This brick wall has more social and racial connotations then just existing as a divider. The 8 Mile Wall north of Detroit stands as a lasting reminder of the barriers of past prejudices in the metro landscape. And yet no one seems to be in a rush to take it down…
Every city has its dirty secrets, Detroit’s just happens to be several feet high and a half-mile long. This division has existed much longer than what the current association, the “8 Mile” movie, exposes. The division has been growing since 1940’s when it did manifest into a wall.
What does this physical division represent and how could such a division exist in an area as diverse as the Detroit metro area?
The movie “Race – The Power of an Illusion” helps to explain an answer. It all begins during the 1930’s when Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) decides to come up with an appraisal system. The evaluations help determine how much a home was worth (influencing credit) by color coding neighborhoods. The rating system was very much biased on the basis of race. Essentially, all of white suburbia was listed green for approval, while all areas with heavy minority populations received the lowest color of red. Detroit’s dirty secret is the result of this red lining; the wall was built two divide two areas, one half that would qualify as green and the other half as red. This partition eventually led to the familiar suburban / city division as seen today.
As the website http://detroityes.com point out, Detroit’s Eight Mile Wall seems to run parallel to The Berlin Wall. Yet, rather than having a revolution and tearing down the wall, Detroit has kept this reminder intact. The wall, a sore spot for Detroit, is rarely mentioned. Today it stands as a white wall painted with murals. While its existence may no longer represent a racial barrier today, it still represents a significant symbol of the socio-economic barrier between the city and the suburbs in metro-Detroit. This barrier will forever remain as a reminder of these prejudices, past and present, until one day the wall comes down and a separated Detroit is unified once again.
Pictured: Detroit's 8 Mile Wall exists as an ugly reminder of racial divides of the past and surban/city socio-economic divides of the present. (Image courtesy of Detroit Yes)
For more information about Detroit visit http://detroityes.com.
For more information about the racial division please visit California Newsreel’s site, www.newsreel.org, and order “Race – The Power of an Illusion.”