March 30, 2005


I one want an example of how the present is the creation of the past, just take a gander at Michigan’s Twin cities of Benton Harbor-St. Joseph. The twin cities are a microcosm of the black white divide in America that started with the enslavement of Africans in America, which has reverberated a double standard of living between blacks and whites ever since.

Often times, people do not get to see the stark contrast between black and white, because they are caught up in the gray area. The fact that some blacks have risen to be on par or to have surpassed most whites, works to shield and blind people to the general truth of the black condition. The black people that most white people know and encounter are the ones who have integrated into their environments of success. Therefore, they see these blacks on par with them and just assume that the playing field has been leveled and that racial inequality is a thing of the past.

Benton Harbor-St. Joseph is a very small community that straddles Lake Michigan. It sits on the I94 corridor about 120 Miles from Detroit and 80 Miles from Chicago. Its likely most famous native is Sinbad the comedian, but the area or county is also where the great boxer Mohammed Ali resides a least on a part time bases. There is nothing extraordinary about the area that straddles the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline….except for the glaring racial divide, which seems pandemic in Michigan.

Benton Harbor is a city populated by the descendants of slaves and the sons and daughters of Sharecroppers who fled the Segregation of the Jim Crow south in search of freedom and opportunity up north….only to find a different form of racism, segregation and repression. Hence, the dichotomy of these twin cities runs much deeper than the cities themselves, as they are simply a window into the soul and history of race in America.

Here are some statistics of the twin cities. Note the glaring differnce in income and home values for the border cities.

St Joseph, MI, population 8,789 , is located in Michigan's Berrien county, about 31.8 miles from South Bend and 57.2 miles from Gary.

African American:5%

Household Average Size: 1.99 people
Median Household Income: $ 37,032
Median Value of Homes: $ 102,000

Benton Harbor, MI, population 11,182 , is located in Michigan's Berrien county, about 31.8 miles from South Bend and 58.5 miles from Gary.

African American:92%

Household Average Size: 2.91 people
Median Household Income: $ 17,471
Median Value of Homes: $ 38,700

This this is a small town with small town problems? Note that less than two years ago that Benton Harbor had a major riot, due to a police chase by white suburban police that lead to the death of a Black motorist. Also, below I listed some headline news from Benton Harbor from this month.

03/27/2005 09:49 pm
Benton Harbor, MI - A shooting late Saturday night has left three people dead in Benton Harbor as police continue to look for suspects.

A man and a woman were found shot to death in a home on Parker Avenue and an 11-year-old boy found shot in the head died later at a Kalamazoo Hospital.....

03/17/2005 05:59 pm
Benton Harbor, MI - A teenage boy is dead after being shot in the face just blocks away from his home in Benton harbor....Police say at a little before 8:00 PM, 15-year-old Allen Rice was shot in the face just blocks away from his home... These guys around here don't approve of guys that are from out of town and they are always testing them out, and Allen, is not the kind of person to be tested...

Four-year-old boy found dead inside Benton Harbor home...

Benton Harbor teens sentenced to prison time for bank robbery


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