Colonial disenfranchisement and African devastation in Detroit

 
 
DETROIT–First food deserts and now water deserts. The water shut offs in the city of Detroit, Michigan, which is nearly 90 percent African, is an affront to human dignity.
 
More than this, it lays bare the absolute colonial relationship Africans in Detroit and throughout the U.S. have to white power.
 
Capitalists have hijacked water, which was once free to all
 
Residents “owing” $150- 250 will have their water shut completely off, while approximately 40 corporations, despite delinquent accounts totaling millions, still have access to water.
 
Thousands of Africans are facing authorized water cut offs even as the cost of living and the cost for water continues to rise in Detroit.
 
Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Commission says, “The chances of living in Detroit are going down.”
 
The Michigan Welfare Rights office receives 30 to 40 calls an hour from people who have had their water cut off or who are terrified that it might be.  
 
The underemployed/unemployed residents are forced to pay water bills that have skyrocketed by 120 percent over the past 10 years and are now attached to property taxes.
 
The U.S. national average charge for water and sewer service is somewhere between $40-50 a month.
 
Water and sewage charges for Detroit residents are now in the range of $75-$200 per household per month according to the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.
 
Glaring economic oppression
 
Although Detroit is on the Canadian border, the difference in the cost of living in Detroit and Canada is staggering. White settlers in Ottawa, Canada have an average household income in the range of $90,000 with residents paying around $50 a month for water and sewerage bills.
 
The water and sewage rates are exorbitant and unaffordable in Detroit where the poverty rate is 40 percent.
 
Consequently, homes enter foreclosure because the water bills are rolled into property taxes.
 
Residents are forced to liberate water from fire hydrants and people can be seen walking the streets of Detroit carrying buckets of water atop their shoulders.
 
Indeed, the destitute situation is no different from our sisters and brothers carrying water atop their heads and shoulders in Sierra Leone, West Africa while their British colonial masters sip tea in villas only miles away or while the CEOs of the Detroit auto industry jet set across the globe.
 
This government-created “water crisis,” the bursting at the seams unemployment rate, and the mass foreclosures are all ingredients for a gentrified Detroit.
 
They are dispersing the densely populated African population throughout the U.S.
 
Destabilizing Detroit
 
Essentially, if families do not pay their water bills, they are forced not only to live without that basic human need, their families are also torn apart and destroyed.
 
According to Taylor, a woman who once worked two jobs subsequently lost both jobs as a result of Detroit’s economic downturn.
 
Her water was shut off when she was unable to afford the exorbitant water payment of $1,200.
 
Child Protective Services was called in to remove her four children from her household.
 
Once the children are placed in foster care, the foster care parents receive a payment of $465 a month for each child.
 
In effect, the State is willing to pay $465 a month to a foster parent who doesn’t live in Detroit versus providing affordable water charges to residents.
 
Look at Harlem. Check out San Francisco. What about DC and Atlanta? In New Orleans they called it Katrina. In St. Petersburg, Florida they call it economic development.
 
Whatever the name, the results are the same—gentrification and a dispersed African population.
 
This gentrification effort in Detroit is being led by Kevyn Orr, the city’s emergency manager who is being paid a $275,000 salary and is paying lawyers from his former firm $1,000 an hour of the city’s money.
 
Nobody in Detroit voted for Orr, but he runs the city.
The United Nations declared the sinister water shuts offs as a “Human Rights and International Law Violation.”
 
Protesters flooded the streets and blocked the Detroit Department of Water and Sewage (DDWS) disconnect crews’ vehicles from cutting off the water.
 
The city of Detroit, which once had a population of 1.5 million people, has dwindled to a little over 700,000 people.
 
Chocolate City meltdown
 
Celebrated as a “Chocolate City,” Detroit was a city that provided manufacturing jobs to Africans which led to one of the great black migrations north.
 
Henry Ford’s car manufacturing company in Detroit attracted African workers in 1913 by offering to pay $5 a day to colonized Africans and immigrants.
 
The $5 daily wage is credited with being one of the things that developed the African middle class in Detroit.
 
According to the census bureau, Detroit is 83 percent African and currently the median household income in Detroit is around $25,193.
 
This number has decreased consistently since 2007 when the median was $30,412. At $50,502, the U.S. median household income is more than twice Detroit's.
 
Alice Jennings, a Detroit lawyer, filed a class-action lawsuit against the city, claiming the shut offs by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department are racially motivated.
 
The fact that Africans in Detroit are the primary victims of having their pensions stolen from them by a destructive, capitalist system makes this Detroit debacle even more appalling and horrendous. .
 
These same Africans are the ones who made the cars and trucks. They are the ones who picked up the garbage or dug the infrastructure of the city.
 
“Motor City” or “Motown”—it is Africans who made Detroit what it became.
 
Africans have a history of struggling for justice and fair treatment in Detroit.
 
The Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) was an organization of African workers formed in May 1968 in the Chrysler Corporation's Hamtramck Assembly plant, formerly Dodge Main, Detroit, Michigan.
 
DRUM sought to organize black workers to obtain concessions not only from the Chrysler management, but also from the United Auto Workers.
 
DRUM ran a candidate, Ron March, for an open position on the local union executive board.
 
A slogan seen on picket lines was “Finally Got the News of How Our Union Dues are Being Used.”
 
The mantra “Ungawa! Black Power!” was also a daily chant that could be heard by the Africans fed up with mistreatment, discrimination and non-representation by the United Autoworkers Union (UAW).
 
The African insurrection of 1967
 
The 1967 Detroit rebellion that began in the early morning hours of July 23 was probably the most organized mass insurrection during the Black Revolution of the Sixties.  
 
U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson called in federal troops after the Michigan national guard was rendered inadequate to deal with the fierce, armed urban African resistance.
 
Governor George W. Romney had ordered in the Michigan national guard whose troops who were killing indiscriminately, but were still incapable of putting down the insurrection.
 
Approximately 8,000 national guardsmen, 4,700 paratroopers from the 82nd airborne, and 360 Michigan state police were deployed to suppress the insurrection by Tuesday, July 25.
 
The rising up of Africans in Detroit against imperialism and oppression was the impetus to other rebellions in Michigan and Ohio.
 
More than 10,000 people were arrested during the rebellion while the fatality rate is still unknown.  
 
Africans in Detroit historically have organized to establish black power in Detroit.
 
Robust and militant groups such as the Black Panther Party, the Revolutionary Action Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers fought for black power in the “Motor City.”
 
That potential for black power struggle is being systematically destroyed and pushed out of Detroit with the dispersal of African workers.
 
These actions are identical to the usurping of African residents of New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina and the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti all for the purpose of controlling African people worldwide.
 
The capitalist authorization of the decimation of a “Chocolate City” through the outsourcing of jobs and the depravation of water is typical.
 
Capitalism has no redeeming qualities. None whatsoever.
 
Same bag of tricks for the oppressor, same revolutionary solution for the oppressed
 
This methodological expulsion of Africans from Detroit after they have worked and built fortunes for the corporate thieves only to have their pensions stolen is an upgraded approach to a tried a true stratagem of colonialism: work Africans until they have no more use for us, until we are too old to produce on demand, steal what little remains of what we have and jettison us like a three-day-old newspaper.
 
There is nothing new about it.
 
The Detroit water authority carries an estimated $5 million in debt and has been the subject of privatization talks.
 
Detroit is trying to push through a private takeover of its water system at the expense of African workers.
 
The group Food and Water Watch said, "By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water."
 
What a true statement. The African in Detroit was catching hell before these water shut offs.
 
This is how colonialism manifests itself. Africans have no power over our own lives and affairs, no independent African economy.
 
This is what the African in Detroit and the African all over the world must fight for. Power in our own hands.
 
Power in the hands of the black working class.
 
The only solution is revolution!
All power to the African workers in Detroit!
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