America but Boyd’s book deals mostly with the struggles and hard times African-Americans had to go thgough. It is a specific insight into the big topics of America like e.g. “rasism” and “discrimination” but with the focus on Detroit. It took the African-Americans more than 100 years to emancipate into the American society. Not until the 20th century, there were some positive development regarding the social conditions for them. It became better with the jobs and especially after the Civil War when Martin Luther King and other activists fought for civil rights, the African-American was more or less emancipated.

  3. Marlen Hahn

    After reading the passages from Boyd’s Black Detroit, one question came up to my mind: ‘Why and how can this be possible?’. African Americans wanted to flee into the North of the USA , coming from the South to escape from slavery. Detroit seemed to them as a place where they could change their lives. They wanted to have a better life without problems because of their skin color. But what they found was discrimination. Different part of the country, same problems. I once heard from the Faulkner story and the accusation of raping two girls but being not guilty. How can this happen (and it’s still happening nowadays) that a person is more likely to be accused of crime because their outward appearance is different? Faulkner had to go to prison while others who killed people during the riot weren’t accused for anything. His stay in prison was unfair enough but it’s even more unfair that all the other people hunting African Americans weren’t punished at all. Furthermore, if one thinks of churches one thinks of equality and a place where everyone has peace. It made me angry reading the part in which was mentioned that even “white” churches discriminated “black” ones. Churches were a place in which African American citizens could flee after a long day of ravages and sought for refuge. And even this place was terrorized by others.
    During the Civil War the North fought against the South. But what surprised me was that the African Americans had their own regiment, the First Michigan Colored Regiment. I ask myself how can it be that the part of the North is also segmented in regiments of white and black people while the clear goal is the North fighting against the South with the intention of release slavery.
    But these people did everything to search for a better life and therefore I really like Frederick Douglass’s quote “better even die free, than to live slaves.” which underlines willingness for change in the country they live in but also in the city they wanted to find refuge, Detroit.

  4. Rieke Nachtigall

    While reading Herb Boyds’ Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination I was hit by different emotions. On the one hand, I thought the stories about the Underground Railway were very interesting and it was inspiring to see the willpower of the African American community. To keep on going even after their church burned down, to keep on going to fight for their rights.
    On the other hand, I was angry and disturbed to read about the treatment the community had to handle for years. Of course, I know about the mistreatment and horrible doings against African Americans but none the less it frustrates me every time. Especially shocking was chapter 4 for me the fate of Richard Evans and his wife just makes me mad. The whole riot caused by Faulkners’ trial is very sad as well as the whole Sweet situation. I felt sick to my stomach while reading what terrible actions humans are able to make when they are controlled by rage. The description of Fred Rochelles’ death was hard to read and I can understand the fear Sweet had for his family during the mob after experiencing that.

  5. Cara Bierwirth

    While reading Herb Boyd´ s “Black Detroit: A People´s History of Self Determination” I was angry about how black people and in general their community were treated by the white people. As I read that a $500 bond guaranteeing good behavior was required by all black immigrants, I felt so kind of disappointed how they were treated but at the same time I was angry about how the whites treated them. Black people are no bad persons. As I read chapter 2, I was kind of happy that black people started to do something to be free. It was good to read that Thornton and Ruthie/Lucie tried to escape. I was happy to read in this chapter that Mrs. French helped Ruthie/Lucie to escape even though she had to remain in jail. Besides the content given in this book, I like the way how Herb Boyd illustrated the history of black people in Detroit and separated it into categories.

  6. Sabrina Schröder

    “Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self Determination” by Herb Boyd deals with the lifes of African American people living in Detroit. My first impressions were quite negative, sinc I did not expect life in Detroit for African American people being as bad as in other cities. The first thing I found interesting was, that black people in big cities always seemed to live close to rivers. It is shocking that it is this way, because it made slave tradings easier. I always thought that the states in the mid and southern parts of the United States were the „hotspots“ of slavery. The given passages of „Black Detroit“ made me realize that this whole catastrophe took place all over the country. Even at times when a world war was going on.
    Throught these passages there were many famous names, events and places named, which made reading it more interesting to me. I liked how historical events were connected with personal experiences.

  7. Kerem Celik

    What we find out when reading “Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self Determination” by Herb Boyd is that Detroit in past was no different to other cities in the United States concerning slavery. Slavery of African-Americans was unfortunately a thing, also in Detroit. But what differs Detroit from other locations in America, for African-Americans, is that Detroit is for the most of them a target place. It’s not really a city in which African-Americans wanted to settle, but rather a transition, after 1834 anyways. In 1834 slavery was abolished in Canada, which made itself a destination for many African-Americans and since Detroit is only divided by a river to Canada, Detroit became of importance for those who suffer under slavery.

  8. Patricia Riemer

    While reading Herb Boyd’s „Black Detroit: A People´s History of Self Determination”, I noticed that I have not dealt enough with the topic so far. Of course, I knew that the black population had a more difficult life, but I was shocked that all black immigrants need a $ 500 bond that guarantees good behavior. So many black people have been mistreated by the white population. It made me sad to read the story of the African Americans, for example Thornton and Ruthie/Lucie, who had to flee to escape slavery and have been sold several times. But it also made me happy to read that there were people who helped black people, such as Mrs. French, who exchanged her clothes with Ruthie/Lucie to help her escape from prison. Furthermore, it was very interesting to read that most of the black people lived near the river. In my opinion was it an advantage for the slavery at the time because it was easier to get the sold people to their new place of work. All in all, the first chapters gave a very interesting overview of the lives of black people.

  9. Paul Spiegelberg

    Reading the articles about Black Detroit, three findings really stuck. First, having last week’s reading about a city of ruins, decay, unemployment and mismanagement in mind, it is hardly believable that Detroit once has been a very vibrant, glowing and elegant city, especially in the first half of the 20th century. Then I was astonished that the Civil War had impacts far off the actual frontlines and battlegrounds, leading to inner city tensions, turmoil and riots resulting in victims among the black community. Last but not least, a lot of aspects of Detroit’s black history are also mirrored in the video game Detroit: Become Human. Telling the story of androids gaining conscience and striving for liberty and equality, the game draws parallels to the history of slaves in general. Moreover, actual events and circumstances in the game include a peaceful protest march, similar to the actual one in 1963, android riots as well as police brutality, the Detroit river as an escape route and a (decayed) church as a shelter for androids, comparable to the Second Baptist Church in Detroit, being a refuge for former slaves .

  10. Niklas Nitsch

    There’re so many things I could talk about and comment on, but I’ll try to focus on a few points that stood out to me the most, focusing on one chapter of the text.
    First of all, the style of the text was a pretty nice read. I especially liked the chapter titles and all the references they included.
    To the meat of the text: The chapter I found most interesting must be “Dr. Sweet & Mr. Ford”. I always love reading about judicial history and historical court cases, so learning about the Sweet case was really interesting, although sadly not very surprising nor shocking (as in I was expecting it to turn out that way). I was positively amazed about the newspaper articles presented in the beginning of the chapter however, attempting to make the reader question the racial injustice at play.
    One more thing I noticed is how Ford is always very positively presented. I would go as far as to call him a hero figure as he is portrayed in the text. Granted, he did offer opportunities to Black workers especially and the negative impression of Ford and the working conditions his company provided as they were channeled through Denby were a new and interesting perspective.

  11. Fabio Wortmann

    “Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self Determination” deals with a topic that America has always been afected by: Racism. I feel like no matter how much progress America makes racism and degradation of black people by white people is always a current theme. It is unimaginable that Afro-Americans have less chances to succeed in life because of their colour of skin. I believe that especially in our nowadays (for the most parts) peaceful communities racism should never be a topic that occurs but it sadly still does. Also: Only by looking at the topic sentence “A People’s History of Self determination” one should ask himself if you are actually allowed to determine yourself when you are black for example . Obviously the text proves that this is not the case. What also bothers me is that Detroit was affected by slavery of Afro-Americans like others cities in the US. After reading this text the speech “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King came to my mind in which he specifically adresses the desire for equality. MLK explicitly says that he is hoping that one day the sons of former slave owners can one day sit together on the table of brotherhood with other people which is a statement that one really thinks of after reading this text.

  12. Gia An Ernst

    “Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self Determination” by Boyd reminded me of the daily discrimination the whole human being is exposed to; STILL in our nowadays society. Reading this made me feel so ashamed – discriminating other races, cultures, religions, skin colours, languages and so much more. It’s just sad how this can still be a topic in this so ‘grown’ and developed community because it shouldn’t be any further especially due to all the knowledge we’re able to gain nowadays about themes like equality, love spreading, immigration and the melting pot and the salad bowl and many other themes. And it is not just about races and cultures, there is discrimination everywhere; in almost every area and so much mistreatment. Also young children have to deal with this topic in there early ages and their daily life because of many various reasons.. Coming back to Boyd’s work I really think that he managed to get a lot of people thinking about the issue of African-American people and what they have to go through, but also what they have achieved and what maybe a lot more people can achieve, if they just fight for it. So many bad things happen and so many people get mistreated, but I wouldn’t really say people causing this are so called bad people (at least not all of them), but rather manipulated people due to their less ‘widespread’ knowledge of diverse subjects.
    Maybe going a little further I would relate the term of discrimination to the current situation of the COVID-19, in which race does again play a pivotal role.

  13. Janek

    First of all, I really enjoyed reading Herb Boyd’s book. Boyd, who seems like a credible source as he grew up in Detroit and teaches Black Studies in New York according to Wikipedia, has a very specific writing style as his chapters are full of details and always provide us with people’s fate and fortune.
    It was really interesting that we meet the “Brown Bomber” Joe Lewis again who we already encountered when we talked about “The Fist” some time ago which is a monument dedicated to Lewis’ achievements inside and outside the boxing ring located in Detroit. Not surprising was that African Americans played in an own baseball league which was called the “Negro National League”. Segregation between African Americans and White Americans certainly did not stop regarding sports and obviously there was way more money to make when you were white than when you were black as the salary of Ty Cubb who played for the all-white Detroit Tigers was 50 times as high as the salary of Norman “Turkey” Stearnes who played for the all-black Detroit Stars.

  14. Joe Troxler

    This week’s reading of “Black Detroit” has been troubling to me. The amount of injustice, discrimination, and racism on every mentionable level in the past are outrageous, especially if compared to the resistance and effort of the African American population that have brought forth mentionable victories. I was especially shocked by the destruction of well-established and even historic communities after World War II to make way for the Motor Way – the roads that dominate American Cities to this day. Nonetheless, as Boyd narrates decade after decade of the turmoil of the African American communities it came to my mind that this history recounted is only of one minority. How many other ethnicities throughout the country’s history have suffered from segregation and discrimination in Detroit and in the rest of the US?
    America has a way of going into extremes and as much as there are places in the US that manage to incorporate values of equality, the very token of the American institution, the tribulations of those left aside throw an impenetrable shadow on the apparent progress of the world’s most influential nation.

  15. Bente Buschmann

    “Black Detroit” simply illustrates how African Americans were suffering under discrimination and racism in America for many years. Historical events like the American Revolution or colonization affected almost each African American through treating them like animals or products of a society. They had become a feeling of not being worth it to live a life like other Americans do, even if they could have supported or enriched cities with their work, creativity or new ideas. However, this did not matter at that time since in Detroit, which once represented hope of freedom, equality and a better life to many African Americans, people were still discriminated by Detroits citizen. As a consequence, their conceivabilities were expired by Detroit but their fight for recognition and self reliance was getting stronger. Detroit needed African Americans as employers were dependent on low- cost workers to stick to a balanced economy and African Americans knew that. For this reason they tried to fight for their rights. Differentiations between different skin colors is cruel inacceptable and a horrific “character trail” of a society.

  16. Falk Engberding

    The USA and African-American: A state, which claims itself as “the land of the free“, where every dream can come true, and an ethnical group, which mostly did not seem to be allowed to have dreams. Discrimination of African-American, a problem across America, has made no exception in Detroit. Just like in the vast majority of American cities, racism divided the society in Detroit and it’s suburbs, which consequences are still present nowadays.
    When the first African-Americans came to Detroit, it was their workforce that helped Detroit to become more and more important for the surrounding region. Their dreams of better lives and their will to reach their goal made them do every work they could possibly get while getting paid less than other, thus having a huge positive impact on the economy and also on white peoples’ lives since the “privileged whites“ had not to do that kind of hard and dangerous work but better paid ones.
    It were when the industries’ production became more and more automated, when a majority of African-Americans lost their jobs. Due to the new automation processes, their workforce, which always has had a significant importance for the wealth of a few, suddenly became worthless – and so did their dreams and lives, too, while only the chosen minority received reputation and equality.

  17. Martina Grym

    In the given extract Boyd reflects upon his personal experience with Detroit including its history. He tells his story of leaving the South in order to find a new home – Detroit. Reasons for the great migration of African Americans were amongst others the Jim Crow restrictions. He depicts his feelings while arriving in his “new home“. Boyd describes Detroit as lively city with tall buildings, lights everywhere (“Fox Theatre glistened with blinking […] bulbs“), bars, barbershops and nightclubs. The city back then seemed to be vibrant in comparison to today.
    Further he names important persons like Charles Diggs or Malcom X who were popular figures during the Civil Rights Movement and tried to bring the communities together. African Americans were also strongly involved in Detroit’s growth and development as they worked hard and paved the streets “turning wilderness into the foundations of the city“ even with dangerous and low-paid jobs. It shows that for many people Detroit was seen as a new home and new opportunity to start a new life.

  18. Maedeh Mirzaei

    I think that Automation in factories can be one of the important factors that affected Black movements or in general the struggle between Black and White .as we know Automation will replace men which is not a new thing but the thing is that with a vast Automation the displaced men have nowhere to go. And they become jobless.as the number shows: the number of unskilled workers considerably decreased over the time but it was mostly Black workers who had most vulnerable jobs in labor market who I think due to Automation have lost their jobs. If we see extensive Automation as one of the factors that intensify crises of capitalism then it is no wonder why it can cause conflicts between those working and those not or those who pay taxes and those not .

  19. Irem Cagla Akün

    Before reading “Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-determination”, my ideas about black history in America was mostly build on regional setting, and I never studied black history focusing on a city and made me understand that Detroit was one of the most important cities when it comes to Civil Rights Movement. Reading a story from the eyes of an African American who migrates from Alabama Detroit gets reader into the feeling. Even though Detroit is in North and considered as a free region and state afterward, it was still a challenge to be black and live in U.S. Wondering about Detroit’s first black mayor, I made a research about Coleman Young. He was also a part of the great migration and he was born in Alabama. I found out that he worked in Ford’s Motor Company and also served in WWII. His election was important turning point for black history in Detroit as he was the first black mayor of Detroit and continued as a mayor for five terms. He was elected at a time when Detroit’s black population was almost fifty percent, and as the book informs about hardships that black people came through, I think that it shows us how black people of Detroit got their rights and freedom by themselves by standing strong -from a point of being discriminated when it comes to social status or jobs to have actually equal rights- bringing the image of Monument to Joe Louis in my mind.

  20. Miriam Bieniek

    While reading the book „Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self Determination“ by Herb Boyd, I noticed the discrimination, injustice and inappropriate treatment of the African Americans. At the time of early 20th Century during the Great Migration when people were attracted to industrial jobs, a lot of African American settled to Detroit with the hope of a better life. Those people saw Detroit as the city with of full employment, high wages and a better life. Especially the autonomobile industry provided some jobs for the black community. With Ford’s announcement paying workers five dollars a day people created hope with a fresh start in life. Nobody realised Ford’s ambivalence. But one the other hand the black community was replaced by European immigrants. The injustice of the treatment of those people during the past cannot be put in words as it is unbelievably sad. Reading about the organization „Children’s Aid Society“ that provided housing and prepared jobs for the African Americans, I realised that those people had to live in worse living conditions with worse housing but paid higher rents comparing to the white people. There are much more examples included in the book that underline the racism and unrighteousness.

  21. Gökhan Kaya

    What caught my attention the most reading Herb Boyd’s „Black Detroit: A People´’s History of Self Determination” was the Underground Railroad tour of slaves trying to escape slavery by trying to make their way to Canada where slavery was already abolished on August 1, 1834. He describes how by far not all slaves on the Underground Railroad made their to Canada, but rather were re-enslaved in the city of Detroit. “From the moment the first fugitive slaves were safely secured in the city, they were put to work. Nearly all of the early buildings – homes, churches, businesses, schools and other edifices – benefited from the craftsmanship of black workers.”
    That opened my eyes concerning the population ratio within Detroit nowadays and the relevance of Detroit in African-American history I did not know about yet.

  22. Maedeh Mirzaei Ataabadi

    i dont know why but my comment is deleted from here .so i am sending it again
    I think that Automation in factories can be one of the important factors that affected Black movements or in general the struggle between Black and White .as we know Automation will replace men which is not a new thing but the thing is that with a vast Automation the displaced men have nowhere to go. And they become jobless.as the number shows: the number of unskilled workers considerably decreased over the time but it was mostly Black workers who had most vulnerable jobs in labor market who I think due to Automation have lost their jobs. If we see extensive Automation as one of the factors that intensify crises of capitalism then it is no wonder why it can cause conflicts between those working and those not or those who pay taxes and those not .


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