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5 Reasons why the 10 Reasons NOT to Move to Grand Rapids list is really Bullshit

July 31, 2017

A few weeks back a local DJ with 95.7FM, posted a piece entitled, 10 Reasons NOT to Move to Grand Rapids

The posting got lots of attention and was the latest in a series of “lists” that Grand Rapids loves to boast about. Of course, the post from Jojo Girard was really a list of the 10 reasons why people should want to move to Grand Rapids. The post had the usual cool city reasons, like beer, art, entertainment, great neighborhoods and the ever popular number one reason…….The People Seem to Be Happy All the Time.

Now, I realize that 95.7FM, like all commercial media, relies heavily on advertising dollars. Therefore, local radio stations certainly don’t want to spend much time talking about difficult issues in Grand Rapids, issues like racism, poverty, gentrification, the local power structure and spiritual violence. Advertisers like what the refer to as, a good consuming climate. Happy and superficial chatter on local media creates a fabulous consuming climate and it doesn’t alienate the business community.

In an attempt to respond to the superficiality of the 95.7FM post, I present the 5 Reasons why the 10 Reasons NOT to Move to Grand Rapids list is really Bullshit.

#1 – The 10 reasons list is Bullshit, because white people just don’t have to confront the ugly realities that communities of color do on a daily basis in Grand Rapids. White people can avoid having to deal with the structural racism that exists. White people don’t have to worry about being pulled over by cops the way black people do. White people don’t have to think about the fact that there are large sectors of the Grand Rapids community that live in constant fear of law enforcement agencies because of their status as immigrants. White People can go to the events in downtown, frequent a brewery or go to a Griffin’s hockey game because these places and events are almost always designed to cater to the needs of white people. Whether it is music, art, theater, sporting events or public spectacles like ArtPrize, white people don’t have to worry about not enjoying themselves, because all of the events are primarily for their benefit. This might be a reason why they seem so happy all the time.

#2Grand Rapids has the biggest wealth gap in the state of Michigan. There are over 600 millionaires in Kent County, yet there are thousands of people who live in poverty. Those who find the 10 reasons NOT to move to GR list so appealing is because they don’t have to think about all those individuals and families who are living in poverty. And even if they do think of those who live in poverty, they often believe that it is simply because of a lack of opportunity, that those who live in poverty simply aren’t applying themselves enough or because it is God’s will. The people who feel blessed to live in Grand Rapids don’t have to deal with those who live in poverty, at least not on a regular basis. All the new coffee shops, market-rate housing, clothing boutiques and entrepreneurs, indeed make Grand Rapids feel as if everyone is so happy all the time.

#3 – A fairly recent study states that in Michigan, you need to make $15.16 to afford rent. The 10 Reasons NOT to Move to Grand Rapids boasts that the choice of great neighborhoods to live in is too long. One of the neighborhoods they mention is the Belknap neighborhood, which has seen lots of new development in the past year. Of course, this new development has meant that numerous low-income residents have been displaced to make room for GVSU expansion and $300,000 condos. This gentrification and displacement is happening in numerous parts of the city, with developers receiving huge tax breaks at the public’s expense. To not acknowledge that there is a major housing crisis in the City of Grand Rapids only demonstrates race and class privilege.

#4 – A real reason to not move to Grand Rapids is because the people who run this city are vicious and narcissistic. We all know who these people are, since they have their names adorning buildings all over the place. The people who run this city, also use their wealth to influence policy at the state and local level to make sure that it will benefit their interests. The types of policy they push through often hurt working class people. Then these same people use their foundations to donate money to social service agencies to demonstrate how benevolent they are. The people who run this city also despise equality of any kind – racial, economic or LGBTQ equality. These people impose their will and their values on the rest of the community and then expect us all to bow down and treat them as great leaders and philanthropists.

#5 – The 10 reasons NOT to move to GR list includes all the great Mexican restaurants to chose from. This statement is in many ways a reflection of cultural appropriation. People love Mexican food, but couldn’t give a damn about Mexican people, especially the ones who work in kitchens or pick the food we eat for really shitty wages. This is so very much Grand Rapids, where we think we are so diverse, yet we do whatever we can to make sure that everyone who isn’t white, doesn’t have any power. Sure, there are a few Latino individuals who the power structure allows to make it, but most Latinos or people who are not white will never really be valued and treated with respect in this city, as long as we continue to practice managerial racism

There are so many other reasons why this list of 10 reasons to move to Grand Rapids are bullshit? If you have some additional reasons you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. 

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