Meet Michaela Ayers, host of the Black Her Stories podcast.
Michaela Ayers wants you to know there isn’t just one way to be a Black woman. We can be writers, scientists, artists, librarians, or teachers, and none of that negates our Blackness.
But above all else, we are human. Though each individual has their specific life story, sharing those stories helps us realize that we’re all moving through this world with complex experiences, emotions, and trauma.
This is what Ayers’ Black Her Stories
podcast teaches us. The podcast officially launched last week featuring intimate conversations with Black women writers and storytellers. The trio of episodes feature three writers from Detroit — La Shaun Phonenix Moore, Imani Nichele, and Brittay Rogers.
“There’s a universal truth to the human experience,” Ayers tells Metro Times
. “Don’t count it out just because it’s called ‘Black Her Stories
’ or think there’s something in there that isn’t for everyone. There’s this idea that Blackness is one specific thing, but there are so many ways to be a Black person. I don’t remember hearing that as a young person and it was really confusing and hard to figure out myself as a person and love my Blackness.”
Ayers is a writer and anti-racist facilitator through her social impact organization Nourish
. She grew up in Nebraska but now lives in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood. Ayers created the Black Her Stories
project back in 2019 as a community panel discussion but decided to turn it into a podcast this year.
The podcast’s first season, which will have seven episodes, focuses primarily on Black women in literature from Detroit.
Across the three episodes, Ayers and her guests get into some deep topics like the mother wound — a type of deeply ingrained intergenerational trauma that is passed down from our mothers. They also discuss work from poets they think everyone should know about, like Aricka Foreman and Natasha T. Miller (both Detroit natives).
One of the most prominent things that repeatedly comes up, however, is the pride that comes with being from Detroit, one of the Blackest, most creative, and simultaneously complicated cities in the country.
“The people I spoke with all speak of Detroit with so much love, but they also acknowledge the city’s complex history,” Ayers says. “There is no illusion around the history of segregation and race relations, but they are proud to be from here. It’s kinda like loving that family member who’s complicated, but they still got you. That felt really special because I haven’t experienced that in all of the places that I’ve lived.”
La Shaun Phonenix Moore characterizes Detroit as both a hero and a villain on her episode of the podcast, something that every human being has the capacity to be.
“They all identified Detroit as a human character,” Ayers says over the phone. “It's like as an individual, I have my good days and the days that I’m not so good. You can’t love someone without seeing and also loving the shadow side of them. That’s a very human experience.”
Anyone from Detroit can identify with this complex love/hate relationship. The beauty of living in Detroit is that the city has a way of inspiring people to be the best versions of themselves by finding inventive ways to survive out of necessity. It’s the way we find community with other like-minded people living a shared experience.
But Detroit also has the ability to swallow you whole if you peer into its darkness for too long and aren't strong enough to not get sucked in. If that isn’t a metaphor for humanity on a grand scale, I don’t know what is.
The Black Her Stories
podcast will release new episodes monthly and can be found on Apple, Spotify, and all other major podcast platforms. You can also listen to it on the Nourish website
The first season was funded by Seattle-based non-profit the Pomegranate Center and sponsored by the Allied Media Project. Ayers says she is currently looking for funding to continue the series, as well as guests who are interested in being on future episodes.
More information is available at nourish.community/podcast
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