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Heard on CultureShift

COVID Diaries: Love On Your Journey Because That’s Why You’re Here

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Image credit: Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

In the final installment of “COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience,” five documentary photographers created art that illustrates this week’s assignment: “Aspiration.”

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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.

Experience the full series.

This week’s assignment: “Aspiration.”



Aspiration”

Introduction by Courtney Wise Randolph

Click play to listen to Courtney narrate the introduction to the final chapter of “COVID Diaries.”

Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

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.

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Chapter Ten

It’s Eric’s birthday and we’re celebrating in our home with cake and candles. I think all of us yearn to be able to celebrate the milestones of our lives outside our four walls and any number or mix of people.Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

It’s Eric’s birthday and we’re celebrating in our home with cake and candles. I think all of us yearn to be able to celebrate the milestones of our lives outside our four walls and any number or mix of people.

Amy Sacka

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.

Amy

A picture from Father’s Day of my father and my niece and nephews. I see this as a rare slip of time before the next outbreak when we will again have to socially distance from our loved ones. It’s strange that aspiring to “the good old days” is aspiring to what was only a few months ago — a time where we didn’t have to think twice about how to connect, when to touch and how to be together. Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

A picture from Father’s Day of my father and my niece and nephews. I see this as a rare slip of time before the next outbreak when we will again have to socially distance from our loved ones. It’s strange that aspiring to “the good old days” is aspiring to what was only a few months ago — a time where we didn’t have to think twice about how to connect, when to touch and how to be together.

My niece in her backyard. I think to some extent we have become like children during the pandemic. We are innocent and unknowing when it comes to many facets of the virus and what to do in the face of it. And yet we have learned to adapt in ways that require simplification, being forced to look at what’s immediately around us with more wonder.Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

My niece in her backyard. I think to some extent we have become like children during the pandemic. We are innocent and unknowing when it comes to many facets of the virus and what to do in the face of it. And yet we have learned to adapt in ways that require simplification, being forced to look at what’s immediately around us with more wonder.

As I sat waiting to pick up my car from the shop I saw this young man calling someone to bring more gloves for the shop.Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

As I sat waiting to pick up my car from the shop I saw this young man calling someone to bring more gloves for the shop.

Rosa María Zamarrón

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.


Fell for the first time in the two months since I started roller skating. Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

Fell for the first time in the two months since I started roller skating.

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 

Walking downtown, they changed the sign. Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

Walking downtown, they changed the sign.

Protest to Protect Black GirlsTaken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET

Protest to Protect Black Girls

Darryl DeAngelo Terrell

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?

Darryl

Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Residents, youth, organizers, protestors, and supporters, including over 20 local organizations,  gathered at Patton Park and marched to Clark Park and back for "Your Fight Is My Fight" protest rally and march in Southwest Detroit.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Residents, youth, organizers, protestors, and supporters, including over 20 local organizations, gathered at Patton Park and marched to Clark Park and back for “Your Fight Is My Fight” protest rally and march in Southwest Detroit.

Erik Paul Howard

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.

Erik 

Dwane Taylor reflects on 'Your Fight is My Fight' a few days ahead of the event.<br /> <br />'Sunday is a huge day for me. I’ll be surprised if I don’t cry. It’s just amazing, when I came out to Clark Park and realized they had things going on in my own [neighborhood] it made me happy. Growing up here, you don’t have a voice unless you come in numbers, honestly. Southwest is like the lost part of Detroit, a lot of people forget about Southwest. And that’s why it's really making me happy it’s taking place in Southwest. I believe that Corona brought people together. Made everyone realize who they were. Thanks to Corona, I kind of had to sit there and revaluate life and just realize this is not how we’re supposed to live. A lot of the stuff that I think is normal, that we grow up around, is not normal. And the person down the block is going through the same stuff.'Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Dwane Taylor reflects on ‘Your Fight is My Fight’ a few days ahead of the event.

‘Sunday is a huge day for me. I’ll be surprised if I don’t cry. It’s just amazing, when I came out to Clark Park and realized they had things going on in my own [neighborhood] it made me happy. Growing up here, you don’t have a voice unless you come in numbers, honestly. Southwest is like the lost part of Detroit, a lot of people forget about Southwest. And that’s why it’s really making me happy it’s taking place in Southwest. I believe that Corona brought people together. Made everyone realize who they were. Thanks to Corona, I kind of had to sit there and revaluate life and just realize this is not how we’re supposed to live. A lot of the stuff that I think is normal, that we grow up around, is not normal. And the person down the block is going through the same stuff.’

Neighbors, artists, supporters, and visitors gathered in solidarity for the 'Get Your Knees Off Our Necks' event at Clark Park to raise awareness in Southwest Detroit for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.Taken by Erik Paul Howard
Taken by Erik Paul Howard

Neighbors, artists, supporters, and visitors gathered in solidarity for the ‘Get Your Knees Off Our Necks’ event at Clark Park to raise awareness in Southwest Detroit for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

A passenger demonstrates solidarity as protesters march down Vernor Hwy. in Southwest Detroit during the protest rally and march that started at Patton Park and ended at Clark Park in Detroit, Mich.Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

A passenger demonstrates solidarity as protesters march down Vernor Hwy. in Southwest Detroit during the protest rally and march that started at Patton Park and ended at Clark Park in Detroit, Mich.

Rachel Elise Thomas

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.

Rachel

Rosa María Zamarrón passes out water to protesters in the Monte Carlo driven by Nyasia Valdez in Southwest Detroit during the solidarity march that started at Patton Park and ended at Clark Park in Detroit, Mich.Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

Rosa María Zamarrón passes out water to protesters in the Monte Carlo driven by Nyasia Valdez in Southwest Detroit during the solidarity march that started at Patton Park and ended at Clark Park in Detroit, Mich.


COVID Diaries, Exhibition

COVID Diaries is a ten-week multimedia introspective that taps into our shared experience of the novel coronavirus.


Detroit StoryMakers

This post is a part of Detroit StoryMakers.

StoryMakers is a new approach to telling the stories that change how we experience metro Detroit. We train, connect, and support media makers from communities across the region and share their stories with the world. This work is made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

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