DETROIT – We’ve seen anti-racism protests all across the country, especially in recent months.
An organization here in Detroit has been fighting that fight for decades.
This week for Your Neighborhood we’re in Detroit talking about a problem not just here in the city but across the country. For more than five decades this non profit has been in the fight against racism, and you can join in with a simple signature. People and even companies are signing the declaration.
“Gardner-White Furniture is one, Taubman Industries, Plante Moran, they’re all individual signers to this declaration,” said Michael Rafferty.
It’s a declaration of war against racism created by the local non profit New Detroit.
“New Detroit is a coalition of leaders working to achieve racial understanding and racial equity among southeast Michigan,” said Rafferty, the CEO of New Detroit.
The organization was started about 53 years ago during the rebellion of 1967. Today it’s spearheaded by Rafferty for the past year. As a black man, this issue is personal for him.
“I don’t want my children to inherit racism, so it’s very personal to me,” he said. “I’ve personally experienced what a lot of us have called racism over the course of my life. ‘Driving while black’ -- I’ve experienced that. I’ve experienced going into stores and being obviously and negatively profiled,” he said.
New Detroit exists not just to fight racism, but systemic racism and getting to the root of the issue, not just the symptoms.
“In the last 53 years we’ve created programming for institutional growth and development,” said Rafferty. “And professional development helping leaders grow into anti-racist leaders.”
The anti-racist movement isn’t new but it is continuously moving forward but there’s no time waste.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Rafferty. “I would say across the country we have a lot of work to do. We have to address the work the work that we do whether it’s Black Lives matter, New Detroit, NAACP or any of the leaders within organizations that are committed to this work. We have to have relentless pursuit.”
And at times while it may seem to be an uphill, emotional battle, Rafferty has hope that change is happening.
“In some ways I do,” he said. “I believe that seeing multiracial and cultural protesters gives me hope. I would say seeing institutions like the NFL and Nascar change their minds relatively quickly once they see the value propositioned towards anti-racism that gives me hope.”
If you or your company would like to take a stand against racism and sign the declaration of war against racism, please click here.