It is the general consensus among white people that Detroit’s problem is, too many Blacks. Michigan’s governor has a solution: flood the city with upscale green card holders. “An infusion of global migrants would enable Detroit’s corporate masters to market the metropolis as a ‘cosmopolitan’ urban cocktail, as opposed to the nation’s largest ‘Chocolate City.’”
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is a crude and vicious racist who verbalizes what most white people believe, but won’t say in mixed company: What’s wrong with Detroit, is an excess of Black people. Snyder proposes to bring 50,000 immigrants to Detroit over five years on special EB-2 visas, on the theory that the newcomers’ entrepreneurial zeal will have transformative effects on the city. Starting with an initial 5,000 immigrants, “Snyder’s List” would expand to 15,000 in the final year, with Detroit accounting for more than a third of the nation’s total EB-2 authorization. Call it “Operation Afro-Dilution.”
Gov. Snyder is a Republican, a political breed known to recoil at the prospect of the USA overrun by foreigners of the darker kind. However, Snyder’s specially summoned migrants would be flooding into territory inhabited mainly by an even more despised demographic: African Americans, who make up 82 percent of Detroit’s 700,000 people. The current Black concentration is far too thick to attract sufficient white families to effect a profound racial transformation in the near term. Consider this: If a rise in a town’s Black population to 20 or 25 percent is enough to push many whites past the “tipping point” into flight, how low do African American numbers have to get before a city definitively “tips” the other way.
An infusion of global migrants would enable Detroit’s corporate masters to market the metropolis as a “cosmopolitan” urban cocktail, as opposed to the nation’s largest “Chocolate City.” In the language of White-Speak, that’s definitely an upgrade, a boost in marketable assets, all around – which is what late-stage, finance-dominated capitalism is all about.
“The current Black concentration is far too thick to attract sufficient white families to effect a profound racial transformation in the near term.”
But, Gov. Synder is going to have to compete for his share of immigrant “pioneers” (as white American settlers in ghetto locales once described themselves). Other too-Black Midwestern cities, including Chicago, St. Louis and Dayton, Ohio, have the same idea, attaching a premium to immigrants of a certain type (educated, relatively affluent).
Back in the post-Civil War era of breakneck U.S. industrialization, European immigrants didn’t even have to speak English to rate a sign-on bonus, free transportation across the Atlantic and company-built housing near their new jobs in American cities. For others, there was free land, confiscated from newly dead Indians. English-speaking African Americans, many of whom had been artisans and industrial workers under slavery, were turned away from factory and homestead. Black folks’ assigned “place” was at the bottom of the racial hierarchy, wherever that happened to be at the time. Nothing has changed, in that regard – except that modern white society determinedly denies that segregation is its favored way of life. Where that not true, of course, Detroit would not be 82 percent Black.
Black folks know full well that Snyder’s immigration scheme is designed to dilute Black numbers and, eventually, make Detroit a more attractive place for native white habitation. But, in mixed company, politically conscious Blacks are careful not to appear jingoistic, like the other Ugly Americans. Rev. Charles Williams II of the National Action Network told the New York Times that “he believed Detroit, as well as other Midwestern states, should be pro-immigration. ‘However,’ he said, ‘I will say, on the other end of this, I think it’s a little ambitious for Governor Snyder to put together a plan to induce more population when still we have to work on double-digit unemployment and high poverty that’s already in our city right now.” That’s putting it mildly. Thirty-eight percent of Detroiters live below the poverty line, the vast majority of them Black.
“Other too-Black Midwestern cities, including Chicago, St. Louis and Dayton, Ohio, have the same idea.”
Changing U.S. population patterns dictate that Blacks strive for solidarity – or, at least, healthy political relations – with immigrant groups, especially Latinos. African Americans must resist being goaded into ethnic confrontations that profit only powerful corporations. However, Snyder and his ilk are attempting to use EB-2 immigrants – the bulk of whom are relatively privileged people from India, China, Mexico and the Philippines – as demographic weapons to break up African American population concentrations. In the process, they are implicitly defaming Blacks as the negative side of the human ledger – The Problem – and non-Blacks as The Solution. This is an assault that must be answered with full throated roar.
Snyder isn’t just preaching to white Americans, who are fully conversant in racially coded language; he is propagandizing the targeted immigrant populations, as well, telling them they are a better class of people than the current residents of Detroit. Snyder and his cohorts are essentially assigning the newcomers a racial mission: to bring their supposedly “superior” cultural attributes to uplift (and ultimately replace) an “inferior” Black social environment.
Now that western Europeans no longer view the U.S. as a Promised Land, the American mythologists must tailor the Founding Lies to a darker audience. Gov. Snyder updates the old Ellis Island story to fit the current influx from the global East and South. “Isn’t that how we made our country great, through immigrants?” said Mr. Snyder, hawking his plan for Detroit. No, that’s not how it happened. The United States was made rich by Black slaves, whose pre-Civil War value exceeded all other national “assets” except the land, itself – which was, of course, stolen from the Native Americans. The descendants of European immigrants, from the Mayflower to the 20th century’s vaunted Melting Pot, somehow imagine they are God’s gift to the continent – to the planet! – but their most important contributions to the enrichment of the New World were smallpox-infected blankets and chains.
“Snyder and his ilk are attempting to use EB-2 immigrants as demographic weapons to break up African American population concentrations.”
Corporate ethnic manipulators like Snyder want to indoctrinate a new crop of immigrants to the inherent inferiority of Black Americans, whose cities must be saved by culturally superior foreigners. This is how U.S. rulers prepare for the year 2043, when the U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority country – by inculcating the newcomers with the same racist worldview as the previous white overlords.
Gov. Snyder bragged that he could achieve ethnic cleansing on the cheap. “Here’s a non-cash way to significantly accelerate the comeback of Detroit” – meaning, he has no intention of spending any money on the existing Detroit population. However, the week before, Snyder announced that he was asking the state legislature to provide $350 million to shore up the city’s retiree pension plan and save the art collection. Snyder and Republican lawmakers have long waged a starvation campaign against Detroit, depriving the city of revenue sharing and other funds in order to accelerate its fiscal collapse. Now that the local electorate has been disenfranchised (as has a majority of the state’s Black population), and total corporate dominion appears imminent, Snyder turns the money faucet back on. Should corporate plans sour (see Tom Stephens, “Judge Rhodes to Detroit: Don’t Pay the Banksters,” in this issue of BAR), then the screws will be tightened.
If, by dint of sheer human will, or just the fact of not having anywhere to else go, Black folks can maintain a super-majority in Detroit, that will be a great victory. When someone is trying to kill you, to live is to triumph.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].