Long before the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic was popularized on social network sites Black women in Detroit have been employing art in their processes of self-articulation and efforts to deal with the complexities and challenges of life in the city. The scripts of African American women that dominate the commercial hip hop industry and their impacts on girls and women have received thorough analysis in academia; yet, the practices, representations, and discursive articulations of independent, Black women hip hop artists remain underexplored. In particular, this essay draws on Deidre “D.S. Sense” Smith’s spoken word poem “On My Detroit Everything” to illuminate the counter-narratives and scripts that Black women have been creating to document, validate, and voice their experiences at a critical point in Detroit’s history as it underwent and continues to deal with the after effects of bankruptcy. Hip hop artists who use cultural production to accomplish grass roots community-building offer alternative visions of what it means to do political work. More than a strategy, we argue that such practices serve as the foundation for a movement that is significant and worthy of documentation in the contemporary neoliberal moment where in policies are accelerating the continued disenfranchisement of people of color in cities such as Detroit.
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