Northern Michigan’s growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The existence of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community has become apparent in Traverse City, Michigan, through events like those put on by Up North Pride. The Fourth Annual Up North Pride Rally and Visibility March was held on Sunday, June 25, as the attendees “shut down Front Street,” according to Turnbull, in a march through downtown. “I think citizens of Traverse City who may have been publicly uncomfortable with their sexual orientation are feeling more accepted and able to show their true feelings around others because of events like this,” say Alice Trumbull Hilner, who moved her family to Traverse City 12 years ago. Up North Pride was founded in 2014 by Jenn Cameron, Elon Cameron and Marta Turnbull.

Lansing a long-time center of Michigan LGBTQ advocacy

The well-known cities with gay history are always New York and San Francisco, however, the small cities, including Lansing, all play the important role in the process of legalizing homosexual marriage. Lansing is one of the most open-minded cities for the LGBTQ community in Michigan. A lot of LGBTQ groups and marches in Michigan were first started in Lansing. On June 17, a crowd was gathered at the Capitol Building to show their LGBTQ pride. The Michigan Pride March history goes back to 1990.

Traverse City dilemma: “Sanctuary City” or not?

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Human Rights commissioners of Traverse City are allegedly looking to make the northwestern Michigan city more “immigrant-friendly.” One way of doing so would be to declare sanctuary status, or making TC known as a “Welcoming City.”

“There are jobs in Northern Michigan that need immigrants to take them,” says Mark Dixon, who has been a citizen of Traverse City for over 60 years. “Faming here, especially with the abundance of cherry crops, attracts a lot of immigrants, as well as some jobs at Munson, the local hospital.”

“This had never been an issue before (President Donald) Trump’s presidency,” says Dixon. “I think this is because he initially campaigned with restrictions to countries like Mexico by ‘building a wall’ across the border.”

Early in Trump’s presidency, an executive order attempted to withhold federal grants to sanctuary cities. However, at the end of April, a federal judge in San Francisco put a nationwide end to this.

After months of dispute, Lansing is declared a sanctuary city

It is official; the Lansing City Council has unanimously voted and declared Lansing a sanctuary city. Prior to the meeting on April 3 where the vote took place, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero released an executive order that clarified policies in place for city officials and law enforcement to more effectively protect immigrant and refugees in the community. In Bernero’s executive order, he stated the following:

“We are confident these new policies do not violate federal law, but we are also prepared to take legal action to protect the prerogatives and powers of local government and local law enforcement,” Bernero said. “We do not want our local police to become de facto immigration agents— especially under the divisive and draconian direction of the Trump administration.”

The council agreed. “I think is one time that the city of Lansing has got it right; we are aligned and I think this addressed all the things we are getting in our emails, within our phone calls, within our conversations,” Council Member Judi Brown Clarke said at the meeting Monday.

Increase in threats and vandalism frightens some within Greater Lansing’s Jewish community

For many, Jewish Community Centers and similar organizations represent a place where people from all walks of life can go to feel safe and welcomed, no matter what color, gender or creed. For some, however, those places don’t feel quite as safe anymore. Over the past couple of months, there have been over 100 bomb threats made against JCCs and organizations across the United States. Although there have been no actual incidences of bombings stemming from these threats, there has been widespread vandalism against these centers. In addition to the bomb threats, there have been several incidences of headstones in Jewish cemeteries being toppled over and destroyed.

Michigan State University student Jazmine Skala-Wade

Students work to overcome stigma around mental illness

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in 20 American adults live with a serious health condition, but people living with mental illness, believe there is a negative stigma attached to it. Michigan State University student, Jazmine Skala-Wade was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, when she was 11. “People have this idea that mental illnesses aren’t real, that you need to pray them away, that you are making it up or that you are crazy,” Skala-Wade said. “I have been judged and looked at as crazy. People have made up stories about my mental illness and I’ve been treated like I shouldn’t be smart.”

Skala-Wade said she’s doing things in college that people did not think she was capable of because of her ADHD.

Inclusion campaign aims to address discrimination on campus

Michigan State University has launched an inclusion campaign to address issues of race, gender and discrimination on campus. “Inclusion is defined as creating a living, learning and work environment where differences are valued, respected and welcomed,” said Paulette Granberry-Russell, senior adviser to the president for diversity and inclusion. “We’ve committed resources to the reducing the graduation gap between white students and black and Hispanic students, and we recognize there is more that we need to do to reduce the gap,” she said. In fall 2015, MSU launched the Office of Institutional Equity to oversee the university’s efforts to address discrimination and harassment based on factors such as race, gender and sex. The office allows students and faculty to file reports of discrimination on its website.

New student group works to promote health issues on campus

With more than 600 registered student organizations on campus, students at Michigan State University can find a group for just about any interest

The the leaders of Raising Awareness with Students believe they have a mission unlike others. RAWS promotes health issues, with a focus on preventable illnesses. It was created by Kady Cox, an interdisciplinary studies in social science student. The concept of RAWS started with her annual event, “Diabetes is Not Sweet.” “I got the idea for the ‘Diabetes is Not Sweet’ event because mom and my grandmother both have diabetes,” Cox said.

MSU students protest the results of the 2016 presidential election on campus.

Minority groups battle stereotypes in the media

A series of police shootings of African-Americans and acts of terrorism by followers of the Islamic State group thrust racial, ethnic and religious minorities into the media spotlight during the 2016 presidential campaign. And that’s led to an increase in negative stereotypes portrayed in the media, some say. “The media plays a major role in perpetuating stereotypes. Whenever a crime is committed, I start looking to see what race the person is,” said Joe Darden, a professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Geology who researches issues of racial inequality. “Whenever it’s a black person it’s mentioned, but when the media fails to mention race, I know it’s a white person.