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This July marks one year since the city of Detroit proceeded to shutoff water for tens of thousands of low-income households behind on their bills, an act the United Nations condemned as a human rights violation. Under Michigan's Public Act 436, also known as the "Emergency Manager Law," the democratic process has been suspended for Detroit and other Michigan communities under the guise of improving their "financial management." For decades, Detroit has served as a testing ground for how private corporations can takeover local governments, privatize their public infrastructure and services, and pillage community resources absent any form of accountability to the people who live here. This has become a model for the corporate takeover of cities around the United States to pursue their own versions of Michigan's "Emergency Manager Law."
In solidarity with the people of Detroit, we are spending this month highlighting their community's struggle for social, economic, environmental and cultural justice. Each week, we will feature local residents, community organizers, and cultural activists struggling with the dangerous effects of corporate rule and how they are working to transform Detroit into a self-governing, sustainable community with a healthy culture.
In the face of corporate rule over media and entertainment, young and upcoming artists are struggling to support themselves with their skills and talent without having their cultural products appropriated and used up by exploitative music executives. Local artists, producers and community organizers Bryce Detroit, Piper Carter, and Greg "GMAC" Mckenzie join us to provide an introduction to entertainment justice.
Bryce Detroit is a composer, music producer, performer, curator and entertainment justice activist. For the past 3 years, he has led an intergenerational charge to ‘bridge the gap’ between Detroit’s legendary musical pioneers and the city’s young emergent innovators. As founder of Detroit Recordings Company, and co-founder of Detroit Afrikan Music Institution, he uses entertainment arts to promote new Afrikan and Indigenous legacies, cultural literacy, and new music economies. As a prominent community advocate, Bryce works as the Director of Commons Relations for East Michigan Environmental Action Council, serves as a founding member of Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition and the Detroit Future Youth Network.
Piper Carter is a Community Organizer in the Environmental Justice, Maker Space, Food Justice, and Entertainment Justice communities living inside Detroit. As an Image Maker, Piper is also the Co-Founder of the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop, a Founding member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, Multimedia Artist for Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock, a Founding member of Cosmic Slop a Michigan based Black Rock Coalition, and Adult Ally for Detroit Future Youth.
Gregory McKenzie, also abbreviated as GMAC, is a father, community activist, entrepreneur, emcee and producer. GMAC released "Laidbackness" from his label Impeccable Projects, Inc. in 2011 and will be releasing "Furious Styles" in 2015. Stemming from his own words: “When I was 19, I vowed to speak the truth when I rap," the lyrical content in GMAC's albums are rooted in Pan African nationalism, the urban black experience, and “reality in progress” from the multitude of activities he engages. He has performed with many artists across generational lines from artists such as Dead Prez to Last Poets. His principal training is in Accounting, but he is an avid reader of African history and quantum physics. His community affiliations include Coalition for Justice and Respect for Black Life, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Alkebu-lan Village, Inc., African Source Movement and Restoring the Neighbor Back to the Hood. The past two years, he served as co-chair of the African Liberation Day Planning Committee.
In a media industry dominated by a handful of corporations, women struggle against a corporate patriarchy which undervalues their skills and cultural contributions, even as they profit from media content reinforcing the objectification of their sex. This week features local organizer and poet Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty talking with us about how women are uplifting their voices and resisting sexism in Hip Hop culture.
Tawana Petty is a mother, award winning activist, social justice organizer, poet and author. Tawana is committed to social justice and youth advocacy, and is heavily engaged in transformative visionary organizing on the ground in Detroit. She is a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and a member of Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, We the People of Detroit, the People’s Water Board Coalition and The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop. In addition to Tawana’s social justice work and community organizing, she performs and speaks across the globe. She has been a featured guest on several local and national radio programs including the Tavis Smiley Show, NPR/WDET, and Occupy Radio. Her work and writings have also been featured in the Huffington Post, The Michigan Daily, The Michigan Citizen, on Shetroit.com, on truth-out.org and in Red Pepper Magazine (UK). Tawana, also known as Honeycomb on stage, is the author of Introducing Honeycomb and is currently working on her second book, due out this year.
As thousands of Detroit residents struggle over basic rights to water and other public resources, the community continues to fight for their right to self-determination over their environment. We talk with Ahmina Maxey of Zero Waste Detroit and William Copeland of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council about their ongoing struggle for environmental justice in Detroit.
Ahmina Maxey is a community activist in Detroit, Michigan working for the environmental health and protection of her community. As the Community Outreach Coordinator of Zero Waste Detroit coalition, she advocates to increase recycling participation in the city and shut down the Detroit incinerator. Ahmina has experience working in the environmental justice field, having worked as an Associate Director at the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), and Research Assistant at the Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative. In her work at EMEAC, her responsibilities included health and environmental justice policy, advocacy, and outreach work. She has worked with City Council members on measures to improve Detroit’s air quality, leading to the passage of numerous laws protecting the environment and health of Detroiters. Ahmina is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning her Bachelor of Science in the Program in the Environment in 2007.
William Copeland is an organizer and cultural worker from Detroit. He works as EMEAC's Climate Justice Director. He served as one of the local coordinators for the 2010 US Social Forum, organizing over 300 Detroit-area volunteers to host 20,000+ activists and community change agents to 5 days of workshops, panels, concerts, and work projects. He also worked as lead organizer of the 2011 Detroit 2 Dakar Delegation to the World Social Forum held in Dakar, Senegal. He has significant affiliations with the healing justice movements in Detroit and nationwide and is also currently working on creating the D.Blair Theater Space in the Cass Corridor Commons. Copeland serves on the board of the US Solidarity Economy Network. Will See dropped his first solo hip-hop CD "The Basics" which includes EJ anthems such as "Water Power" "Take tha House Back" and "Respiration."available at http://willseemusic.bandcamp.com/ His second project is a spiritual mixtape called SOL SWGGR found at http://www.audiomack.com/album/will-see/sol-swggr.
Unelected officials are privatizing public services and selling off community assets in Detroit and other Michigan communities, and local residents are doing what they can to fight back against corporate rule. We talk about organizing within Detroit’s black community and how they are building a self-determining community with local organizer and cultural activist Will Copeland.
William Copeland is an organizer and cultural worker from Detroit. He works as EMEAC's Climate Justice Director. He served as one of the local coordinators for the 2010 US Social Forum, organizing over 300 Detroit-area volunteers to host 20,000+ activists and community change agents to 5 days of workshops, panels, concerts, and work projects. He also worked as lead organizer of the 2011 Detroit 2 Dakar Delegation to the World Social Forum held in Dakar, Senegal. He has significant affiliations with the healing justice movements in Detroit and nationwide and is also currently working on creating the D.Blair Theater Space in the Cass Corridor Commons. Copeland serves on the board of the US Solidarity Economy Network. Will See dropped his first solo hip-hop CD "The Basics" which includes EJ anthems such as "Water Power" "Take tha House Back" and "Respiration."available at http://willseemusic.bandcamp.com/. His second project is a spiritual mixtape called SOL SWGGR found athttp://www.audiomack.com/album/will-see/sol-swggr.
Move to Amend Reports is hosted by Laura Bonham and Egberto Willies, members of Move to Amend's National Leadership Team. Executive producer is Keyan Bliss. Production team is Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Keyan Bliss, Laura Bonham and Egberto Willies.