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Detroit Youth Speak: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

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When the conditions of Detroit are discussed the voices of Detroit youth are hardly ever considered a part of the conversation. The same youth who have been impacted the hardest by the numerous recreation centers and DPS schools being closed, and have been buried alive in third world neighborhoods that continue to be socially, politically and economically neglected producing neglectful human beings, especially amongst our youth who are surviving in a world different than the adults who are supposed to be leading them. As a result they find themselves out of touch with today's youth. I work with a group of young Detroiters, who attend an alternative high school in Southfield, Michigan in a Restorative Justice Class. We discuss numerous social issues that are impacting Detroit. Below you will find some of their comments:

Why They Want to Leave Detroit

"I wanna leave Detroit because there are no jobs. More and more people are starting to get frustrated and agitated every day." Kevin Graham, 19

"Living in Detroit was crazy. Every day all you heard was cop cars, the EMS and it was just crazy. I don't want my 8 month old daughter to grow up in that type of environment." Princess Kennedy, 18

"I am leaving Detroit. You can't even leave your house without someone breaking in or when you walk outside someone trying to rob you. It is a lot of rage here. Nobody really wants anything in life or wants to make something of themselves besides the streets." Daziah Stokes

Living in Detroit

"I can get a Masters Degree if I lived on 7 mile or was from any other hood from Detroit because I am determined to be successful." Greg Hopkins, 17

"Detroit is nickname the 'Murder Mitten' because all you see on channels 2, 4 or 7 is how someone has been murdered. All the Detroiters I know have a none caring attitude towards everybody else." Michael, 16

"I love Detroit but one thing that bothers me is all of the homicides happening. With Detroit having a high murder rate is not going to run me out of Detroit. People in Detroit have to start respecting each other which will decrease senseless violence." Shakira Warren

"I was born and raised in Detroit. I'ma stand for Detroit by being something in life because Detroit is a part of who I am." Lajuana Tucker

"I see a lot of coldhearted people not caring about the next person. I see kids trying to be something there are not by being followers of the streets that is leading to a lot of violence in Detroit. I see a lot of them commit violent acts out of being emotional. Despite all of this I see a bright future because I still see hope in the eyes of my peers who are growing up in hopeless hoods." Martel Solomon

"Detroit is known as the 'Dirty D' by me and my homies. It is a city that people don't want to tour because of all the murders. Also it is a city with a lot of gang wars, robberies and murders." R. Smith

"I see a lot of women in Detroit with children left to fend for themselves in the hoods. We are having too many young girls who are having babies before they are ready with dudes who don't want to help raise their children. In Detroit we have babies raising babies." Shaquille, 18

Youth Employment

"For the last couple four months I have been turning in job application after job application and coming back and doing follow ups to only be turned away. I am fighting the temptation of turning to the streets, but with no job it is getting harder each day to fight that temptation." Travone Davis, 19

Thoughts on the Mayor

"I think Mayor Bing should resign because he has done a poor job as the Mayor of Detroit. Instead of making pay cuts and layoffs of the police and firefighters, he should layoff some of the people in his administration who huge salaries. Without the police the crime and murder rate in Detroit is going to become the new Iraq." De'Andre Campbell, 19

As you read the words from Detroit youth, they allow you to a see a Detroit they survive in every day. It is the good, the bad and the ugly that eats at their souls every day as many of them are trying find a way to feed themselves, clothes themselves and education themselves in third world conditions. You can judge them if you like but just know they are not seeking pity from you because they know as Detroiters know that there is no one coming to
save us and that we have to band together and save ourselves. As another student put it:

"Before I fall asleep, I fasten my eyes like Velcro and thank God. Ma' city rough like fish skin so just in case I end up in a box dressed fresh as all white sneaks, before I leave the crib grab ma' black hat with the English 'D', a fresh pair of 23's hand under my mattress and grab what's underneath. Call everybody I call fam' and hit the streets. Tryin' to see what's good just cuz I pack heat and from hood the hood swear I'm up to know good. CCW LOL I would if I could...underage job market moving slow it ain't the 70's no moe. Everybody ain't cut to sell blow. Clowning' Exit 9 kids is robbin'. Not me I ain't got a Benz from the burbs. I tote a burner cuz I'm mobbin'. Where I'm from everyday is Halloween. Run into a few goons and goblins. Hot heads but ma' English 'D' make sure I stay cool. I ain't young no more and moms ain't raise no fool, but a fighter so I don't end up on Channel 2 News. Mentality come by any means the rest the world chase dreams. I'm only 12 walking' down Fenkell ain't a movie up close in person with teens. Everything'll be cool if I had a better economy. It's rough here cause everybody tryin' and gotta eat..." Keon