The City of Soul, Detroit Michigan
This summer I have totally been quiet with my travel. It doesn’t make much sense to me to travel somewhere hot, when it’s already hot at home. I tend to prefer for it to be freezing at home, when I travel somewhere hot so I can show off on all my friends…ooops sorry I meant to say I like to provide my readers with a view of vacation spots that they can potentially get away themselves….wink wink!
I wanted to stay local as much as possible, so I decided to take a little road trip to Detroit Michigan. The last time I was there was about 5 years ago for a wedding, and it was a ghost town. I mean I could walk blocks and not see one person. Businesses were boarded up. This is around the time that they filed for bankruptcy. That was unheard of for me. A city filing for bankruptcy? By seeing it with my own eyes, I could see the effects that the bankruptcy had on the economy. You better believe though, Detroit is back on the come up!
Detroit is an approximate 4 hour drive from Toronto. One highway takes you straight there, so there were zero chances of me getting lost. Something that I`ve never done before is; I brought my mommy! She`s retired and serves as the resident neighbourhood watch where she lives (Read as: She knows everything happening on the street!) I wanted to get her out the house, so I bribed her with a promise to bring her to her favourite store Burlington Coat Factory, and we were on our way.
Since we couldn`t check into our hotel until 4pm, we decided to head to the Charles H Wright Museum of African American History otherwise known as the Black History Museum. Driving from Toronto to Detroit, the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was a sunny, hot summer day. By the time we crossed the border into Detroit, it started to pour. We could barely see what was ahead of us. When we arrived at the museum, it was about a 7 minute walk from the parking lot to the lobby. I feel like God was trying to punish me for making my mom do all the driving. Why was it beautiful for 3.5 hours and as soon as it`s time to get out of the car, a monsoon swept Detroit (I may or may not have exaggerated right there.) By the time we got into the museum, we were dripping. Legit, we had to go to the ladies room and ring our clothes out.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, however if you are ever in the Detroit area, I strongly recommend you check out this museum. There were two featured exhibits. The first was on black hair and how hairstyles have evolved throughout history. The second highlighted black clothing designers. After that, you went through the museum and saw the history of blacks from Africa and their journey to America. I don`t know if many people can relate; but when I read about the injustices done to blacks at the hands of white colonizers, I get angry all over again. It feels as though I`m reading or learning about it for the very first time. I cannot fathom how it was possible to be so cruel to other human beings; to stuff Africans in ships for weeks with very little to eat, deplorable living conditions, and women being raped by the ship crew. They would torture blacks to the point of near death, but would try their best to never allow them to die, since they would be paid per live person. It makes me sick. No amount of time heals that; especially with no reparations. As I stated, The Charles H Wright Museum is a must-see in Detroit.
Coincidentally, the week that I went to Detroit unfortunately was the same week that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin passed away in Detroit. She was a Detroit treasure.
It was my mission to find some sort of tribute show that was happening for the Queen. While we were leaving the museum, I saw a flyer for a tribute show that night on the grounds of the museum. Turns out it was the 36th Annual African World Festival happening that weekend! You best believe I made my way back there that night to jam to Aretha with her people!
For those of you who know me, know that I have a love affair with BBQ. I was told by locals, if you want good soul food in Detroit, I`d have to make my way to Motor City Soul Food. You ever been around something that you love and just wanted to shed a gangsta tear? Yeah well, I might have teared up a little when I walked in. There is no sitting area in this restaurant. Straight take out. The food was sheltered by a glass window, and you had to speak through a hole in the glass in order to place your order. To pay, you had to put your cash through a turnabout window as well.
So there really was no human physical contact at all. I’m thinking that’s pretty high security for some bbq, but apparently I was told afterwards that that’s pretty normal in ‘the hood.’ Side note: I had no idea my ass was in the hood. To be honest, it didn’t look like a hood. I just thought it was the Detroit suburbs!
Like most places, the less frilly the restaurant, the more lit the food is! One serving was lunch AND dinner for me! This place is another Detroit must!
When thinking of Detroit, I have never thought of art. When I was told by a local that Detroit has some of the most amazing street art, I was a little hesitant. I met up with my Instagram boo (Again, when you love to travel you meet people from all over the world. I met Tyeshia in a travel group on facebook and continued our friendship on Instagram. When I found out that she lived in Detroit, I had to hit her up to finally meet face to face!) Let me tell you about the magnificent street art. You have to go to Eastern Market. Practically every building had art. And I mean art that takes up the whole side of a building.
I took an uber over to the Heidelberg Project. Supposedly, the whole street is made up of homes, that have dedicated their space to art. Shout out to my uber driver who wouldn’t let me out of the car until my friend arrived. He said I was definitely in the hood, and I had Canadian written all over me!!! Ha! (I am pretty sure that translated to: You look like a gullible sucka, so keep your ass in this car so you don’t get jacked!)
Speaking of the hood. I really want to address the gentrification happening in the ‘hoods’ of Detroit. I’m told that Detroit has a 85% black population. Seriously, everywhere I went I was surrounded by beautiful black faces. There are houses in the hood that are on sale for $5000. $5000!!! Because the greater population in these hoods are from lower income households, non blacks are now buying up properties in the hood, and changing the landscape of Detroit. When gentrification happens, property prices inflate, and the lower income residents are forced out. This is currently happening in Detroit, and it’s sad. Detroit has heart, and their people are beautiful. I’m not sure what can be done to maintain the beauty and integrity of Detroit. Are there areas of Detroit that need renovation? Absolutely! However, that can be done while the current residents keep their homes. Detroit is the home of Motown. Music royalty. It has a rich musical history. It is paramount to keep the integrity of Detroit, and not displace its residents in exchange for trendier restaurants and new homes.
Things You Should Know:
Charles H Wright Museum is actually the museum that Aretha Franklin`s body was reposed for 2 days so fans could pay their final respect.
Detroit has a museum dedicated to the history of Motown music. I actually stood in the same room that musical greats like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Michael Jackson recorded in. They don’t allow cameras inside, so I can’t show you much, but you gotta trust me on this one.
I stayed at the Motor City Casino Hotel. There is a casino right in the hotel. I vowed if I hit the jackpot, I would shut down my social media and go into hiding…preferably on a beach. However… I am still here. I lost $7 then quit! Sooooooo you guys are stuck with me for a little bit longer! Congrats!