John Derbyshire’s story about going to an amusement park brought back memories of my visit in the 1980s to an amusement park called Boblo Island, a truly unique place. It was located on an island out in the Detroit River,
The island is actually in Canada, but back “in the day” was a place where people could go in the summer (Cedar Point down in Ohio has replaced it for that purpose).
I didn’t grow up in Michigan, don’t have a personal story about how Coleman Young put the word out to chase all non-black people out of Detroit following his election. All of my contact with black people in my life was while living and working in North Carolina. Being a “low status” white teenager, I interacted freely with blacks and generally everyone accepted each other as equals.
So in 1982, I move to Michigan and start hearing all these stories about what happened (and was happening) in Detroit. Being a skeptic, I wanted to see if it was just white racists ranting or whether it had a basis in fact. I drove up and down the major thoroughfares on the city observing what types of businesses there were (very few – mostly liquor stores), what people were doing (blatant daytime prostitution and drug dealing right out in the open). There were a few neighborhoods where I sensed I was being watched closely because of my skin color, and felt racial hostility for the first time in my life when I went into a McDonald’s and got a definite “You don’t seem to understand the rules” reception.
There were 3 ways to get to Boblo Island – there were short boat rides from Gibraltar Michigan and Amherstburg (from Canada) , but the main way was from large boats that ran from downtown Detroit to the island, carrying up to 2,500 passengers at a time.
The boat trip took about an hour, and you can imagine the arrival (and departure) of the large boats was a major event. Because the island is in Canada and offered a way to cross the border, US and Canadian Customs had a presence to make sure people returned to the correct country. (Nearby Gross Ile island is worthy of its own story at another time)
It was summer and I was still in exploring mode, so I decided to spend a weekend day at Boblo. I parked at the parking deck at Joe Lewis arena and walked through the walkways to where the dock was – noting the groups of young black men loitering, “eyeballing” me as I went past. I was as prepared as I could be or wanted to be – my wallet had maybe $20 and nothing but my ID. I was wearing nothing that suggested I was a stupid white person carrying a $500 camera or a real Rolex watch.
After arriving at Boblo Island, I quickly became familiar with what I call the “Shield of Racial Immunity”. The only white person who doesn’t understand the term is one who lives in a gated community and avoids all contact with black people. It’s the understanding that “Civil Rights” really means that black people have the right to not be civil. While white people stood politely in line, black teens blatantly jumped lines, knowing that it was their “right” to do so, and that no white person would be foolish enough to say “Hey you! – back to the end of the line”.
What this helped me understand was that when confronted with a city government that upheld the Shield of Racial Immunity, white people had little alternative but to flee the City of Detroit and move as far away as possible. The last whites left (other than the city employees) were the seniors who were too old to move and were robbed with impunity by the punks or terrorized until they got the message and left for the surburbs or a graveyard. Any idea that the Detroit Police were there to protect all people equally was long gone – if you were a landlord insisting that your black renters actually pay the rent each month, you were an especially big target.
If you read the Wikipedia article, it mentions a famous Supreme Court case that I either forgot about or never knew about. In the 1940s, Boblo island had a “No Zoot Suiter” dress code policy as well as a “No coloreds allowed”. The island is located in Canada and was privately owned, so they felt United States Courts had no jurisdiction on them (despite being a Michigan Corporation). Michigan had passed criminal laws against racial discrimination and brought charges against the company.
The United States Congress has exclusive jurisdiction to regulate commerce between countries, but do States have the ability to pass laws regulating it? [remember this is 15 years before Congress was talking about federal laws and Detroit was mostly white). Is a boat trip to Canada engaging in “Interstate Commerce” or International Commerce or neither?
The US Supreme Court essentially decided that even though Boblo Island is in Canada, it is defacto part of Detroit – so therefor the State of Michigan’s laws could be applied against Canada to protect a “special local interest” even though it clearly didn’t match the legal facts. At the time, there apparently was no boat service from Canada to the island, so all the visitors were coming from Detroit only on the two boats.
If you take that case and map its facts against the idea that Arizona can’t pass a law that only restates existing federal law to enforce laws against illegal immigration, you see just how fluid the courts really are.
Back in the 1970s, I had visited the recently opened Carowinds amusement park, which straddles the North/South Carolina border (literally – there is a line painted down the middle) and there was no similar racial friction.
That difference is when it hit home to me that it’s the culture of the urban Northern parasitic black person raised on the Democratic party’s plantations that’s the problem, not skin color or genetics. Most blacks not part of the ghetto culture are devoutly religious, politically more Conservative than most white people, and have been the people who came to my rescue a couple times when I needed help, when my fellow white citizens ignored that I was in difficulty and needed help. Those stories about “Angels” showing up in the form of a black person are not (entirely) fiction.
Do we move toward further racial segregation and living in “gated” communities and maybe even a “race war” – or do all good people come to understand the Saul Alinsky strategy to destroy the United States that President Obama is following?
Can handing out enough ObamaBucks blind black people to how they are being set up to become slaves again, but to a different Master? I don’t know. I tend to doubt blacks can resist the temptation to give in to their own racial hatreds.
The epilogue to this story is that during the following years, more racial incidents happened on Boblo, white visitors mostly stopped coming. The place eventually was taken over the Michigan AAA to try to find a way to keep it alive as a tourist destination. The place closed in 1993 and was bulldozed and is now mostly vacant land, connected only to Canada via a ferry.