by Ryan Felton
There are no minutes of the White House meeting, so it's impossible to know what discussion there was about the blight-removal approach. It also appears that not a single representative of the neighborhoods soon to be bulldozed—no minister, no community organizer, no teacher or city council member—attended the meeting. The closest person to a community representative was Dennis Archer, who had served as Detroit's mayor from 1994 to 2001.
This is the fundamental dynamic that has played out throughout Detroit's crisis and recovery: The city's future is being determined by politicians, business leaders, and philanthropists while native Detroiters—more than 80 percent of whom are black—often can only watch from afar. Peter Hammer, Director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University's Law School, describes the plans for Detroit as "the suburban view of what a city should look like. It's not a view of the city that's responsive to the needs of the citizens of Detroit."