Racism negatively effects the full Battle Creek community.
Create a broad movement to collectively face issues of privilege, race, and bias in Battle Creek.
In Battle Creek, the founding members work to engage community members in dialogue to broaden perspectives, build trust, and promote racial equity. The group meets monthly and is comprised of representatives of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, law enforcement, city administrators, and the Center for Diversity and Innovation, among others.
The framework’s foundational pillars are Narrative Change, and Racial Healing and Relationship Building. The other three areas are Separation, the Law, and Economy. With Narrative Change, teams will consider how to create and distribute new narratives in entertainment, journalism, digital and social media, school curricula, museums, monuments, and parks, and in the way we communicate, which can influence people’s perspectives, perceptions, and behaviors. With Racial Healing and Relationship Building, teams will focus on ways for all people to heal from wounds of the past, and build mutually respectful, intergenerational, and diverse relationships. Separation examines how to address segregation, colonization, and concentrated poverty in neighborhoods. The Law involves reviewing discriminatory laws and seeking solutions that will result in just application of the law. Economy involves studying inequality and barriers to economic opportunities and recommending changes to create an equitable society.
The Center for Diversity and Innovation (CDI) at Kellogg Community College, provides training and learning opportunities. City leadership attend training courses offered through CDI. The first is Orientation to the Work, a free “equity 101” that provides: knowledge about race and racism; foundational skills for preparing to take action; tools and practice; relationship building; and supportive and accountable dialogue.
Staff – police and fire personnel in particular – attend CDI’s Coaching Essentials for Equity workshop, teaching participants core coaching skills to use with people in all aspects of their lives, specifically supporting CDI’s racial equity work. Participants learn to listen more deeply, have challenging conversations, and create more openness between people.
Finally, city commissioners and leadership attend the White Men & Allies learning lab. The goal is to transform a participant’s understanding of roles and personal stake in an organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. It allows participants to understand how systemic racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism operate as an advantage in their work, community, and personal lives.
Throughout the spring of 2018, the local coalition is organizing multiple events, and inviting all community members to join together in generating a collective dream for promoting equity and eliminating racism in Battle Creek. The events kick off with a Friday-night Battle Creek film premiere of “Me, The ‘Other’”. The next day, the Community Leadership Team will host the first in a series of community convenings. The series will highlight two unique community spaces and will be co-facilitated by different community leaders. The objectives of these meetings are for community members to:
The Battle Creek Coalition successfully organized two National Day of Healing events in January 2017 and 2018, in conjunction with the other TRHT locations across the country. This year’s local event was a concert organized by WKKF. Nearly 1,200 students – from all five of our area high schools – attended and heard a message of people coming together in unity and humanity. It was a celebration of leadership, and healing hearts.
About 30 police officers also have attended White Men & Allies and, starting with a W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant in 2015, the department has implemented implicit bias training, and a baseline study to guide the implementation of new policies and procedures. Initial training took place over 18 months, and now is provided to all new employees. The training teaches how biases, present even in well-intentioned people, can have an impact on community interactions, and methods to overcome those biases.