The ‘No Hole, Hobo Home’ Program Set To Sweep Detroit Streets

By: Michelle L. Stone

6/22/2017

 

Yesterday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggun announced a new state-sponsored program that kills two birds with one roof—an asphalt roof, that is.

The “No Hole, Hobo Home” program, or NHHH, (no hole hobo home.gov) gives free housing to homeless Detroiters in the center of the popular Midtown area. In the NHHH program, large potholes are internally renovated to include a stool and a roof. These permanent shelters are available to any homeless man or woman on one condition: they must hold the asphalt roof over their heads while occupying the hole.

The roof is painted to fit seamlessly with the rest of the road, giving the appearance of perfection. Since the arms of vagabonds are strong from holding signs all day, holding up a car or two isn’t a concern of the city.

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“This is great for the City of Detroit,” President of Asphalt Roofs R’ Us Anthony Dolla said. “We had a prototype down Cass last year, and the streets never looked so good.”

At the NHHH press release and home reveal, Mayor Duggun had the honor of lowering the roof over the city’s first participant, Jamal Rice.

“Together, we’re making Detroit a better place…one pothole at a time,” he said at the press conference.

Over the next two weeks, homeless men and women will be escorted to their very own pothole home. Any that refuse will be heavily fined and arrested for loitering.

 

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Burn, Baby, Burn! A Cremation of the Confederate Flag.

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Three Detroit news stations showed up for the the Burn and Bury Memorial at the N’Namdi Center, Detroit.

While many were at home with their families this Memorial Day, others filed into the packed N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit with one intention: to watch the Confederate flag burn.

“Today instead of burning hamburgers at a BBQ, I’m going to burn the Confederate flag.” Rev. Charles E. Williams II, a presenter at the event told a reporter before the art show.

The “Burn and Bury Memorial: Detroit 2017” was part of a 16-year multi-media project by Detroit native and artist, John Sims. His last major installment in 2015 was called “13 Flag Funerals” which featured a Confederate flag burial service in each one of the 13 states represented by the stars on the flag.

Sims continues to spread the symbolism of destroying Confederate iconology by keeping a tradition of burning one every Memorial Day. This time, in Detroit, intentionally to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the ‘67 Detroit Rebellion.

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John Sims addresses a crowd.

In his introduction, Sims stressed that he wanted to “fortify a few messages:”

  1. The Civil War is supposed to be over, but it’s not over.
  2. We need to confront symbols of white supremacy.

I think what he wrote in his Opinion piece for the Detroit Free Press prior to the event sums it up well:

“This is a nation that elected Donald Trump as its president. The alt-right is becoming empowered. And undoubtedly, people will fly Confederate flags this Memorial Day. As long as they do, it is our duty to confront the legacy of the Confederate flag, particularly its relationship to the African-American experience and understand why it needs to be burned and buried.”

Sims uses flag-burning as a cathartic way to denounce the overt racism that is growing rapidly acceptable in our society. He expressed how he hopes his creative process will inspire change.

“Emotional change,” he said. “Intellectual change. Change of heart. Change of mind and culture.”

He concluded his opening with this poem he wrote, which mimics the rhythm of “Amazing Grace.”

A Blazing Grace

How bitter the taste

Of a wretched past

How dark the spirit

Of a lost heart and mind

 

How sweet the fire

That shines my sights

How hot the fire

That inspires my light

 

To live and die

In justice and peace

To burn and bury

With love and grace

 

A Blazing Grace

How sweet the fire

A Blazing Grace

How hot the fire

 

Following Sims was a prayer by Rev. Jeff Nelson, who used religious imagery associated with holy zeal to invoke an inspiration of racial justice. “Spirit of fire and flame, burn in us tonight. Amen.”

A melancholy voice sang out “Dixie” as a silhouette of what appeared to be a body hung from a tree on the screen. As the camera moved closer to the figure in John Sims’ short film “In the Land of Cotton,” the silhouette was revealed to be a Confederate flag hanging in a noose.

Jessica Care Moore was one of the three poets that performed and she received a standing ovation after reading this poem.

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Jessica Care Moore recites her poem with passion.

 

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Jennifer Harge performs a Dance Meditation.

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Detroit “Water Warrior” Monica Lewis-Patrick emotionally tells a story about her upbringing in the South surrounded by Confederate flags and racial hostility.

The final eulogy was given by Rev. Charles E. Williams II. At the start of his speech he had everyone stand to their feet for the “word of the Lord, Nat Turner.”

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His energy filled the room as his voice grew louder and shook with righteous anger towards the symbol of the flag before him– which he called a sign of visual terrorism. By the time he finished speaking, the crowd was ready to burn something.

After this song, everyone solemnly left the building in a procession to an outside firepit. Printed Confederate flags were handed to each guest and Sims sternly told the crowd to “thoughtfully” dispose of it.

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In the end, did this flag-burning make any real change in Detroit…the U.S….or the world? According to Michael Quess Moore, a colleague of Sims from New Orleans, the 2015 project served as a catalyst for the removal of four Confederate statues/symbols in New Orleans.

A fire was set in Detroit on Monday night– a fire in the heart of those who want change. Now is time to organize and destroy racial injustice. This requires meditation and conversation of a past you might be ashamed of. This requires motivating and encouraging your neighbor. This requires work, but a payoff that is for everyone: a nation united under one flag, instead of divided by two.