People who know Michelle Brown will say that she talks to everybody.
“I am always collecting lost souls, new friends and the people I’ve met throughout various parts of my life always have such great stories and are doing all kinds of stuff,” said Brown, a voice for women, African-Americans and the African-American LGBTQ community. Born and raised in Detroit, she has used her strength as a communicator to confront the issues of affordable housing, community development, gentrification, homelessness, drug addiction, and bringing HIV/AIDS housing to Detroit.
She will continue talking to everybody as the host of her own internet radio show called “Collections by Michelle Brown” on The Live Network presented by Elevation Nation Media Group.
Brown is always looking for new opportunities to add to her repertoire which includes advocating for youth empowerment. She has worked with several youth programs to initiate reading and writing workshops for children in the Detroit Public School System.
Brown is a guest columnist whose viewpoints have appeared locally and nationally in Between The Lines, GBM News, the Detroit News, Michigan Citizen and Cherry Grrl.
Brown has worked as a commentator on Radio Free Georgia’s “Alternative Perspectives,” and has appeared on Democracy Now! She co-hosts a blog talk radio show “Can We Talk For Real” which airs out of Chicago and a monthly open mic program called “Evolution” in Ferndale. She is also a novelist, a children’s author and a poet.
“Collections” premiers at 7 p.m. Jan. 5 and will air every Thursday online. Brown spoke with BTL about the show described as “a natural, organic, authentic and powerful collections of interviews created to highlight the lives of those standing boldly in the crosshairs of their intersectionality and creating change as they move through life.”
What does intersectionality mean to you?
Right next to that in the dictionary is me. Don’t put me in one box or the other. I will be talking to people coast to coast and out of the country, even, about who they are and what they do. The things they have always been interested in. Everyone has something about them and when they walk into a room, you want to put them in this box rather than look at all these other things that people are capable of beyond what you see.
In what way does your voice matter?
When you start to talk about intersectionality, I think about one of my earliest experiences getting to know people in the transgender community. Someone said to me, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to walk into a room and be judged based on who you are.’ And I’m going uh, yeah, I do. As an African-American person, a woman who is a mother with an adult child that lost both of her parents — I can talk about the whole spectrum from being the child to being the caregiver and all the places in between. I think because of my background I’m able to express things in a way that reaches out and crosses barriers. This show is not just geared toward African-Americans. It’s geared toward everybody and when you ask, “Why me?” I have often been the only black child in a group of white people, the only Catholic in a group of Baptists, the only gay person in a group of straight people, the only artist in a room full of political activists, an African-American woman who has that resourcefulness — the way you learn how to see the good and to reach out and help. As history is changing when pretty soon minorities will be the majority. How do we as women use all of our skills? Hopefully, everyone from a teacher to an octogenarian will see something in me and say, “You know what, if Michelle can be bold and do it, then I can be bold and go out and do it.”
What is something you have learned by talking to people?
That sometimes life’s a bitch and you have to stretch your toes out as far as you can to touch the bottom so you can start to rise up.
Tell us something people might not know about you.
I am into worm composting to the point where I was making worm boxes and showing kids how to do it. I believe in the environment — composting, recycling and reusing. People say things like, “Oh, I love what you have on” and it’s something from 10 years ago. I recycle clothes. That part about the environment and how we’re going to live is really, really important to me. I also speak Spanish. I love all things espanol. I have traveled to central and southern America and see myself living in one of those places in my golden years whenever I get to those.
Is there someone in the radio industry who inspires you?
I think I’m like a black Terry Gross. I’m an NPR nerd. I like to ask questions that make people think, like her. To help people learn more about each other and what we are doing and see themselves in that person. Engage the listener so they say, “I never thought about that.” Kind of like worm composting. Anybody can do that.