The People of Detroit “Are Not Abstractions”


“The people of this city are not abstractions.” An anonymous Detroit photographer shares a view of the city that the mainstream media doesn’t cover.

by Anonymous

I am not going to tell you where I live, or the names of any of the people in these images. I won’t tell you the when or the why. However, I will show you that a Detroit exists—that it is a place where people are living, have been living, will continue to live.

The press has descended upon Detroit, eager to tell the same story, over and again. There’s the glorious “ruin porn,” the urban farming, the $500 house. These stories essentially are written before the writer even gets here. The same success stories, singling out the people who have become the de facto faces of Detroit. And then there’s the assumption that these reporters are doing us a favor, saving us by telling the world what is going on here. And then they leave, having written their Detroit story. Just like everyone else’s Detroit story.

I will not give you the short-cuts, the clichés, the blueprints to a carved-out niche. There’s more than one story happening in Detroit.

Because Detroit is not an easy place, there are no easy answers, no magic bullets. Unemployment is high and houses disappear when you aren’t looking. The city burns our trash and can’t afford to plow all the streets come winter. You may not understand this city any better after looking at these images, and in some ways, that is my goal. I want people to realize that the people of this city are not abstractions. We’re not all that’s wrong with America, any more than we’re all that’s right. We just are.

This is one of many Detroits. It just happens to be mine.

Click here to view the photo essay.


Photos and text, anonymous.


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Originally posted at Yes! Magazine (  on 21 Jan 2011: reposted per their Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, no derivative works  license. Click here to view license.


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