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Group To Examine Racism In Metro Detroit

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Naomi Tutu (credit: miroundtable.org)

Naomi Tutu (credit: miroundtable.org)

bethfisher Beth Fisher
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DETROIT (WWJ) – A truth commission on racial inequality has been named to examine structural racism in southeast Michigan.

The Metro Detroit Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first ever in Detroit, will spend the next two years listening to individual testimony and institutional historical reflection to gain an understanding of the truth of injustice in the region.  It’s being modeled after one formed in South Africa.

The daughter of South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Tutu, spoke at the Race 2 Equity Conference Friday in Detroit.

Tutu said that in South Africa, they learned the whole story of Apartheid. She said you can’t move forward and heal if you’re hiding from your history.

“Facing the fact that we had, as part of our history, a story of murder, of tourture, of death squads, it was very importnat that we as South Africans claimed that part of our history, as well as the part of our history that made us proud … the history of people like Nelson Mandela,” Tutu said.

She said that she believe this new commission in Detroit can come up with solutions to help heal the commmunity.

“In a way, the process here in Detroit is deeper and takes even more courage than what happened in South Africa, because in South Africa it was a govrnment mandated process,” said Tutu.

The commission will delve deeply into the history of housing and race in the region and how it impacts those living in Detroit today. Comissioners take testimony about the social effects of housing and come up with a regional plan over the next two years.

The Truth Commissioners are Khalilah Burt Gaston of Detroit, Dr. Estrella Torres of East Lansing, Alan Amen of Dearborn, Akua Budu Watkins of Detroit, Tom Shurtleff of Farmington, Thomas H. Priest Jr. of Novi, Robert Brown of West Bloomfield, William T. Robinson of Saginaw, and Carrie Landrum of Canton. They were selected through a nomination process.

Learn more at miroundtable.org.

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