Segregation and racial politics long the death knell for regionalism in Detroit area

Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti |

“We’ve understood for a long time that outcomes in the suburbs are intertwined with outcomes in their central city,” he said. “It’s more complicated than just saying that the city gains at the expense of the suburbs. If Detroit were more of a vital city, then that would benefit suburban residents as well as city residents.”

Darden agreed, and pointed out that those who were advocating for greater regional cooperation in the Detroit area in the 1970s failed to make the case for mutual benefit.

“Nobody ever presented a win-win case,” he said.  “Everybody was so concerned with one set of interests and nobody was saying, ‘Look, this would benefit us all.’”

“People learn to operate within the context of a highly segregated society,” Orfield added. “Everybody likes that better. It’s easier to just think about your own narrow interests. But it’s a catastrophe. Thinking that way has always been a catastrophe. A segregated region has never been fully functional. It’s never worked.”

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