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Where are my socks?

For the past few months, I’ve wrestled with the idea of writing this post. A few months ago, I read a piece written by Nolan Finley titled, “Where are the black people?” The editorial took a look at black involvement in Detroit’s booming developments.  At first, I have to admit – and with no shade to Mr. Finley – I was shocked that he actually wrote this piece. Normally his views on various topics are often different from my own. But I commend him for giving the conversation some major spotlight.  As a matter of fact, I wrote a similar DVoice piece in October 2014 which came out previous to his.

As a Detroiter first and Midtown resident second, I do get excited about certain projects happening in the area.  Yes, I was excited for HopCat to open. But I wasn’t excited enough about “Crack Fries” to stand in line at 5 a.m. I love french fries, but the only time I’m getting up that early is if my wife yells “Fire!,” a vacation or if Beyonce’ says my name.

A quick caveat… I have a thing for designer/colorful socks. The good thing about them is they make a great fashion statement, and they are easy to spot in the laundry. But every now and then, I will ask my wife, “Where are my socks?” In her very confident voice, she replies, “Did you look for them?” Eventually I walk away in laughter because I know I didn’t give any effort in looking for them. Then with little effort, I eventually discover what I’m looking for.

Without effort, I can easily list a number of new and established black-owned businesses that have contributed to Detroit’s resurgence. I’m always tempted to provide a list of where we (black people) and our successful ventures in the D may be because so many people see it as a difficult task.

Let’s take a look at some amazing ventures in the D such as The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art led by one of the coolest and smartest guys in Detroit, George N’Namdi. If you’re looking for a home, try the Midtown-based City Living Detroit founded by Austin Black II. Are you looking for a cool spot to grab a bite to eat? Try The Grille Midtown at the Woodward Gardens Block Development. They have the best grilled cheese I have ever consumed. It’s also pretty cool to note that the entire Woodward Gardens Block Development is black-owned. Not only does it include The Grille Midtown, but also the 61-unit, mixed-use Woodward Garden Apartments and the popular Garden Theater.

And let’s not just look at Midtown and downtown. We can venture out to the east side and visit Detroit Vegan Soul or travel down Livernois with various locations such as Joe’s Gallery.

So yes, there will always be a need for more black-owned businesses in Detroit’s development. It’s extremely important to the city’s growth. But let’s not exclude the ones that are here. Let’s support them. And if we aren’t at a certain location or function, don’t just ask where we are. Look for us. It’s possible that we may be somewhere else.

Stefen J. Welch
Stefen J. Welch is the Assistant Director, Corporate Philanthropy at Wayne State University. A native of Detroit and believer in the city’s future, Welch is an active community engager and spends much of his time dedicated to various community organizations. An alum of Oakland University, Stefen is also an instructor within the Department of Communication and Journalism. Currently he sits on the Board of Directors at Black Family Development, Inc. and Community Health And Social Services (CHASS). He also holds a Master's in Community Development from the University of Detroit Mercy and is graduate of Leadership Detroit. Follow him @stefenj.