So, after making a few comments on Twitter (darealchrisreed), concerning some remarks about blacks, Detroit and the normal subjects of morning radio, I was invited to write some of my comments in an email and forward them to Ramona Prater, a radio personality on FM 98 WJLB. This is the email that she received from me. Tell me what you think. Are you part of the solution?
Good afternoon Ramona,
Per my tweets two days ago (from darealchrisreed) I comprised the following thoughts concerning the Detroit state of mind. There are many new non-profits and fresh faces in Detroit that are trying to revitalize the City. They share goals in introducing Detroiters to new methods of education, creating income, improving lifestyles and basically moving forward away from our bumpy leadership.
I just don’t understand why its so hard to get word of these organization to the people. Detroiters are wary to take advantage of opportunities because (1) they aren’t use to getting the help needed, and (2) they’ve been taken advantage of in the past. But FM 98 WJLB can change all of that, you speak to the community, giving insight to problems and topics directly concerning Detroit’s wellbeing. However, specifically in Detroit, there is a need for the show to evolve, not only point out the bad, but some solutions, some opportunity at betterment. Especially in Detroit our most popular morning show needs to advocate change, or back some of the people that have devoted themselves to making a difference.
I know that radio has certain stipulations as to what you can say on the air and that you really aren’t supposed to “plug”. However, as representatives of almost the entire City’s morning you all invoke conversation about Detroit, and should therefore give options over argument.
The recent scandals within the CAYMC have inspired many young Detroiters to prepare themselves for battle. They are becoming precinct delegates, running for City Council and creating non-profits that fund opportunities for high schools students.
Here are some “lights at the end of this tunnel” I’ve identified so far:
1. Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program, A free extracurricular science and math program that gives students the opportunity to learn college level algebra, they have wonderful summer programs and Saturday programs.
2. FUSION and the Detroit Regional Chamber
4. Detroit Young Professionals, organization started by DPS alum and Michigan grads to envelope young professionals and introduce them to other forward thinking, network minded individuals. They mentor, fundraise, network and be awesome, all the time.
5. The Shops in Paradise Valley (formerly Harmonie Park), locally owned shops struggling to keep commerce alive in Downtown Detroit. They have really good stuff. (Spectacles, DSE @ Grand, Sovereign Soles, Espresso Jazzy Café, RAGS)
6. The Front Porch, local group that offers tutoring to Eastside students ages 7-17
7. BethanyEast PR and Mgmt., this is actually my company (for profit) but every month I give away my services from FREE to a small business/artist/group so as to do my part and help in growing commerce in my city. I am a product of DPS and a Michigan grad and there are a lot of us out there.
8. The 100+ who were on the ballot running for City Council in Detroit, these people deserve to be heard. They obviously recognized that Detroit needs new leadership and they put in work to be spotlighted. I am pretty sure that what voters really need other than the normal radio chant (Yall, please get out and vote, Don’t forget to vote, Please Vote), but to hear some of these new leaders on the show, chiming in on whatever conversation you’re having or soap-boxing it up for change.
But this isn’t all, there are groups, albeit off the map, that are taking part in creating a better environment for their community everyday.
Three years ago my father, a 68-year old retired Water Department worker and Vietnam War vet recognized that children in our Northend neighborhood had nothing to do in the summers. They filled their unsupervised days with breaking bottles on the street or breaking windows in abandoned houses. He sat down and hand wrote a permission slip for each of the kids parents, allowing for them to attend his Vacation Bible School. His curriculum included prayer, arts and crafts, Bible study, food (like, seriously good food) and conversation. The kids loved it and you can recognize a difference in how they act. They are respectful, they are watchful of how they treat the neighborhood because they realize that this is their City, we all have to live here. But my father, who doesn’t have a degree, or a lot of money recognized that he couldn’t give up on the City, he definitely cant give up in instilling a little pride in young children (who in recent reports are so bored that they are giving it all up for crime).
My whole point is that there are problems, we’ve taken the time to identify them, but we need to sit back and understand that each Detroit resident, each unemployed member of the City is a solution, if you can’t find a job, make one, if you don’t like the trash pick it up. We are the solution. This was evident in the 2008 Presidential election, Detroit had the highest voter turnout in its history, there are people here that can help, that care, that, despite their lifestyles, decided to wake up and vote for our President.
So, to sum it all up. We’ve taken the time to identify the problems. We understand that our neighborhoods, children, school system, houses and leadership aren’t what they use to be 30 and 40 years ago. But with the amount of help available, I can only surmise that Detroit isn’t a better place at the present because people are so use to it being bad. Pride needs to be built into our City. Small individual protests like demanding gas station and beauty supplies to maintain their property or we won’t patronize their stores. Getting back to the village mentality, procure the attitude that everyone can’t be on the outside looking in, we need to congregate and no only look outward but onward. But the message has to start somewhere. The question is, is the FM 98 WJLB going to help or not?
I usually don't write these long emails, but this is a touchy subject for me...I'm going to also post this on my blog, as a call to action for the station, check it at BlackCity313.blogspot.com or my website at BethanyEastPR.com.