Eminem’s 8 mile

I talk about Detroit a lot. I think it’s important; I’m sure almost everyone experiences their hometown, or even their neighborhood, as somehow special-and everyone place is special- after all, the macro world is composed of little micro worlds- cities, towns, neighborhoods, households. But- Detroit really is extra special.

The film “8 mile” presented Detroit’s northern border to the world. Eminem spent much of his youth in a trailer park on the eastern stretch of this major industrial artery that serves as the northern boundary of Detroit proper. 8 mile actually runs for roughly 20 miles with Detroit on the south side and over a dozen suburban cities on the north side, and for people from the Detroit region the very phrase “8 mile” evokes an emotional response inextricably linked with race, money, and politics.

8 mile long served as an invisible wall between Detroit’s black population and the white suburbs; Metro Detroit is often ranked as the #1 most segregated major city in the United States. In fact, the walls weren’t always invisible- the area around 8 mile and Wyoming on the near-west side once had an actual cement wall erected to stop blacks from crossing north.

This short video was made just a few miles from where Eminem grew up on the suburban side. This is the Detroit side: the area around 8 mile and the Chrysler I-75 freeway has become an open air market for heroin and prostitution and has one of the highest murder rates in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the country.

The 8 mile that birthed Eminem is a complex and large area, key to understanding Detroit and Michigan’s history.

You can watch my full doc “Rollin” for a fuller understanding of Detroit’s history.