The Decline of Detroit: An American Mythos
Much ink has been spilled on the decline of Detroit, once nicknamed “Paris of the West.” Conservatives credit its failures to Democratic leadership while Leftists of all flavors conclude it’s Big Racism—America’s largest industry. It is no secret that Detroit has had Democratic mayors and liberal politicians for several consecutive decades. Moreover, it’s no secret that America has a past of troubled race relations. Since neither liberal politicians nor racial animosity are declining in prevalence, this problem is one that needs to be addressed. Further, if properly tackled it might lead to deeper insights about the totality of metropolitan decline in America. Thus, the question: what happened to Detroit?
A Tale of Two Cities
In the early decades of the twentieth century, due in large part to Henry Ford, Detroit became one of the busiest and most populous cities in the world. In addition to her well-known automotive success, Detroit had a prospering defense industry leading up to and during the Second World War. Between the growth of these two enterprises, there simply were not enough workers to fill needs. Theoretically, this would cause an increase in bargaining power for the men with an ensuing increase in wages. However, if one has been following Capitalism, one already knows this was never going to happen. Instead, African-Americans (henceforth: blacks) were handed a memo, perhaps read aloud to them by the white messenger, and tens of thousands began arriving in Detroit every year.
Minneapolis, one-half of what is known as the Twin Cities of Minnesota, the other half being the capital, Saint Paul, was founded as a city in 1856. It grew around Saint Anthony Falls, the highest waterfall on the Mississippi River, where the early pioneers derived much of the power for their lumber and milling industries. From the Minneapolis Wiki:
Millers have used hydropower elsewhere since the 1st century B.C., but the results in Minneapolis between 1880 and 1930 were so remarkable, the city has been described as “the greatest direct-drive waterpower center the world has ever seen.”
Cadwallader C. Washburn, founder of what is now General Mills, and Charles A. Pillsbury, founder of, believe it or not, The Pillsbury Company, were revolutionizing the flour industry. Minnesota’s flour products were considered at the time to be the best in the world.
Each of these cities, then, were the epicenter for their respective industries.
To give the Dear Reader an idea of their quality of life:
|Median Cost of a House and Median Income in 2018 Dollars|
|Year||Michigan House||Detroit Income||Minnesota House||Minneapolis Income|
In the handful of decades after Abraham Lincoln traitorously abandoned his desire to expatriate all blacks to West Africa and instead emancipated 3.5 million slaves, laying the groundwork for the 13th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution, 90 percent of all American blacks still lived in the South, only 6,000 of which made up a portion of Detroit’s 465 thousand people. Crunching the numbers, Detroit in 1910 was 98.8 percent white, which is illegally homogenous by twenty-first-century standards. Quickly, by 1930, Detroit found itself “home” to 120 thousand blacks, climbing to 7.7 percent of the total population.
Detroit peaked circa 1950 with a population of 1.85 million people, making it the fourth-largest city in America. Of this group, 1.55 million were white, which was approximately 83.6 percent of the total population. The number of blacks in the city had ballooned to 300 thousand, or 16.2 percent. A young white boy in 1910 would notice that only one in one hundred of his neighbors were black, but, as an adult, almost two out of ten of his neighbors would be black.
This surge came about smack-dab in the middle of the Great Migration, wherein approximately six million blacks left the rural South for the cities in Northeast, Midwest, and Western America now that they were no longer allowed to be slaves. The white population of Detroit grew 237 percent between 1910 and 1950, but the black population grew 4,908 percent—almost 50-fold.
Minneapolis differed substantially, although it too grew rapidly. The entire state of Minnesota contained only 1.75 million people in 1900 but had more than 3.41 million by 1960. However, their influx of immigration was almost entirely German, Norwegian, Irish, and Swedish—what Ben Franklin would call a swarthy group. The city of Minneapolis housed 522 thousand people in 1950, of which 513 thousand were white, equaling an illicit 98.4 percent. Only 6,807 blacks were living in the city at the time, a population too small to fill the Minneapolis Auditorium.
Minneapolis and Detroit, while much different, had similar trajectories in the mid-twentieth century. Both economies saw quasi-exponential growth and a good white man of moral character could easily provide for a family on a single income. Quality of life in these two respective areas was as good as it got.
Today, Detroit is the swampy grundle of the American body on a 105-degree day.
|Median Cost of a House and Median Income in 2018 Dollars|
|Year||Michigan House||Detroit Income||Minnesota House||Minneapolis Income|
|1950||$66,203.59 (state)||$36,103.14||$68,974.22 (state)||$32,070.84|
|2018||$43,845.38 (city)||$28,517.94||$204,577.63 (city)||$67,303.68|
The median income and median cost of a house in Minneapolis have increased by 110 and 197 percent, respectively, since 1950. This is a bit unfortunate for those who’d like to buy a house in Minneapolis, but that happens when white people want to live in a place, even if some are hipster troglodytes.
For Detroit, the median income and median cost of a house have dropped by 21 and 34 percent, respectively.
Additionally, Minneapolis has a current poverty rate of 20.7 percent compared to 37.9 percent for Detroit. Juxtaposing the 70-year decay of Detroit with the prosperity of Minneapolis, it must be asked: Democrats or the haunting specter of racism?
The Conservative Argument, verbatim, “if you want to see what happens when you let only Democrats run a city, look at Detroit.” What would a native of the Twin Cities think of this? What would the troglodytic, septum-pierced deviants covered in tattoos, zipping around Uptown or Northeast Minneapolis on their $2,000 bicycles think of this?
The vast majority of the citizens in the Minneapolis metro claim to be at least liberal, whatever that means at their time and place, and their apolitical neighbors fill out a Democratic ballot when pressed at the voting booth. Further, Bernie Sanders trounced Hillary Clinton in the Minnesota Democratic Caucuses of 2016, which was centered around the Twin Cities and Universities of St. Cloud and Duluth. Moreover, Democratic Caucus votes doubled that of Republican votes in the state of Minnesota.
Regarding the historical voting patterns of each city, starting with the first Democrat elected in the 1940s, nearly identical trends arise. Of the 74 years since 1945, Minneapolis has had a Democratic mayor for 64 years, which is 86.5 percent of the time. It can also be noted that Minneapolis had a Socialist Party mayor named Thomas Van Lear from 1917-19. Detroit, in the 71 years since 1948, has had a Democratic mayor for 59 years, 83.1 percent of the time. Yet, despite its favor toward Democratic leaders, Minneapolis is a sanctuary compared to Detroit. Perhaps the argument is consequently shifted: the leaders of Detroit are more left-wing than those of Minneapolis. The Writer is both dubious and curious, how one would quantify such a claim?
To contrast with Minnesota, Michigan voters favored Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries as well, but only by 1.4 points over Hillary Clinton. In Minnesota, Sanders had an advantage of 23.4 points. Additionally, as a percentage of their respective GDP’s:
- Minnesota’s welfare spending is higher than Michigan’s, 1.4 and 1.01 percent, respectively.
- Michigan spends more on education than Minnesota, 5.9 and 5.36 percent, respectively.
- Michigan spends more than Minnesota on healthcare, 4.2 and 3.7 percent, respectively.
- Michigan spends more than Minnesota on pensions, 1.82 and 1.39 percent, respectively.
A conservative might rebut, “hey but so, look! Michigan spends more on education, that’s a huge waste of their money!” This would imply that throwing cash at the students of Detroit, 83 percent of which are black, is wasteful. To that one might rebut, “what are you, some kind of racist?”
Assuming education spending is detrimental, a discrepancy of less than one percent would not explain the bulk of Detroit’s foibles. Moreover, the importance of “good” teachers has been studied. The quality of a teacher is largely irrelevant once the student is in his/her teens, i.e., a teacher can have a drastic effect with youngins, but as the student’s genetic predispositions become more crystallized, we see negligible results from teaching prowess. And, to address the some-students-can’t-even-afford-pencils mantra: Aristotle didn’t have a pencil when he was studying at Plato’s Academy. But seriously, more money is spent on black students than their white peers. The quality of the student is paramount in schoolroom success.
The Writer asks rhetorically, does the extra 0.5 percent in Michigan’s healthcare and pensions spending explain why Detroit has the third-highest murder rate and second-highest violent crime rate in America?
Minneapolis history renders The Conservative Argument vacuous. So, was a racist poltergeist the cause of Detroit’s decline?
Redlining at 1968 RPM
Racism is a word used to describe a near-infinite number of events, behaviors, and ideas. However, redlining should theoretically be one of the more tangible instances of overtly racial action because it is measurable and written with ink. The Dear Reader, scholar that he is, has undoubtedly heard of redlining, but it is the act of barring access to specific neighborhoods for a certain group; in this case, eliminating the ability for blacks to buy/rent property in white communities through restrictive covenants.
Before this is investigated the Writer shall ask, what is abhorrent about redlining? Why is it such an immoral act for a community of whites to say “no, you can live anywhere else, but this area is ours.” It is utterly normal for blacks to desire to be around only their own. Why then, is it absurd for whites to want such an environment?
Those questions aside, how bigoted was Detroit? If it were chock-full of racist whites, foaming at the mouth like rabid pit bulls trying to keep blacks out, we should see a particularly low rate of black homeownership in Michigan compared to the rest of the country. Of course, we do not.
|Year||Michigan||Minnesota||US Blacks||US Total||Total/Black Multiple|
Blacks were clearly better equipped to buy houses in Detroit (67 percent of Michigan blacks lived in Detroit in 1950, today it’s about 38 percent) when compared with the whole of the country, so why is redlining perceived as such a devastating practice? The worst offender on the list is New York with 11 percent black householders compared with 37.9 percent for the state. By 1990, it climbed to 24.7 percent for blacks while the state’s rate improved to 52.2 percent. Relatively speaking, that is not a large improvement.
On the nation-wide Redlining Question, one would have to show that areas with many instances of restrictive covenants correlated strongly with low black homeownership throughout the broader area, not just the individual neighborhood being restricted. Additionally, it also needs to be shown that this restriction not only correlated with but caused a general lack of black success. Detroit’s case for the perils of redlining is particularly weak. For every decade above, black homeownership in Michigan is higher than the national mean for blacks by an average of 7.3 percent.
Minnesota is an altogether different case. Almost 50 percent of all Minnesota blacks owned houses in 1950, yet only 24.8 percent did in 2018—despite passing a state law in 1953 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibiting restrictive covenants. Why did Minnesota have such a high rate of black homeownership during her redlining peak?
The Writer’s hypothesis is that the blacks capable of moving out of the South into Minnesota, which clearly wanted nothing to do with them, were much smarter and more competent than the average black involved in the Great Migration. Almost half of these blacks owned a house in a state which, only a couple of decades prior, sterilized thousands in Faribault state hospital after passing a eugenics law (not against blacks specifically, but it says much about their collective mindset), had a stint with the KKK in the 1920s, and began restrictive covenants in 1910, a few of which weren’t discovered until 2017.
The blacks who made their way to Minnesota and managed to buy a house with all of that going against them must have represented the talented tenth of all blacks, just as the black scholar and Pan-Africanist W.E.B. Du Bois hypothesized in 1903. Du Bois believed this talent was mostly derived from continuing education and political action. The Writer believes it to originate, more fundamentally, in genetic predispositions.
One can quantify this simply: with a mean IQ of 85 and a standard deviation of ~13 (see 100 years of IQ research and a recent article from Steve Sailer), this would place the talented tenth blacks (TTBs) at a skew-right mean of ~101—just about the standard for whites. Therefore, the talented, conscientious blacks mostly fit in with normal whites during this time, or they at least weren’t causing such a ruckus that whites abandoned their homelands to avoid any proximity with The Enrichers.
The reason black homeownership rates dropped so precipitously in Minnesota is because of how quickly the housing value increased in Minneapolis, a sign that the economy continued its explosion, and the increasingly normal body of black immigration was never able to keep pace.
Detroit was artificially inflated with a black population so rapidly that the white Detroit natives would rather flee than worry about their flourishing economy. Minnesota saw drastically slower black migration in the twentieth century, giving whites time to keep their economic foothold. Moreover, the more normal blacks arriving in post-redlining Minnesota are largely incapable of thriving in her white economy, at least in comparison to their TTB counterparts from the mid-century. Minnesota blacks went from predominantly TTBs to starkly mediocre, bringing their living standards back in line with the rest of the country.
If one were to be an abominable person and assume, for argument’s sake, that redlining did not significantly harm the black population, one would expect that the current rate of black homeownership countrywide resembles the past. Indeed, the current rate of black homeownership was 41.4 percent in 2017 and 34.5 percent in 1950. The African-American population has had more than 50 years to grow after redlining was outlawed, yet the rate has hardly budged.
So, if pressed to call one state more “racist” than the other, one might lean toward Minnesota. Additionally, it could be argued (easily with the data for Michigan and Minnesota) that redlining positively correlated with success, not failure, of the broader population. Redlining was outlawed more than 50 years ago and blacks still cannot match their white counterparts, so restrictive covenants do not help us understand Detroit’s demise. The question stands.
What happened to Detroit?
A phenomenon wherein whites will evacuate or create new towns to avoid living in close proximity with non-whites, particularly blacks. It is so ubiquitous that even Wikipedia has documented its occurrences in Africa, Europe, Oceania, and North America—almost every place in which it could possibly happen.
The mid-twentieth century was the expiration of legal segregation and most of the politicians in wholly white areas, Europe and the Northern United States, became increasingly queasy and outspoken against Jim Crow, apartheid, and whites-only water fountains, as if it is utterly preposterous that a square foot of the planet’s surface be set aside for whites. However, those who were not in favor of ending these segregationist policies were the ones near blacks. This must be repeated. The whites who rubbed elbows with blacks were the ones who instituted legal segregation and fought for its continuation across the globe. The whites who had no interaction with non-TTBs (or any blacks at all) on a daily or even yearly basis were the only whites opining for desegregation.
Now the Reader begins to see the bigger picture, Detroit’s chief problem since 1950 is that whites want nothing to do with her. The capitalists of Detroit filled their factories with blacks and the native whites, watching their neighborhoods get carpet-bombed with seemingly foreign bodies, began creating suburbs outside of the city. The capitalists got their labor, but at what cost?
A Brief History of Violence
In 1942, a mostly peaceful protest of at least 1,000 whites occurred in Detroit, kick-started by the prospect of black families moving into the new Sojourner Truth Projects. Recall that Detroit contained only 6,000 blacks in 1910, but 300 thousand by 1950. Whites did not want competition for their jobs and most certainly did not want blacks in their neighborhoods.
The following year, Detroit’s white population again protested the rapid demographic changes in their neighborhoods. This time, however, it became riotous and lasted three days, not quelled until the Michigan National Guard was called. The result was 1,800 arrests, 433 injuries, and 34 deaths.
Remarkable, too, is that whites in Beaumont, Texas rioted for the same reason just a week earlier, resulting in over 200 arrests, 50+ injuries, and three deaths. Their kick-starter was the rumor of a black-on-white rape. Although, that was an absurd notion. Black guys never commit interracial crimes—except when blacks choose white victims in 64 percent of robberies, 52 percent of assaults, and 59 percent of rapes. Whites choose 92, 97, and 95 percent white victims for these crimes, respectively.
Harlem blacks followed suit and began rioting on August 1 of the same year, resulting from a rumor that a white policeman killed a black soldier. There were 600 arrests and six deaths. It’s clear to anyone with a room-temperature IQ that the riotous sentiments across the country were lying dormant and needed only weak catalysts. Blacks have not lost their desire to riot, but the deracinated white man no longer protests for overtly ethnic reasons.
In 1966, seven blacks gathered at the intersection of two streets, and cops, knowing what they do, asked this gaggle of blacks to disperse. Hundreds of rioters began arriving over the next two days until they were rained out. It doesn’t appear that there were any serious injuries or deaths.
Then in 1967, police raided an unlicensed drinking club, finding a large party of 82 people, and began arresting these layabouts. Several onlookers, specifically William Walter Scott III, a doorman whose father ran the club, incited violence against the police. In case it isn’t clear who started this riot, the crowd began looting the adjacent clothing store. Unfortunately, this kerfuffle began in the wee hours of July 23, a Sunday morning, and it took hours before the relevant authorities were alert. This continued through July 28, ceasing only after the 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, Michigan Army National Guard, Michigan State Police, and Detroit Police Department had become involved. The authorities sustained 16 casualties and 493 injuries, while the civilians took 696 injuries and 23 deaths.
Let us not forget Martin Luther King Jr., the patron saint of uppity blacks (and whites, for that matter), was killed on April 4, 1968. Naturally, blacks across the country took to the street. More specifically, 111 cities began spontaneously rioting. Detroit’s was rather tame, resulting in only a single death out of the dozens across the country, but whites saw the writing on the wall. It had been over 20 years since whites first protested and rioted for their city, but Detroit’s leadership was going to let blacks continue to take her for their own.
In 1950 there were 1.55 million whites in Detroit. By 1960, more than 360 thousand had flown the coop. Through the next decade, another 344 thousand. As if the mere appearance of blacks weren’t damning enough, blacks began rioting in the 60s because, well, that is what they do. Because of this behavior, 437 thousand whites left in the 70s. By 2018, almost 95.7 percent of whites had deserted Detroit city—only 67 thousand remain.
For Minneapolis, only 1.3 percent of their population was black in 1950, just under seven thousand. While the number of black bodies in Minnesota increased to 53,344 in 1980, they were still only 1.3 percent of the state’s population. Minneapolis currently sits at a semi-manageable (this link is maddening) 18.9 percent black.
In Detroit’s case, Civil Rights activists got what they wanted, access for blacks to a white area. However, a peculiar thing occurred. Within a couple of decades, Detroit became the worst city in America.
- Poverty: the haunting presence of poverty was absent in the quasi-utopian Detroit of the 1940s and 1950s.
- Redlining: Michigan blacks have always owned houses at a disproportionately high rate compared with the African-American average.
- Racism: Detroit had a black mayor from 1974 to 2014, eradicating any possibility of there being a cabal of whites actively suppressing the success of black citizenry.
- Leftism: the case can easily be made that Minneapolis is more left-wing than Detroit, should that be at all quantifiable.
Perhaps Detroit isn’t actually a bad area, only a black one. A better question might be: is Detroit an anomaly? Below are four European countries with median incomes well below Detroit’s, plus a few of the whitest and blackest cities in the US, ordered by ascending murder rates per 100 thousand people (countries, cities).
|Country/City||Black Population (%)||Median Income||Murder Rate|
|New Orleans, LA||60%||$38,721||37.1|
|St. Louis, MO||48%||$38,664||60.9|
The worst of the white offenders is Springfield, Missouri, which has a murder rate of 9.5 per 100 thousand people. This is well above the US average of five. However, the least murderous majority-black city on the list is Flint, Michigan, with a rate of 33.4, which is 2.5x higher than Springfield’s and 5.7x the US average. St. Louis, on the other hand, has a murder rate 5.4x higher than Springfield’s and is 15x more murderous than Portland.
In hindsight, it appears the first word in Great Migration was used only numerically. Blacks were allowed to migrate en masse into several of the greatest American cities, and what has become of them?
The Good Blacks Paradox. Blacks are smart, competent, good people, which is why we need more of them in academia, corporations, sports, media, entertainment, communities, and our bedrooms. However, neighborhoods/institutions that are predominantly black are worse in every quantifiable metric than ones predominantly white. Therefore, it’s imperative that we let blacks into white-dominated areas to help the bla- to enrich the whites, who are doing better in every way but will benefit greatly from the addition of the blacks, who are failing miserably.
In the Writer’s remarkably humble opinion, Man does not shed his genetics when he steps on foreign soil. The answer to the Detroit Question: politicians failed to keep it sufficiently white. This answer provides us with a lens through which we can understand many of America’s major failures. Additionally, the implicit assumption when one asks why Detroit is Hell on Earth is that a predominantly black city should not be like Detroit, but why should this be assumed? Wakanda is a fiction.
White politicians gave blacks complete access to some of the world’s most prosperous cities and within a few decades, the country has several slums hardly distinguishable from Haiti or Cameroon. As Teddy K. said, “the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and its consequences have been a disaster for the white race.”
The irony: since this country’s elite are hellbent on turning America into various shades of brown, Minneapolis will resemble Detroit in a couple of decades should its current influx of Africans continue.
- Median income is from the same 1950 Census reports linked in the Demolition/Demographic Men section.
- The current data for the cost of a housing unit is specific to the city while the most precise data for 1950 included the whole state, so the two time periods are not perfectly comparable, but the trends are obvious.
- 1950-1990 (no data for 1960), 2000. I would’ve compared the black rate to the white rate directly, but the whites are hidden in the US total and do not have their own column.
- As an aside, a particularly learned Reader might make the case that the absence of redlining helped Detroit blacks later on, as 60 percent of them owned a house in 2000. However, this is obviously a result of the incredible drop in household value and the subprime mortgage crisis. Confirming this, the Detroit homeownership rate receded after the 2008 crash to 41 percent by 2016, identical to that of the African-American average.
- This study is behind a paywall, but SciHub opens it for free.