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DAY 02

ARRIVAL IN DETROIT


Detroit is a little bit like Fargo. It’s not really what you would expect. There is more to it than meets the eye…For now, I have only briefly transited through the city to land in the suburbs where some friends will be hosting me, some real lefty Detroiters. 

I fantasized that, with their help, I would be able to meet trade unionists from the auto industry. Sadly, none of them agreed to meet me.


A SEGREGATED CITY

My friends live on the outskirts of Detroit, near the famous “8- Mile”, as in Eminem’s album title. Their neighborhood is the total opposite to the downtown area which actually not that far; it’s the gay district, hipster, progressive. Might as well say “all white”, or almost…

What I have no other choice but to still call segregation seems obvious to me. Except for little small pockets where a few black people seem to have wandered in.  Otherwise, for the most part, there seems to be a clear division of things. Even though my project is not focused primarily on the African-American community, I quickly found myself hanging out in black communities, since I have decided to follow my “natural inclination”, meaning following my love for African-American music in its community context.

Given that now that I am hyper aware of it, I can’t stop seeing this segregation everywhere, perhaps wrongly. Take for example the restaurant where I am having breakfast this morning, in the middle of a Lebanese suburb. The institution markets itself as halal, but looks like an old-timey diner, a sign of the irony of the times!

By error (or perhaps by instinct), it seems that I sat in what had appeared to me as the “white section” of the restaurant, occupied mainly by elderly people who seem to have come in here as a group.

All the black customers –seniors also –are all located on the other side of the restaurant. Even the servers reinforce this division of space with black waitresses seemingly only serving the black section. Coincidence? Or am I making things up, as I expect them to be? What clearly brings everything back to this era –so that we don’t for a second think that we’re back in the 50s –is the presence of a somewhat “third section” for Muslims and their veiled women. Keep writing, take notes, snap some photos…

But I have not even started to film or meet people… I am still sharpening my knives, fussing over details. I had to return the 4×4 vehicle that the car rental agency had given me, trading it in for a less gas-consuming and less comfortable car. I wonder if I should just film people and leave, or only film real encounters … those for which I have time! … Should I be stressed out over this? Take this as job? Or should I let myself be carried away, even if I may not end up achieving much? The fucking guilt never leaves me. I must prove that I am not a lazy person on a bummed out spree! Prove this to whom?….Must relax. Must understand where I am