Suburban Racism

Today, I want to make a detour from the events of the day to look at the insidious, long-term issue of suburban racism. Today’s Detroit Free Press features a series of disturbing, high profile incidents that have recently taken place, two of which occurred very close to where I live.

According to court records, days after the Dosters bought the home,
someone broke a window and poured gasoline through it. Much of the home was
damaged. “This fire was just a part of a months-long campaign to drive the
Dosters out of the neighborhood,” said federal prosecutors in a report. The
Dosters spent thousands of dollars to clean up the home and redecorate it. In
October 2002, someone scrawled “KKK” on the side of their home.
And in the months following, investigators and the Dosters said, the pattern continued. Kids taunted Lori Doster with racial slurs, and someone tore up their
tires. The harassment took a psychological toll. Reginald Doster had trouble
sleeping. The couple’s daughter, who was 9 at the time of the arson attack, was
afraid to sleep in her bedroom, which faced the back of the house. And their
14-year-old son, who had been an honor student, saw his grades slip.

This has not been a good year for racial harmony.

The Taylor case is one of a string of recent incidents in which black people
are being greeted with racial violence after they move into neighborhoods with
no or few African Americans.

For those of you not familiar with the Detroit area, we hold the dubious distinction of being one of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the country. While demographics are changing, we are still primarily polarized between African-American and white communities, with Detroit holding an 83 percent African-American population and the suburbs almost the complete reverse. However, with the worsening conditions within the city, more and more Detroit residents are trying to make their way out, though not always finding welcoming neighbors.

With Detroit’s black population increasingly leaving the city for the
suburbs, it’s a problem some fear may continue. And it comes at a time when the
issue of minorities moving in next door has become widely debated.

Some of the neighbors are not so hostile, though listening to them, they don’t sound very helpful, either.

I hear people talking, you hear people saying” a racial slur, said
Audrey Emery, 67, who is white and lives a couple of houses down from the
Dosters. “My feeling is I have nothing against blacks … I know a lot of black
people. We’re like brothers and sisters.”

What I am wondering is why she doesn’t proclaim “her feeling” to the neighborhood bigots when she heard them say such blatant racist things. Is there something else in her heart? Would she ever invite someone of another race into her own home?

I pick on the Detroit area because I live here, and that is where the story is based. However, I know we face this problem throughout the country. And this is why Supreme Court appointments are so important. We need to be very careful and VERY thorough when we examine the President’s appointment. The next judge could decide whether discrimination and racial intimidation becomes entrenched without any legal recourse.


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