Report identifies Lansing has problems with racial equity; this committee says it found the plan to fix it

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Lansing city officials are talking about racial issues and they have been since the mayor created a “Racial Justice and Equity Alliance” committee after the murder of George Floyd.

Members spent a year talking with people in Lansing, and just released their first report.

From housing and economic development to public safety and arts and culture, people of color in Lansing haven’t had the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

That’s the general summary of the report put together by the MREJA, who now says the planning portion is over and it’s time for the action to begin.

City leaders looked at racial issues in the community.

“One of the most profound calls for change centered on police reform,” said Teresa Bingman, a consultant for the MRJEA.

“It was the vision of our committee that the BIPOC population have the tools, opportunity, access, expertise, resources and training needed to start businesses and to secure high paying jobs,” said Alame Laws-Barker, co-chair of the economic development committee.

“In order for a city to thrive, all of its citizens must be included in the development of art and music,” added Lorenzo Lopez, committee leader for the MRJEA’s arts and culture committee.

“Last year the Ingham county board of commissioners had the courage to basically declare racism a public health crisis in this county. And racism is a public health issue,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail. “When we know that 40% of our health outcomes are driven by social and economic factors like education, income, transportation, housing, then we know we have to go after those things to really course correct what’s happening with our people and their health.”

So now that the research is done, how can this be implemented?

Mayor andy Schor says for starters, the city has hired its first equity inclusion and diversity officer and is re-working its on-boarding process for city jobs and has begun police reform.

Willard walker, a long-time activist and the city’s community services consultant likes the conclusion they’ve come to. But he says he must continue to see action

“It’s a good plan, but it’s not worth the paper it’s written on if we don’t look at it and implement it carefully,” Walker said. “We cannot tell you it’s going to take a year and everything will be fine… We’ve got the direction, but it’s now up to us.”

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