Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Paging the Joshua Generation

In November, the New Yorker published a terrific article on race and the presidential campaign, calling President Barack Obama the foremost member of "The Joshua Generation" -- a new wave of black leaders, like Cory Booker in Newark and Patrick Deval in Massachusetts, whose appeal transcends race. The Breakthrough, Gwen Ifill's new book, has a similar argument, pointing to black leaders who "rely more on pragmatic political coalitions than on racial solidarity."

I think it's time the Joshua Generation makes itself heard in Detroit. The last two weeks have proven, yet again, that politicians across the region suffer from 1967 syndrome -- the delusion that nothing has changed in forty years. Detroit's City Council almost seems to take it as a badge of pride.

Exhibit A: The Cobo Veto. Not only did the Monica Conyers-led Council veto the region's best hope for fixing Cobo and saving the Auto Show, they did it singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" to the region's permanent embarrassment.

Exhibit B: The Leno "Snub". Today, Jay Leno announced a free show at the Palace for anyone unemployed in Michigan. I'm not a fan of his, but it's a great gesture, and I'm glad he's doing it. Not Councilmember Martha Reeves. No, no, no. If it's not in the city limits, she doesn't want it at all. Here she is making an ass of herself on WDIV. Note the refrain: "Auburn Hills isn't Detroit." I got news for you: Yes, it is. No one outside of Southeast Michigan gives a damn whether you're from the city or the suburbs. We're just Detroit. Get some pride and let it rest.

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