Not too long ago, NBC's "Dateline" ran a story that portrayed Detroit in a very negative light. The piece, "America Now: City of Heartbreak and Hope", showed a city full of vacant land, high crime areas, abandoned homes and residents living in neighborhoods full of decay. They even showed a man who hunted and sold raccoon for profit as if this was an actual representation of the state of most residents in the city.
I don't live there now, but I was born in Detroit, Michigan and that will forever be my home. I have never met someone who hunted raccoon in my hometown; neither has anyone I know that is from Detroit or currently lives there. However, I can't deny the existence of many of those things that were shown. There are abandoned homes, high crime is prevalent, and there are many residents who live in a neighborhood that is "on its last legs". However, they failed to show the other side of Detroit. They didn't show the fabulous communities that exist with huge homes with wondrous architecture such as Sherwood Forest, Palmer Woods, the Boston-Edison district, or Indian Village. They failed to show the schools in my hometown that colleges are sponsoring, such as Cass Tech, with some of the brightest students in the country. They failed to show those successful businesses such as the Taste Pizza Bar, Miller Cohen PLC law firm, Alpha Partners LLC asset management firm, or the Brinker Group commercial contracting firm. They also failed to show the churches and other nonprofit organizations, and their inspiring leaders. Examples include Reverend Marvin Winans, of Perfecting Church, which also has a charter school; Dr. Charles Adams, of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, which owns franchises that produce jobs for the community; or New Detroit, a nonprofit which creates many opportunities for businesses and individuals throughout the city.
So, with the obvious slanting of the depiction of a city that was clearly an attempt at sensationalism, how should we respond? Many talk shows have responded with anger and have chastised Chris Hansen for reporting that didn't tell the entire story. A few have responded by doing what I have done above and highlighted many of the positive sides of this great city of Detroit. Many have agreed with the story and have expressed the need for all of the residents and previous residents, who care about the future of the city, to get involved in the revitalization of this city. However, a group of professionals and I decided to get together and respond with tangible action.
The Detroit National Teach-In was a group of over 50 professionals who were all tired of the complaining about the state of the city, and collectively decided to come together and take action. Through the use of benevolence, these professionals spent an entire week in Detroit teaching their expertise in their fields in prisons, schools, nonprofits, community-based businesses and churches in an attempt to inspire residents of the city of all ages that they can make a change for the better. These professionals taught all who would listen about the importance of financial literacy, the importance of entrepreneurship, and how to get involved in the fastest growing industries.
I was proud to be a part of such a powerful movement of benevolence. There were those who flew out to Detroit to participate, who had never been to Detroit previously, but just wanted to be a part of the solution and not simply complain about the problem. If it was greed that got us into this economic recession, benevolence will help improve our economic climate. "None of us is as strong as all of us," a saying that was most certainly true at this event.
CNN came out and was able to cover the first part of the powerful week.