Books: Ain’t No Love No More

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Long post, but feeling compelled:

“I want to get out if here, but I can’t,” she said. “I got no money. I’m stuck. Not all of us are blessed.” She looked at her barefoot grandson playing in the wreckage of the dwelling next door and wondered if he would make it to manhood [her two sons had been innocent victims of two separate shootings a year apart, JN].

“I keep calling about these falling-down houses, but the city never comes,” she said [the city currently has nearly 80,000 vacant structures, JN].

McNeal wondered how she was going to pay the $3,000 for her son’s funeral. Desperation, she said, feels like someone’s reaching down your throat and ripping out your guts.

It would be easy to lay the blame on McNeal for the circumstances in which she raised her sons. But is she responsible for police officers with broken computers in their squad cars, firefighters with holes in their boots, ambulances that arrive late, a city that can’t keep its lights on and leaves its vacant buildings to the arsonist’s match, a state government that allows corpses to stack up in the morgue, multinational corporations that move away and leave poisoned fields behind, judges who let violent criminals walk the streets, school stewards who steal the children’s milk money, elected officials who loot the city, automobile executives who couldn’t manage a grocery store, or Wall Street grifters who destroyed the economy and left the nation’s children with a burden of debt while they partied it up in Southampton?

Can she be blamed for that?

“I know society looks at a person like me and wants me to go away,” she said. ” ‘Go ahead, walk in the Detroit River and disappear.’ But I can’t. I’m alive. I need help. But when you call for help, it seems like no one’s there.

“It feels like there ain’t no love no more.”

–Charlie LeDuff, Detroit, An American Autopsy