By Antonio Cosme (Detroit, MI)
my words to the City of Detroit City Planning Commission after my friend David Pitawanakwat gave an awesome Land Acknowledgement…
My name is Antonio Cosme, a coahuiltecan and boricua life long detroiter. I do a lot of work with anishinaabe folks… i’ve been adopted by the martins family, a prominent west michigan anishinaabe family.
I work at National Wildlife Federation, connecting kids with nature, and looking deeply with them at the roots of the ecological crisis we’re all facing… colonization.
We are critical people yet, we do beautiful things too…
David and i initiated one of the biggest urban maple sugar operations in the country, here in rouge park.
I cofounded Black to the land where get black kids outdoors… we fish, hunt, camp and hike together.
I too am a developer, a builder.. of relationships, networks, connecting peoples to nature from the rez to the hood
We ran a camp this year where young black folks from the city learned how to make birch bark baskets from native teachers like this one
* *lifts birch makuk (basket) onto screen**
I do beautiful things but i am a warrior too.. David and I, we also destroy things… like icons. We have been iconoclastic..
I duck taped an axe to the face of Columbus in downtown detroit, pouring tempura paint down his forehead to mimic blood dripping down his face.
** traces bridge of the nose down to upper lip to show where the blood was on Columbus’ face**
The day after Minneapolis ripped down a columbus statue during BLM protests, David and I hung a sign on Columbus’s neck, writing in anishinaabemowin, “tell the truth about this or we will…”
Duggan to took that statue down the next day. We’d like to see indigenous peoples honored there…
we wrote the resolution to end Columbus day to rename the city Waawiyatanong on indigenous people’s day. but many still don’t know about this, i don’t see the city acknowledge it like they promised.
that’s how it goes.
i’m a critically minded person. but also a realist. Detroit has been on its knees for most of my lifetime. the blackest major city in the country was taken over in 2012 when i graduated from HS with my economics degree…
i studed the economic relations between the USA and latin america… the IMF and the world bank, privatizers…Detroit today is like Chile in 1975. taken over..
a righteous indignation sits in the stomachs of many long term detroit’er as hundreds of thousands of us have lost their homes, had their waters shut off.
we watched the city give away property to a billionaire, watched a bank gobble up the east side to “start a tree farm” now they’re selling it off.. an it’s clear they wanted the land. Always the land for $2.5 milllion.
We got Blackrock and large financial institutions gobbling up all the property around this city…. so now millennials of my generation can’t afford to buy a home here.
Detroit is the blackest major city in the country and after the 2008 financial crisis, black people lost half of their wealth…
detroit used to be a place known for black home ownership, today, it’s become a renter’s city.
I can barely get the landbank to give me adjacent lots i’ve been gardening for 7 years, before the money started coming…
all of these projects happening, Detroit is open for business… yet so few community benefits
We have tried the laws we pass a referendum beating emergency management, that was overridden..
We wrote an ordinance guaranteeing community benefits … the ordinance was shut down by lots of developer money… They beat proposal P too.
there is no accountability for what what tiny little promises developers make… So illitch can build a stadium, we pay, and he doesnt keep his end up… treaties always violated…
We live in a time of extreme concentration of wealth
and while i love capital coming back to the city,, don’t get me wrong, I’m gluten free, i have so many more hipster eating options, i love old dangerous houses being torn down…
but i believe humans matter more than money.
yes i want equity, but i want more, i see this as a city that’s occupied.
And i look forward to when the people wake up to all the real looting that’s been happening… the real looting and they take state power back.