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Living for Change News
June 12th, 2017
Thinking for Ourselves
I saw my first young person in the neighborhood walking with her graduation cap on the way to church this week. It is a common sight in Detroit at this time of year. All over the city young people mark their graduation from high school or college by wearing caps and gowns as they go to community gatherings or just walking down the street with friends.
I don’t know if this happens in other cities, but here, graduation is a public affair, celebrated on street corners. As in other places there are family parties and balloons, church acknowledgments and lawn signs, but here graduations are about more than individual achievement. Although often they signify remarkable accomplishments by our young people in a city where nearly half of them have dropped out and many never complete what is needed to get a diploma. Still, there is a sense that wearing caps and gowns as you go about normal life is a way of acknowledging the long, hard struggle for education by people who risked their lives to learn to read. It is a tribute to ancestors and a hope toward the future.
This image of my neighbor proudly wearing her cap was very much on my mind as I gathered with a small group of students in a nearby high school. All of the students were one or two years away from the possibility of having a cap. We had come together to talk about what they thought about their school. It was a dismal picture. Students shared concerns for the physical space and talked about mice, falling tiles from the ceiling and lack of heat in winter. Of the eight students we talked to, only one said she had learned anything in the past year. She had only one teacher who cared about her and really taught the class. She had come to love literature. All students said math and science were never taught. Instead, day after day worksheets were handed out, many never returned. They didn’t feel safe in the building, and the security guards were as much of a problem as the other students.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing was the young woman who had learned something over the year. She clearly loved the thrill of new ideas and insights and felt she had grown and developed in her understanding of the world. Yet she had also decided that she had to give up her dream to be an engineer. Given the poor instruction in math and science, she had concluded that she would now be too far behind to really learn what she needed. She had yet to come up with a new dream for herself.
There is something terribly wrong when children’s dreams are smashed. The message that many of our schools send them is quite simply, “you don’t matter.” In thousands of ways large and small our institutions tell young people they are incapable, useless, and not worth caring about. Our children get the message “you are disposable.”
As we left the school and walked out into the warm street, Langston Hughes would not leave me. He was with us, offering his questions:
Maybe it just sags
Or does it explode?
19th Annual Allied Media Conference Convenes Media Makers and Activists in Detroit June 15-18
DETROIT, June 8 2017 – The 19th annual Allied Media Conference will take place June 15-18 in Detroit at Wayne State University. As the conference approaches its third decade, the AMC has become the most important national convening for exploring how grassroots communities can harness the power of media and communications to affect change.
AMC2017 offers over 250 sessions including hands-on workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, performances, tours and more. New for 2017, the conference will convene participants for a series of daily plenaries on topics including storytelling, digital security, pop culture, and the 50th anniversary of Detroit’s 1967 Rebellion. The conference’s Opening Ceremony event will feature a keynote presentation from Alicia Garza of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter.
The theme for this year’s conference is Get Ready Stay Ready, a call to to develop and innovate strategies of preparation, sustainability, and survival within the current political climate.
“This year we are gathering with an urgency to share the skills and strategies of visionary resistance,” says Morgan Willis, director of the AMC. “Get Ready Stay Ready is inspired by a Detroit-based disaster preparedness workshop. Through this theme we embrace our community’s skills, resources, ideas, platforms, and visions of media-based organizing.”
The full schedule of 250+ sessions is now available online at amc2017.sched.com and covers an incredibly diverse range of topics such as:
AMC programming goes beyond daytime workshops and presentations with “AMC @ Night,” a four day music showcase featuring performing artists working at the intersection of art and social change. Events include live music performances, karaoke and bowling, dance parties, a kids party, and more. Featured performers include Tunde Olaniran, Mic Write, Danni Cassette, DJ Rimarkable, and more.
Registration for the conference is offered on a sliding scale rate, from $75 – $500. Individuals can register in advance online: http://bit.ly/2j1urqY
The Allied Media Conference is a project of Allied Media Projects, with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation. Allied Media Projects’ mission is to cultivate media strategies for a more just, creative, and collaborative world.
Notes from Freedom School
• What is Justice?
We learned that everyone in the group identifies as an Artist and that making Art should be a part of how we Organize.
Some ideas they came up with:
1. Transportation is PARAMOUNT to participation, especially high school age and younger.
2. Food is necessary at every gathering.
We’ve identified they want to:
• Do things in community
Regarding what a Safe Space looks like and what they identify as necessary to have a Safe Space and a Valuable Experience:
We ended the meeting with them starting to create a song they’ve come up with temporarily titled “Where is the Freedom?”
It’s a work in progress that they were inspired to create. We gathered around the piano while Kingg (from Southeastern High School) played various pop tunes they recognized until they all felt comfortable enough to freestyle rap & sing. So far there’s a possible chorus but mostly they just had fun playing around for about 20 minutes after the meeting. They decided that needs to be how we end every meeting.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017
Doors @ 5:30pm
Panel Discussion moderated by Soledad O’Brien and Miles O’Brien 7:30pm