LANSING, Mich. — Community leaders in Lansing are inviting Mayor Andy Schor and his challenger in the mayoral election, City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar, to take part in a process that they believe will promote equality and accountability in the city.
“We’ve experienced trauma, we’ve experienced all kinds of disappointments and, unfortunately, we are continuing to experience these things that we have repeatedly named and said we're harming us,” said Pastor Sean Holland with One Love Global.
Community leaders with Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation of Metro Lansing said. they’re pushing for change in the city through a racial, equality, accountability process.
Both Dunbar and Schor have agreed to take part.
“Racial, Equity, Accountability process is an invitation, it’s an invitation for those who care about the community, to do the work of inner transformation and accountability, so that the community can heal together,” said Angela Austin with Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation of Metro Lansing.
Schor and Dunbar were the first two leaders to be sent a two-page invitation to take part in the process. Both Schor and Dunbar have faced criticism from members of the Black community.
Not even 24 hours after announcing her run for mayor, Dunbar was hit was allegations that said she'd made racially insensitive comments. She later apologized, saying she hadn't understood how offensive certain words could be, but denied using a more recognizable racial slur .
In the summer of 2020, Schor came under fire from Black activists who said he wasn’t taking their concerns seriously. He has since pointed to the makeup of his administration and to city equity programs as evidence that he does.
“We can’t make anyone take responsibility for their actions, but what we can do is extend an invitation,” Austin said.
Organizers said the process was created with hopes of improving the relationship between police and the community and keeping youth safe from violence.
This year, seven teens were shot and killed in Lansing, and the city has seen a record number of homicides.
“We are working on describing the nature and context of violence,” said Shani Saxon with Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation of Metro Lansing. “We want to address what’s happening with the lost of life that has impacted our community win such a way that is beginning to affect all of us.”
Anyone who accepts an invitation to participate in the process will also be taking part in a racial healing circle, which is an open conversation that allows those who have been harmed to speak up about their concerns, and it also allows those who may have caused the harm to be accountable.
“Having healing conversations that need to happen, that must happen at the micro and macro level, starts with our goal and this is one of our goals. We wanting to promote equal opportunities for community members and our youth,” Saxon said.