I have a lot of love for Flint, Michigan and it’s a place I like to be, but I would have never known that if I didn’t fall in love with a guy from there. I would have gone along with the masses and shrugged it off as one of Michigan’s tragic towns, Detroit Jr. if you will. But instead, loving someone from a fallen place changed my perspective of Flint and cities like it.
Each time I’m in Flint, we stay with my boyfriend’s parents in their inviting brick home on a typical tree-lined Midwest street. I don’t know what I expected of Flint when I first visited, but tree-lined streets and beautiful brick homes wasn’t what I had in mind. I mean, the media really talks some shit about Flint. They never mention the brand new Farmer’s Market or the quaint downtown with lights strung across Saginaw Street, or the killer burgers at the Torch Bar and Grill. I never knew there were mansions in Flint and I never knew there was a Flint Institute of Arts, a Flint Institute of Music, or a planetarium. My first time there, there was a lot of, “Whoa, seriously? You have that here?” Yeah, I had no idea.
And neither did you*.
Sure, Flint is a city that’s hurting. I’ve seen its wounds. There’s no denying those, but there’s more there. And that’s the thing. Why don’t we hear about that? Our society loves winners. But losers? At the first sight of disparity we quickly turn our backs. I’m certainly not the first person to shed light on this reality, but it does strike a personal chord with me because Flint has become a second home.
On our visit to Michigan last month, my boyfriend ran the Detroit marathon. The first thing he said when he completed the marathon was, “This really is a beautiful city”. Detroit, like Flint, still has so much to show for itself. And like Flint, its residents are pouring a whole lot of love and creativity into it. That’s evident when you’re there.
It isn’t doing us any favors to slander a place when it falls from grace. When something is wrong, what good does it do to stand around and spit on it? “Oh, that place is a shit-hole. It’s ghetto! I’m so glad I don’t live there.” Shut up, asshole. That’s ignorant and it’s not helpful. We should ALL be troubled when a city falls and we should all rally around its renaissance. That seems like common sense to me. Years back, I heard that if you want to see where the rest of the nation is headed, just look at Michigan. If that’s the case (and it seems that it could be), shouldn’t we be finding solutions and throwing our support behind cities like Flint?
I’m a huge advocate for travel because I think it does wonderful things for people- it opens minds and creates empathy. I’m usually advocating travel to foreign, far-away places, but sometimes all it takes is visiting a place some 275 miles from where you grew up.
Flint, I love you.
*Unless, of course, you did.