out of the ruins

Detroit still looks like a bombed out city. It looks as if the riots just happened yesterday. As an assistant prof at a small-town Michigan college, I would take the hour and a half drive often for the Jazz and African festivals, to find a natural hair-care salon, to go to Ikea, check out established and emerging art museums, and visit a good friend I met half-way across the world.

Detroit still looks like a bombed out city. And then you turn a corner and stumble upon a street that looks like an exploded candy store.


Bubblegum blues and cotton-candy pinks cover houses and discarded doors nailed into sculptures of the everyday. Shoes, stuffed and unstuffed animals, salvaged auto parts … the ruins of a city made into art.


FLASH! BANG! Bombed out city. No place for a little black girl to sleep. No bubblegum blue and cotton candy pink dreams await Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Inflated balloons and plush stuffed animals mark the site of her murder but inanimate objects can’t reanimate a life. And a mother and a father’s tears can’t extinguish the flames of poverty and injustice that still threaten to consume a city.

Detroit still is a bombed out city. What will emerge from the ruins of a girl’s stolen life?

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About jennifer williams

Jennifer D. Williams is a writer and professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has published in academic journals and online at Ms.blog, PopMatters, among other sites. Jennifer is currently working on a book that looks at black women's urban literature between the Depression and the civil rights era.

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