Looking at Flint through new eyes and a perspective of hope

The following is a Flintside opinion piece by Flintside contributor Tia Scott. Have an idea for an essay or opinion piece you'd like to write for Flintside about life in Flint? Email [email protected].

I recently went back to my hometown of Flint for a week to catch up with friends and take in all of the changes that the city has made since my move to Arizona in 2018. I have a close circle of friends that mostly consists of people from Flint that now reside in other parts of the country. Like me, they make it a point to pop in and visit family and friends, and indulge in amazing food that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. (I’m looking at you, La Familia Morales).

There’s also an underlying reason why most of us transplants continue to stay connected to our hometown, and that’s hope. It’s the collective hope we have for Flint to keep getting better, to be better than it ever was, to be better than we ever witnessed. 

I came of age in the early ‘90s on the northside of Flint when the crack epidemic was leaving no city unaffected. There was a point in my life where I and everyone I knew had close relatives that became addicted to drugs and/or went to prison for selling them. Gang activity was at an all-time high, and I remember riding in the car with my parents and seeing gang symbols spray painted on vacant houses and buildings everywhere we went.

Aside from what I was experiencing, my mom would tell me stories of how great Flint used to be. How the job market was flourishing, thanks to General Motors and Hurley Hospital. How the nightlife was worth waiting for the weekend for. How neighborhoods on the northside were filled with well-to-do people who just wanted to work, raise a family, and live a nice life. 

It was difficult for me to imagine Flint in that light considering the circumstances I grew up in, but I never doubted my mom’s stories for one second. Although she experienced the decline of a city she loved, she always had hope that it would get better, and now I’m witnessing what she hoped for.

I’m also witnessing something that I never thought I’d see, which is an influx of Flint natives who moved away returning to the city to help bring about change. People like Brandon Corder, who consistently brings innovative ideas and events to the city, Kyona McGee who opened her law firm, Trademark My Stuff, right downtown on the bricks, and Dr. Erin K. Coney who’s doing exceptional work online and off to change the narrative of Flint. 

They are just a few of many people who have given me hope that the city can be better if the people aim to make it that way. 

A special part of my visit back home was when I went to Comma Bookstore & Social Hub of downtown Flint which I instantly fell in love with. From the books to the artwork to the decor, the entire space is one of inclusiveness, diversity, and genuine cool. 

Across the street were several huge, beautiful murals that I had to get a photo of. When I walked out of Comma and crossed the street to snap a pic, I noticed that the movie "Love Jones" was playing at The Capitol Theater and that The Loft (my favorite bar) was still standing strong during the pandemic. 

As I looked around and saw the renewal of downtown and all of the people who were enjoying a nice Spring day on the bricks, I toyed with the idea of moving back myself. A fleeting thought, but only time will tell. Until then, I’ll continue to show love and support to my hometown as it continues to rise from the ashes and thrive in hope.
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Read more articles by Tia Scott.