Developer Apologizes for Ad Featuring Mostly White Folks; Real Detroiters Submit Their Own Photo As Replacement

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More than a dozen Detroit residents gathered for a photo op Sunday, Aug. 6, just weeks after one of the city’s largest developers made headlines for plastering a building with an ad featuring mostly white faces that read “See Detroit Like We Do.”

This time, the faces gathered at the site of the now-removed ad were mostly Black and included residents both young and old, the Detroit Metro Times reported.

Community activist Nicole Small, who organized the event, said the goal of the photo shoot was to show a more accurate depiction of the Motor City, which is over 80 percent African-American, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. Small added that she hoped the effort would compel Bedrock Financial owner Dan Gilbert to do more to help longtime Detroiters whose plight critics say the developer has profited from.

“We will not be pushed out of our city,” she told the local paper. “We are here to stay.”

The Detroit News reported that a vacant property under renovation by Gilbert’s company drew widespread scorn after the firm added a colorful window dressing featuring a party scene at a downtown club that depicted only white people. Critics deemed the ad, which was a part of Bedrock’s “See Detroit as We Do” campaign, as inaccurate and tasteless.

“We screwed up badly the graphic package that was partially installed on the retail windows of the first floor of the Vinton Building in downtown Detroit,” Gilbert wrote in an apology on Detroit Bedrock’s Facebook page. “Though not intended to create the kind of feelings it did, the slogan/statement we used on these graphics was tone deaf, in poor taste, and does not reflect a single value or philosophy that we stand for at Bedrock Development.”

“We have killed the ‘See Detroit As We Do’ campaign.”

The new and improved image featuring the “Real Faces of Detroit” was published Monday, Aug. 8, and sent to the Bedrock office in hopes that Gilbert would get it, according to the newspaper.

Among her requests, Small said she hopes to see the billionaire businessman give back to communities in Detroit and provide more affordable housing options downtown, from which the African-American community has been excluded because of high prices.

“We’re basically being pushed out,” she told The Detroit News. “It’s not that we don’t want him to do business or that we don”t want to see revitalization of the city. We want to be a part of the resurgence in the city.

“Tear down these walls that you are building up.”

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