Al-Jazeera America, the network that was supposed to save cable news from the spiraling abyss of substituting punditry and showboating for actual journalism, is off to quite the lazy start. At least when it comes to Detroit matters.
Last night on "Real Money with Ali Velshi," AJAM took a trip to Detroit, which was warranted since the city is in municipal bankruptcy. A sound report without screaming BANKRUPTCY MURDER WILD DOGS CORRUPTION CARJACKINGS RACISM would've been nice.
Thankfully, it wasn't that — but that doesn't mean it wasn't cliche, either. Instead, AJAM went directly to Phil Cooley, the owner of the famed Slows BBQ, for yet another glowing report on how Michigan Avenue looked like shit until people started lining up for yardbird sandwiches.
Cooley, according to local, national and international media, is the only man saving Detroit. In fact, AJAM said it themselves: "Meet the entrepreneur who's saving Detroit one neighborhood at a time." Cooley's saving each and every one of us? All 700,000? That's strange, since I haven't seen Cooley at all in my neighborhood.
I'll emphasize that Cooley is not a bad guy and the Cooley empire of Slows, Slows-to-Go and Ponyride aren't bad places. But come on already! Another fucking story about Slows? Jesus. I thought we were done with this.
What exactly does it take to break the mindset that young white people, specifically young entrepreneurial white males living in the MidCorkDown radius, are the only ones that care about Detroit? And hasn't Cooley been on enough lists and slideshows and countdowns already? Was there no one else available to fit the "save Detroit" narrative?
Most disappointing though is that Al-Jazeera America is adding to that fire. Hasn't it been proven that there are several people who don't own barbecue restaurants worthy of putting in the spotlight? Do you need a list? Let's see, there's Joe Rashid of the Brightmoor Alliance; Kevin Krease and Garrett Koehler of Assemble (formerly known as X Games Detroit); James Feagin of Imagine Detroit Together; Liz Blondy of Canine to Five; the Motor City Grounds Crew; the Detroit Mower Gang; any of the three young women and their mentors in "True Life: I'm SAVING Detroit" (bolded and capped for obvious emphasis); Bill Pulte of Detroit Blight Authority; poet Jessica care Moore; author and consultant Ken Coleman, Jr.; any of the current city-council candidates under 35; state representative Rashida Tlaib; Jill Drnek of Detroit Human; Spirit of Hope pastor Matthew Bode; the MotorCity Horsemen; the tour guides at D:Hive; youth organizations like Teen H.Y.P.E. or Detroit Summer; social activist Grace Lee Boggs; the Georgia Street Community Garden; WDET's Craig Fahle; Delphia Simmons of the Coalition On Temporary Shelter; Austin Black II of City Living Detroit; any of the hundreds of adorable, camera-ready youngsters like that 8-year-old app developer at Black Girls Code last week; Detroit City Football Club; the hip-hop collective Clear Soul Forces; and so many more.
Damn, that was a long-ass paragraph because there's a lot of kickass people in Detroit besides Phil Cooley. Stop googling "Detroit entrepreneurs" and talk to somebody in person.
[Hat-tip to Mike Itchue!]