49% of Michigan’s African Americans to Lose Their Right to Self-Governance

And now, as a break from all the shitty national news, I wanted to update you on shitty news from my home front.

Governor Snyder is about to start the process of appointing an Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit (though note, they’re not just “Financial” Mangers anymore).

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, members of Detroit City Council and representatives from the city’s labor and religious communities will hold a news conference at 5 p.m. today to address the city’s financial crisis and the possibility of a financial review by the state.

Bing and the City Council have refused to initiate such a review. The 30-day review process would allow state officials to examine the city’s finances and any proposals from the city as to how it will eliminate some of its debt.

Bing and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder had a conversation Wednesday, and Snyder informed the mayor he intended to start the emergency manager process beginning with the review.

As I have noted before, one of the most troubling aspects of MI’s very troubling EFM law is the way it arises out of and exacerbates MI’s history of segregation. Effectively, in the 1980s, Democrats and Republicans decided that rather than addressing the effects of globalization on our state regionally–across our many segregated cities and suburbs–the heavily African American cities would be on their own (Ecorse, which is 40% African American, is the one real exception to the general rule that the cities that have been in and out of EFM status are majority African American). And even though the racism in the state isn’t as bad as it once was, the legacy of that go-it-alone approach means the cities that will be targeted for EFM status remain predominantly African American.

Over 82% of Detroit’s 713,777 residents are African American (close to 7% are Latinos). 42% of all of MI’s 1,403,477 African Americans live in Detroit.

In fact, as Eclectablog and I calculated today, 49% of MI’s African Americans will soon be living in a city the elected government of which has been replaced by the state.

Almost half the African Americans in the state.

The intent of this EFM law may not be to take away the right of local self-governance from one particular race of people. But we’re getting very close to the point where it will have done so for the majority of African Americans in MI.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    Because it’s so unimportant that democracy and justice exist for anyone who isn’t rich, white, and conservative.

    They really want to radicalize everyone else, don’t they?

  2. Rirer Capital says:

    Disenfranchisement is an emergency measure deemed necessary by the elect to provide solutions for crises they’ve enabled. (cf Foreclosure Fraud, Gov’t Debt Crises, War Crime response to Security Failures, etc)

    The Midwest was once a place African-Americans migrated to to escape the Apartheid of Dixie. In a generation the Apartheid they fled comes to Michigan.

  3. Peter VE says:

    It’s not just Michigan. Central Falls, RI is a majority Latino community, taken over by the state for the same reasons. The 1% (represented by Goldman Sachs, of course) have already taken over the governments of Greece and Italy.

  4. Linnaeus says:

    If Michigan Democrats even get the chance, it’s going to take a long time for them to undo the damage that the GOP is doing to Michigan. Sad.

  5. Timbo says:

    Would this be different if Detroit was a charter city, like the Bell municipality in California?

    The question of whether or not a city or municipality should be put under emergency rule from the central government, is exceedingly dicey when it comes to voter enfranchisement and the Detroit issue is certainly a huge example of substantial impact to the concept of self-rule and self-administration by voters and their elected representatives. I should say that in Detroits case, it would be extremely difficult for the State of Michigan to justify emergency control if it can be shown by a citizen with standing that their right to elect local officials had been violated. The question is…do locals have a right to elect officials at the municipal level if the State of Michigan doesn’t think that’s wise.

    This raises several Constitutional rights issues under the 14th and possibly other amendments to our national charter. Will the case end up in the Supreme Court or has this already been decided clearly in earlier legal precedence in the Federal System. In theory, the Federal government could say it’s a local issue and that as long as a voters rights to elect their Federal representatives isn’t abridged then there isn’t really an issue for the Federal courts to decide. Anyone care to expand on the current legal theory behind local inability to elect municipal reps and the Federal Constitution?

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