ProKazoo General Meeting: Intersecting Narratives

ProKazoo General Meeting: Intersecting Narratives

Kalamazoo, MI – First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, MI is the current host site for ProKazoo’s monthly meetings. Local grassroots organizers and community advocates presented their work with the goals of connecting allies with marginalized communities in Kalamazoo County. Local community leaders, Prosecuting Attorney, Jeff Gettings, Kalamazoo County Commissioner, Julie Rogers and Sherine Miller, Kalamazoo Charter Township Treasurer, were among those present to hear from local activists and organizers. Gwendolyn Hooker, Co-Founder of JABS (Justice Against Bullying in Schools) shared that Michigan ranks number one in the nation for bullying in school. Not isolated to Kalamazoo, bullying is a huge problem for youth, especially ages, 6 to 12 years old. October is national bullying month and JABS will have announcements of their next events coming up. Dr. Strick Strickland, Interim President of the Metropolitan Branch of the NAACP, explained his involvement with the Citizen Public Safety Review and Appeal Board.  The members are appointed by Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema and serve two-year terms. The goal of the CPSRAB is to review complaints citizens have filed against the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and are unsatisfied with the result. If a  citizen wishes to appeal this decision, it is reviewed by Ristema with input from the review board. Lead organizer for SEE Change, Elisheva T. Johnson spoke in detail and passion, the construct of the “School to Prison Pipeline”. Racism, a social construct that is invisible, targets African-Americans and youth of color, especially males. Recent data show that K-12 students are 3.8 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white students. Johnson also shared that there is a lack of transparency between the school and parents and many of youth are “medicated and separated”.

Kelli Redman, the Restorative Justice Program Manager from Gryphon Place, shared out with the group, a presentation outlining the services that some KPS buildings have access too. Outreach to all KPS buildings is a discussion that is in the works. Amanda Miller, current KEA President shared insight on whats called a “bargaining crisis”. Negotiations stalled for KPS teachers and KPS Board on step raises and transparency. KPS teachers are asking for smaller class sizes and a proposed letter of agreement. Miller also urged members of the community to run for school board as two seats will be available December 2018. Ed Genesis, Rapper and community organizer shared first hand his experience going through the “school to prison pipeline” and his transformation and success story. The meeting concluded with a Know Your Rights Panel, consisting of SEE Change advocates answered questions from the audience. SEE Change is planning to Know Your Rights Workshop for parents, caregivers, and students, who wish to have additional support navigating through the educational system.

Let Us  “Caucus” and Be Heard

Let Us “Caucus” and Be Heard

Kalamazoo, MI-Michigan United, a statewide organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity hosted a debriefing/processing dialogue for members (MU), community leaders, and community members to discuss the recent mass shootings in Kalamazoo. A “space” was created for the community to share, process, speak openly, and know that others in the community are feeling isolated, hurt, and vulnerable.

The evening opened with a prayer/poem by Archbishop Oscar Romero, “A Future Not Our Own”. The attendees were asked to break into discussion groups based on how each person identifies racially. The facilitated groups then reported out what was discussed and the other racial groups listened and gave an interpretation of what they heard from the group reporting what was discussed.

Elisheva Johnson, lead organizer for the School to Prison Pipeline Campaign at Michigan United spoke with Majyck Radio, ” We realize we have to have this conversation because the community asked for this (conversation). People didn’t know how to process the information that was being reported so close to home.” Six fatalities and two victims have a long road of recovery ahead. The outpouring of support not just from communities in Michigan. Kalamazoo is not also known as “that town” where there were mass shootings occurred. Johnson went on to say, ” A lot of people decided to repress and move on business as usual, so this space was intentional where folks could come and be brave about how this made them feel and talk about how they process things differently because of race”.

There is definitely more work that needs to be done. More open conversations are in the early stages of planning for 2016. For more information about the School to Prison Pipeline and other social justice campaigns, visit www.miunited.org

 

Weather Forecast

Kalamazoo, MI
May 28, 2022, 3:31 am
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
54°F
real feel: 51°F
wind gusts: 7 mph
sunrise: 6:10 am
sunset: 9:08 pm
Forecast May 28, 2022
day
 
Partly sunny
75°F
 

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EVENT LIST

MLK Activities in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo-There are many activities and volunteer opportunities available for folks to participate in a city-wide celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy. Many organizations are seeking volunteers to help with specific programming or projects at each location. MLK March Kalamazoo MLK March Kalamazoo MLK March II 9am-2pm-Fresh Fire Workers Community Homeworks City of Kalamazoo Parks and Rec Workers 9:30am -12pm-Girls on the Run-Coach Kit Organizer 5-6:30PM Bronson Community Gathering(free information available about many grassroots organizations) For more information visit:

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