BATTLE CREEK, Mich., Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Michigan has long been a place that has welcomed a diverse range of people and cultures, but its history is one filled with significant inequities in treatment and outcomes for peoples of color. This is the focus of a new report, "Struggles and Triumphs of Peoples of Color in Michigan," released by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. The report will also be highlighted at the Michigan Roundtable's 65th Annual Humanitarian Tribute Luncheon being held today at the MGM Grand Hotel in Detroit.
The report consists of a series of essays contributed by historians, academic researchers and community leaders detailing key historical and cultural moments for African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Islander Americans and Arab Americans in Michigan. The essays are incredibly useful in providing an understanding of the many diverse communities that call Michigan home and should be examined by any and all leaders in the state looking to eradicate racial inequities for Michigan's children.
"At the Kellogg Foundation, we believe strongly that in order to put racial inequities behind us, we must first put them in front of us and include the voices and participation of all people," said Dr. Gail Christopher, WKKF's vice president of program strategy and the lead of its America Healing initiative to support programs that promote racial healing and address racial inequity. "Through the rich essays captured in this report, we hope to inspire people to take action to change hearts, minds, laws and systems to forge a healthier pathway for our home state of Michigan."
The report links key moments in the state's history to specific geographic regions within Michigan. For example, one essay focuses on the history of African Americans, who at first dealt with the violence of the Ku Klux Klan – whose existence in Michigan is a little known fact – that forcibly segregated blacks within Detroit. There are also several positive and hopeful moments detailed, including the tremendous growth of the Arab American community in the post 9-11 decade – especially in the city of Dearborn, which is 30 percent Arab American and one of the very few cities in Michigan to see a population increase between 2000 and 2010.
"In bringing together the experts who wrote this report, I sought to model it after Howard Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States' that chronicled the labors of everyday people who sought to
change our country on a large scale," said Matt Hoerauf, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion's community development manager who edited the report. "I believe that each community has had within it people who have struggled for or against inclusion of others. This is a history that is seldom known in the community, but has a direct correlation to some of its common strengths and challenges in the present. I hope that this report encourages local experts to create similar local peoples' histories and gives community members the will and the tools to acknowledge histories of discrimination and work toward reconciliation so that all community members can thrive."
For more than 80 years, the Kellogg Foundation has been committed to improving the lives of Michigan's children, with nearly $300 million currently invested in its priority places of Battle Creek, Detroit and Grand Rapids, as well as across the state. WKKF works to engage all who live in and care about Michigan to raise their voices and take action on important issues related to whole child development, including education, childhood health and food systems, and family economic security, all with a strong emphasis on eliminating disparate outcomes for children based on race and poverty.
"Our community partners throughout Michigan have expressed a strong interest in receiving credible and thoughtful perspectives on the history and unique characteristics of the state's many diverse families," said James McHale, vice president of program strategy for the Kellogg Foundation. "This report will help our partners ground their work to erase the racial inequities in outcomes we see for Michigan's children of color in the real lived experiences of the communities they serve."
In addition, the Kellogg Foundation also commissioned "Native American Children in Michigan," a report authored by David Cournoyer that provides historical context for the "tenuous" relationship between Michigan's 12 federally-recognized tribes and the state government, paying particular attention to attempts to erode Native American education programs and the disproportionate number of Native children who find themselves in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Executive summaries and the full reports are available at www.wkkf.org/michigan.
About the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion
Since 1941, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion has been a not-for-profit civil rights organization located in Detroit working to overcome discrimination and racism by crossing racial, religious, ethnic and cultural boundaries. The organization brings together community leaders from government, law enforcement, education, faith, grass roots organizations and business to understand different points of view and then take action to overcome structural impediments to inclusion and equity. Its programs are recognized by national organizations for bringing about sustainable change. It works to address inequity throughout our region through a process of recognition, reconciliation/reorientation and renewal. It strives to build relationships that create social justice and build sustainable inclusive communities.
About W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.
SOURCE W.K. Kellogg Foundation