Ingrid LaFleur talks about Laying the Foundation for the New Aesthetic in Her Mayoral Bid
“The solutions to the problems that have developed during our time in power will most likely need to be solved by those who aren't conditioned to see through our lenses.”
“I care so deeply for Detroit that I want the city to be clean and beautiful for everyone no matter where they live, no matter what their socio-economic status. A beautiful city instills pride and joy, which leads to a strong and caring relationship to Detroit. Beauty is one of the many ways to inspire citizens to participate in city government” Detroit Mayoral Candidate Ingrid LaFleur
What is politics? Perhaps it is the social metrics of mass manipulation and demagoguery of citizenery for the purposes of personal gain? Or, is it an endeavor of selfless service? Is it the marshaling of higher ideas into pragmatic policies that are enacted legislatively? Is it a call to design, curate or marshal economic, cultural and social resources for the benefit of all? E pluribus unum - from the many come one? Is it power “by any means necessary”? Is politics big corporate donations and private $10,000 plated dinners? Is politics good or is it great? Does one quality necessarily negate the other? Is politics colluding with hostile foreign governments, billionaire buddies and world powers to satisfy personal agendas and multiply wealth for cronies and family?
Is politics the ultimate Machiavellian con-man’s game?
Resist: resist, resist and resist. Then, reset, re-juice, rejuvenate and revolutionize. Oh, and organize, volunteer and vote! This is how Ingrid LaFleur continues to bring a spirit of renaissance and renewal to the Detroit communities she loves. Since 2015, she has dared to dream of a new future, a new way and a perfect beauty. But more than dream, she has harvested sweet fruits of cultural revitalization bringing bright futures hereto only imagined in Octavia Butler novels, Earth Wind and Fire opuses, candidate Obama speeches and President Obama policies. She is a conjurer with unlimited resources as she shapes light energy into film festivals, workshops, TED discussions and mayoral bids that capture imagines and enliven spirits.
"We had the opportunity of a decade (to create the Long Beach Civic Center) but we had to put politics aside and build collaboratively. It was really a magical time. You have such an ability at that level of local public service to make a difference. It is where the work gets done. Civic politics is a team sport, you have to work with the other members of the counsel to get to the 'Yes'. Also, get out and work amongst the people if you want to appeal what makes peoples heart beat." Dr. Suja Lowenthal – former Council member and Vice Mayor, City of Long Beach, CA
“That's why I decided to challenge our political aesthetic, to ensure that every Detroiter, especially the youth, has a healthy, enjoyable relationship with the city. I want adults and children alike to imagine themselves having a prosperous life in Detroit that actually comes to fruition.” Detroit Mayoral Candidate Ingrid LaFleur
“I have always been the eccentric black girl,” said LaFleur in a USA Today interview in 2015, “Afrofuturism is such an expanded idea of blackness that, for me, it has been a comfortable place to be in.” Ingrid LaFleur graduated from Renaissance High School in Detroit Michigan before attending Spelman College in Atlanta and New York University.
Ingrid LaFleur is part of an ongoing trend around the nation that includes names as Pasadena City Council member John Kennedy, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, former Council member and Vice Mayor, City of Long Beach, Dr. Suja Lowenthal, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and California Senator Kamala Harris- a group of unconventional candidates with various hues of beliefs and backgrounds commonly united around creative governance that is as pragmatic as it is visionary.
These candidates and elected officials join Atlanta candidates Jon Osoff and Khalid Kamau as a new vanguard in progressive values and forward vision to move the country from its current malaise of toxic politics. Jon Ossoff for example was buoyed by $8.3 million in donations from small Democratic donors from around the country. Donors were eager to make a statement about their feelings about the new president and his administration. Both Georgia races week were seen as referendums on the current political environment.
North Carolina’s Richard Krawiec, an enlightened man, recently noted on Facebook, “Angela Davis, Che Guevera, Malcom X, Dr. King, Audre Lorde, Nina Simone, Abbie Hoffman and almost all the other leaders in the fight for progressive causes in the 1960s were in their 20s and 30s (some like Dr. King, Malcom X dead before they hit 40) when they were leading the national movements for change. It's time for us Baby Boomers to give up control, step aside, and let younger activists, with fresh ideas, take their place as leaders of the movement while we take on more support and advisory roles. The solutions to the problems that have developed during our time in power will most likely need to be solved by those who aren't conditioned to see through our lenses.”
“I have always believed young people must take the reigns of leadership early. Martin Luther King, and for that matter, Jesus Christ started their ministries at the age of 25. After graduating from Howard University School of Law, I came home to run for president of the Pasadena Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I wrestled the post from someone in their 80s. My victory, at the age of 25, was not easy! Eliminate the fear!!!” Pasadena City Council Member John Kennedy
On February 28, the arts professional and visionary, Ingrid LaFleur, announced her 2017 bid during a party at the headquarters of art collective O.N.E. Mile, calling herself a “concerned citizen” with an in-depth understanding of the city’s needs. She is running against the establishment in the form of an incumbent mayor Mike Duggan. She is also running against political royalty in the form of Andrew Young, Coleman Young II, State Senator and son of former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young. Her candidacy was announced during the Detroit is the Future event. In her launch bid, the founder of Afrotopia said, she would base her campaign on “uniting, healing, and inspiring Detroiters while bringing humanity to government."
"But we must install civility in all forms of communication. For those of us older than Millennials, social media is a new form for populous appeal. But these very tools of social media present an opportunity because there is a lack of civility in the public discourse. We must instill civility back into our public discourse" Dr. Suja Lowenthal – former Councilmember and Vice Mayor, City of Long Beach
Despite the rigors of a demanding schedule, the high tides of an unconventional candidacy, Ms. Ingrid LaFleur was kind enough to take time to answer some questions thoughtfully and equal measures grace, reality and inspiration:
Does the same drive or inspiration run through AFROTOPIA that runs through your bid for Mayor?
Detroiters inspired AFROTOPIA. Detroiters inspire my bid for mayor. Because I love Detroit so much, I understand that it is the people and the culture they produce that makes the city so warm, welcoming, and uncommonly pleasurable. That's why I decided to challenge our political aesthetic, to ensure that every Detroiter, especially the youth, has a healthy, enjoyable relationship with the city. I want adults and children alike to imagine themselves having a prosperous life in Detroit that actually comes to fruition.
Do you feel Generation X or the Millennial generation have a particular take or position that is not represented in civic politics?
A major concern for these two generations is the ability to self-sustain and be empowered. It becomes a difficult goal to achieve when economic opportunities for advancement are few and far between. I want to note that I am specifically speaking about the current socio-economic system in which we exist that privileges whiteness and heterosexual men. For this reason, it is important to develop a new framework for city governance in a city where the majority of the citizens are Black women
“We understand the game of politics but we work to go beyond those limiting thought patterns of how things should be accomplished and manifest the ideas that are progressive, inspiring and pleasurable for every Detroiter.” Detroit Mayoral Candidate Ingr
Do you have a particular connection or insight to the community that is not currently met by the current mayor?
I am a born and raised Detroiter. My father taught me to appreciate the beauty and life of this city way beyond the surface. My connection to the neighborhoods and the creative, cooperative communities that exist within Detroit is intimate and compassionate. That makes me completely invested--intellectually and emotionally--in making sure Detroiters are provided for. This provision includes the safety of every citizen, accessibility to fresh food and air, clean water, affordable housing, recreation, and wealth-building opportunities. Another underestimated but significant aspect of revitalizing Detroit is, quite simply, beauty. There are many parts of Detroit that are clean and beautiful but there are far too many that are physically strained. I care so deeply for Detroit that I want the city to be clean and beautiful for everyone no matter where they live, no matter what their socio-economic status. A beautiful city instills pride and joy, which leads to a strong and caring relationship to Detroit. Beauty is one of the many ways to inspire citizens to participate in city government, which ultimately is the goal. It engages the minds, souls, and imaginations in a real and vital conversation. Voices of the citizens not only should be heard but also reflected in the policies and initiatives the city implements. However, city government must be trusted in order for people to feel that their voice makes a difference. Right now trust in government is low and that affects participation on the level we truly need in order to revitalize the entire city. I'm hopeful that the trust I've gained throughout the city can become an effective bridge for co-creation.
You are running against an incumbent mayor and a the son of legendary candidate. How can you, an outsider win, where these two “establishment choices” will not?
Because of my non-traditional background as a mayoral candidate, I bring a fresh, forward-thinking approach to politics and campaigning. I am free to imagine the possibilities for the city and craft a campaign that reflects the principles I’ve imagined. My team is knowledgeable and experienced in politics, yes, but they are ready to push the envelope to create the equitable government that we all dream of. We understand the game of politics but we work to go beyond those limiting thought patterns of how things should be accomplished and manifest the ideas that are progressive, inspiring and pleasurable for every Detroiter.
“AFROTOPIA, the place, is constantly being created, altered, and augmented. At its core, AFROTOPIA is the physical manifestation of time and space dancing together, blurring the lines between the familiar and the imagined.” www.Afrotopia.com
Perhaps, politics is the art of what is possible?
In 2017, the millennium is still young. Think of 1917, a millennium ago: America was on the brink of World War I and was not even a world power. The United Nations did not exist. World War II - perhaps the beginning of the “modern age”- had not occurred. America was just at the beginning of transforming from an agricultural society into an industrial one. Televisions, never mind cell phones and computers, were not invented. Liquor was not yet legal - as a matter of fact, Prohibition was not yet a US Constitutional Amendment. Woodrow Wilson was president and Hollywood was two years old with Birth of a Nation only coming out in 1915. 2017 is young in the thousand year history of a millennium and a new century. What history will be reported in 3017? That is dependent upon decisions, innovation and bravery inherent in the current moment. Unconventional campaigns and candidacies as Ingrid LaFleur’s are a harbinger of the new future that continues to take hold in this reality.
The US Constitution expresses American politics as, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Beyond the 24/7 vitriol and hyperbole of corrosive politics, vitriolic social and mass media, this is the reality of a governing document in both form and inspiration. Further, the great seal of the United States of America reads Novus ordo seclorum it is the “New Order of the Ages”.
Just keeping it 100 however, these edicts were made in a time when tens of millions were enslaved, murdered and terrorized - a national legacy that is still unfolding nearly 400 years later. However, as has been suggested by some of America’s most successful visionaries, legislators and statesmen, America stands as a nation of ideas and we Americans are working towards our higher ideas. Forward and progressive mean the future will not be delayed, sacrificed or stunted for the past. It means clear eyes fixed on the horizon.
Nobel Prize author Toni Morrison has said of the politics of art, “All of that art-for-art’s-sake stuff is BS. What are these people talking about? Are you really telling me that Shakespeare and Aeschylus weren’t writing about kings? All good art is political! There is none that isn’t. And the ones that try hard not to be political are political by saying, ‘We love the status quo.’ We’ve just dirtied the word ‘politics,’ made it sound like it’s unpatriotic or something.
“That all started in the period of state art, when you had the communists and fascists running around doing this poster stuff, and the reaction was ‘No, no, no; there’s only aesthetics.’ My point is that is has to be both: beautiful and political at the same time. I’m not interested in art that is not in the world. And it’s not just the narrative, it’s not just the story; it’s the language and the structure and what’s going on behind it. Anybody can make up a story.”
Ingrid LaFleur is the future deciding it will continue to assume the mantle of leadership and responsibility in the present. Hers is literally the “art in the world” Morrison articulated. It is an ascendant and cosmopolitan view of the world. It is deciding to step forward and have the courage and conviction of ancestors who came before and continue to come into our own.
Ingrid LaFleur’s campaign is a strong indication that tomorrow’s folks have come to pull us into the future. Sculpt, pain, draw, write, envision, curate, compose, campaign, code and yes, vote. We will stand upon that plateau of blood, sweat and tears, look to the horizon and take those strides of faith and belief. You may find the future is there, Cheshire grin, with open arms. Or, maybe, she’s just there waiting patiently.
“Creating imaginative and effective solutions to address social challenges. By fusing elements of science fiction, magical realism, ancient history, and non-western cosmologies, AFROTOPIA serves as an invitation to actively create tomorrow and consciously control destiny.” www.Afrotopia.com
Lay down your funky weapon./Yeah y'all, here we go Lay down your funky weapon, come join us on the floor/ Making love and music's the only things worth fighting for/ We are the new power generation, we want to change the world./ The only thing that's in our way is you./ Your old fashioned music, your old ideas.
New power generation, you've got to rearrange. We've got/ We are the new power generation, you've gotta give up all the fight/ We gotta try to love one another, baby. we are the new power generation/ We are the new power generation./ We are the new power generation.
Prince, NEW POWER GENERATION