Dennis Black Wayne State University Detroit Water Shut off We the people of Detroit

The sun is high in the sky on a Monday in the historic Cass Corridor, and all around there are signs that the weekend is well over. A man in a suit drops off his dry cleaning as a businesswoman enters a café on her lunch break. A crane unloads equipment for workers atop the Hilberry Theatre, next to Wayne State University’s Old Main academic building, which looks more like a cathedral or a small castle. Dennis Black, a tall young man in typical student attire – backpack, Nike sandals, black jersey shorts, and a nondescript black T-shirt – is on his way to order a lunch of take-out pad thai after finishing class. Peace and Conflict Studies is worth four of the eight summer credits that he is taking. Dennis, an undergraduate senior studying political science, plans to take the LSAT in September and aspires to a career in national security law. In his spare time, Dennis helps out with logistics, planning, and community organizing for We the People of Detroit, which has spearheaded and supported several initiatives to resist emergency management. Most recently, Dennis and WPD have canvassed neighborhoods, distributed water, and set up emergency water stations. Dennis has met families who have been living for six to 12 months without water. He sees Detroit’s crisis as one of shock capitalism, in which leaders manufacture disasters to promote particular influences – like the privatization of water – in order to reap profits while exploiting the current population. In the case of Detroit, Dennis sees this as an inherently racial issue that has global implications. “You see [shock capitalism] primarily happening in black and brown countries. In Latin America, the Middle East,” Dennis explains. Still, he believes there is a lot of revolutionary potential and community resilience that can be learned from Detroit’s situation and that these shared experiences can help to shift the tide locally and around the world.

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