Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mackinac Policy Conference conversation on race 'too little, too late'

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 10:40 AM

Earlier this month, organizers of the annual Mackinac Policy Conference announced that in the wake of racial tensions that have erupted in cities around the country, this year's event would close with a panel discussion on race and class in Detroit and Michigan. Soon after, Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley and WDIV anchor Devin Scillian — two white men — would be hosting a discussion about racial inclusion in Detroit.

“We think this is a national discussion,” conference chairman Mark Davidoff explained of the decision. “If we don’t talk about it, it might get ahead of us, and we can’t afford that.”

But as Aaron Foley points out in a critique over at Bridge, "Sometime between 1967 and now would’ve been a good time to address race."

He adds: "Why name two middle-aged white men, both residents of suburbs, neither with school-aged children in the city to talk about how residents of color are faring in Detroit? Was there not a single person of color available to host this discussion?"

According to Finley, the Mackinac Policy Conference last addressed race in a major way in 2004 with a conversation focused on closing the region's racial divide. 

The futility of fully discussing Detroit's race and class issues in a panel hosted by two white men in an opulent hotel located far away from the city is not lost on Foley. 

His advice: "It can’t be said enough that trying to discuss complex issues of race and equity must be done at home, instead of somewhere disconnected from it all," he writes. "You can’t talk about things like the need for public transit on an island that doesn’t allow motorized vehicles. And you can’t be too comfortable when having these conversations. It’s too late to move the discussion back to Detroit, but the Detroit Regional Chamber should, in the future, remember the name of its organization."

MT's Ryan Felton attended last year's Mackniac Policy Conference. Revisit his coverage here.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 24, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation