January 1, 2022, Yusef Bunchy Shakur delivered the State of Black Detroit 2022 Address and it was impactful. Initially, Yusef defined Black Detroit and its importance. The depth of the relationship between the Great Migration, legacies of revolutionaries, history of resilience, and the bonds between families were prominently addressed in Yusef’s message. The interactive dynamic from Detroit is Different’s live stream was a success as well. Rev. Teferi Brent, Brandon Jessup, Nadia Love, Prostell Thomas, Alfonso Pugh, and many others all joined in providing perspective and insight.
Yusef Bunchy Shakur joins Detroit is Different to talk about his upcoming State of Detroit address. Yusef Bunchy Shakur tells the story of how Henry Ford Hospital is gentrifying his neighborhood. Yusef shares how he was informed through hearsay that a closed meeting was about the future of his community. Yusef walked into the meeting to witness an urban planner tell him his Mother’s house will not exist in Henry Ford Hospital’s plans. Yusef Bunchy Shakur tells the story of how his grandmother and kept morals, character, and integrity. The discussion moves on to share what role social capital plays in a Black neighborhood.
Greg Frazier CPA was born in Little Rock, AR but grew up in Cincinnati, OH. In this interview, he opens up about his childhood and father (my grandfather Don Scott). We explore the dynamics of his upbringing and motivation to prove himself to his father. We also provide the perspective of Don Scott and his brilliance and business and vision.
Greg Frazier offers his story of how he recognized the glass ceiling in corporate America as a Black man. How General Motors rewarded fellow white co-workers up the ladder to have Blacks that trained them to become their subordinates.
Greg Frazier provides the launch into his career as an entrepreneur sub-contracting computer programming work with Jerome Sheppard. Greg shares the story of choosing work as an independent contractor over an employee is given and his fears and thoughts leading up to the opportunity.
Greg Frazier CPA and Khary Frazier discuss how the Detroit is Different NFT will give a platform to quantify the value of Detroit is Different social capital. Perspectives on the Federal Reserve and fiat currency vs. bitcoin are explored. Finally, Greg Frazier’s building design of the Detroit is Different NFT is given.
Malik Yakini is a Detroit original. Naturally creative and driven towards a higher quality of life through Black Liberation, Gardening, and seeking Knowledge are pillars of life I’ve witnessed from Baba Malik. He was the original guest on Detroit is Different and seven years later he joins me again to speak in more of the macro on philosophy, theory, and the need for action in our community. Malik is dynamic from works leading reggae band (Akoben), helping found an African centered school (Nsoroma Institute), book stoor (Black Star Community Bookstore), Urban Farm (D-Town Farms), Food Co-op (Detroit People’s Food Co-op), and a food justice institution (Detroit Black Community Food Security Network), and the funk/hip-hop/reggae/soul fusion band (Mollywop) all are connected to Malik Yakini. In this conversation, we explore his takes on media today and information. A great count and counterpoint discussion on capitalism and white supremacy is had as well. This was a fun talk with laughter, thought, and inspired some actions on my behalf. Check out this interview and the original Detroit is Different interview with Malik Yakini. Also support Malik Yakini at www.mollywopjams.com, www.detroitpeoplesfoodcoop.com, and www.dbcfsn.org
Design is the key to all art. Mike Willingham is an artist that has used design to guide a career, business, and opportunity. Michael Roze Artistry has a portfolio of jewelry, visual arts, clothing, and more. He joins Detroit is Different to discuss the impact of Cass Tech, his Father, visions, and plans for art, and more. This is an insight into how a designer thinks about art and more. Witness more of the art on Instagram at Grind Ave and RozeGoldJCO today.
Detroit is Different Community Group is a nonprofit Michigan corporation formed by Khary Frazier to bridge the gap between marginalized Black Detroiters and traditional local media outlets by producing an annual 12-week summer series entitled a lot of Studio.” An obvious play on words and true to its name, a lot of Studio creates the live studio audience experience within the heart of a westside Detroit neighborhood by conducting live weekly podcasts with in-person guests on four vacant lots which serve as the “studio” for the production. a lot of Studio consists of three distinct components that each serve to empower its audience and address the issues that are important to them:
- The podcast series;
- The urban farming produce giveaway component; and
- The entertainment component.
Each component of the a lot of Studio podcast production is anchored in Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of the Pan African holiday, Kwanzaa, created by activist-scholar Maulana Karenga as a source for addressing the Detroit related issues that matter to its audience. Those seven guiding principles are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work & responsibility), Ujaama (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). The premise is that by utilizing culturally centered principles relevant to people of African descent as a basis for discussing issues that are impacting Black Detroit residents, they will also serve as a guide for thought and behavior for all parties involved when the issues are raised and discussed.
- The Live Podcasts
The panel discussions with in-person guests, before a live audience, are the lynchpin of the a lot of Studio experience. Structured as a live podcast, each a lot of Studio “episode” is a four-hour event. The first two hours of the live podcast consist of a group discussion led by influential Detroiters as podcast hosts and guest panelists. A lot of Studio podcasts are designed to avoid the communication missteps that are an inherent part of traditional media coverage of most Detroit-related issues (i.e. incomplete information, perpetuating stereotypes) by making untold or under-reported Detroit narratives about current issues that are important to Black Detroiters the focus of each discussion. Detroit is Different Community Group and the hosts for each podcast work together to frame the topic for each “episode” in a way that maximizes audience participation. Detroit is Different Community Group will rotate one of the seven principles of Nguzo Saba: (Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith) as reoccurring themes for each podcast topic. Hosts more narrowly frame podcast topics by using their personal experiences and expertise to connect with the audience members and help to demonstrate how the topics are personally relevant to them.
The public discourse created between the podcast host, the panel of guests, and the audience during the live podcast is transformative. The conventional role of audience members is changed from passive to participatory as they are encouraged to be a part of the open and free-flowing dialogue. This also introduces an air of unpredictability into the equation that further adds to the excitement of the live podcast. Because of its engaging and interactive features, the live podcast component of the a lot of Studio events provides an important and unique platform for all in attendance to become energized and to participate in constructive, proactive public conversations about issues that are important to the Detroit community.
2. The Urban Farming Produce Giveaway Component
Detroit has been described as a food desert for more than a decade.
The term “food desert,” is frequently used to describe areas in which residents lack access to fresh, nutritious, and affordable food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food deserts as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast-food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.” It describes the consequences of food deserts as, “The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.” In addition to identifying the sources of both healthful and unhealthful food, the USDA also explicitly connects the lack of access to supermarkets and grocery stores to poor diet and unfavorable health outcomes.
According to a 2015 study by Dorceta E. Taylor and Kerry J. Ard entitled, Detroit’s Food Justice and Food Systems, only three percent (3%) of Detroiters obtain their food from supermarkets or large grocery stores. In contrast, an overwhelming 68% of Detroiters rely on fast-food restaurants, gas stations, liquor stores, or party stores as their primary sources for food, none of which are known for serving or selling healthy foods. The scarcity of healthy food source outlets for Detroit residents is reflected in the city’s diabetes and obesity rates which both exceed national averages.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 10.6% of adults in Detroit had diabetes, more than the national share of 9.3%. Diabetes increases the risk of blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke. Ultimately, the risk of death is 50% higher for adults with diabetes than those without. Diabetes causes 76,600 deaths in the U.S. annually or roughly 24 per 100,000 Americans. In Detroit, there are 396 diabetes-related deaths per 100,000 residents, approximately 16 times more than the national mortality rate.
Similarly, 30.8% of Detroit residents are obese, higher than the national rate of 27.0%. According to the CDC, a person with a bodyweight that is higher than what is considered healthy for a given height is obese. Obesity is also associated with the leading causes of death in the United States and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
In an effort to combat the limited access to healthy food and fresh produce within Detroit neighborhoods and to help reverse the growing health crises among Detroit residents arising from diabetes and obesity, Detroit is Different Community Group has included an urban farming component to its a lot of Studio series. A portion of the four vacant lots where the a lot of Studio episodes are produced is dedicated to urban farming. During a lot of Studios’ inaugural season, eight raised bed garden boxes were built on the lots. Seasonal fresh vegetable crops, including but not limited to collard greens, eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes were organically grown, harvested, and donated to a lot of Studio audience members free of charge throughout the 12-week series.
In addition, at least one of the principles of Nguzo Saba are evident in the urban farming component of a lot of Studio program’s work and mission: Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
In addition to filling the community’s need for access to healthy food and fresh produce to bolster community health through food, a lot of Studio further seeks to attract and serve members of the community by offering its audience members the fresh organically grown produce free of charge and distributing the free produce from the site of the lot of Studio event to minimize economic hardship and lack of transportation as barriers to taking advantage of this opportunity.
3. The Entertainment Component
Music has been used throughout history as a tool for restoring the voices of fractured communities by offering a musical response to social marginalization that crosses all musical genres. For instance, the lyrical content of the Blues consistently reflects whatever social challenges Black communities are facing at the time. In a similar fashion, music historians have highlighted the parallels between the music of free jazz artists such as Charles Mingus and John Coltrane that emerged during the 1960s and the community self-sufficiency and do for self-movements that were prevalent in Black communities during that time. More recently in 1989, Chuck D of the iconic rap group Public Enemy deemed rap to be “Black America’s CNN.”
Much like music, stand-up comedy has also provided an outlet for marginalized populations to dispel stereotypes and reclaim lost power. Black comedians Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney, Chris Rock, and most recently Dave Chappelle, have all effectively used the stage to hold a mirror up to society, both reflecting and retracting social norms in order to increase tolerance by raising awareness and social consciousness.
Motivated by the proven track record of success using music and comedy as tools to vocalize and amplify the concerns of marginalized communities, coupled with the desire to incorporate the Nguzo Saba principle Kuumba (Creativity) as a permanent fixture in the lot of Studio live podcasts format, each “episode” includes a live musical or comedic performance. After the live podcast segment of each a lot of Studio event ends, it is followed by a live performance by an entertainer, either a musical or comedic guest, to close out each episode. The performance schedule for the inaugural season of a lot of Studio series featured an eclectic group of musicians covering a broad cross-section of musical genres including, jazz, R & B, classical, blues, house, techno, and African music. Two standup comedians were also included as a part of the entertainment lineup.
Written by Attorney Stephanie L Hammonds
Detroit Hip-hop has roots that reach through the 1990s, connecting rappers, producers, and DJs. DJ Butter was one of the first hip-hop DJs with an official mixtape, I remember. Kill the DJ was an album he pressed up thousands of albums independently distributing and marketing. In this Detroit is Different interview, we discuss J Dilla, Proof, his start in Highland Park with hip-hop, and more. Today DJ Butter helps anchor the work of J Dilla and others. He joins me for a Detroit is Different interview while in town visiting from the West Coast to produce a concert with Boldy James.
Mentorship and seeking brotherhood were tenets of life that guided Greg G Mac McKenzie at an early age. The master emcee of hip-hop helping lead vocals for Detroit’s eclectically African-centered band experience of Mollywop opens up about his journey as a child. Boxing, hip-hop, and joining a gang were his understandings of brotherhood until destiny connected him with the Alekebulan Village. In this Detroit is Different we talk about how his past was an anchor for today.