Less Than An Hour Away

I have lived in Ann Arbor my entire life; which means my entire life, I have lived less than an hour away from Detroit. I’ve never really thought about this before. I mean, sure, I’ve driven through Detroit multiple times on the way to Canada, and I went there a couple years ago to see the Broadway production of RENT, but I’ve never actually gone to Detroit just for the sake of going there.

Like most of America, I’m aware of the recent economic downturn in Detroit. But it hasn’t really affected me. I mean, I’m a white, middle class, teenager living in Ann Arbor. What goes on in Detroit won’t really affect me…right?

I suppose, in one sense, that is true…even though that’s a rather cold and aloof way of looking at things. But in all honestly, what happens in Detroit WILL affect me. Maybe not on a personal level, but on some level, some higher level that I may not even be aware of just yet; the situation in Detroit will affect me. It will affect everyone who lives in America, for better or for worse.

I like to think of myself as an open-minded, non-biased person. I like to think that I’m not racist. And I like to think that if I had to move to a place like Detroit, or had to move to a neighbor-hood on the South Side of Chicago, I’d be perfectly comfortable with that. But the truth is, I wouldn’t be comfortable with that. On some subconscious level, I shy away from the idea of being around people who aren’t like me; don’t share my same skin color, or ethnic background. Still, I was raised in a family where we are taught to reach out to others, no matter what they look like, or what their background is. Helping others, and sticking our noses in other peoples’ business is a mother-daughter trait in my family. My mother is a social worker in Monroe. Before that, she worked at a center for abused women. Only recently did I come to the conclusion that I would also like to be a social worker or something along those lines.

But I’m rambling slightly. The main point is, when I first saw the clips from Chris Hansen’s ‘America Now: City of Heartbreak and Hope’, I was struck by how real the situation in Detroit was. The suffering and danger there was happening in some foreign country halfway around the world; it was happening less than an hour away from where I have lived my entire life.

So where am I going with this exactly? Believe me, I’m asking myself the same thing. What I want to do is go to Detroit. I want to go there for the sake of going there. I want to get out of the car, and walk around; not just drive through the city. I want to meet the people there; I want to talk to people my own age who are living in the city of ‘heartbreak and hope’. I want to go to Detroit and see it; really see it. Not see the city the way the media is portraying it. Not see the city the way everyone talks about it. I want to see the city through the eyes of the people living there. I want to form my own opinion of what it’s like in Detroit. I want to meet with people my own age and compare. Compare our lives and see. Even though we may not have anything in common, would we, as teenagers, still be able to relate to each other?

This idea may end up going no where. Who knows, I mean, I may end chickening out of actually doing this. And the fact that I don’t know anyone in Detroit, or know anyone who knows anyone in Detroit, or have any connections at all in Detroit doesn’t help. But I want to do this. And that has to count for something, right?

For anyone who wants to see Chris Hansen’s ‘America Now: City of Heartbreak and Hope’, go to the following link. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36665950/ns/dateline_nbc-the_hansen_files_with_chris_hansen/