Lansing Sends Message to Vulnerable Communities in Wake of Election

BY KATE OPALEWSKI

LANSING - In response to recent incidents of hate speech, bullying and violence related to the presidential election, various leaders in the Lansing area came together to create the Lansing Takes Action movement.

Erika Brown-Binion, director of the Refugee Development Center in Lansing said this is "a direct response to the need to spread the message of inclusiveness and welcoming. We are in uncertain times with regards to policies in the upcoming administration. We need to take a stand and make our voices heard as a collective to ensure that refugees and immigrants, minorities, LGBTQI - our most vulnerable - are protected and welcomed. The purpose of the LTA group is to have a common space where one can share perspectives, ways to take action, events and other avenues to stand up for the most vulnerable."

The RDC is a vital mid-Michigan nonprofit organization serving refugees since 2002, which offers critical educational and social support services for refugee newcomers in the greater Lansing area. The RDC's mission is to help meet the basic needs of arriving refugees and to provide ongoing support leading to the self-sufficiency of newcomers. The organization serves hundreds of refugees from all over the world including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Burma, Bhutan, Iraq and Syria.

"1,700 refugees from 41 countries were served by the RDC in 2015. We seek to ensure that refugees know they are welcomed and supported in this community," said Brown-Binion. "This is why we believe in and support the LTA movement."

Around 50 Lansing-area organizations are a part of this group online including the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, the LGBT Resource Center at Michigan State University, the Fair Housing Center of Southeast and Mid Michigan, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, to name a few.

Their goal is to be receptive to and inclusive of all Lansing residents who feel vulnerable.

The LTA website reads: "We are you. People who believe in the good of our community. People who are in fear and need support. People who want to help. People who are in a position to advocate and stand up. Lansing is - and always has been - a welcoming community. It will continue to be so. Lansing stands for inclusion, and acceptance, and mutual respect. There are allies here. There are supporters here. Whoever you are. Wherever you came from, whoever you love, there is a place for you here. No matter your skin tone, or your language, or your gender, or your choice of religion, there is a place for you here."

For more information, email contact@lansingtakesaction.com or visit their website http://www.lansingtakesaction.com for a list of resources.


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