Oral Interview with Jammella Anderson

Albany Institute of History and Art
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00:00:02 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: Ok, today is the 19th of January, 2023, I am Lacey Wilson, public servant of the Albany African American History project, and I am here with Jammella Anderson who goes by they/them pronouns and I go by she/her. I'm intending to do an oral interview talking about their nonprofit work, their work in protests in the capital district and capital region, as well as the clothes that they create and the art coming from that.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson introduces Jammella Anderson and they speak about growing up in and around Albany. Anderson discusses how different life was in Albany when they were a child and how it has shifted today.

Keywords: childhood; community

Subjects: Albany; Clifton Park; early life

00:05:29 - Food Insecurity

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: Let me know if I'm incorrect in remembering this. I remember in reading up about you, that you had struggled, your family, with food insecurity before you had gotten into where you are now.

Jammella Anderson: Yeah.

Lacey Wilson: So what did that look like?

Segment Synopsis: Anderson and Wilson discuss the scarcity of food and how the area they grew up in did not reflect the struggles they faced. Jammella states the different resources that were at their disposal and how they recognized poverty as a child.

Keywords: perception; poverty; resources; scarcity

Subjects: Albany; divide; food isnecurity

00:17:53 - Beginnings of Activism

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: So, if we switch over a little bit, I feel like when we think about people who are activists and working in the communities, there are so many different ways to start in that kind of work. What would you define as your start in community focused work?

Jammella Anderson: Like community advocacy?

Lacey Wilson: Sure.

Segment Synopsis: Jammella Anderson discusses their early days as an activist and how hard it was for their voice to be heard. They also mention how the beginning of the pandemic affected their cause.

Keywords: activism; community; reparations

Subjects: Amplifying voices; community advocacy; pandemic

00:22:03 - Activism During the Pandemic

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: Well that's where I wanted to dive into. Like, what did that actually look like? So the pandemic hit, things are shut down, what're your first steps as you started this phase of your community work? Not to discount the stuff you did before, what're the first steps looking like?

Jammella Anderson: I quit my job in March and that was like right before the shut down.

Segment Synopsis: Anderson discusses their activism at the height of the pandemic and how they collaborated with local artists and advocates to help with their cause. Wilson and Anderson also discuss feeding the community and giving back to those in need.

Keywords: fundraising; outreach; performative

Subjects: community outreach; pandemic; performative activism

00:29:30 - Personal Anecdotes and Community Support

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Partial Transcript: Jammella Anderson: I'm not the only one who went through what I went through. I'm not the only one who like didn't have resources. I'm not the only one like, I left it out before but, my mom started drinking, she started doing drugs, so like by age 15, my parent was like nonexistent. You know, and I still have nightmares about that.

Segment Synopsis: Anderson begins with some of her background and the struggles they faced growing up. They explain what it means to be supported by your community and that everyone is deserving of basic necessities. There are small and big ways a community can support each other.

Keywords: Stigmas; community; support

Subjects: Community Support; Intergenerational Trauma; Learning and Unlearning; Mutual Aid

00:33:37 - Displays of Poverty and Food Waste

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: So when you're reflecting back on your experiences as a child, struggling through a lot of this, and watching other peers and different neighborhoods and places struggle as well, and then now to be at this space where you are able to collaborate and offer assistance, when you reflect back on comparing those experiences, how did your vision of poverty expand or look like? How did your vision of food scarcity change?

Jammella Anderson: I'm sorry, as an adult?

Lacey Wilson: Yeah as an adult.

Segment Synopsis: Anderson reflects on how their view on poverty has expanded as an adult. They talk about the lack of resources, how poverty was designed, and how they've seen it demonstrated in the capital region.

Keywords: poverty; resources; seperation

Subjects: Food waste; capital region; systemic racism

00:44:01 - Fundraising and Acknowledgements

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: So as you were setting this up, initially as a lead person, and sort of putting this together, how were you fundraising for this? Or how has the fundraising for this shifted during the time that you've been involved?

Jammella Anderson: It's honestly always been the same. I've done crowd funding and we have just recently got a grant and we still don't have it yet so its all been crowdfunding and donations from people so that's like really it.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson asks Anderson how fundraising works and how it has shifted since the start of the pandemic. Anderson also takes the opportunity to thank those that have helped them along the way, including; South End Children's Café, Food Co-op, United Way, and Erin Donahue.

Keywords: donations; fundraising; grants

Subjects: Nonprofit; community; crowd funding; donations; grants

00:49:01 - Time Magazine

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: And so when we think about the many ways in which the community sees you and are affected, we have to then go immediately to the fact that you were on the cover of Time Magazine. What was that process like?

Jammella Anderson: That was really crazy. So I quit my job, like I said earlier, March 2022, and literally a year later I was on the cover of Time Magazine. So that was nuts.

Segment Synopsis: Anderson shares their experience working with Time Magazine in 2021. They discuss how being on the cover affected not only their activism, but the ripple effect it had on other advocates.

Keywords: Exposure; activism; recognition

Subjects: Exposure; Ripple Effect; Time Magazine

00:54:06 - Clothing: Accessibility and Inclusivity

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: So I was going to shift to the creation of clothes because all the hard work that people do in advocacy and in nonprofit work its very intentional, I think, for a lot of us and that's what I feel like when I see you promoting the stuff on social media.

Jammella Anderson: Yes.

Lacey Wilson: That is an art form you have really adopted and poured your whole self into. So I just want to focus on that for a bit. How did you get started, what would you say was your start?

Segment Synopsis: Anderson discusses how they got started in clothing and why it is such an important topic to them. They explain how the hobby turned into a business and how it helps the community.

Keywords: thrifting; upcycling

Subjects: accessibility and inclusivity; thrifting; upcycling

00:59:24 - Final Notes and Rewriting History

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Partial Transcript: Lacey Wilson: So I feel like we've reached sort of an end here.

Jammella Anderson: Yeah.

Lacey Wilson: Is there anything that you wanted to, that we didn't touch on yet? Because I've got some reflection questions at the end, but I want to give you an opportunity before that.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson asks Anderson if they have any more notes on their activism. Anderson expresses their thoughts on Black History in Albany and the lack of representation. They emphasize how important it is for children to see themselves and their history depicted in museums and statues.

Keywords: representation; tokenizing

Subjects: Black History; representation; tokenizing

Jammella Anderson

Date: 1/19/2023
Publisher / Location: Albany Institute of History & Art
Medium: Audio / MP3
Catalogue Number: DM 0002

Jammella Anderson (they/them pronouns) describes themselves as a problem solver and artist.  Their work combating food insecurity in the Capitol Region was documented in a Time Magazine article and cover. They have handmade many pieces of clothing sold and worn all across the Capitol Region.  Listen to their interview to hear how they grew up in this area, what inspired them to focus on food insecurity and the inspiration behind their art.