101.9 WDET presents “COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience.”
Through WDET’s StoryMakers and in partnership with Documenting Detroit, we’ve commissioned five documentary photographers to create a multimedia introspective that taps into our shared experience of the novel coronavirus. Over ten weeks, the artists will create work under a given assignment.
This week’s assignment: “Aspiration.”
Introduction by Courtney Wise Randolph
Click play to listen to Courtney narrate the introduction to the final chapter of “COVID Diaries.”
I knew the day was coming, when I’d have to choose parting words to share with you about living through a deadly pandemic. But blah, blah, blah — I’m not prepared for it.
What is there to say really? I keep circling back to my own personal epiphany — the freshness of the past 100 days, many of which were awful, sometimes tricks my mind into believing they’re the worst I’ve ever endured.
But they aren’t. There’s victory in that… for me. When I step back and consider my life up to this point, I know I can get to the other side of this. But where’s the peace in that for you, if COVID-19 has presented the very worst of life that you couldn’t even imagine?
I don’t know.
But it’s made me consider this: My grandmother survived racism so thick it’d make you vomit. Her daddy died after being hit by a car. He might’ve lived with medical treatment, but he was Black. The hospital that could’ve helped him sent him to the vet.
My grandmother still managed to love people after that, a few whom were white.
That says to me that fortitude isn’t something I can speak to you, it’s something you grow into. You get more of it as you seek your life each day. You won’t know what you can survive until you do.
And if you’re still here, Listener, whoever you are, wherever you are — that’s my wish for you. That you seek your life because you’re here anyway. That you love on your journey because that’s why you’re here anyway. And that hope and fortitude find you whenever you need them to renew the promise to yourself to carry on.
Everyone’s experience is different.
WDET is inviting you to share your own COVID Diaries.
Take a picture or video that reflects your own interpretation of the weekly theme.
Post your photo, tagging @wdetdetroit and #WDETCOVIDDiaries
“I hope that my photos show that — that sense of joy we feel when we’re together.”
Click play to hear Amy Sacka’s on the joy in gathering together.
To close out the COVID Diaries, I kind of returned to where I began which was taking pictures of my family and taking pictures of the people who are closest to me.
I think if there’s one aspiration I have, it’s to be able to celebrate these milestones like Father’s Day, and birthdays, and Fourth of July without worrying about how many people we can be around… how far away we need to be from people. That’s my aspiration and I hope that my photos show that — that sense of joy we feel when we’re together.
Because if we can’t be together, I think it’s going to be a pretty lonely winter, to tell the truth.
“I’m hopeful for the first time in a really long time that things are going to turn around and there has to be more. There has to be more.”
Click play to hear Rosa María’s reflection on COVID Diaries.
I can’t believe this is going to be the last installment.
To think about where we started and how I was feeling during that time — all of the anxiety and frustration and everything — to where I am today, it’s just… it’s pretty interesting.
I keep saying that word — pretty “interesting” — but I can’t describe it any other way because I’ve never gone through something like this before. Like, who’s gone through a pandemic? It’s a lot to think about: The way that the world is changing and the way that we have to adapt to it.
I’m also just so proud of being from Southwest and I have so much love for my community and everything that everybody’s doing. I really leaned on the people that I really love and that I look up to and admire, and it’s really just made me cherish everybody so much more.
It’s a really tough time. There’s a lot of grieving, there’s a lot of pain. And I’m hopeful for the first time in a really long time that things are going to turn around and there has to be more. There has to be more. We have to figure out what’s next and I’m just really looking to those that I really love and finding peace with them, for sure.
— Rosa María
“I just have aspirations for people to do better.”
Click play to hear Darryl’s hopes for the future.
The photos I submitted this week are documentation of a small protest outside of the Detroit Free Press.
I have aspirations for this society to do better. For Black femmes to be safe. They shouldn’t have to feel as if they’re always being preyed upon. I want them to be able to exist and live without fear. And when I say Black femmes, I mean all Black femmes: Black cis women, Black trans women, Black non-binary femme people.
That’s all I ask for: For people to show respect. Be respectful to people. Leave people alone. I have aspirations for men to know what consent is and that sexual abuse and sexual harassment is a multitude of things — it’s more than just aggressive rape. It’s groping, it’s catcalling, it’s harassment, it’s following, it’s stalking… it’s so much.
I just have aspirations for people to do better, because what is going on?
“My aspiration is solidarity. Solidarity between those of us that are suffering under systems, whether that be economics, health or how people are treated for the color of their skin or their beliefs.”
Click play to hear Erik’s thoughts on solidarity among the oppressed.
It’s a prerequisite for “good people” to forgo their ego and their fragility in public conversations so that they can set people, themselves included, free rather than shut down critical dialogue.
So, my aspiration is solidarity. Solidarity between those of us that are suffering under systems, whether that be about economics or our health or how people are treated for the color of their skin or their beliefs. But also, that people that are benefitting from different parts of that system in different ways would also join that conversation with accountability, bringing to that conversation acknowledgements of how they are benefitting from the way that things stand. That’s the other part of solidarity that’s part of my aspiration. With that kind of solidarity and that kind of accountability, together we can get to the truly aspirational work. The work that’s right in front of us if we’ll take it.
“I hope to never do a visual diary based on an outbreak ever again, because that means that we’re not living in a healthy world.”
Click play to hear Rachel’s reflections on COVID Diaries.
If you’ve made it this far with us in our journey, I just want to say thank you.
I was struggling as to what to document or what I wanted to express for my final week of my visual diary. In late June, there was a Black and brown solidarity rally and march in Southwest Detroit and documenting that was very special. Out of all the marches and rallies I’ve been to over the past two months, that was the most meaningful to me. I really wanted to do something special with them. It also incorporates my passion of collage, and documenting and storytelling.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to listen to my voice the past few months. Thank you for looking at the photos, or commenting. I really do appreciate you.
And I hope to never do a visual diary based on an outbreak ever again, because that means that we’re not living in a healthy world. Although things will never go back to how they were — and I don’t want them to — I still would prefer not to revisit something like this.