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Sorry Detroit, I Did You Wrong

So, here’s the thing, I haven’t always had this love affair with Detroit. And I haven’t always said the right thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been proud and grateful to have been born and bred here. I’ve also always been a Detroit sports fan.

I just haven’t always been a supporter of Detroit; this beautiful city wasn’t always where I wanted to be. I’ve said some hurtful things in the past and I’m sorry.

When I left for college and arrived in Milwaukee people would ask me where I was from. My answer was that I was from the “suburbs of Detroit,” or sometimes I’d say “outside of Detroit.”

Yes, I said what I said because I didn’t want people to think I was from that Detroit. You see, I was from the suburbs and they were filled with kittens and rainbows and unicorns. I was 17.

I’m sorry.

I did the same when I lived in Chicago. Actually, I was worse in Chicago. I lived life fast and fancy-free, loving the high life and working in professional theater. My life revolved around my profession and I had a huge supportive community.

I became friends with other former Detroiters that also happened to be working in the theater. Keep in mind that I was in my mid to late 20’s. My friends and I had the audacity to think, and actually say out loud, that if we moved back to Detroit it would be a cool place to live.

Yes, we were that full of ourselves. We were cocky, creative, and living in our own little world.

Will you forgive me?

Was I any better when I moved to the UK? Not so much. My husband would tell people I was from Detroit and I would elbow him in the ribs and correct him, “I’m from the suburbs.”

Detroit, I did you wrong and I hang my head in shame.

As an advocate of Detroit who is passionate about the city, I see the errors of my past self and I’m embarrassed. We are all Detroiters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the city and suburbs cannot exist without each other.

We bitch and moan that the national and international media portray us so horribly but we are part of the problem. Until city dwellers and suburbanites can embrace each other, and the region, we’re just going to keep banging our head against a wall.

I am a Detroiter. Are you?

How can we come together as a region and put these dividing lines behind us?

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  • Response
    Response: Growing Up Fierce
    He was frightened and he said so. Why? we asked. He said that in NY Detroit was know as a tough, bad place to live and that the people here were fierce. Really? So we thought we were ultra cool after that. After all our city was a great place to ...
  • Response
    Sorry Detroit, I Did You Wrong - Detroit Moxie -

Reader Comments (18)

If this were Facebook, I'd be clicking the crap out of the "LIKE" button.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Meray

Welcome to the right side! I was born and raised in Detroit and am very proud of my city. The people here are wonderful and supportive. We might not currently have it all together, but I am certain that we are all working toward making Detroit a real success story.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

Thank you. Psst, it's on Facebook now so you can "Like" it up over there!

This isn't a new realization for me, I just thought I should come clean on my errors in the past. Maybe someone else who still abides by this Detroit vs. The Suburbs crap will figure out it isn't helping our problems.

I totally agree with you that if we work together we can make Detroit the success we want it to be.

January 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Funny, I just lamely tried making the same point in my response to a survey on Detroit crafters. But, I neglected to admit that, before leaving Detroit for 2 years, I was much more negative. I hated what was going on, and was very vocal about that.

But, I also knew better than to stick my nose in Detroit's business. You know, as an "outsider." Now I know that the municipality in which I live doesn't matter. I'm still a Detroiter.

The interesting part? As soon as we moved to a quaint little town in South Carolina (brimming with a HUGE theater scene!), I immediately responded to, "where are you from?" with "Detroit."

What took longer to change was replacing the eye roll with the glint of hope.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

I've seen worse :)

I remember sitting in the back office of a suburban civic group one Friday afternoon a lifetime ago...I had stopped by as the assembled group was having their weekly happy hour and back office poker game, and the conversation turned turned to Detroit. It seemed to quickly become a competition to see who had gone the longest without venturing south of 8 Mile (some of the boasts verged on 20 years w/o setting foot in Detroit).
They all poo-poo'd me when I said I'd been to Detroit within that very week and that we regularly visited the city for sporting events, eating out (anyone remember the Soup Kitchen? that was a fave), going to museums, hitting a concert or music fest...I was definitely the odd person out with my attitude of enjoying Detroit and what it had to offer. I apparently took it over the top by going to Wayne State as both a daytime and a nighttime student.

I also remember being in a Maritime province about 15 years ago on vacation. We answered "Detroit" when they asked us where we were from, and got a lot of surprised reactions that we seemed nice and "normal" enough.

It was weird then, it would be weird now. But it still happens.

Out-of-town visitors seem so surprised when the visit Detroit with how warm and welcoming people here are (remember the Superbowl out-of-towners a few years back?). When we visited Rhode Island a couple of summers ago, we had a nice chat with a woman in an historic synagogue gift shop about how much her husband enjoyed his visit on business to Detroit--and how she planned to go back with him on a pleasure trip to our city.

I've said I was from Detroit when I was out of town for years...if I answered with the name of my suburban city, no one would know where that was at (although I found that's changed in the past decade).

The whole division thing is long ingrained in a lot of folks, but I see a lot of new hope and optimism among residents of the metro area...we all just have to keep plugging away to be the change we want to see, I guess.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Thank you for this. I am glad that I am not the only who believes that Detroit and the suburbs must co-exist. Detroit can be a great place (again), but we all must share in the growth process.

I wish you all the best in your endeavors.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPumps and Gloss

I am Detroiter and proud of it. I belong here and hold a vision that Detroit can return to greatness. I want to be a part of that. Thank you for this post.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I know where you're coming from. I came back to Detroit with a much more positive attitude partly due to the fact that it was my choice. This is my home and I missed it.

I know many people who haven't stepped foot south of 8 mile for years. Some are proud of it and others miss the Detroit that once was. I agree that I now see much more optimism and commitment to make things better.

Pumps and Gloss,
You're welcome. You raise a good point, we must all share in the "growth" process and that process won't be easy. I wish all the best for you, as well.

Well said! I want to be a part of that greatness too.

January 25, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

It seems like if you aren't a hockey fan at least in my circle people don't travel downtown much. I have a friend who every time she comes home she stays in the D. She is passionate about it and misses it very much and she has been living in DC and FL before that.

I have been known to say Suburbia but than I correct myself and say Detroit. The Burbs and the City need to bond and help each other out.

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Favreau

my mom grew up in THAT detroit. so did my grandparents. i listened to stories and was jealous. i wish i grew up IN detroit. i wish detroit was the same wonderful city it had been back in its heyday. we are lucky to have a city, so rich in history and culture. too bad it doesn't have more advocates who are on a mission to bring people back down there.
great post!!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

I love the honesty of your post and your pride in Detroit. You do a great job of promoting the heck out of Detroit.

January 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

I'm an intern working in Detroit and it is great to see others passionate about the city. Even though have grown up and currently live in the suburbs, I spent a lot of my time in Detroit. Whether is was watching seeing the latest DIA exhibit, eating downtown, or shopping at Eastern Market on the weekends, I have never had a problem here. I also proudly claim Detroit as my home. Great post and keep up the good work!

January 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterdoDetroit

My dad grew up in Detroit and my mom was mostly raised in Hamtramck. I spent a lot of time there when I was young and loved it. My husband, who has only been here a year, loves Detroit but often wishes he could have seen it in the 50's. To be honest, I do too.

Andrew and doDetroit,
Thank you. I can only hope others will stop alienating themselves from Detroit. Detroit has so much to offer, I hope people can realize this and explore this wonderful metropolis.

January 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I'm a Detroit new-comer. I moved here in 2008 from Sydney Australia, and besides the cold (and the lack of surf) it's actually relatively similar in my day-to-day life.
However, it only took 2 weeks for me to be corrected when I said I lived in 'Detroit' - "No, you live in the suburbs".
I've never seen this kind of attitude in any other city I've lived in. It really was like a slap in the face at being disowned by 'my new city'. Don't you want me Detroit?

February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Sarlow

Yes, we want you here in Detroit! I apologize for the slap in the face. There are many of here in Detroit that see the whole metro area as one community. Don't let the idiots get you down. Say you are from Detroit and be proud of it!

When I lived in the UK my day-to-day life was quite similar to here as well. Sometimes people think that everyday is an awesome adventure when living abroad but you still have to work, go grocery shopping, run errands, etc.

Thanks for stopping by and adding your point of view.

February 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I LOVE being from the D, and when I move to Kansas City, I will for SURE ask people if they want to see my gun...

March 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMark Sawkin

I also grew up in the suburbs, but I always regarded Detroit as fun town. My first hockey game at the Olympia, Brunch with Bach at the DIA and dressing up for the symphony are among the great memories of my childhood. As a teen I continued to have this attitude spending too many evenings to count at City Club or Todds, and finishing the night with coneys at Lafayette. Today I live within the city limits in a neighborhood very similar to the one in Royal Oak where I grew up, but more diverse. There are certainly many problems here which need to be addressed, but I love my town!

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Doherty


What I love most about this post is how very Detroit your loyalty is. When I was growing up among other children of auto industry execs in the burbs, you were either a GM family, a Ford family, or a Chrysler family. NO ONE drove a foreign car. You just don't betray your people that way.

There's something about this up-from-the-bootstraps mindset that Detroit was built on that, I think, breeds over the top, home team passion and pride. We love our underdog. And while I haven't always been complimentary towards it, I'm blown away by my own, unbidden enthusiasm for the recent stirrings of its revival. It's like, all along, I've been secretly dying for a reason to not just love it because that's where I'll always be from, but to be crazy in love with it.

So, yeah, me too, Detroit. I'm gonna do better by you. Me too.

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralysonsee

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