Nandi Comer is Michigan’s first Poet Laureate in over 60 years. Her writing is flavored with descriptive adjectives painting pictures of time, place, space, and much more. The Poet Laureate of Michigan has roots in the Shrine of the Black Madonna, found a love of poetry in a Summer Job, Fan of attending Luche Libre Wrestling in Mexico, and is also a friend of Detroit is Different. Her work advocating for, creating, and appreciating art is life-fulfilling. Discover more about Nandi’s background and how her journey has left an impression on her that is now shared amongst the world in poetry.
Comedy is a joke to many but for Mic Larry, it has been an inspiration, motivation, and purpose. From the Cooley neighborhood, the Redford Huskie basketball player was a gifted athlete from birth. Mic Larry’s life has been a testimony to finding glory through storms. Learn his approach to utilizing time and taking advantage of the opportunity. Comedian Mic Larry opens up about starting from scratch and making a way in life again and again. Get introduced to one of the masters at the craft of comedy, Mic Larry.
Laughs, smiles, Joy, and love are acts in life that fulfill life. Zsa Zsa has spent a lifetime adding this flavor to her family. In this feature, Zsa Zsa opens up about the pain that brings trauma and tragedy to many families in our community. Zsa Zsa shares how hee solutions of adding life, imagination, creativity, and fun have centered loved ones in times of need. Today her talents and skills have her hosting events, radio programs, and much more. The 910am host of the “Yea I Said It” show opens up about her background. Check out a powerful and inspirational feature on Detroit is Different.
Grand River Ave and Joy Rd have taken on many iterations of the Black experience. Bomani has witnessed them all since the 1970s. Bomani began in connecting to a community of Black consciousness as a die-hard enthusiast. Today in a role of leadership for the Detroit Chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Organization he is sharing the knowledge he has gained. May 19th in honor of the Birthday of Malcolm X Detroits chapter will be hosting an event. Learn more about the passion and process of Bomani in his Detroit is Different feature.
Depending upon when and how you and when you meet Antonio Rafael, you could have an engaging exchange on many things. When connecting with Antonio, concepts from the community will be balanced with the world or vice versa. Antonio’s journey from Southwest Detroit and having working-class parents left grand impressions of ways development impacted the community. Studying at Eastern Michigan University strengthened Antonio’s global understanding of how corporations exploit people internationally. Today Antonio works in art, farming, and advocacy. This was a classic back-and-forth conversation between micro and macro concepts that is thought-provoking and enlightening. Check out the Detroit is Different feature of Antonio Rafael.
East Pole Town to many Detroit residents is Chene, over there by the old Packard Plant, or Tyree Guyton’s artistic footprint. For the families that live in the community, it is a place with rooted traditions. Jasmine Noble taught at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School and had the plan to connect the school to the community. Jasmine was in love with the Boggs approach of collective learning, leadership, and community. ComeUnity was founded in 2009 and served the Romulus community. In 2013 when Jasmine joined Boggs. She was inspired to find a school that cared about the community as she was. As she began working in the community where Boggs started, the non-profit partnered with the school. I envisioned the headquarters being in that community and as time continued, joined with others who were doing aligned work, Freedom Dreams.
Wisdom is the application of lived experience. TeShayla Coates has walked many paths in life, providing an in-depth relationship in understanding how to connect with people. Coates Communications gives clients assets to share their messaging locally and internationally. TeShayla’s path to building the business was from playing a role in retail services, paying for school out of pocket, and raising a child at a young age. Confidence and courage empowered TeShayla to bet on herself and venture on her own to start Coates Communications. Learn more about her journey and story.
Arlyssa Heard struggles with crushing debt from student loans and a high-interest car payment. The single mom was excited to get a promotion at her job, but did not want a huge raise.
“The extra $150 extra take-home in my paycheck meant losing benefits worth far more,” she said.
Detroit residents like Heard hear over and over again they’re to blame for their financial situations and the state of their neighborhoods. They’re told they can pull themselves up by the bootstraps if only they try hard enough. Yet the system that’s supposed to help Arlyssa keeps her from getting ahead.
Our current economic system is not working to improve the lives of people in this city. Every day, Detroiters are struggling to make ends meet while enduring exploitative, poverty-wage jobs and punitive, deficit-based social support programs. For decades now, Detroit has been ranked among the cities with the highest rates of poverty. As a native Detroiter, this sobering reality hits home. Detroiters deserve better…Detroiters demand better!
Guaranteed income is a powerful tool.
More than 100 community groups and faith leaders, residents and businesses have signed a letter to elected officials demanding that Detroit join the growing number of municipalities with a guaranteed income pilot. The goal is to push for a federally-funded guaranteed income by demonstrating the benefits. By setting aside at least $1.5 million in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars – to be matched by a philanthropic partner – we can invest in our Detroit neighbors immediately and lay the groundwork for much-needed changes to our social support systems.
Here’s how it works: Participants get recurring cash payments that they can use however they want, without any restrictions or preconditions. (Guaranteed income is different from Universal Basic Income, which distributes cash transfers to an entire population. Rather, guaranteed income distributes cash to a specific group of individuals who experience systemic challenges inadequately addressed by current programs.)
Direct cash is a proven tool that works. Data from multiple guaranteed income pilots across the country—as well as the expanded monthly Child Tax Credit in 2021—have shown that direct cash payments are one of the most efficient and effective ways to lift people out of poverty. Participants experience drastic improvements to job prospects, food and housing security, financial stability, and their overall well-being and mental health. We have to let go of harmful stereotypes that people experience poverty due to their own failings. We need to embrace a policy shift that recognizes that Detroit residents are experts in their own lives. People need investment in their goals and full control over their choices. They deserve the dignity to choose their pathways to economic mobility.
“We’ve made plenty of gains and we keep on climbing, but we aren’t at the level where we should be,” said Heard, who signed the letter calling for a guaranteed income. “We need this because when we benefit, everyone else benefits.”
What we’ve been doing to reduce poverty in this city isn’t working. Poverty is a policy choice, and as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure, the guaranteed income.” In this upcoming budget cycle, Detroit has an opportunity to take a step in this direction by making an investment in its greatest asset, the people.