Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Racism has long been a hot-button issue. Call someone a racist – or be accused of it yourself – and emotions are sure to start flying, whether the allegation is true or not.
We at Between The Lines see ourselves as both an advocate for Michigan’s LGBT community, but also a watchdog for it. We report news – hopefully good, but not always – about our community because it’s our duty to tell the truth, not because it generates reads.
So while this issue’s news report on the formal complaint of racial discrimination filed against Affirmations community center is something we take very seriously, we urge Michigan’s LGBT community to take a step back before taking sides or pointing fingers. We’re doing the same.
In 2006, similar accusations of racism at the center resulted in a rift in our LGBT community that we are still healing from. The wounds that battle opened up are still raw, and it’s possible that we haven’t done enough to aid in healing them.
This week, Affirmations Chief Executive Officer Leslie Thompson said that racism “is always going to be a topic; it’s always something we’re going to have to be aware of” when we asked her if she believed it was still an issue at the center. We commend her honesty, and hope that it hints to the rest of the community what we all need to remember when issues like this come up.
Whether Affirmations is guilty of racism, we can’t say. But regardless of the outcome of the investigation, or how each of us personally feels, the response of the community should remain the same: get involved.
If the Michigan Department of Civil Rights finds that no racial discrimination took place at Affirmations, we shouldn’t close the book and assume that everything is peachy. Leslie Thompson knows better than that, and so should we.
And if you think there is racism at Affirmations, express your concerns to the staff or Board of Directors. Join the Multicultural Advisory Committee. Organize educational events at the center. Speak out. Even hold a peaceful protest.
But in those actions, work against racism – not the center itself.
Turning our backs on our community center – both with our involvement and our financial and voluntary support – is never going to solve any issues of exclusion, racism or hurt feelings. Drawing a line in the sand, pointing fingers and yelling only magnifies our problems.
After everything we’ve been through as a community, we should know by now that it’s always better to work toward solutions together. After all, how does a person or group learn to transform their prejudice into understanding? By being taught.
It’s clear that racial diversity and inclusion is still a complicated issue for both the center and the LGBT community as a whole. It may come out in actions and words, or it may just be something some of us feel. We’ll continue to report on it, and we hope our LGBT community will continue to work on it.