Transcription: 002: Elizia Artis: Education in Flint, the Water Crisis, and BLM

This episode, I talk with Elizia Artis about what it means to build a community around education. She works in Flint, Michigan for the Crim Fitness Foundation and works with the school and communities there to solve problems effecting the students and parents. Elizia was an AmeriCorps volunteer and now manages other AmeriCorps volunteers in Flint so she’ll give some information about civil service and what some of those responsibilities look like. Lastly, Elizia explores some of her thoughts about issues effecting people of color and the Black Lives Matter movement.

TRANSCRIPTION

[00:00:00]
[Narration Begins]

Hi everyone, welcome to the Undefined: A Profile of a Generation. I’m your host Marissa Comstock. The show is located at theundefinedgen.com where you can find links to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with episodes available through SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m still experimenting with format improving sound quality and also improving my own skills as an interviewer. So please contact me with feedback post on social media, whatever. I greatly appreciate any suggestions to make the show better.

This week, I talk to my friend Elizia Artis. She lives in Lansing Michigan and is currently a program manager for the Crim Fitness Foundation in Flint, Michigan. Elizia was one of the first people that came to mind when I had the idea to do the show. I was just so interested in her experience in AmeriCorps and her work. We went to high school together. She attended Seattle University where she received a bachelor’s in international studies before graduating and spending a year working with AmeriCorps with the East African population in South Seattle. Elizia now manages other AmeriCorps Volunteers in Flint Michigan where she engages with the community to create programs and activities and find solutions to their needs. She is instrumental in shaping the education programs in Flint and it’s fascinating to hear her talk about the detail in which they’re working to make schools the pride and focus of community there. First, Elizia will talk about her work and her experience with AmeriCorps, then we’ll talk about the Flint Water Crisis and her take on it. Finally. We’ll finish up with some of Elizia thoughts on recent events, the Black Lives Matter movement, and her thoughts on issues affecting people of color. So let’s get started. I hope you enjoy this episode.

[Theme Music]

[00:01:59]
Marissa: So first, I’m here with Elizia Artis. How are you?

[00:02:14] 
Elizia: I’m doing well. How are you?

Marissa: I am also doing well. Thank you for doing this interview with me to start you work for the Crim Fitness foundation in Flint, Michigan. Can you describe your responsibilities and explain a little the mission of your organization?

Elizia: So the Flint Flint Community School core is AmeriCorps program that is run out of the Crim Fitness foundation and focuses specifically on rebuilding this model of Community Education in the Flint Community Schools, and I’ve been giving kind of this elevator pitch right now that basically, the notion of Community Education is to turn in education site like an elementary school or high school Into the stereotype of community center. So I get individuals who are interested in doing a year of service paid service to help out with kind of building that model. So they’re creating classes for youth for parents for community members that take place before school, during school, after school, and on weekends that address needs that the community teachers students and parents have identified. So we’ve got people who bring cooking classes like I’ve been talking about onto the campus people. People who have helped do GED classes job placement classes for parents and community members. And then for the kids like one of the schools had a pool that hadn’t really been utilized and she worked really hard to find a swim coach and startup swim classes again after school.

[00:04:14]
So it’s a really interesting way of kind of integrating all of the needs that a community center what address but bringing them into what really is usually the hub of specific communities the school.

Marissa: And so just to take a step back for a second. You yourself were an AmeriCorps volunteer when you lived in Seattle.

Elizia: Yeah. I did a year at a place called East African Community Services. So those are some of the girls in my little picture

Marissa: and then what exactly is AmeriCorps?

Elizia: AmeriCorps has what we call three streams of service all of which are really having to do with national community service. It’s giving back to your country on the community service domestic level. So the three streams are AmeriCorps Vista, which is Volunteers in Service to America. AmeriCorps State and National which is on the ground direct service programming that a members participate in. And then we have one called AmeriCorps NCCC. And so those are the ones who, by the way, do more of like FEMA related things. So disaster relief. For us, they’re going to be boarding up houses, but also helping out on our steam camp. We call them like the superheroes because they like go to different sites throughout the year around the nation, helping out with different projects. So each of them has their own goal all around, providing services to the United States. Building up professional skills, among usually, the stereotypical age of 18 to like 30 year olds. So really helping them learn a trade or learn how to network, learn in our case, learn how to work in fields of youth development and build curriculum and run programming.

Marissa: Then for you, which stream were you a part of? What was your role when you were in AmeriCorps?

Elizia: I did AmeriCorps state in Washington state in Seattle with an organization called East African Community Services and ran our after-school programs. I did a high school and the after-school probram for elementary and middle schoolers. Did a high school leadership program and coordinated ESL and citizenship classes. And then also recruited volunteers for all of those programs. So one Hefty year for a 22 year old but it was really amazing. I wound up staying there for two more years and just couldn’t shake it to save my life. And here I am now.

Marissa: So your in Flint. You’re working at the Crim Fitness Foundation, working that nonprofit life. How do you get parents and students involved with these programs you’re introducing?

[00:07:33]
Elizia: So it started out really small with just sports and I think that’s because that’s the easiest thing to get people to rally around as a community hub. Like hey, like this part of town is playing that part of town, Let’s all go to the sports game! like classic Americana basically. But has expanded to be like, hey, Mom and Dad, If you’re at the sports game, did you know that on Monday mornings you can also take a Zumba class here or did you know on Thursday evenings you can do a cooking class with your kids? And just expanding from there. So the cool thing is that Community Education really does touch so many different aspects of like rebuilding Flint.

Marissa: It definitely sounds like your organization is really growing and feeding off the needs of the community. How has the program been received by the community?

[00:08:33]
Elizia: I think they’re being received pretty well. We had the opportunity at one of the schools right now we’re at.. we’re expanding to 11. Just got the official word on that. So that was pretty cool. At one of the schools that were at this year, one of the parents was like oh this is really great. You’re just feeding my kid after school, teaching them all. We were teaching them about the safe route. So it was kind of this like mini lesson on like urban planning and what makes a route to school safe. What doesn’t. What can you do about potholes? Who can you contact if you see something that’s unsafe? And so one of the one of the parents that we were talking to was like yeah, this is really fascinating. I mean on one day my kids in a swim lesson the next day my kid is learning about like how to effect change in there see and like the next day they’re getting tutoring from someone. And its really it relies on word of mouth. We’re only as good as the last student or family that feels engaged or successful from our programming because we need them to tell their friends, their neighbors, their other parishioners at the church that they go to. We rely on satisfying their needs in order to continue our programming.

Marissa: So what does the area around the school’s you’re working with physically look like I know that there is a lot of issues with blighted houses. And for people who don’t know a blighted house is a house that can no longer be lived in it just needs to be torn down. So yeah, like what what is that area look like?

[00:10:15]
Elizia: So it’s really interesting. I’ve been alluding to this thing that we called a walking audit and I can kind of give like a little bit of background on that. It’s basically what we did for one day at the four campuses was take students on specific routes that they may take to school if they decide to walk or ride their bike.And have them say out loud what they see and whether or not what they’re seeing makes them feel safe. So a lot of the things that they noted were, oh that’s an abandoned house. I don’t feel safe walking next to that. And the houses, you know, sometimes they are still in kind of the first stages of not being inhabited. Some of them have some broken windows. A strangely ajar door, which you know in my adult imagination makes me wonder if there’s people potentially squatting in there and you know it for any kid who’s watched Sandlot and all those types of movies, like that just looks terrifying. And then they also looked at, you know, just how big some potholes were and whether or not that was also causing cracks on the sidewalk so they couldn’t bike to school if they knew that they were running late. They weren’t going to try to bike fast down a certain street because they would most likely flip over there bike because there were so many cracks.

[00:11:48]
There’s still a lot of difficulties with people disposing of their trash properly. So there are certain areas either vacant lots where houses have been demolished or these blighted properties were people also throw their trash. So unfortunately, you know, these there’s kids being like I don’t really want to walk by like a bunch of broken glass or on my end. I’m like side-eyeing like condoms and other nasty things. So we take all that information back to the city of Flint and we say, hey. I mean if we want more kids walking to school. If we want more kids from their neighborhood who may not even attend that school coming to our sports programs. And if we want to see a community that is actually just buzzing around these beacons that we’re trying to create we have to do cleanups. The great thing is is that there’s actually just another program that can help us do that. And then these NCCC members, the National Civilian Community Corps coming in this summer to work specifically on a radius made by the city around these schools based on what the students themselves noticed.

[00:13:03]
Marissa: And I’m sure taking into account people in the community’s very specific suggestions for how to improve something and then actually doing it really builds trust because they see that you follow through and actually want to make those changes

Elizia: Exactly. I went to a community meeting where on the real the only complaint was this grass being way too high and I kid you not for the rest of the week my coworker and I were like, so what about that grass? Has someone dealt with that grass yet? Like they wouldn’t tell us any other community issues until they got that grass cut.

Marissa: And it got cut?

Elizia: It got cut the Saturday before we did this massive service project. And because we were trying to get, we were trying to get other ideas for the service project. And I even started to word as: if we cut the grass tomorrow and came back tomorrow, what would you say? And they’re like, nope. The grass is not getting cut tomorrow. We don’t believe you. It was like, okay, I can see where that’s coming from. We will get the grass cut and for good measure. I mean you don’t, if you have a like an unkempt campus just on like the grass level, it shows a kid that that’s like about all they’re worth.

Marissa: And then I’m also just wondering Flint I think has a high percentage of people who are, higher percentage of people who are low income and in poverty that would be the type of place that would have more AmeriCorps workers, right?

[00:14:33]
Elizia: Yes. So we have something called the Flint AmeriCorps accelerator, which does celebrate the fact that we have a really large amount of AmeriCorps members throughout the city doing everything from what we call Urban Safety Course making like a specific corridor of the city more safe by cleaning up tearing down blighted houses, working with local police that can’t stretch themselves as thin to make sure that certain areas are walkable and safe throughout the day and the evening. We’ve got members like ours who are on school campuses And then we’ve got members doing like economic development members doing specifically reading intervention like we’ve got our members at the Red Cross. So it’s it’s a really large group of folks hitting all of the like the focus areas that are needed to really help the community but also to empower the community because almost all of those positions involve a volunteer worker so that once this person is done with potentially one year of service these things don’t just disappear.

So so much of all of their service involves sustainability. I think that’s besides my question of like, how are you doing are you eating? Well, did you watch this thing on Netflix is what are you doing to make your program sustainable?

Marissa: So you’re jumping right from Netflix to Serious Business.

Elizia: I know. Yeah, like great Orange is the New Black? Check. What are you doing to make this sustainable?

Marissa: So moving into the Flint Water Crisis something I really want to ask you about. So the Flint Water Crisis began in 2014 when Flint was almost bankrupt and switch their water supply from Detroit to the Flint River. People noticed immediately that they were issues with the water and yet it wasn’t until 2015 that that it was declared a national state of emergency for insanely high lead levels. What was it like working in Flint seeing that whole thing unfold?

[00:16:49]
Elizia: So, I mean the craziest thing is we have an amazing public radio station like through NPR I guess but that had been reporting on it since 2014 and even in the summer of 2015 while it was starting to get more traction at least in the state, you know, there was another election for their mayor and he got kicked out because of it people voted him out. I mean and on our end were like oh this is starting to get really serious. But I didn’t, I mean there was a moment where I guess I probably didn’t even realize that the rest of the the nation didn’t know about this because I felt like we were hearing about it daily.

Marissa: I think one of the things that I found most just insane was from the pot the reveal podcast that you sent me to listen to. The cooking staff at one of the schools noticed that the water was gross and went to the principal and the principal started buying bottled water for the school to cook with and then you have General Motors who wouldn’t even use the water to work on their cars. So it’s like people were using their own money to not use that water and still no one’s listening to that complaint.

Elizia: Yeah, like if the water is so corrosive that the people who like need that water to build aspects of your car aren’t using it. Like it shouldn’t go into children’s bodies. But for some reason those those can those complaints were just coming off as like, oh, it’s just the Growing Pains of this new water system or people are always going to find something to complain about. You know, there’s so many days where I’m just wondering like how on Earth do you build a cohort of people to change the fact that like Americans aren’t just these big complainers. Like if people are if people truly seeing something wrong in their community what steps are to be made for the government to actually start listening to people again. And then now the big thing is really what steps is the government doing to prove that that they deserve any semblance of trust.

Marissa: And I guess that would be my next question is I mean, the people’s level of distrust must just be through the roof?

 

Elizia: Oh man. So I was fortunate enough to see Barack Obama speak and the first person to introduce him was the Governor Rick Snyder. He got through about two minutes of a very ill worded speech before just basically booed off the stage. The thing that he said that was incorrect and that even if even if in one way, shape, or form could be deemed correct because I won’t try to get too political but what really hit people hard was that he said that this was a short-term issue and people just went wild because I mean, it’s not it’s a systemic issue. It’s an issue of how you use the notion of capitalism to govern people and how money saving outweighs the cries of human beings saying my water is messed up.

Marissa: So that kind of brings me to the whole emergency manager concept. An emergency manager was brought in when Flint was going bankrupt and he was the person who ultimately decided to switch the water supply from Detroit to Flint. Can you explain a little bit what an emergency manager is?

Elizia: I feel like I had a nightmare about an emergency manager recently.

[00:20:49]
Marissa: Yeah. It seems like two words that shouldn’t even go together.

Elizia: No and they don’t fit well in like regular Democratic American society because they’re unelected officials. So I’d say probably the most shocking thing is that the gentleman responsible for really ushering the water switch in Flint, Darnell Early, left and was kind of, I mean, he was kind of kicked out. But definitely just left that situation and didn’t look back and moved directly to become the emergency manager of another crisis that our state is known for the Detroit public schools. Which is like crumbling schools in the city of Detroit. So basically when a city or then in Detroit’s case of school district declares itself bankrupt, an individual is brought in, you know, much like a closer at a corporation. To say okay. Here’s what we’re going to cut and it’s going to save you money immediately and they usually have no connection to the community that they’re making these cuts over. They have only a connection to money-saving policy. It’s just the fact that like yeah sure. There definitely are moments in which city council representatives and other individuals could have done better jobs for a lot of these bankrupt situations within the state, but in all reality having an unelected official to kind of quote unquote clean up the mess economically. Really just makes it so that those who are actually affected by this bankruptcy have no way of having representation when these problems are quote unquote solved.

Marissa: So now the water has been switched back to Detroit but there’s still lingering health issues and problems like that. How are people recovering?

Elizia: And yea, so like the great thing is, is that Obamacare has been expanded to all children and pregnant women in the city of Flint. So we have we have public health workers at all of the Community Schools even through the summer.To still help people sign up for that expansion. I mean that’s that’s one one bite out of this giant like mess that’s going on right now. I think the harder thing is just like I was saying earlier is just the fact that like, yeah, like what does low performance mean? What does a difficult child and a difficult teenager and cognitive issues for a teenager or young adult look like who’s been affected by lead? Like we don’t know yet. So like we don’t we don’t know how many like specialists some of these high schoolers are going to need in the next five to ten years. We don’t know what type of job training is going to be needed in the next 10 years. And we don’t know, you know, we don’t know like on like the policing end of things if there really is going to be an influx of mental illness. You know, how can we guarantee that there’s enough funding to then retrain some of the police in the city to deal with an influx of mental illness on the streets?

So that’s that’s the really difficult part is just just the unknown. That’s the part that really I think also just scares parents the most like all I was trying to do was provide a human right of water to my child. And now I’m left wondering is their life going to be harder than every other child’s life in America.

Marissa: So I think that wraps up that part of the interview. I just want to thank you so much again for agreeing to do this and it’s just been so interesting hearing about your work.

Elizia: I mean for what it’s worth. I don’t think I could have ever asked for a better job, even though it is super stressful and even though I am a rule baron. And yeah, I mean, I think it’s really really flattering that you reached out to me to actually ask me about it. Because I mean, I don’t know. I feel like sometimes I’m speaking in the same people about it all the time and I don’t it’s really cool to just get to like blab on about the things that scare me, inspire me, and motivate me in this position.

[Begin Narration]

[00:25:40]
The last segment of this interview is a reaction to the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. Alton Sterling was a CD salesman from Baton Rouge and Philando Castile was a public school employee in st. Paul Minnesota. Both were black. Both were carrying guns and open carry states and both were killed by police using excessive force. Meaning that they were shot multiple times. Most everyone in America has probably seen the videos of these killings and many of us were shocked yet again by the police capacity for violence in situations that didn’t warrant it. We also saw a vigilante gun down police in a peaceful black lives matter protest in Dallas needless to say the country is reeling and trying to make sense of where we stand on civil rights issues. I asked Elizia to speak with me one more time to give her thoughts on these latest events a week after we did the original interview. Elizia is a woman of color and has been outspoken about these issues and I was really interested to hear her thoughts. These are those thoughts.

[Continue Interview]

[00:26:48]

Marissa: So to start this has been a heart-wrenching week. I know I’m having a hard time making sense of it. How are you feeling?

Elizia: Tired. I think is, I waver from tired to exhausted at this point. It’s unnatural to feel like this sad and worried and you know, try to make sure that those things never fade into fear and anger and I think I never knew that it would take so much like physical and mental willpower to just continue on with my life as if, you know as if this was America as usual because it is hard. It’s, It’s I don’t know I would never have expected this in my adult life. I think but at the same time, I guess I should have. I’m not sure. That’s kind of part of it too. I think the whole the wavering back and forth of I guess this is how it’s always been to this is how it should never be and just kind of having to place yourself in the middle of that. Just been taking a toll.

[00:28:03]
I just I feel like playing dead is almost like the best metaphor for how I’ve been for almost a week now. I just kind of am floating through this

Marissa: It’s hard to see these events and know what to think and know what you should do next.

 

Elizia: I feel like sometimes I’m doing the most. Sometimes I’m wondering if I’m doing enough. Sometimes I’m wondering why is it still my job to be doing anything at all? And it’s very difficult because you know, as like a really normal American, born in 1989 just kind of trying to like live a life that is promised to me in this myth of an American Dream. Why on Earth is it my responsibility to continue to ask for my rights and to continue to ask for my safety and to continue to promise that I’m not a threat.

Marissa: Absolutely and I think at least one positive thing is that people are rallying together and protesting and creating awareness and The Black Lives Matter movement has really gained traction in many cities in the U.S.. Can you talk about the Black Lives Matter movement and your involvement?

[00:29:30]
Elizia: I was first introduced to Black Lives Matter like many people after Michael Brown’s shooting and interesting enough, that was those original protests in Ferguson were happening while I was actually driving to Michigan to now live here. And what’s so interesting. Is that it, it really struck me because, it was, a really struck me because it’s very just naturally manifested into a very fluid like intersectional movement in which dealing with so many different types of discriminatory practices against you. And there’s a group of people who are now out there and totally different cities to say nothing. This is not this is not the way that anybody deserves to little to live their life, let alone have their life taken away from them. So I started to follow it a lot more especially last year with Baltimore, but within Michigan itself, we have a little Black Lives Matter kind of like chapter. So every now and then there’s everything from memorials to little like get-togethers. Like they had like a basketball tournament and it was this adorable protest.

[00:30:50]
Growing up knowing so much about the civil rights movement and like, protesting the Iraq War when we were in high school and stuff like that. It immediately was very alluring to me because I’m like, yes, like speak up! speak out! But what’s been really great is that, they’ve used all of these tactics that force people to pay attention to them. And I get it. To some people that’s either annoying or threatening or quote unquote not the right way to go about things. But I love that they disrupt your normal day eating brunch in New York now could involve a sit-in or you’re forced to pay attention to the fact that there is a disproportionate treatment from law enforcement of black Americans specifically black males. And for me, I don’t feel like this one mentally disturbed individual in Dallas has taken anything away from the fact that this has been a very peaceful movement that is full of so many good intentions. Mainly to make the United States aware again in to wake people up and say, you know, this is this is really the reality for a large portion of this population.

[00:32:10]
Marissa: It’s interesting to see the really polar opinions of the movement because for me it’s a civil rights movement, but people are against it. And I’m like are you okay with the status quo? Do you not see room for improvement in any of our systems. And I don’t know people are just really uncomfortable.

Elizia: I know I think it’s because like, yeah, I guess it’s bizarre to think that the normal United States has already given x amount of respect and beauty standards and scholarships to white people. So, you know, nothing’s that now things have to change a little bit. I think that people are like, but why?! I’ve never never spoken about myself highly. I’ve never demanded to be the center of attention. It’s like yes individual human being maybe you didn’t but on my end it is about me feeling like a valued individual. On your end, it’s about you like really entering into this like, melting pot, salad blah blah blah of a nation that we were all told we were part of an elementary school. It’s your turn to step into the same ring that we’re all in.

Marissa: I feel like the word progress is kind of loaded because on the one hand. Yes, we’ve come a long way and we’re working for something better. And on the other hand. What is that mean to someone who was just executed by a police officer? But what would be progress and do you see progress?

[00:33:37]

Elizia: There’s one hand where you know, I’m super stoked that I can vote and they can have a job and you know people aren’t, there’s no like literacy test for any of the paperwork I need to be like a mobile Citizen and to express myself and all of that. But at the same time I don’t for one I think that there’s been a lot of laws repealed in the past few years that I’ve definitely reminded me that it was like law enforcement like not the definition as a police person, but like the the fact that like voting laws and non-discrimination laws existed that have really kept the nation progressing. Not necessarily, you know, individual human mind sets or family mindsets or organizational mindsets. It’s really been the fact that like it is against the law to treat me differently and as some of those laws, especially, when the voting rights, I think of the Voting Rights Act was repealed. That’s when you can start to see like, oh no, this really, this really, there hasn’t been that much human change in 50-60 years and that’s it’s scary. And it’s disproportionately scary. Then throw on the fact that like we have this incredibly bizarre just violent history that always creates like an us-versus-them mentality. And that it’s only been 20th century laws that have tried to smooth that over. And then people are actively working to repeal those laws now. Proving that think I have no idea what on Earth like, I’ve no idea what the next steps are going to be. I don’t know, you know, depending on who wins the election. I don’t know who’s going to be them the ninth person on the Supreme Court, like just all these, all these bizarre things that kind of put me back and check up like is progress something that needs to be mandated in order to work. Like individual and systemic bias really plays a larger part in my life. Then you know laws that are meant to keep me safe and and make me feel equal.

[00:36:05]

Marissa: One of my takeaways from our last conversation was the importance of voting and the effect it has on these very local issues. I think we were talking about the Flint Water Crisis and water crises that are happening around the nation in general and you are saying that things are getting fixed. And now that it’s a nationwide issue people are paying attention and giving attention to fixing it, but it’s so contingent on who is elected or re-elected and if people will continue to fix things things or if that progress will just disappear. So it’s so important to vote and especially this November

[00:36:48]
Elizia: Exactly, exactly. This is about to be the opposite of like, on the same spectrum of historical but in such a weirder way. This year’s election, it means so much for whether or not anything that’s happened in the last eight years matters and you know, not in the way of like we’re getting out of a recession this time folks and it’s Barack Obama. It’s like, okay like are people who have mental illness or you know are still living through a lead crisis or so many other inflections. Are they still gonna have healthcare come January 2017? And unfortunately, like a lot of those people are, you know, not in the middle class. And when you close your eyes and think of who’s not in the middle class. I know that in all reality, it’s not, It’s not a poor black person. I think the reality is it’s like a I don’t actually know I think it’s like I think it’s a poor white person but it still is it still is within within like your own spectrum of imagination to realize that it is going to be a lot of a lot of poor black people who just get screwed this election season. And now live in some states where historically and by historically, I mean like for 50 years haven’t had to have like this large amount of documentation behind them to prove that they’re an American citizen.

[00:38:20]
Marissa: I’m just going to take a step back from the interview for a second and explain what Elizia is talking about. Many states in the last few years have passed laws to make it difficult for people to vote in elections. More and more states are asking for some form of photo ID claiming that they’re trying to fight voter fraud. Maybe the sounds logical. Yes, you should be able to prove who you are when you vote. The problem is that millions of registered voters in our country are low income or poor and they do not have the means to get a state or federal issued ID. And this is because they do not have the other documents needed. So what happens is with every state that votes to require ID for voters. We are not allowing millions of people to vote millions of people whose voices need to be heard most. And now back to Elizia.

 

Elizia: So out of nowhere like there’s grandmas who just straight up or like how do I get a driver’s license when I don’t know where my birth certificate is because I was born under like severe oppression or I was basically born to a family of sharecroppers. How am I supposed to find any of that identification that you deem necessary to let me vote? So there’s so many people that might just not be able to express their voice at a time though really matters.

[00:39:38]
And I mean, for the historical, we, like black people marched hard. They fought hard. They lost their lives so recently to make it so that it was easier to express yourself at the polls. And to take it away from some of those specific people. It just blows my mind.

Marissa: I’d like to go back again and finish up with the Black Lives Matter movement. The whole thing is so much more than a movement against police brutality and violence. At its core, it really is about identity.

Elizia: Yeah there really is a it’s a it’s a great way to express the fact that you don’t you don’t need to be living your life in a corner. And, you don’t need, for aspects of my own upbringing, like I think that I grew up thinking that I had to be insanely smart and poised and just kind of like ready to be put in some sort of like intellectual ring at any given moment. And that’s great. That’s definitely helped me in my own college and career life. But at the same time the fact that I could you know see a younger kid and be like, you know that you can just be you. Like there’s no there’s no need to, there’s no need to strive to put yourself above anybody else so that you can be smart for a black girl or pretty for a black girl or well-spoken for a black girl. You were amazing for a black girl and that that aspect I really do appreciate about the movement as well.

It’s been great to follow. It’s been great to participate when I can and and I mean they do so many so many things have branched off of that but just, you know helped with this fatigue from time to time. Like I love black all magic. I love that. I got invited to this like little selfie group on Facebook. It’s just black selfies.

[00:41:38]
Yeah, I love that there’s. I love that there’s. It hasn’t had any given moment taken away from the fact, that while we’re fighting for our rights and we’re fighting for ourselves, that doesn’t mean that we can’t be celebrating ourselves too. So, you know, there’s like this notion of black excellence and all these things that really, you know, just put us back in the perspective that like all were fighting for is the beauty that we’ve already seen in ourselves.

[Narration]  

[00:42:08]
So that’s the conclusion to this week’s episode. I hope you enjoyed Leelee’s account of her life in Flint. She’s so passionate and so involved in the communities. She’s helping to educate. It’s so inspiring and interesting for me to hear. I hope it was for you, too. Too check out more from The Undefined. You can visit our website at theundefinedgen.com with links to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and we’re available on Soundcloud and iTunes. Also, please contact me with ways to improve. I would absolutely love that. Next week’s episode, I talk to my friend Eric Garcia. He started his dance company Detour Dance his junior year at San Francisco State. He works with tons of different dance companies in the city. He works his ass off to get grants so his company can put on these amazing local performances and then a few times a year, he does these awesome niche drag shows. He’s hilarious. So listen next week. Bye listeners!

[Theme Song]

 

WHAT DID YOU THINK?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *