I love listening to StoryCorps on NPR and watching the animated shorts online. The historian in me enjoys hearing about how others live and I think it’s important to share those stories. I want to have my own story collection of people who are part of the broader Detroit story. My first guests are family. My cousins – Anthony, Adam and Annecia – have spent all their lives in Detroit and I wanted to know how they feel about the city. Anthony (left) is 24 and works as a cook at Coach’s Corner downtown. Adam (right) is 21 and also works in Detroit. Annecia is a senior in high school, models, dances, works at McDonald’s and will be going away to college in the fall (I’ll let her announce the location at her graduation party).
Do you think the city is as dangerous as people believe it to be?
Annecia: I don’t think so.
Anthony: It’s a bad stereotype.
Adam: Most people think that as soon as you walk outside you’ll get shot in the head. It’s not like that.
Annecia: People in Detroit are more friendly than they come off. Everyone in Detroit knows each other basically.
Adam: Especially through social media. Everyone talks on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. You interact with people you don’t know and when you see them, you look at them like ‘I know you from somewhere.’ It’s like –
Anthony: I don’t know you but I know you.
Adam: It’s not as bad as people think it is.
Annecia: There are a lot of great things in Detroit. There are a lot of reasons people come here that others don’t give recognition to.
Do you plan to stay in Detroit?
Adam: I plan to move out of Detroit because I want to expand my horizons and see something different in the world. I don’t want to stay in the same place my whole life. I really want to move to a place with a warmer climate too. [laughs]
Anthony: I’m thinking Pittsburgh. I’ve got friends down there.
Adam: It’s too cold in Pittsburgh.
Are you thinking of moving then?
Anthony: At some point.
Annecia: I don’t want to stay in Detroit. I’d rather go somewhere else in Michigan – I would out hope to get out of Michigan.
How has the city changed since you were a kid?
Anthony: Most of the stuff I knew as a kid is burned down now. Libraries are closing up – but that’s everywhere. Detroit has changed the same way everywhere else has changed.
Annecia: This is all I know.
Adam: The only thing we really did was parks. When we really went out [to do thing], it was outside of the city.
How would you like to see the city change?
Anthony: Better public schools, better public transportation, better public service in general.
Adam: I want more jobs. A lot of people out here are jobless.
Anthony: They’re struggling.
Do you think change has to come from local government or do you think it’s the neighborhoods and communities that need to enforce the change in the schools, parks, abandoned houses and jobs?
Adam: I think it has to be a collective unit. Everybody has to work together to get what they want. If everyone is separated you’re not going to come to a common ground and nobody will reach their ultimate goal.
Anthony: United we stand. Divided we fall.
Do you think there is a lot of divisiveness?
Adam: Yes because everyone wants the same goal but there are too many different ways. One person’s way might conflict with another person’s way and then it’s just chaos. Everyone needs to get together as a collective unit and come up with a plan.
Do you keep up with politics? The new mayor and city council? Are you optimistic about changes?
Anthony: Somewhat but I don’t look into it too much because I think politicians are liars.
Adam: I don’t follow politics too much but I am going to start.
Annecia: Honestly, I don’t but I feel like I should because I’m getting older. I need to pay attention. I never really know what’s going on in the city.
What do you think of Gentricication? Good? Bad? Is it part of the chaos you mentioned?
Adam: Some people look at it as they are being pushed out or cast out for newer people to move in but if it makes the city look better… It will probably help to a certain degree but at the same time people will feel like something is being taken away from them. [They’ll feel] like it’s something new and not what they’re use to – it’s not the same city they grew up in.
Anthony: You need change to make improvement. Not all change is good but not all change is bad.
Adam: People who live here were the ones who messed it up in the first place so if you aren’t trying to help it be better you may as well move somebody else in who wants to help.
Where do you hang out in the city? Do you hang out in the city?
Anthony: I do. Downtown Detroit has a beautiful bar scene. We have three really nice casinos. The Motown Museum – I went three times last summer even though it’s “same old, same old” I love being there. There is always something to do downtown; especially during the summer. There are festivals in Hart Plaza. Conventions at the GM Renaissance Center and COBO Hall. Red Wings games. There is always something to do in the city. I hang out downtown.
Adam: I’m a house partier. I don’t go out much.
Annecia: In the summer I go to the Riverwalk but when you’re under 18 there isn’t much to do. In order for me to do something I have to go to Royal Oak or Ferndale. But still downtown Detroit is fun.
Last question – who is your favorite Detroit artist?
Anthony: I have to respond in categories. Rap – Eminem. R & B Marvin Gaye. Rock – Kid Rock.
Thank you Anthony, Adam and Necia for being my first sit down interview. I love hanging out with you guys (and gal).