Promoting Latino and African American Collaboration through Dialogue and Engagement III

A Summary Report of the Black-Brown Dialogues Summit III: Harnessing Our Potential

May. 2020

Approximately 100 summit participants from across the state gathered in East Lansing to participate in a daylong summit on imagining what a more equitable and inclusive Michigan would look like and how this vision could be achieved. The day’s events included presentations by Dr. Roberto Dansie, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Sylvia Puente, and Detroit’s Black and Brown Theater. The following two prompts guided the summit process: 1) Identify indicators that life is getting better or worse for Black/Brown communities in Michigan, and 2) Create a brief narrative that we can make Michigan more inclusive. Indicators that life is getting better or worse for Black/Brown communities in Michigan Indicators of ways in which life is improving for Michigan’s communities of color varied from group to group. Examples include: the election of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, specifically her support for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants; the Detroit Public Schools Community District declaration of being a sanctuary district; increased cultural awareness and collaboration across communities of color; more people of color in elected office and other leadership positions; programs such as the Flint, Lansing and Kalamazoo Promise programs; and the emergence of social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. A number of common issues emerged across working groups as indicators that life has gotten worse for Michigan’s communities of color. These included: poverty and income inequality; declining educational attainment and inequitable access to resources; gentrification; environmental racism; inequitable access to housing; immigration enforcement and anti-immigrant federal policies; reemergence of overt racism and White Supremacist movements; inequitable access to healthcare systems; and police violence toward communities of color. Narratives that we can make Michigan more inclusive Common themes also emerged in the narratives drafted by the working groups, including: acknowledgements of the indigenous peoples on whose land we are standing and the value of indigenous wisdom; intergroup unity/solidarity and greater cultural understanding and recognition of commonalities; greater representation of people of color and, in particular, women of color in elected office and positions of leadership; the protection of voting rights, increased voter participation, and an end to gerrymandering; and a need for systemic reform, embodied in one group’s mission statement, “to bravely address structural racism, and to create statewide policies and laws that intentionally address areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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