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Elethea's Journal

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I 28 September 1976 Lady Day's nevitably earnest, and we know now correct, expostulation oriold Motor City (spoken in smokey tremor, no doubt, her head held high, her mind serene in acute observation cocoa-butter complexion aglow, a ,bitterswect smile of awareness budding her lips): "Dynamic assed Detroit -is st.ll viable. Lady was responding to the rude and inhumane treatment that she had received while appearing here at the Fox Theatre back in the Formenting Forties. She had been violently denied service at the Stage Door, a bar then adjacent to the theatre, and harangued by the manager of the Fox to whiten her comIplexion for the carriage trade. That happened at a time when communally-oriented hard-working (and boogie-ing) black folks were struggling to gain egress west of Woodward and north of Woodland Avenues. The Lady had a saiient wit. She needed it. Billie Holiday was to America what Edith Piaf was to France-the soul of a nation-our sorrowful sparrow. "Dynamic assed Detroit" it is too, withstanding the inexorable daily dlspensation via the bube-tube specifically, and our dailies in particular of awesome and inexplicably I itive news. News seemingly designed to proliferate the most In (enying images, shorn with verbsto elicit the most horrei human responses and descriptive adjectives certified to ma .e one eringe. Obviously, the way in which we choose to discern and define the daily exigencies of "living just enough for the cuy, determines to a great degree our spiritual and intellectual evoluÍtion as a people, a city, a state-a nation. The prevailing perspective is immensely cataracted. People coping with the eminent and unrelieved pressures of earning a living in pursuit ot a life-style become, because óf the level of their exhaustion, the prey of whatever attitude is most dominant in their lives. It is a known fact that a constant bombardment of negative input will produce an overflow of negative response. Human destructiveness has become a science, and human constructiveness an art. .. Human destructiveness on a large scale (onc h; listen or look upon the national and municipal score , spmg) in a society where institutionalized racism seeks perse 'ication in a continuing polarization of the races-becomes a most savage, highly commercial ized and incessantly glamouri d method ot crowd control. ÍThe doom-servants are out-visibly-m full torce and regalía: academie, political and economie. The operativo . 'rb today is hustJe-tUe avarice that affects one's choice of a caieei or profession, and not haim-tUe acquisition of skill in pursuit of some form of human endeavor generated by a quality oí ove that sustains one's interest. We are exhorted, locally, to become "players e lottery. The hustler and the player are morally reprehensib chai acters; they are the necessary anti-heroes of the neo-conservatism beIing resuscitated daily-and nightly. "Dynamic assed Detroit," surrounded and siphrned by the suburbs that it serves as a center of financial wealth, physical pleasure and cultural enlightenment begins to seem xtraordinarily reminiscent of that robust but cowered village in Transvaal where loomed in the distance: outer environ or suburb the patrolled grounds of the Vampire's sleeping place. The villagers coerced by fear, the handservant of misery, into quitting their streets at nightfall become victims in a victorless cycle (.1 oppression.J IThe vampire's victims follow his condition, if they remain for too long untransfused. The sudden cessation of Federal and State funds-the plasma needed to strengthen our weakened city-is an additional threat to its survival. Impervious to the threat, Detroit is vibrantly alive and building: physically, creatively, and spiritually. And since the word constructs the reality an'd defines the deed-stay healthy! haim, a nounverb, an idiomatic expression born in the black community and popularized during the forties that expressed the desire to gain a legitímate f not lucrative arrangement-the arrangement to become one's haim: job, gift or cratt -it was the aim of one's life-the haim. J Copyright O 7976, lames W. Thompson. All Rights f