systemic racism

Rashaun Rucker / rashaunrucker.com

This week, "Art and Soul" is about the visual arts.  WEMU's Lisa Barry and the executive director of CultureSource, Omari Rush, talk with artist Rashaun Rucker about his current exhibit at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery. It compares the life and origins of the rock pigeon to the stereotypes and myths of the constructed identities of Black men in the United States. 


Rich Chang
NewFoundry / thenewfoundry.com

The fourth and latest 21-Day Equity Challenge in Washtenaw County is complete. The challenge seeks to create awareness about inequity, injustice, and both overt and systemic racism. Rich Chang is CEO of the Ann Arbor-based software firm NewFoundry and serves as Board Chair of the United Way of Washtenaw County. He joined WEMU's David Fair to recap the latest challenge and the future it seeks to build.  


Jennifer Spitler
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County / bbbswashtenaw.org

For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has mentored at-risk children around the country. It has fostered lifelong connections and friendships resulting in postive outcomes for marginalzed and at-risk youngsters. As expected, the pandemic and the many racially-charged events over the past year-and-a-half present more challenges. WEMU's David Fair checked in with Jennifer Spitler, the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County, to see how the "Bigs" and "Littles" are faring. 


Colleen Klus
Washtenaw Intermediate School District / washtenawisd.org

When you have to worry about food, housing, and transportation, education can fall away on the list of priorities. Add in a healthy mistrust of a system known for systemic and institutionalized racism, and the barriers to success only grow. Knocking down those walls and building a better future is the goal of a group of "Trusted Parent Advisors." The group of seven women have been knocking on doors for four years and are having a great deal of success. WEMU's David Fair found out more about the program in his conversation with Washtenaw Intermediate School District community engagement specialist and parent liaison Colleen Klus. 


Nuola Akinde

Discussing racism, whether individual or systemic, is important, but sometimes awkward or uncomfortable. Not in the Kekere Freedom School program. It is at the core of what founder and director Nuola Akinde imparts to the students the school serves. Nuola joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss confronting racism and teaching children to embrace their cultural heritage. 


Naomi Norman
Washtenaw Intermediate School District / washtenawisd.org

There can't be equality until equity is achieved. Self-awareness and understanding of where systemic and institutionalized bias exists is the launch point. The United Way of Washtenaw County is about to kick off another 21-Day Equity Challenge, and its aim is to create recognition and awareness and provide a foundation for change. Naomi Norman is interim superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. She joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the benefits to public education and the people it serves. 


Cozine Welch
Cozine Welch / A Brighter Way

Those who are released from jail or prison, especially people of  color, face a great number of barriers to successfully reintegrating.  The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse.  Former inmate Cozine Welch started the organization "A Brighter Way" to help those, like him, who have faced these obstacles.  Welch joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the work of supporting those in need of a new path while recognizing, and fighting, the systemic racism that permeates our system of justice. 


Washtenaw Faces Race / washtenawfacesrace.weebly.com/

February is Black History Month, and coming up this week in Ypsilanti is a virtual community conversation being called “America Without Racism...Making the Vision a Reality."  Organized by several local organizations, including “Washtenaw Faces Race” and the Ypsilanti District Library, the two-day, online event is intended to be a conversation about imagining a world without racism and exploring what needs to be done to make that a reality.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with La'Ron Williams, a local storyteller and racial justice educator, who helped come up with the idea for the community event.


Alize Asberry Payne

2020 reinforced that there is still a lot of work to do to achieve racial equality and justice in America.  Numerous acts of police brutality and a pandemic that disproportionate impacted people of color highlight the need for greater investment in equity.  In a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day edition of "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair discusses the state of "The Dream," locally and beyond, with Washtenaw County racial equity officer Alize Asberry Payne.


Jerry Clayton
Washtenaw County Sheriff / washtenaw.org

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building Wednesday as Congress worked to certify Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.  Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton Joined WEMU's David Fair to share his thoughts on the racist motivations behind the insurrection and the police response to the mob attack. 


Jen Spitler
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County / bbbswashtenaw.org

The year 2020 has brought many challenges, from political rancor, to COVID-19, and renewed efforts to end systemic racism.  Such challenges can be especially difficult for Washtenaw County's young people.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County has pushed on in helping youngsters find their way.  On this week's "Washtenaw United," the organization's executive director, Jen Spitler, discusses the program and its operations in a most unusual year with WEMU's David Fair.  


United Way of Washtenaw County / uwwashtenaw.org

As the search for an end to systemic racism continues to grow, some of the best advice is to first look inward.  Toward that end, the United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) is offering another 21-Day Equity Challenge.  With support from the University of Michigan's Ginsberg Center, the UWWC joins other United Way chapters from around Michigan in raising understanding and awareness of racism. 

UWWC development and communications manager Ebony Robinson and Sara Saylor, the Ginsberg Center's assistant director for community engagement, discuss the issues and opportunities with WEMU's David Fair for this week's "Washtenaw United."


Mail Art
Jamie Vander Broek

This week, "Art and Soul" is about the visual arts.  Lisa Barry is joined by state and local arts leader Omari Rush and Jamie Vander Broek from the University of Michigan Book Arts Studio at the U-M Library.  The University Library is partnering with the Ann Arbor District Library to capture the feelings of these difficult times using "Mail Art."


Collaborative ChangeMakers / changemakerscounseling.com

We are living through what many call a “double pandemic.”  COVID 19-hit, and now we are struggling through another phase of change in the effort to end systemic racism and anti-Black violence.  The struggles are real, and many feel alone and without support.  Addressing it gave birth to the project “Ypsi: In This Together.”  The program, developed in conjunction with the counseling services organization Collaborative ChangeMakers, is creating needed connection.  In this week’s edition of “Washtenaw United,” Dr. Mishelle Rodriguez shares the genesis and growth of the program with WEMU's David Fair.


WEMU

An Ypsilanti pastor says churches are playing an important role in the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.  

Marie O'Neill
University of Michigan School of Public Health / sph.umich.edu

On its surface, there may not appear to be many connections between the coronavirus pandemic and the climate change crisis.  You don’t, however, have to dig very deep to find the parallels and the impacts on people of color.  Dr. Marie O‘Neill is a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, and her work has put her in the path of that intersection.  Dr. O’Neill joined WEMU’s David Fair this week to help connect the dots on this week’s "Issues of the Environment."


MOASH
Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health / moash.org

COVID-19 and issues surrounding law enforcement and policing are impacting us all.  Stay-at-home orders and bias can impact some portions of our community even more.  The Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH) has received a grant from the United Way of Washtenaw County to assist transgender and nonbinary youth better deal with those issues.  In this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair and MOASH executive director Taryn Gal will explore the intersection of adolescent sexual health and the circumstances we find ourselves living in today.  


The Corner Health Center / cornerhealth.org

Ypsilanti's Corner Health Center is connecting with Ford Motor Company to provide a safe space for teens and young adults deal with the many challenges of what's happening right now due to COVID-19 and systemic racism.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Corner Health Center executive director Versell Smith and Pamela Alexander, director of community development at Ford, about a recent virtual teen summit and plans for additional community outreach moving forward.


Sandra Turner-Handy
Michigan Environmental Council / environmentalcouncil.org

Systemic racism touches all aspects of life in America.  There is police brutality, economic oppression, lack of access to health care, less opportunity to advance, and not enough political clout to be heard.  It’s all connected.  Another component is environmental justice, and it contributes to all of the above.  In WEMU’s "Issues of the Environment," Michigan Environmental Council engagement director Sandra Turner-Handy explains why this is the time where real progress can be made. 


Jerry Clayton
Michigan Sheriffs' Association / misheriff.org

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton is speaking out about police reform, saying recent racial incidents involving police have "sparked a moment requiring immediate action."  He talks with WEMU's Lisa Barry and says that moment needs to be turned into a new era of police reform, criminal justice reform, and societal reform that fundamentally deconstructs institutional systemic and structural racism.


NEW
Nonprofit Enterprise at Work / new.org

The Washtenaw County Health Department recently released data regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county.  The data shows African-Americans have a disproportionately higher number of cases, despite representing a much smaller segment of the overall population.  On "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair talks with Yodit Mesfin-Johnson, president and CEO of Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW) and chair of the board of the United Way of Washtenaw County.  They discuss what the data reveals and what is being done to address the immediate and underlying issues.