Pass the MiC

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 5:35pm

Each year, Michigan in Color invites graduating editors to write about their experience and advice for the incoming cohort. In honor of MiC’s fourth birthday, we extended the opportunity to all former editors to reflect on their time at MiC. Here’s what they had to say:

Adam Brodnax

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Adam Brodnax, Business Senior, MiC ‘17

"Giving advice to a space I just left feels so hard to articulate. I miss this space so much and after meeting Rima just the other day, she brought to life the beauty of its conception and reiterated the necessity of its existence. I felt so fired up after meeting her and seeing you all — wishing I was still here celebrating in the joy of our writers and being present to parse their pain. I felt the power of this space as a contributor with its ability to heal and build resilience. And I felt the weight of this space as an editor with the responsibility we have to this space.

Michigan in Color was a space where I figured myself out. It was a space where I could unwrap — to let my insecurities and internalized hate fall away. In just my short time with this space, I’ve felt the depth of emotions with my fellow editors. From protecting our space with all our might to being on the offense when our contributors were shown hate, we’ve fought for each other through our love for this space. The advice I would leave you as MiC grows is that as it thrives, blossoms and sprouts, don’t forget to tend to the soil. Venture into the possibilities, but don’t forget that this space was built on a revolutionary act. Storytelling is a liberating act of resistance. To give power, agency to People of Color is a revolutionary act.

To, Jason, Ashley, Christian, Halimat and the new cohort — I know that you all will carry this space forward with grace and continue to fight for justice. I am blessed to have contributed to this space, and I am so grateful for what you all do."

*****

Sabrina Bilimoria

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Sabrina Bilimoria, LSA Alum ‘17, MiC ‘16

Anyone who knows me today knows I have trouble holding my tongue when it comes to politics. I’m politically charged, to say the least, and I’m not afraid to show it. Growing up, however, I hated politics. Despite my love of reading, writing and history, I slugged through the required government classes in high school, avoiding the AP options at all costs. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, during President Obama’s re-election campaign that I took a leap of faith and willingly enrolled in a political science class. That campaign, for me, became distinctly about the people behind the policies (and the “binders full of women;” #tbt to GOP shame of the past). Like a match, my passion for politics was ignited, I was sucked in by the presidential debates and the discussions that followed among my classmates. 

The following year, as a bright-eyed freshman who has always had a secret dream of being an investigative journalist, I joined The Michigan Daily as a Copy Editor, too scared to trust my own voice as a writer. Week after week, I was tasked with fact checking news and opinion stories; I was intrigued by the political stories and used them as an opportunity to learn more about local government and the facts thrown around during the popular political debates. I enjoyed contributing, even ever so slightly, to these political conversations. But I became eerily comfortable with the format of hiding opinions behind numbers and charts. And while cold hard calculated facts tell one side of a story, rich and important narratives are lost among these generalizations. 

I distinctly remember the first time a Michigan in Color story was sent to the Copy desk, I had read a few of their stories before, and as the only person of color at the desk that evening (and one of very few on the entire staff), I jumped on the opportunity to edit the story. It wasn’t the story itself that stuck with me, but the way it engaged and evoked a deeper understanding of the issues it raised. It was the harmonious marriage of narrative and political discourse I never knew I was looking for. I knew I had to join this incredibly passionate and inspiring group of people.

My passion for law and policy was born out of a commitment to humanize political discourse — to unearth the stories that have been silenced by years of denying the rights and humanity of minorities in this country and abroad. Michigan in Color fills an important void that extends beyond the Michigan campus; it brings to light the lived experiences behind the often empty political discussions that have become increasingly important in today’s climate. MiC plays an integral role in reversing the whitewashing of history — and more importantly, herstory.

To the current and future generations of MiC editors, writers and readers, I urge you to take ownership of this platform — don’t be afraid to engage and to share. As a Zoroastrian Pakistani-American, I’ve always been more comfortable starting the deep discussions rather than contributing to them, and this was a role I truly enjoyed having as a MiC editor. My own confusion with my identity and narrative is something I’m still trying to work out. My favorite part of being an editor was helping writers take even the most barebones of ideas and helping them craft their story. MiC is a community where deeply complex identities and narratives have always been welcome, where people of color are allowed to be more than the limited representations of us that currently exist. I encourage you to be bolder than I was, to find your voice in this community and unapologetically share your story. This platform is and always will be here to amplify your voices.”

*****

Alyssa Brandon

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Alyssa Brandon, LSA Alum ‘17, MiC ‘16

“I joined Michigan in Color in a bit of an unorthodox way. I wandered in from another section of The Daily in the middle of the academic year, really unsure of what was next for me as a writer, or what my next big thing would be. I was met with an amazing group of people, Sabrina, Toni, Demario, Ashley and Christian, who welcomed me with open arms as one of their own and helped me find a new sense of direction and purpose for myself as a writer and activist.

My one semester as a senior editor for MiC was well spent. We hosted an amazing open mic event where I was able to meet and connect with many wonderful storytellers of color on campus, some of whom I’m still close with today. It was a blessing not only to support communities of color to share their truths, but also to have the chance to share my own. Michigan in Color challenged me and taught me to be brave and unapologetic, and I haven’t been the same since.

My cohort of MiC editors also had the amazing opportunity to interview the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The reverend drew on his more than 50 years of experience in civil rights activism to share with us his insights on the state of our current socio-political climate following the latest presidential election. His words reminded us of the urgent need for us to work together to shift the tide of racial political climate more toward justice, but also reassured us that we, students of color, had all we needed to carry on in our fight for true hope and equity. I’m filled with gladness to have had the chance to share that deeply profound and spiritual experience with my MiC family when we needed it the most.

My time in MIC was short, but I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve the students of color at the University of Michigan and work with such talented, dynamic, people. To the new MiC team, you have the privilege to be a part of a movement that is so special and will undoubtedly leave a legacy at the University and beyond. Cherish this time, it really flies by! Use this time to branch out, connect with other communities on campus and learn empathy, but also use this time to learn to appreciate and develop the amazing skills and talents you bring to the table toward activism and advancing justice. I’m so proud of the growth and success MiC has achieved over the past several months and am so excited to see what it will achieve in the future.

In solidarity, always and forever!”

*****

Sivanthy Vasanthan

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Sivanthy Vasanthan, LSA Senior, MiC ‘17

“Michigan in Color has meant the world to me. Most noticeably, MiC gave me the chance to pursue activism through writing, a form that I both succeed in and struggle with. I’ve had opportunities to help other People of Color find their voices and formalize their truths and lived experiences. In turn, my time in MiC also made me more confident in my own writing. Despite both of my parents having strong talents and passions for it, writing is something I was enthusiastic about as a child but fell out of as I grew older. Being in MiC pushed my creativity and allowed me to rediscover my love of reading and writing.

MiC also introduced me to people I truly appreciate with my whole heart. My fellow 2017 editors have been more than just colleagues and are a family to me. Late nights at The Daily were always so lively and filled with laughter and banter. I’ll miss all of the brunches, midnight donut runs and impromptu gossip sessions. You all have supported me so much and have allowed me to grow immensely as an individual. I’m so grateful to have worked with a wonderful group of writers, activists and friends. Adam, Areeba, Ashley, Christian, Halimat, Jason, Neel, Tanya, thank you for being a part of my life.

While it has been the end of an era for the 2017 editors, I am so excited to see the achievements of the 2018 editor cohort! I have no doubt that you all will continue to carry on MiC’s legacy and bring tremendous growth and change to the section. I have two pieces of advice for the new editors. First, if you have something specific that you would like to write or produce, just do it. This space is filled with countless opportunities for you to pursue whatever you would like to. Experiment, try something new, bring back something done in the past! MiC is a unique section in The Daily that allows for immense creative freedom. Second, don’t hesitate to rely on your fellow editors. In addition to being talented writers and colleagues who can help with ongoing projects, your editors can and will support you beyond that. The friendships you’ll make in MiC will last you a lifetime.

I am so proud of everything MiC has accomplished and look forward to all that the section will do in the future. Thank you for letting me be a part of this journey.”