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Inclusion and Equity in the Spotlight at the Mackinac Policy Conference

“The way Detroit looks today is directly rooted in planning decisions that the leaders of this community made in the 1940s and 1950s. That was the last period of growth in Detroit, and those decisions reverberate today and … unfortunately, many of those decisions were rooted in racial discrimination … You want to say, ‘How did all those homes in Detroit deteriorate over all those years?’ ” Duggan said. “There was a conscious federal policy that discarded what was left behind and subsidized the move to the suburbs. …. This is our history, and it’s something we still have to overcome.”

Mike Duggan, Mayor of Detroit, MPC ‘17

“If you don’t have the opportunity, the chance or the shot at operationalizing your smarts, your talents or your education, then life has a concrete ceiling rather than a glass one. You lose hope, and the most dangerous person in the world is a person without hope. And so, if this is the new definition of poverty, then what is wealth? It is precisely the opposite of this. Wealth begins with confidence and belief in oneself.”

John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO, Operation Hope, MPC ‘15

“It’s important that everyone in America have a basic understanding of prejudice and privilege because they aren’t the same thing. You have to understand both and what they do to create the world we live in in order to create change… look at the problems right now in 2016—not just policing but also issues that aren’t sexy like transit? Poor folk in Detroit cannot get to work or hospitals. That is appalling. That is criminal.”

Xavier De Souza Briggs, Vice President, Economic Opportunity Markets, MPC ‘16

“When you dehumanize to make your point, you are no longer arguing, you are demonizing, and that does not lead to civility but it also doesn’t lead to change. I will never take on the tropes and behavior of those who diminish me in order to lift myself or my ideas. While civility is not silence, meanness is not success.”

Stacey Abrams, Founder and Chair, Fair Fight Action, MPC ‘19

“There is a racist element to what has happened. Children in Detroit have been treated like second-class citizens. When a system is allowed to be run over a decade by individuals that had no track record of education reform, no local governance structure, and year after year of low-performance … that would never happen in any white suburban school district in this country. That is a testament of race.”

Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District, MPC ‘18

“The economy is expanding but the progress on productive and inclusion remains lackluster … What’s also troubling is behind these numbers is that the gap in wages between whites and people of color remain stark in nearly every market.”

Amy Liu, Vice President and Director, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution, MPC ‘17

“There are some great things going on in Detroit, no question about it. However, the real test of the viability of our city is the inclusiveness of all its citizens. You can’t build a moat around downtown or midtown. You have to build a bridge. I am in the trenches every day. I hear it from the business people. I hear it from the community.”

Rev. Wendell Anthony, President, NAACP-Detroit, MPC ‘16