About Courage w/ Amy Wilson

Summer 2015

Very pleased and happy to share with you About Courage, Amy Wilson’s second audio special. It’s sixty-one minutes long. With audio production and original music by SAREEN, About Courage is Amy Wilson’s conversation w/ three (of her) dear courageous friends:

w/ Emily Clader, on big life changes and the courage of making a choice.

w/ Michael Spinelli, on applying to the Peace Corps and the courage of everyday life with mental illness.

w/ D’Real Graham, on Radical Washtenaw and the courage to redefine the archetype of activist and artist.

“Amy Wilson. It is so good to hear from you. I’m glad to participate in your project and I hope that this response is a great contribution moving forward.

It is important for artists and activists in Southeastern Michigan to build a coalition. Michigan as a state, Southeastern Michigan in particular, has a rich history in activism. Art from this area is reflected through many mediums. Many people have relocated to this area to record songs, to work on visuals, and to spend time in this geographic location to source inspiration.

In contemporary times, in this post-colonial settler community known as Ypsilanti, there has been an increase of transplants and a decrease in the indigenous inhabitants that once populated this region. There has also been a decrease in people of color due to post-industrial lulls.

Gentrification is a word that we use to describe this phenomenon. We try not to use gentrification in text when we are communicating our art because we don’t want to be limited by the term alone.

Our art is an embodiment of resistance.

Anyone who follows our campaign via social media, anyone who encounters our art in the street, knows that a lot of thought is being given to public spaces and private spaces. As a black man, a cisgendered black man, I find it difficult negotiating citizenship in public and private spaces. As a cisgendered black man who dropped out of college, who decided to use his talents and ideas to uplift others — when you are around the affluent in a predominantly white culture, it takes a lot of courage to redefine the archetype of activist or artist.

We are deeply focused on raising awareness in this community, as alluded to earlier. Ypsilanti has a high concentration of people of color. Twenty-seven percent of the current residents identify as “black alone.” Thirty years ago the number was higher. As more and more people seek geographic locations that provide affordable renting options and higher education opportunities, we see that these once-industrial, post-colonial communities are providing those homes. And those cafes are seeking that audience.

My hope is to, every day, embody radical resistance. For the respect of the youth who at times feel voiceless, who often feel ignored. The erasure of black achievement, black accomplishment for example in the city of Ypsilanti, is relevant to the work that we are doing and it is the inspiration. We want people one hundred years from now to know that people of color contributed not only to developing this country but that people of color played an instrumental role in developing Ypsilanti proper, Ypsilanti Township, and Washtenaw County as a whole.

And remaining silent is not an option at this point.”

You can find links to access ABOUT COURAGE on iTunes and Soundcloud, as well as a link to download the full PDF transcript and a bonus poem (bonus poem!) at amywilsonwrites.tumblr.com/aboutcourage.