Dumas: I'm not going to shy away from hard discussions to make Detroit better

Karen Dumas

As someone who has always loved and respected the power of words, both spoken and written, I am excited and thankful to be able to begin to share a few of them here on a regular basis. While you can look forward to my myriad thoughts and experiences, here are a few things about me I’d like to initially share.

I’m a lifelong Detroiter who returned after graduating from Michigan State University, committed to making things better, and I’ve tried. I stayed when I could have left — several times, opting to raise a family, pay higher insurance rates, navigate around crime and bear the burden of private school tuition for my children. I’m a bit defensive and possessive about the city and not fond of those who want to selectively embrace and absorb it without being a legitimate part of it.

My mother was Black, my father’s family was from the Middle East, and I grew up on the east side of Detroit. Weakness is not in my DNA. I think that race is at the center of nearly everything. Talking about it isn’t playing the race card— it’s playing the reality card.

As someone who has always loved and respected the power of words, both spoken and written, I am excited and thankful to be able begin to share a few of them here on a regular basis, Dumas writes.

For as long as we shy away from the discussion, we’ll wrangle with the implications.

I’ve spent most of my professional career as an entrepreneur and am a huge proponent of it. I also worked in two mayoral administrations for Detroit, most recently as chief of communications for Mayor Dave Bing.

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It’s a dirty game with a lot of moving parts and people, but I love politics despite becoming disappointed over the years that public service seems to have been replaced with self-service. I tend to lean Democrat but have voted across party lines. I am also a leadership member of AEI, a conservative think tank in D.C. 

I want what and who is best for the greater good, and that sometimes means thinking and voting outside of the box or at least having conversations with those who think — and vote — differently. While government has a role, I believe that what we do personally can have a far greater impact and import on outcomes.

Communications has been at the center of everything I’ve done — my own PR company, writing for local print publications, TV contributions and talk radio. I believe that good discussions are the path to better understandings, and that we are all entitled to and capable of intelligent conversations.

I don’t shy away from those who disagree with me. I can respect a difference of opinion if the difference is respectful because we may yet both appear wrong to another person.

I believe that what you do repeatedly becomes your reputation. For me, I’ve earned one for being candid, honest, trustworthy and fair. I buy into decisions that have a positive collective impact, even if there isn’t a benefit to me.

I’m patient with those who deserve it — children, animals and the elderly. Everyone else is fair game. I believe that perfection isn’t attainable, but that excellence should always be sought in everything we do. I have little tolerance for poor or lacking customer service and think that process is the death of progress.

I hope to bring all of that and more to this column and look forward to getting to know you as well. And, while I will never tell you what to think, I will always encourage you to do so.

Karen Dumas is a columnist for The Detroit News and the co-host of "The No BS News Hour." Her columns will appear on Tuesdays.