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October 09, 1967 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1967-10-09
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A Newpor A lbum
by, .ndrew acks and Thomtas R. Copi
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Despite plans for the creation of
200 low-income housing units,
there are many in the ghetto
who feel the social conscience
of Ann Arbor and its University
community has abdicated its

this kind of housing possible," he
A large number of Ann Arbor resi-
dents simply don't know the severity.
of the local problem. Many more
don't care. They know local Negroes
hang around the bars on Ann Street,
but they have never seen the slums
of the ghetto or of the Foss-Fulmer
area. Those who have are either in-
different or have commitments else-
'Tb.he comments of one University
research administrator seem to ex-
press the attitude of this largely
apathetic community. "Ann Arbor
is a great place to live. I know there
are poor Negroes living here. I lived
here all my life. But somebody al-
ways has to be poor in a commun-
ity. Someone has to take the low
paying jobs."
As a former poverty program offi-
cial explains, "Student blindness is
conceivable, for they never get off
the campus area, except maybe to
go to Weber's with their parents.
What is unbelieveable is commun-
ity blindness. Our citizens go out to
Dexter Road near the township slum,
but they drive straight ahead, never
turning right or left." '
An ADC mother sizes up the situa-
tion similarly. "Those high-brows
over at the University think we don't
have poverty in Ann Arbor. All we
have is a lack of initiative. Let them
come and live in our housing. They
play this old patronizing Lady Do-

wager role. On Christmas they real-
ize there are poor people in Ann
Arbor. We -got seven different
Christmas dinners last year. It's like
old Scrooge. They don't want to
think about us any other day except
The shirking of social responsibil-
ity by Ann Arbor's citizens is even
more disheartening than the apathy
found in a big city like Detroit
where the problem of poverty be-
comes overwhelming. As Dr. Wheeler
says, "With all the brains accumu-
lated in this city, we ought to be able
to solve the. stinking little problems
we have.
"To a degree there is a fallacy in
the approach to poverty which says
a person can only help by working
in a big city with large concentra-
tions of the poor." Wheeler con-
tinues. "There is only one Detroit,
but there are dozens of other cities
in the middle population grouping
in Michigan which have a substan-
tial number of poor people. With a
relatively small Negro population,
Ann Arbor is a place where one can
find a feasible solution to the prob-
lem of poverty without having to
disjoint the whole community. Sim-
ply because the problems are not so
massive, practical solutions may be
easily accomplished."
Another worker among the Ann
Arbor poor explains, "The white
liberal community in Ann Arbor is
more concerned with nationwide

problems on a theoretical level,
rather than simply working in their
own backyards. When they do haz-
ard a glance, they suddenly feel
other things are more important.
Among the non-University affiliated
people of Ann Arbor there is a built-
in blindness to the problems of the
poor. They have the self-righteous
feeling that if you haven't made it,
you're either stupid or incompetent.
"Poverty here in Ann Arbor is a
tangling web you just can't escape
from and they don't realize it. Every
minute of the day is related to one's
economic status. You wash cars,
you're an orderly at the hospital,
your wife does day work at Barton
Hills. It's a real thing here."
Much of the criticism for the
apathy of the Ann Arbor community
is leveled at the University.
"A University which is trying to
instill social responsibility in its stu-
dents should show some social re-
sponsibility of its own," says David
Cowlie, recently departed director of
the Ann Arbor Human Relations
"It is inevitable we are going to
have trouble," Wheeler predicts.
"The University must spearhead
these inevitable changes and direct-
ing this change in a productive way.
There is an obligation for the Uni-
versity to do moreathan articulate
social problems in a classroom set-
ting.", g
But the poor themselves have
little to say about the University.
"The poor have little contact with
the University. It's like watching
TV. They just don't care," comments
one long-time Negro social worker,
"In general it has little or no rele-
vance to their lives."
The ghetto community is becom-

ing increas:
than a few p
Ann Arbor pc
ghetto. Most
they feel is
Arbor power
political orgy
ed completel:
needs. And a
it, "The nat
way out."
The major
City Council,
gent open-oc
little effect c
"We don't
ing. We wan
plains an A
shack, it's a
living with a
What few
are existing
featist. "The
people humb]
Wheeler. "Wi
putting banc
need painful
large the Anr
ignores the p
The status
port from the
nothing as fi
oppose social
a situation v
of one's eyes
excuse for inG
The combi
University a
wealthy Ann
not in all goo
problems of t
problems are
dent as in t
squalid and c
indeed exist

MARK LEVIN, an honors history major, is from Detroit. The
junior editor of The Daily has reported and written on both
state and local government.



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