Category Archives: Detroit Spirit

Thoughts on Black Queer Activism

Activist Michelle Brown contends that what sets Black queer activism apart is its deep commitment to community organizing. Having sat on the boards of Michigan Equality, Affirmations, Black Pride Society, The Ruth Ellis Center, and other local organizations, Brown has been active on both sides of Eight Mile. She says that in contrast to the more centralized nonprofit model of the larger, mostly white organizations, black queer activists “put their roots in the community,” and seek sustainability by creating a wide base of support and, importantly, involvement, versus relying on corporate/foundation dollars and private donors.

From “BLACK AND PROUD: PUTTING COMMUNITY BACK INTO QUEER ORGANIZING” by Jackson Bartlett in Critical Moments 7/8/2011

What do you think?

Read the whole article at

Posted in Black identity, Detroit, Detroit Spirit, DOMA, ENDA, marriage equality, NGLTF, Queer, Social Justice Issues | Leave a comment

It’s here!!! My new book available for purchase online

My new book of poetry “Three Layers & A Brassiere” is available for purchase online! Book signing is in planning stage but get your’s today and receive a special gift at the book signing.

Order at:

Book Over view:

On a frigid November weekend in 2012, I took a trip to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. My plan had been to catch a train, hit the city and just wander about taking in the sights. I wanted a lost weekend, to wander around to find something—just what I really didn’t know. But these uncertain plans took an unexpected turn when, instead, I hitched a ride with a friend.

I met an amazing woman named Gwen who was in her eighties, and over the course of the weekend, she shared stories of her remarkable life. One afternoon, we were heading out, and her family, being protective as families can be, gathered sweaters, scarves, and jackets and proceeded to try to convince Gwen to put them all on. Her response: “I’ve got three layers and a brassiere, that’s enough to keep me warm.”

On the ride back to Detroit, I thought about Gwen her life and the three stages of life—childhood, adulthood, and those final days.  Maybe all we need are those three layers, not all those mountains of things, just to see us through to warm our hearts, our spirits, and a brassiere to hold the memories.

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Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Black women, Creative Writing, Detroit, Detroit Bankruptcy, Detroit Spirit, lgbt, Love, marriage equality, Pop Culture, Queer, Self imaage, Women | Leave a comment

Trying to make sense of the ice bucket challenge. Is it a “Tipping Point” of sorts

I have been trying to understand the “Ice Bucket Challenge” – the phenomena sweeping social media.

Don’t get me wrong I understand what it is all about and believe families and individuals living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease deserve our support and every dollar raised for research. I have a good friend whose father ultimately died from ALS a few years ago. It was and is heartbreaking as a day doesn’t go by that they aren’t still living with ALS. I get it!!!

It’s raised a lot of money and awareness where it was needed but these ice bucket challenges have my head spinning. Is that all it takes some cool gimmick, a video on social media and challenging some friends and we cannot only raise awareness but the money to tackle some of the world’s pressing issues?

Think about it, we’ve been told that voting will make a difference. We voted and still have political gridlock. We marched for Trayvon and this year we’re holding a National Moment of Silence for Michael Brown and marching in Ferguson. We made posters and commercials saying “it gets better” and our youth continue to be bullied, attacked, are homeless and commit suicide.

Cease fires end before they get going good. Iron domes protect Israeli’s held captive by fear while bombs rain down on Gaza innocents. Our world is expanded by technology but the expansion bombards us with images of poverty, hunger, social and economic injustice. It’s on the television, on our computers even on our phones. Is the answer really that simple an “ice bucket” challenge?

Just imagine an ice bucket challenge to bring fresh water the 780 million people world-wide who don’t have it; An ice bucket challenge to feed the hungry; to address youth homelessness especially among LGBTQ youth; to get treatment to the thousands suffering from Ebola in Africa; to find a cure for cancer; the list goes on and on. We all know that the solution is not that simple but this “challenge” has started something.

In his book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” published in 2000, Malcolm Gladwell talks about a point, “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point’” where ideas and messages spread like viruses.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot and wondering if this phenomena, this ice bucket challenge, isn’t the manifestation of our communal anguish, to make a difference, to maybe, just maybe a way do something good in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control – our Tipping Point.

The few people I have engaged in conversation about “The Challenge” have said they took the challenge because it was “fun” or just felt good to be a part of it. Many said they had, in fact, made a contribution. The one constant was that everyone felt they were doing something that was actually making a difference as evidenced by the reported dollars raised. And maybe that’s what we need right now to move things to the next level.

A moment, where we can do something, something to say that we have not grown numb to the inequality, the pain, the challenges around us and in our world; A moment when we can stand up and say we stand for something; and a moment when we can see that our action did make a change. I get that!!

As for me I won’t be doing the “ice bucket” challenge. I come from the tradition that you contribute your time, talent and tithes without expecting recognition, accolades or telling everyone. As my mother would say it’s the dues you pay for walking this earth.

I also won’t be doing the challenge because water is not only one of our most precious global resources. 780 million people DO NOT have access to clean water – not just in other countries but right here in the United States from drought stricken areas in California to Detroit where water shut offs have gained international attention.  Water IS a HUMAN RIGHT!!!

So I’m hoping this phenomena is the tipping point, the point where we, the people, no longer sit back waiting for others to do something. I’m hoping the “ice bucket” challenge has shocked us out of our complacency and stimulates other initiatives.

Let’s recognize the power we have in our social media/networks and do something more than post cute kitten videos, update our dating status and share photos (yes, I’ve been guilty of all three) and use this powerful medium to educate, advocate and create change.




Posted in ALS, Charitable Giving, Detroit Spirit, Ice Bucket Challenge, Pop Culture, Social Media, World events | Leave a comment

Poetry for Detroit – For our Detroit


By Michelle E. Brown

Her streets no longer lined with trees

Branches arching across streets

Paved with hopes and dreams

Now minefields of disrepair

Potholes, broken sidewalks


Lots and playgrounds strewn with litter

Vacant lots, crumbling buildings

No neighbors sitting on stoops sharing stories

No quartets under streetlamps singing songs

Store fronts sit vacant

While residents wait for buses

Always late for a trip to no where


She is maligned, misrepresented,

Violated, raped

Stripped of her authority

She weeps

As her people suffer

As her people thirst

She watches

Managed neglect for the benefit of profits

But she’s a queen.


Her majesty does not lie in institutions

Credit ratings, political wrangling

Her majesty cannot be bankrupted

Because she’s a queen

Of, for and by the people

She is the people

And she/they are rich


Rich in spirit, rich in art

Feeding her people from gardens

Growing in forgotten lots

Entrepreneurs, innovators, dreamers

Rebuilding neighborhoods

Re-spiriting communities

Calling her people, all people

Black, Brown, White, Young, Old

From across the street

From around the world

To rise up, to stand up

Not in war, but with voices raised

To wage love


She is a queen

She is Detroit.

Posted in 2014 Elections, Black identity, Creative Writing, Detroit, Detroit Bankruptcy, Detroit Spirit, literature, Love, NN14, Self imaage, World events | Tagged | Leave a comment