Meet Michigan's divided: Asandi Conner

Asandi Conner

Asandi Conner (Photo by Brian Widdis)

Vital stats

Name: Asandi Conner
Age: 46
Place: Detroit
Job: Director, Detroit Revitalization Fellows at Wayne State University
Income: $75,000-$100,000
Voted for: Didn’t
Hope or fear for 2017: Concerns about treatment of communities of color

DETROIT — Asandi Conner sighs and looks down at her desk. She knew the question was coming, and she’s trying to decide just how honest to be with a journalist.

“I didn’t vote for either of them,” she admits. Conner has lived in Detroit all her life and when she went to the polls Nov. 8, she said she “was pretty sure everyone there was voting for Clinton.” Ninety-five percent of Detroit voters cast ballots that day for the Democratic candidate. “I knew I wasn’t voting for Trump, but I had my concerns about Clinton, too. In the end, I just couldn’t do it.”

Conner, 46, calls her hometown “beautifully complex,” a description that also works for this African-American woman with a master’s degree, who in one sentence goes from acknowledging why so many people voted for Trump to excoriating his “ignorance” of urban centers like Detroit.

“There are a lot of people who share those views and don’t know what it is like to live here,” Conner said of her city. “There’s this perception that Detroiters are … I don’t want to say lazy, but lack initiative. I would challenge that. Among young people is a sense of hopelessness, because all they’ve ever seen is a lack of investment. But what people get wrong is that we are resilient as hell. And scrappy. That’s who we are.”

She said many of her Detroit friends are worried about what the election means for the future. Some will be shocked by her decision to not cast a vote for president for the first time since she was 18. “This is a moment in history,” Conner said. “How we respond to it will say a lot.”

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