DETROIT AND THE ALLIED MEDIA CONFERENCE
When I was trying to comprehend the fact that I was actually going to Michigan, I could not really get past the idea of flying on a plane. It would have been my third time on an airplane, but the first time was when I was five, so it was like the first time all over again. I was not scared, but I was pretty anxious. I could not help think about all those planes with engines in flames and busted windows. Thankfully, I was with a friend who was more experienced with flying and was able to keep my uncertainty at bay, even when my stomach dropped and my ears popped during takeoff.
After landing in Detroit, we took a Lyft to Wayne State Campus and checked into the dorm rooms we had booked. We stayed in a four room suite with each of us in our own room complete with a bed, a desk, an armoire, and a dresser. I was surprised to find the plastic mattresses were actually very comfortable, but I was so tired everyday it did not even matter. My favorite part of the room was the window by the bed with a nice view of an area of the campus with a volleyball net. The first night I watched people congregate there to play volleyball and a pretty intense looking game of baseball in the grass. Immediately after checking out our room, and having a bite to eat, we went to register for the conference. After a few mishaps, we successfully checked in and sat down to check out all of the available sessions.
The Allied Media Conference had hundreds of sessions to choose from that ranged across every possible intersection between minorities and people who were generally treated second to others. Navigating these sessions was a little difficult with them being at different times and all over the campus, but we got to most of the ones that sounded interesting, and the results were varied. Some were unexpected, like the session we went to on the War on Drugs. We decided to attend because we had just made a video about the War on Drugs, but they did not talk much about the war on drugs so much as the way recreational drugs have developed in different minority communities to venture away from its cultural roots. I do not know what I was expecting, but it was definitely not as it was described. Some sessions were a bit more interesting, like the one that redefined scamming to fit the necessity of manipulating a system already against minorities, specifically black people navigating the business of entrepreneurship and freelancing. It was a session I felt I could relate to and apply to my life as I increase my interest and intent to start creating concrete ideas for a business I hope to start. I even liked the session we went to accidentally that discussed the relationship between food rooted in minority cultures and colonialism that simplifies it. I had no idea what to expect at this conference, but I can say I was pleasantly surprised. As fun as those sessions were, they were long, and after a couple, we were ready to get out and explore the city.
Going to Detroit was different than any other trip I have taken because it made me think about how small my perspective on the world might actually be, and that no matter how familiar a place may seem, it can still be strikingly different. As much as I try to learn about the world there will be some things I will just have to experience for myself. This was such a great opportunity to hear varying perspectives from people who could relate to me in one way or another. No matter what session you went to you knew that there would be someone there who understood your perspective, but also would challenge you to rethink it. That is why travel is so important for youth these days, and why this trip was so great, because we have to have safe places to challenge the ways of life we know in order to grow.
-This trip was supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.