race relations

Arts & Culture
4:07 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Michigan History Foundation to get $1 million grant

Credit Michigan Historical Center

A $1 million grant is going to the Michigan History Foundation.

It's from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and will help the Michigan Historical Museum revamp its 25-year-old exhibits.

But the grant is also meant to focus on racial equity. The money will be used for the museum's "Sharing Michigan's Untold Stories" project. Some of that will include stories of the indigenous tribes who where here before the Europeans came. 

Sandra Clark directs the Michigan Historical Center. She is working to incorporate diverse stories and voices into the museum.

Read more
Education
4:43 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Students to hold all-night event to discuss race on UM campus

University of Michigan students hold a demonstration on campus.
Adam Glanzman

University of Michigan students are holding an all-night event later this month to discuss race on campus.

The event, billed as a "Speak Out," is being organized by the United Coalition for Racial Justice, a student organization consisting of students and faculty members.

The event will build on momentum gained by the university's Black Student Union to make the campus more inclusive and diverse.

Read more
Education
4:30 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

University of Michigan administrators boost efforts to improve racial climate on campus

The Trotter Multicultural Center at the University of Michigan may move closer to the university's central campus as part of an effort to improve race relations on campus.
MESA/Trotter University of Michigan

Administrators at the University of Michigan are “doubling down” on efforts to improve race relations at the university’s Ann Arbor campus.

Minority enrollment is down at the university: In 2008, black students made up about 6.8% of the university’s freshman class. In 2012, that number dropped to 4.6%.

A recent Twitter campaign caught the attention of administrators, as students took to the Web to express their frustrations with race relations on campus. The #BBUM campaign – Being Black at Michigan – went viral, with more than 10,000 tweets using the hashtag in November.

As MLive’s Kellie Woodhouse reported, the university is now launching a campus-wide effort to increase enrollment of underrepresented students and improve the campus climate.

One plan in the works is to renovate the Trotter Multicultural Center, a hub dedicated to providing a safe working environment for students on campus.

Read more
Education
10:49 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Does diversity make for better schools?

Coverage of desegregation in Detroit's public schools in the Detroit Free Press.
Credit clipping courtesy of Ray Litt / via Detroit Free Press

In short, the answer is 'we don't really know.'

Stanford University's Sean Reardon studies achievement gaps - the difference between how one group of students performs compared to another group.

When comparing black, white, and Latino students, Reardon says you see the importance not so much of race, but of class.

"Over the last 40 or so years, the black-white achievement gap and the Hispanic-white achievement gap have narrowed a lot," Reardon said. "On the other hand, the gap between high and low income students has increased quite dramatically."

Reardon said that particular gap has grown about 40% since the 1980s. 

But while economic diversity might matter more in ensuring a quality education, that doesn't mean people want to give up on racial and ethnic diversity.

Ray Litt, a community activist involved in Detroit's Milliken v. Bradley case, reflected, "The desegregation action was to provide a quality integrated venue in which students and staff are exposed to and can interact with kids of different races religions and economic status," he said. "We all need to be able to be comfortable, not tolerating, a society that is the melting pot."

Racial diversity is not something you are likely to find in a majority of Detroit's schools, even after a hard fought desegregation plan.

Read more and listen to the whole story at State of Opportunity.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:47 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Remembering the day an Ann Arbor teen blocked crowd from attacking alleged Klansman

From the BBC article
screenshot of BBC Magazine page

Update 2:47 p.m.

Many people asked where Keshia Thomas is today after this post.

The BBC reported that Keshia lives in Houston now. Ryan Stanton over at the Ann Arbor News caught up with her. He reports that Thomas moved out of the area in 2002 and is working in a restaurant in Houston:

She said she still has family in the Ann Arbor area and plans to move back to Michigan before long so she can be part of the revitalization of Detroit [Thomas was born in Detroit].

Thomas said she's still trying to make a difference in the world and still trying to break down racial stereotypes through small acts of kindness.

She said disaster relief work has been a passion of hers over the years, whether that's meant going to Ground Zero after the twin towers fell or helping those in need following Hurricane Katrina and wildfires in California.

"This has just always been a passion of mine — even before the incident happened — to want to help people," she said. "And to help people see that there is hope."

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 3:39 p.m.

A BBC article that’s making the rounds today tells the story of one Ann Arbor protest that took an unexpected turn.

Back in 1996, the Ku Klux Klan planned a rally in Ann Arbor. Hundreds showed up to the group’s rally, attempting to show the group that they had no place in the Michigan city.

Police had kept the two groups under control — that is, until an anti-KKK protester pointed to a man in a Confederate flag T-shirt, claiming he was a Klansman.

Suddenly, the atmosphere in the crowd turned, as protesters chased the man down the streets of Ann Arbor, amidst shouts of “Kill the Nazi.”

Read more
Law
12:35 pm
Sun July 14, 2013

Group plans Detroit protest against George Zimmerman jury verdict

Zimmerman didn't talk to the media after his exoneration, but his lead lawyer said they were "ecstatic with the results."
NPR

DETROIT (AP) - Several groups say they're holding a rally at a downtown Detroit park to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida.

The Coalition Against Police Brutality says it and other groups are holding the rally at 6 p.m. Sunday at Grand Circus Park, which is near Comerica Park and Ford Field.

The group says the action is a protest against the "egregious jury verdict in favor of George Zimmerman."

Education
11:02 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Listen again: State of Opportunity's latest documentary on race

Credit Jennifer Guerra

Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA says, "Michigan is an absolute national leader in segregated schools." Orfield means in reality and not by law, but how is this possible in 21st century America?

State of Opportunity reporter Jennifer Guerra goes into Michigan high schools and neighborhoods---from Grand Haven to Detroit's west side---to see how race and racism are playing out today in an era some are calling "post-racial." 

Read more
Law
4:43 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

National Action Network to rally over 'no-black-nurses' lawsuit

Hurley Medical Center in Flint (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Update 4:43 p.m.

The CEO of the Hurley Medical Center in Flint denied accusations that it kept black nurses from caring for an infant after a father made a request to do so.

From the Flint Journal:

Hurley CEO Melany Gavulic said the father was informed that his request could not be granted...

Gavulic said the request was not granted and that all nurses remained available to care for his baby.

“We (Hurley) value the support of the patients who entrust us with their care and the dedication of our physicians and staff,” she said. “This includes nurse Battle and her quarter century of professionalism and dedication.”

Gavulic declined to comment or answer questions regarding the lawsuit.

11:24 a.m.

The Flint Journal's Ron Fonger reports that Al Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) will hold a rally today outside the emergency room of the Hurley Medical Center in Flint.

The  Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the Michigan chapter of NAN, said the Hurley story is being watched across the nation.

"There is growing concern around the country about how this could be in 2013," Williams said today. "There will be growing pressure as Hurley continues to be quiet."

The group is protesting the treatment of an African-American nurse who claims she was barred from treating an infant after the father made a request that no black nurses be allowed to treat his child.

The Flint Journal reports the incident occurred last fall. The suit claims the father went to the nurse's supervisor with the request.

The father, who is not named in the suit, told the supervisor that he did not want an African American nurse taking care of his baby, the suit alleges. The father allegedly rolled up his sleeve and showed a tattoo that was believed to be a swastika while talking with the supervisor, the suit says.

According to the lawsuit, the supervisor then reassigned the infant to a different nurse.

On Nov. 1, 2012, a decision was made to grant the father's request that no African American nurses care for his child, the suit alleges.

In a statement, Hurley Medical Center says it "does not comment on past or current litigation."

Robin Erb of the Detroit Free Press spoke with legal scholars about the case.

Requesting care based on religious principles or sex appears to be requests hospitals try to accommodate, but others draw the line on requests based on race.

Read more
Education
5:48 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Are we so different?

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

As part of the theme semester Understanding Race, the University of Michigan has brought in a special exhibit to further examine what race means. "Race: Are We So Different" is currently on display at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. I met up with Dr. Yolanda Moses, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside  - to take a walk through the exhibit.

Offbeat
4:43 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Stateside: Author Kevin Hofmann on growing up as a biracial child

Kevin Hofmann's book, "Growing up Black in White"
http://www.kevinhofmann.com/

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

One very clear aspect of President Barack Obama's story is that he grew up biracial in America.

His mother was from Kansas. His father was Kenyan.

Author Kevin Hofmann grew up in a similar environment.  

He was born in 1967 to a white mother and a black father, just two and a half weeks after the Detroit riots.

He lived in foster care before being adopted by a white family, where he became the fourth of their three children.

Hofmann’s memoir is entitled "Growing Up Black in White."

On “Stateside” today he recalled his adoption experience.

“They had approached the adoption agency and said we want to adopt. They only qualified at that time for what was called ‘hard-to-place’ kids. Back in 1967 and in some places today, biracial children are considered hard-to-place.  So that’s how I came to them. My dad was an associate pastor at a large Lutheran church in Dearborn. Much to our dismay, the church was very vocal about disapproving of having this biracial child in their congregation."

Read more
Arts & Culture
1:58 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

University of Michigan project to explore role of race in US

American Anthropological Association

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan is embarking on an effort to explore the role of race in U.S. society.

The Ann Arbor school's "Understanding Race Project" is an ongoing initiative during the January to April semester. It's dedicated to public and academic discussion about scientific, historical, cultural and individual perspectives on race as a social construct.

There are nearly two-dozen exhibits and nearly 90 events planned. They will look at race from both national and global perspectives.

Read more
Education
1:32 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Undoing Racism: A two-day workshop in Ann Arbor

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond pisab.org

Race issues can be difficult to talk about. People often focus on differences, rather than what they have in common.

This weekend, The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, is holding a two-day workshop in Ann Arbor called, “Undoing Racism.” Friday is the last day to register for the workshop, at the Ann Arbor Community Center.

Rachael Ibrahim is a volunteer community organizer and one of the event trainers. She says the workshop is open to everyone.

“Students, parents, teachers, administration, it’s an important conversation for everybody because there is no one who can escape racism. It exists everywhere, whether we see it or feel it, it exists," she said. "So this conversation is important for everybody."

As an African American women, Ibrahim says she personally sees many inequities that need to be addressed. “Whether we’re talking about health care, whether we’re talking about the rate in which people are incarcerated… if we look at education… and we see some trends, then there is something important to look at when we can see the disparities among people of color,” she said.

Read more
Commentary
10:50 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Commentary: Questions of Race

Throughout Detroit’s financial crisis, the governor has had a consistent message: This is about money and financial mismanagement, not about race. This didn‘t have anything to do with  the bitter racial issues that have plagued Detroit and complicated the city’s relationship with the suburbs, and the state, and itself.

Read more
Commentary
1:06 pm
Thu February 24, 2011

Emergency Financial Managers

If you had any doubts about how difficult the situation is for local governments these days, consider this. Even before they tackle the budget, our lawmakers in Lansing have been working hard on new emergency financial manager legislation.

Yesterday, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a package of bills designed to make it easier to appoint emergency financial managers to run troubled cities and school districts.  The legislation also gives those managers broad new powers. The Senate is expected to easily approve this as well.

Read more
Commentary
1:13 pm
Tue February 22, 2011

Sins of the Fathers

Something happened this week which will, unless something changes soon, have the effect of finishing the job of effectively destroying the Detroit public schools. And maybe, Michigan’s future.

The state department of education has ordered Detroit to put in place a financial restructuring plan that would close half the district’s schools within two years. That would result in an  average high school class size of sixty-two students.

Read more