DETROIT – Standing in the midday heat, 30 of Detroit’s most prominent business, political and philanthropical leaders declared they would be pushing for systemic racial change in their organizations, in education and in policing.
“We are now engaged in an intentional, deliberate and lasting war on racism,” New Detroit chair and president of Gardner White Furniture Rachel Tronstein Stewart said. “We’ll look in the mirror to make sure our organizations reflect us, but we’ll also do cultural audits of our organization and see what we find and address those. It won’t be easy and it probably won’t be pretty, but it’s a place to start.”
New Detroit was founded after the violent racial unrest in Detroit in the late 1960s to address racism. The announcement on Monday was made in front of the city’s anchor for African-American culture and history, The Charles H. Wright Museum. New Detroit announced a renewed focus on ending systemic racism. Local 4 General Manager Marla Drutz is a member of the organization.
The declaration was broad but necessary members said in the wake of protests over the deaths of black men and women at the hands of law police. The group also planned to work toward economic change including healthcare in the wake of the coronavirus which has hit BIPOC communities disproportionately hard. In Michigan, 40 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 were in black communities, despite black Michiganders only making up 14 percent of the overall population.
“For every dollar a white family earns in income, a black family earns 57 cents. For every dollar a white family has in wealth a black family has 7 cents,” President and CEO of New Detroit Michael Rafferty said.
Among the speakers was Detroit Deputy Mayor Conrad L. Mallet, Jr. who attended on behalf of the city. He said Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council was committed to addressing racial inequality.
“The economic consequences associated with the systemic imposition of oppression and denial of resources based on race will in front of all of our eyes have devastating consequences,” Mallet said.
Watch the full press conference below: