When the 118th U.S. Congress begins its session today, Rashida Tlaib and Shri Thanedar will begin their terms representing Detroit in the House of Representatives. This means that for the first time in nearly 70 years, Detroit will not have at least one African American representing the city in Washington.
But what does this change mean in a city like Detroit, the nation’s blackest metropolitan city?
From the studios of WDET, “What Had Happened Was” is a new podcast created by BridgeDetroit that takes a deep look at the state and future of Black political representation. The series features interviews with some of the key voices in the 13th Congressional race last year, including primary candidates Adam Hollier and Portia Roberson, Wayne County Exeutive Warren Evans, Representative Tlaib and Representative Thanedar.
“Part of being in Detroit, part of being a Detroiter, was that kind of understanding and appreciation that you were kind of contributing to [Black] political and economic power in the city.” — Catherine Kelly, BridgeDetroit
Listen: What losing African American representation in Washington means for Detroit
Catherine Kelly is managing editor and director for BridgeDetroit. She says the election reveals some of the new generational challenges facing Black people.
“I think generationally when you grew up in Detroit in the ’70s, and ’80s, your orientation to politics is just very, very different,” Kelly says. “Part of being in Detroit — part of being a Detroiter — was that kind of understanding and appreciation that you were kind of contributing to [Black] political and economic power in the city.”
“Today really is a referendum on the habitual offense that Detroiters have been on the receiving end of systematic inequities, for decades and decades, that lead to our Census numbers and population continuing to decrease where we ended up losing a seat,” says Bailey.