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Artists and activists gather in Southwest Detroit for water shutoff awareness

Antonio Rafael of The Raiz Up leads a group discussion. STEVE FURAY PHOTO

Antonio Rafael of The Raiz Up leads a group discussion.
STEVE FURAY PHOTO

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Detroit’s water shutoffs brought people together July 6 to Southwest Detroit’s Clark Park as the Raiz Up hip hop collective invited activists, poets, musicians and community members to share their knowledge and experiences of this urgent issue, in addition to the art it has inspired.

Residents and visitors shared the latest news and information and possible preventative actions in response to the shutoffs, followed by a hip hop performance from local artists.

“Everybody hang out, enjoy each other, enjoy the weather,” said Candace Cavazos, a poet, emcee and organizing member of Raiz Up, speaking from the Clark Park stage. “Please feel free to get on the mic, you don’t have to be an artist, you can talk about your experience with the water issue in Detroit, you can come and share your story about it.”

The Raiz Up has been meeting for the past three years in Detroit’s Southwest neighborhood, bridging the gap between the city’s young artists and community members with detailed knowledge on some of the region’s most urgent issues.

Monica Lewis-Patrick of the Detroit People’s Water Board was present to give her report on the water shutoffs to the gathering, and gave a special message to the youth in attendance.

“Most of the meetings I attend, the people in the room are our elders. They’re 60 and 70 and 80 years old,” said Lewis-Patrick. “Now we must have a real clear conversation with everyone on both sides of the table, our elders must make a space for you. And then you must recognize that you must respect the work that’s come prior to you. And my generation, I’m 48 years old, we have a responsibility to be a bridge between the two.”

“I feel like hip hop right now is the gospel for our people and what we’re going through,” said Cavazos, “and you might have other outlets or sources that you feel the same way about, not saying everybody has to love hip hop, but that’s my culture.”

Chantay Legacy Leonard, an activist and acclaimed poet in Detroit, took to the stage deliver a new poem about the state of the city’s water services.

“Welcome to the new world order, got us drowning in this new world water,” recited Legacy, “Detroit becomes a desert when the taps are running dry, just like justice for the people, natural rights violation pushing the gentrification agenda.”

The hip hop performances included BRYCE and Will See, both active members of the Detroit People’s Water Board and the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, as well as several youth activist emcees.

For future events from The Raiz Up, visit www.facebook.com/TheRaizUp.

 

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