InspiHERed By spotlights phenomenal women in the Black queer community—everyone from artists to activists. Each week ELIXHER features someone whose personal journey and individual craft inspire us to dream bigger, laugh harder, and love deeper. This week we catch up with Adrienne Maree Brown, a 32-year-old Detroit resident and self-professed “American revolutionary.”
ELIXHER: When did you begin advocacy work?
ADRIENNE: As far as I can remember, I’ve always been a writer-activist. I notice injustice so much, and the ways we could be growing. Having an experience of love on the world set me up to be an idealist, being born into a military family made me aware of power dynamics pretty early on. I will say I became more of an activist after Amadou Diallo was murdered by the police – that moment, seeing the anguish in NY at that time, changed me.
ELIXHER: What kind of advocacy work do you do?
ADRIENNE: I am really interested in media justice, environmental justice – the ways we tell our stories and the ways we relate to each other and the planet – these seem like the major places of growth right now.
ELIXHER: Why do you think it’s important?
ADRIENNE: I would say my work is transformative organizing and facilitation. I don’t think we will get where we need to as a species by reforming and just getting a bit more from this broken system. I think we have to really change the way we think of economy, put much more emphasis on relationships rather than on a competitive impersonal exchange.
ELIXHER: Who or what inspires you?
ADRIENNE: My nephew and niece inspire me to not give up, but also to do my work more from a place of joy and healing than critique. Long-term activists like Grace Lee Boggs give me hope – she still believes in transforming the world by transforming ourselves.
ELIXHER: How would you describe yourself in three words?
ADRIENNE: The luscious satyagraha [means truth force].
ELIXHER: What’s the biggest misconception people have of you?
ADRIENNE: Folks don’t believe I have an introvert side.
ELIXHER: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
ADRIENNE: I will say insecurity is the biggest challenge over time. Am I good enough? I overcome it by meditating on my insignificance and releasing myself from the pressure of being perfect. Also, I’m into The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz.
ELIXHER: What makes you proud to be a part of the Black queer community?
ADRIENNE: I am proud of the particular truths we tell. We sit on an edge of the world and from that vantage point we can see a lot about how important love is.
ELIXHER: What changes would you like to see in the Black queer community?
ADRIENNE: More celebration of ourselves and our ways of life that aren’t mainstream. I understand our struggles for equality, but sometimes I think we can aim much higher, see ourselves as an evolutionary life form, transform the culture to value the edges.
ELIXHER: What’s next for Adrienne?
ADRIENNE: Falling deeper in love with Detroit. Art. Singing. Organizational healing – I love working with a group of people trying to do something good in the world and helping them become more functional.