Detroit, Division & DL Hughley

What a couple of weeks we have had in America. There is never a shortage of issues for us to debate about, but the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial has sparked discussions, rallies and disagreements of epic proportions.

Along with that we learn that one of America’s largest cities, and my hometown, Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. How does that happen in a superpower?

How does a jury of six mothers acquit a man who profiled and killed an unarmed teenager?

We have Stand Your Ground laws, the conflicting and confusing course of events which were detailed by the defendant along with eyewitness accounts, scant evidence and a verdict that has worked to divide a nation much like the O.J. trial did in 1994.

Back to Detroit. Upon hearing the bankruptcy news, I spoke to a friend and as I was recalling my time there, I remembered complaining to my mom about the deterioration of the downtown area when I was about 15 or so. Even then I knew something was wrong. Detroit at that time was starting to lose it’s aesthetic luster, but never in my dreams would I imagine the city would ever run out of money. We built cars there. We were The Motor City. Motown.

Looking for more perspective, I decided to watch the documentary Detropia, a 2012 film that takes the viewer on a painful journey of the city’s decline through the eyes of a young local poet and blogger, a UAW Union president and a retired teacher and operator of the Raven Lounge, a nightclub located in the shadow of an auto assembly plant.

It’s a gripping, gritty portrayal of a city and its ills and I found myself having flashbacks to my childhood while watching it. One of the more powerful quotes from the film comes from Tommy Stephens, owner of The Raven Lounge:

“When you see your neighbor going down, you have to think about yourself. If you don’t go over and help your neighbor put that fire out, that fire is gonna be coming to you!”

He was speaking about how other U.S. cities are starting to see a decline, one’s who may have in the past looked at Detroit with pity. This also brings me back to the Zimmerman trial.

A lot of people from many cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and races are upset by the not-guilty verdict. There are some though that say justice has been done. They believe Zimmerman had a right to be armed and bear down on a teen who allegedly attacked him first. Throw in those that feel race shouldn’t be considered a part of the mix and are upset because President Barack Obama has commented pre and post trial and you have a potential cocktail that is waiting to explode.

Before the trial when Zimmerman was allowed to go home and not be charged with a crime up until now, there has been a great uproar over this case. George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic. Trayvon Martin, a black teen. Zimmerman, 28 years of age. Martin, 17. Some believe Trayvon was profiled because he was black and wearing a hoodie, a garment that some criminals wear to conceal their head and face while they are commiting crimes. But Trayvon was just going to the store.

Some people are protesting because they are angry. Others are afraid. Scared that their children will be targeted like Trayvon, killed and their killer will be exonnerated due to lack of evidence and a whole host of other factors. Following someone isn’t illegal. But perhaps profiling someone should be. Even one of the jurors who decided that Zimmerman wasn’t guilty said that he should have stayed in his vehicle after reporting Trayvon as being suspicious. If people don’t speak out about their fear, sadness and anger about this case and lobby for change, what happened to Sabrina Fulton’s and Tracey Martin’s son could very well happen to someone else’s child.

“When you see your neighbor going down, you have to think about yourself. If you don’t go over and help your neighbor put that fire out, that fire is gonna be coming to you!”

Now for the the debates, arguments and insults that have resulted as a part of this case. It’s disheartening to see and read so much vitriol on both sides. In everyone’s attempt to present their side they are forgetting to be respectful and empathy toward parents who have lost their son is all but absent as some pick over Trayvon’s past and images that when presented in the wrong context show a troubled teen. I have seen the words thug, punk, drug dealer, and the N word leveled at a dead kid. There is even a popular author who is offering to purchase another gun for George Zimmerman.

We seem to be ready to battle each other at every turn these days. We are afraid of being hurt. George Zimmerman had witnessed break-ins in his neighborhood and wanted to protect it. The people who commited the crimes were black. He was on edge when he saw Trayvon. I don’t know what was in his heart that night, but I know what was in his holster and the decisions he made on that rainy evening led to him killing a teen who was doing nothing wrong.

Even online, we are armed and ready for attacks. Earlier as I was scanning my Twitter feed I saw a few tweets about Detroit and focused in on something from a comedian that I have enjoyed over the years. DL Hughley is known for biting commentary in his comedy so I wasn’t surprised to see he had something funny to say about Detroit’s current reality. Here is what took place between us:


I have been on Twitter long enough to know that there are those that get up close and personal with celebrities all of the time and shower them with insults so I’m sure DL probably expected the same from me, but all I was doing was acknowledging his joke in my funny manner. Between people who are familiar with one another if one of them makes a joke or tells a truism about something that may tease the other we often say, “You know what, I don’t like you!” Then we break out in laughter and the conversation and teasing continues. When DL realized that I was just joking too, he apologized.

I so wish that we were more nurturing to one another on the whole. I wish that when we see a young man in a hoodie that we didn’t expect the worse. I wish that George Zimmerman had rolled his window down that night and said, “Hey what’s up neighbor? How are you doing tonight in all this rain? You okay?” How I wish that Detroit had not been run into the ground. I wish that more of our young men were surrounded by peace instead of pieces (guns).










© 2013 – 2014, TamekaMullins. All rights reserved.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Comments (11 Responses)

  1. Tameka, as always, you’ve expressed yourself beautifully here. These are tough subjects to tackle, but you have done so with taste, thoughtfulness, and heart.
    The divisiveness in our nation right now so troubles me, shakes me right to the core. Because, as we both know, a house divided against itself cannot stand. In my Tuesday post, I’m not addressing the Martin/Zimmerman matter per se, but know that the fallout from this trial made me think about the importance of Christians being one in Christ and not letting differences of opinion make us forget to love our neighbor as God wants us to do.
    Blessings and love!

  2. Thanks Martha. Writing this piece was not easy, but I had been sitting with this for awhile. I will continue to pray for our world. We need healing, constructive conversation and most importantly, each other. God expects better of us.

  3. I look forward to reading your piece! 🙂

  4. I love this piece, it was right on the money. This case in general has changed a lot of people and has exposed the under cover racist (that I cheerfully deleted of my FB page). It’s nice to see DL acknowledge the misunderstanding and apologize.
    I just wish DL would apologize to me for being the non-funny one on Kings of Comedy – ouch, just kidding. Well not really…

  5. Tamstarz says:

    Thanks For_the_Masses. I have found that cases like this do reveal the inner truths of our souls. It is very disheartening to see the masks come off of others, but we must too acknowledge and recognize our own biases when they appear.
    I’m not touching your opinion about DL, because I wanted this piece to provoke love and understanding, but I do realize that sunshine and rainbows sometimes have to coexist with thunderstorms and rain showers.
    Thanks as always for your candid and honest way of being!

  6. Dawn says:

    I have seen photos of the beautiful architecture of Detroit as it has deteriorated over the years. It’s so sad, watching all that beauty age before its time into an ancient creature. I haven’t followed the news on the bankruptcy issue other than to know it happened. I know for anyone who calls Detroit home, it has to be a harsh cut to the soul. I would feel the same if this happened to Knoxville. My current blog rants in a comical fashion about driving through downtown Knoxville, but I adore where I live and truly am pained to hear of another city falling down to her knees. Many Tennesseans transplanted to Detroit during the automotive booming years, so there’s a bit of a kissing cousins kind of connection. I hope your hometown pulls out of this current slump!
    – Dawn

  7. Thanks Dawn. We all share in the responsibility of keeping our cities and society up. We all need to do better and be better because tomorrow isn’t promised for a city or a life. I will visit your blog soon!

  8. Elramey says:

    Tameka, thank you so much for expressing your thoughts and feelings on this, as this case, and the Detroit bankruptcy, have been so spotlighted in the news of late.
    I agree with Martha’s remarks about the divisiveness, and how our nation needs to find healing. It just makes me cry to see what’s happening now.
    I think you’re onto something here. Something that may be perfect for inclusion in the healing project. If you agree, swing by and drop your link in the comments. Love, D

  9. Thanks so much Debra. I agree that we all need healing as our country is going through so much economically and socially. I will definitely drop by your space and check out what’s going on with your healing project. Blessings!

  10. Adriene says:

    I think it’s funny how sensitive DL Hugely is, that he would even bother to be offended by your joke when his jokes are infinitely more harmful (unlike you, I really don’t like him!). Lol! But I really enjoyed this post on the controversial issues that may end up being turning points for the nation. At least I hope that strong feelings people are expressing will turning to real change.

  11. Hey Sweepy! LOL! I love your candor and honesty. I think a lot of us are so used to being attacked that it’s second nature to want to protect ourselves. I am laughing at your response though. Ha!
    Yes, I am praying for change because we can’t be in attack mode all of the time or there will be more senseless deaths occurring.

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