Flint is more than Michael Moore

Flint is more than Michael Moore
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Summer on Flint’s Frontlines with Lindsay Baywol

This blog submission begins an exclusive weekly series of entries and personal reflections about Flint from the perspectives of Grand Blanc, Michigan, native Lindsay Baywol, a Michigan State University student, and Georgetown University student Gina Kim, of New Jersey. The women are participants in the 2017 Diplomat Fellowship for Social Change, sponsored by Diplomat.

With an eye toward changing the narrative of Flint, TheHUB joins Diplomat’s Community Relations & Government Affairs in sharing the views of these young professionals who were recruited to lend fresh talent and energy to the city and its residents. We hope you give us your feedback on their observations, just as we hope you’ll join their mission of letting others know what great things Flint has to offer.

Flint is more than Michael Moore

By Lindsay Baywol

As a student at Grand Blanc High School, I was never a fan of economics class. So, when faced with the prospect of watching a documentary in class instead of listening to a lecture, it seemed like a reason to celebrate.

But the documentary, Roger and Me, wasn’t what I had in mind.

From the biased perspective of Michael Moore, the film depicts Flint as a foul place to live, but it was never that to me. Even with all the city has endured — financial emergencies, public health disasters, safety issues — I owe Flint for my upbringing.

Media continue to depict Flint as a primitive, if not diseased, city. It’s infuriating, considering how much good the community has to offer.

My family has been connected to Flint and General Motors for four generations. Moore might believe GM ruined the city when it closed its plants and laid off its employees, but I can’t help but think of how significant the company was to my family and many other area residents. GM provided our livelihood for almost a century, with its Flint employees earning some of the highest wages in the country and making Flint’s history just as rich.

GUEST COMMENTARY by Lindsay Baywol, a Michigan State University student and 2017 Diplomat Fellow

My great grandfather took part in the sit-down strike at Fisher Body Plant No. 1. My maternal grandfather was a skilled tradesman at Chevrolet Manufacturing. My paternal grandfather was an accountant at Fisher Body Coldwater Road. My father graduated from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) and was an engineer for 30 years in the interior design department at GM’s Great Lakes Tech Center. He ended his employment as director of the department.

Yes, there is a water crisis. But downtown is thriving and businesses are growing. Residents are still as friendly and resilient as ever, despite decades of harsh media portrayals of their hometown.

But it’s bittersweet. When the economic recession forced my dad into early retirement, we worried about our family’s future. I understand Moore’s anger toward GM in the late 80s because I felt that frustration, too, in 2008.

Still, Roger and Me made me angrier with Moore than GM. As the camera focused on a resident skinning a rabbit, I saw Flint portrayed as a grotesque, barbaric place. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

There were a handful of Flint-residing students in my economics class, with many having transferred to Grand Blanc in hopes of a better future in a better-funded school system. I watched them as they watched the documentary — their hometown being scrutinized.

Yes, there is a water crisis. But downtown is thriving and businesses are growing. Residents are still as friendly and resilient as ever, despite decades of harsh media portrayals of their hometown.

Media continue to depict Flint as a primitive, if not diseased, city. It’s infuriating, considering how much good the community has to offer. After decades of perseverance, Flint continues to be labeled only by the negative. Yes, there is a water crisis. But downtown is thriving and businesses are growing. Residents are still as friendly and resilient as ever, despite decades of harsh media portrayals of their hometown.

I know my experience is different. While I like to think I was “born and raised” in Flint, it’s obvious my upbringing in the suburbs of Grand Blanc makes me more privileged than some of my classmates. Still, my family’s history makes me continue to hope for a revitalized Flint.

There is so much more to Flint than what Moore and many in the media depict.

See related articles published in TheHUB regarding talent recruitment and retention efforts and investment initiatives:

Flint expats encouraged to come home

The Diplomat Difference

Flint is a resilient city

Flint is more than Michael Moore

 

 

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