89.1 WEMU

racial justice

Desirae Simmons
Desiraé Simmons

With the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, and a highly volatile election season, 2020 has been a year of discontent.  Desiraé Simmons is co-director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.  She says the good news is more people have become engaged and are working to take action, but it has to continue to grow.  Simmons joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the growing importance of civic engagement in this week's "Washtenaw United."


Aaron Kinzel
Youth Justice Fund / yjfund.org

A recent study shows African Americans in Washtenaw County are far more likely than white people to be charged with felonies, and sentences tend to be longer.  The data raises questions about prosecutorial discretion and biases in the criminal justice system.  Aaron Kinzel is a lecturer of Criminology and Criminal Justice at University of Michigan-Dearborn and serves as Executive Director of the Youth Justice Fund.  He joined WEMU’s David Fair on "Washtenaw United" to explore bias and the search for equality in the criminal justice system.


NEW
Nonprofit Enterprise at Work / new.org

All too often, when public discourse centers on issues of racial equality and justice, the voices we hear from are from white people.  Ann Arbor-based NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work) is changing that by putting forth leaders in the Black community to lead the conversations.  The online series is called "Centering Justice."  Will Jones III is Relationship Manager at NEW.  He joined WEMU's David Fair on this week's edition of "Washtenaw United" to discuss racism and the task of creating meaningful and lasting change. 


Gavel
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Due to recent heightened awareness of racial bias in our country, the "Citizens For Racial Equity in Washtenaw" or "CREW" was formed to examine the local criminal justice system for any racial disparities.  The report uncovered evidence of wide racial disparities in the county.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with committee co-chair Linda Rexer about the report's findings.


City of Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Independent Community Police Oversight Commission says they’re starting to see a new type of complaint being filed. 

Debbie Dingell
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Another police shooting of a Black man, social unrest and urgent calls for racial justice.  That has been the news playing behind the four-day Republican National Convention that concluded Thursday night.  12th District Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss, among other things, her opinion of the RNC, dealing with issues of policing and race, and the possibility of a federal government shutdown. 


Wiki Commons

A rally will be held this Saturday in Ann Arbor to protest the arrest and detention of protesters by federal officers in Portland, Oregon.  

Debbie Dingell
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Coronavirus cases have spiked in several states, including Michigan, and 12th District U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell fears more restrictions and shutdowns.  Meantime, the Dearborn Democrat is pushing for another federal relief package, new policing measures, and protections for international students that could face deportation.  Dingell joined  WEMU's David Fair to update work on all of those fronts. 


Debbie Dingell
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

On Thursday,  the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "George Floyd Justice and Policing Act."  It aims to create higher accountability in policing and create standards and oversight to protect from discrimination and brutality.  As written, it will not pass in the Senate.  12th District Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss that legislation and the prospects of another coronavirus relief package. 


Today is Juneteenth.  WEMU’s Lisa Barry has been sharing the thoughts of several different community members about what Juneteenth means to them.  We The People Opportunity Farm Director Melvin Parson talks about what Juneteenth means to him and shares his concerns about being an African American man in 2020.


City of Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor branch of the NAACP is working with the City of Ann Arbor and other local groups to host a Juneteenth celebration on Saturday.  

Charles Wilson
Charles Wilson

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when slavery was abolished in the United States and has been declared a day of celebration in Michigan by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

WEMU's Lisa Barry has been sharing what several local African Americans in Washtenaw County think about the day or how they may be celebrating.  In this edition, we hear from Charles Wilson, who works for the Washtenaw County Health Department and supervises the community health promotion division.


Wikimedia Commons (TOP), State of Michigan (Bottom)

Friday, June 19th has been declared "Juneteenth Celebration Day" in Michigan by Governor Gretchen Whitmer commemorating the day in 1865 when slavery was abolished in the United States.  Following the deaths of several African Americans by police, a light has been shone nationwide on the problem of systemic racism in our country.

WEMU's Lisa Barry is talking--mostly listening--to a number of community voices about what Juneteenth means to them, beginning with Alize Asberry Payne, the Racial Equity Officer for Washtenaw County.


Christopher Taylor
Christopher Taylor

Local law enforcement is top of mind in many communities around the country, including in Ann Arbor.  The city council recently introduced a resolution asking for a review of the city's police department, which raised some questions and concerns from the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission tasked with overseeing the investigation.

After talking with the commission chair, WEMU's Lisa Barry checks in with Ann Arbor mayor Christopher Taylor for his hopes and intentions for the police department review.


Lisa Jackson

Like many communities across the country, police reform is an important topic being discussed by local government officials including in Ann Arbor.  WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Lisa Jackson, chair of the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission in Ann Arbor, which is looking into its own ideas for how that should be done. 

 

 

Debbie Dingell
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the call for more police accountability has intensified.  Federal legislation has been introduced to rectify this problem, and 12th District Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is one of its top supporters and discusses the bill's merits and its chances of passing.  Additionally, she explores COVID-19 pandemic trends in a conversation with WEMU's David Fair. 


Gretchen Whitmer
State of Michigan / michigan.gov

It's been nearly three months since Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued her first executive order to "stay home" to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.  Even though the number of cases are declining, the pandemic has had a negative economic impact on many areas of the state budget and residents of the state.  WEMU's Lisa Barry spoke with the governor, who talked about the many different issues she is trying to deal with as a result of the current global health crisis.


Riverside Arts Center
Riverside Arts Center / riversidearts.org

This week, "Art and Soul" is about the local visual arts scene.  WEMU's Lisa Barry is joined by Omari Rush, executive director of CultureSource and Chair of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.  They talk with Elisa Guyton, executive director of the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, who has been working hard to keep the center connected to the community during a pandemic which began just a few months after she took over the job.


University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance / smtd.umich.edu

In November of 2015, Eugene Rogers commissioned and debuted a powerful musical performance piece called "The Seven Last Words of Unarmed Men," which was performed by the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club.  Five years later, the musical performance conducted by Rogers, now the Director of Choral Activities and Conductor of the U of M chamber choir, is gaining even more attention following the recent death of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.  WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Rogers about the performance piece and shares some of the music.


Bev Willis

Bev Willis grew up in Washington, D.C., literally in the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement because of her parents and grandparents.  Deb Polich and David Fair talk with Bev about how those experiences led to her becoming a graphic designer, active in her community, and encouraging everyone to use their talents to document defining historical moments.  Hear the conversation on this edition of "creative:impact."  Listen here.


Reach Church / reachchurcha2y.org

A matter of race and faith.  Pastor Jason Robinson of Reach Church in Ypsilanti is ministering to an outraged and heartbroken congregation in the wake of yet another police killing of a black man.  Is this time different?  Will there be enough unity to make signifcant changes in systemic racism and bring an end to police brutality?  Perspective from a faith leader in this week's "Washtenaw United." 


Debbie Dingell
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy / flickr.com

Listen, learn, and act.  As protests continue in Washtenaw County, the State of Michigan, and the nation, that is the avenue U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell says she is taking.  In a conversation with WEMU's David Fair, the 12th District Dearborn Democrat explains the work underway, legislation to be proposed, and the ongoing effort to create unity in eliminating prejudice and brutality. 


Sarah Anthony
Michigan House Democrats / housedems.com

Protests continue across the nation following the death of George Floyd during an encounter with Minneapolis police officers.  Once again, police brutality and racism are at the fore of the national conversation.  Police brutality is only a part of equation.  Among other things, inequities exist in education, health, and the environment.  On the June edition of "1st Friday Focus on the Environment," WEMU's David Fair and Michigan League of Conservation Voters executive director Lisa Wozniak talk with 68th District State Representative Sarah Anthony about what is necessary to make lasting change. 


The Arts Alliance / creativewashtenaw.org

Having waited weeks for an all-clear, even it is cautionary, the rules governing the reopening for arts and creative businesses are not exactly clear.  It might not even be their most important concern as national attention is directed toward equity and justice amid protests of the police brutality and the law enforcement killings of black people.  The music industry declared June 2 “Blackout Tuesday” to urge artists and venues to shut down all programming and content.  Hear Deb Polich and David Fair discuss these topics on this edition of "creative:impact."  Listen here.


Garlin Gilchrist
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

As chair of the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force On Racial Disparities, Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist says they've already met once and plan to meet again this week to come up with quick solutions for the problem of more African Americans dying from COVID-19.

 

WEMU's Lisa Barry spoke with the lieutenant governor about the problem that local health officials say has been detected in Washtenaw County as well.


Tony Reames
University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability / seas.umich.edu

A number of Americans have difficulty paying their energy bills, which can be very dangerous to a person's health during the winter months.  Dr. Tony Reames, an assistant professor at the U-M's School for Environment and Sustainability, is now researching ways to better understand the correlation between environmental health and income.  Dr. Reames discusses his work with WEMU's David Fair for this week's "Issues of the Environment."


Lawmakers Step In On School Mascot Issue

Nov 13, 2017
Michigan Capitol
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Democrats in Lansing want to make schools get rid of mascots that may be considered racially insensitive. 


Classroom
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Michigan needs to create more opportunities for kids of color.  That’s according to advocates after a new report was released Tuesday.  The report shows that African-American kids in Michigan fare worse in areas like education than in any other state.


Jorge Avellan / WEMU

Thousands of students gathered at the University of Michigan's Diag for a rally and march to protest white supremacy.
 


Michigan League For Public Policy Logo
Courtesy Photo / mlpp.org

Looking to have what they call an “honest discussion” about racial inequality in Michigan, the Michigan League for Public Policy held its annual forum Monday. 


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