East Lansing community members discuss diversity issues

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The city of East Lansing is working to fight back against discrimination and help everyone in the city feel included.

It’s all starting with a discussion over a cup of coffee.

East Lansing city officials say they want to be proactive when it comes to discrimination within the city. Instead of waiting for people to come to them, they’re making themselves more available to anyone who needs help.

“Myself, being a young brown man, I have experienced it myself and I know that feeling,” said East Lansing city councilmember Aaron Stephens.

Stephens knows firsthand what it’s like to be judged based on the color of his skin.

“The worst part about discrimination is sometimes it just goes under the radar,” said Stephens.

So instead of sitting back and being quiet, he wants others to know that it’s okay to speak up.

“If they’ve been discriminated against because of X thing, their weight, their height, you know, they have retribution in the city,” said Stephens.

That support sparked a new Coffee & Conversation series in the city. The first one was today at downtown East Lansing’s Blue Owl Coffee.

Topics range from diversity, to human rights issues, to religion.

“The point of these conversations is to make sure we’re addressing everything,” said Stephens. “Equity is not a pass a resolution and then you’re done, it is a constant fight, whether it’s racial issues or LGBTQIA+ issues, you know, this is a constant conversation about what could we be doing better.”

For those who might be afraid of sharing their experiences, Stephens says:

“The hesitation is always going to be there, but even if it’s just reaching out via email, right, having a conversation with maybe one commissioner, or you know a city council member and just saying ‘Hey this is what happened to me, I don’t know what I want to do about it, what are my options’, that’s something that you can do, and we encourage people to do that,” said Stephens.

Today’s Coffee & Conversation event was the first of many. The next one will be on August 18th at the Expresso Royale on Lake Lansing Road.

For more information, click here.

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