We Hear You Coalition - Working to Improve Equity & Inclusion in Midland
We Hear You: A Message to Our Community (June 2020)
Our nation, our State, and our Midland community have been shocked and disheartened by the preventable death of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis. The demonstrations that have resulted have revealed deep pains that remain embedded in our society and that cannot be ignored. It would be a disservice to our community to pretend those pains are not real, that they do not exist right here, or that they are not worthy of our attention. Hollow words, followed by inaction, will only serve to deepen the pain being shown across the country and which exists right here in our community, too. We can and must do better, and we will.
As a community, we strive to live out our ideals, moving towards our vision. Together. Forward. Bold. An Exceptional Place Where Everyone Thrives. We have made tremendous progress in some areas towards that vision. Despite all of the progress we have made as a community, however, we are not where we need to be - yet. Not being there yet, though, has never been an acceptable excuse not to try and will never be a valid excuse not to continue improving. Not trying, not striving to improve, is simply not who we are as a community.
Today, in response to the pain, the anger and the outcries near and far, we stand together as a community to say simply: We hear you. We hear you that what we might have thought has been good enough up until now is no longer good enough. We hear you that true, deep conversations need to take place and then be acted on, rather than brought to the surface only to be forgotten. We hear you that, as a community, we are ready to start the difficult discussions that can lead to lasting change if we have the heart and the stamina to see them through. We hear you that lasting change needs to start right here in communities like our own. And we hear you when we say that we want to be part of the solution and change in our community. We hear you.
As a community, we strongly believe in the First Amendment and the right to peaceful protests. If you are so inclined, we invite you to participate in a way that respects the life of Mr. Floyd and can serve as the first step towards deeper community discussions and understanding. We will begin those discussions in earnest in the coming days and weeks, as we elevate and advance current collaboratives such as the Cultural Awareness Committee and other intentional civility initiatives. We would encourage you to participate with us as we do. And while the listening we need to do may never truly be “done”, we look forward as a community to the day when we can all truly say, “We hear you” and know that we are closer yet on our path to being a community that is: Together. Forward. Bold. An Exceptional Place Where Everyone Thrives.
Diane Brown Wilhelm
Council Member, Ward 4
Chief of Police
Follow-Up Message to Our Community - We Hear You (August 27, 2020)
On June 4, 2020, we delivered a Message to Our Community in response to the public shock and demonstrations that followed the preventable death of Mr. George Floyd on May 25, 2020. We heard you that, as a community, we are ready to have the difficult discussions, be part of the solution and help bring about lasting change.
After the initial message, a small coalition of community leaders has been meeting to define first steps and develop a proactive approach to move forward. We have determined that understanding our community and our own unique challenges must be where we start. Our first step will be to collect data by leveraging existing information and conducting a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assessment to identify our own community’s strengths as well as where inequity and disparity exists. Obtaining this data will assist us in identifying the issues and ensure the coalition maintains focus on the right opportunities for positive change.
Recognizing that a focused approach will be needed to begin, six categories have been identified for the assessment which will provide a holistic view across our community:
- Government Structure: Elected and Appointed Officials
- Income and Poverty.
As data collection and analysis take place, community discussions will be conducted to dive deeper and further understand areas where the data identifies opportunities for meaningful change. This will also allow us to develop an actionable plan and dashboard that will be the baseline for where we are as a community today and track progress of change moving forward.
We believe it is important to acknowledge that events that have and continue to occur across the Nation may not necessarily apply to our community. Having the data to support opportunities for positive and lasting change is critical. The coalition also felt it was vital to meet with City Council early in our process to secure their support. At the July 13, 2020 City Council meeting, a unanimous vote supporting the ongoing work of the collation and the collection of data to determine our local needs was received. We are thankful to City Council for that support.
As we shared previously, this is a collaborative community effort. On behalf of the coalition, thank you and we encourage you to participate with us as we move forward on our path to being a community that is: An Exceptional Place Where Everyone Thrives.
Diane Brown Wilhelm
Council Member, Ward 4
Chief of Police
Recent Updates & Coalition Projects
Please note: Updates are posted in reverse chronological order, with most recent updates appearing first. To read in chronological order, scroll to the bottom of the page and read up.
November 2021 - Results of Racial & Ethnic Equity & Inclusion Survey Shared with Community
Following several months of analysis, the We Hear You Coalition presented the results of the county-wide Racial & Ethnic Equity & Inclusion Survey to the Midland community on November 18, 2021 at Northwood University. The online survey was conducted from February 6 - March 21, 2021.
The survey covered both responses and suggested action items related to demographics, housing, socioeconomics, healthcare, policing and criminal justice, and government structure and representation in Midland County. Collecting this data is a first step to help develop intentional, strategic, assessed, accountable, and sustained actions to end inequity, injustice, and bias in our community.
The results are lengthy and detailed, so we encourage residents to watch the video above to view the community presentation for an explanation of the final report's contents. Residents can also download the executive summary - a high-level review of the results - as well as the presentation files and full final report via the links below.
- Midland County Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Executive Summary (PDF)
- We Hear You Coalition community presentation slides (PDF)
- Midland County Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Final Report (PDF)
Sidebar: Check out the Midland County Dashboard for Key Community Metrics
In addition to metrics from the DEI assessment, the Midland County Dashboard provides additional data on Midland County collected from various sources over the past 5 years and is useful in tracking the overall wellbeing of Midland County residents. The data is broken down into four (4) focus areas:
- Building our Livelihood (employment, income, population data)
- Caring for our People (mental and physical health, healthcare use, housing costs)
- Developing our Talent (education levels, K-12 data)
- Enriching our Community (arts, culture, entertainment, recreation)
Access the Midland County Dashboard here.
February 2021 - We Hear You Coalition Launches Midland Racial & Ethnic Equity & Inclusion Survey
In conjunction with Saginaw Valley State University, the We Hear You Coalition launched an online community survey that gave community members an opportunity to share their experiences with racial and ethnic (in)equality in Midland.
The WHY Community Survey contained 89 questions and collected quantitative and qualitative data on Midland County demographics, housing, socioeconomics, healthcare and well-being, perceptions and interactions with the police and criminal justice system, local government representation, and personal experiences and perceptions of equity, justice and inclusion in the community. The WHY survey was launched online February 6, 2021 and closed on March 21, 2021. The final respondent count was 2,182. Respondents needed to be at least 18 years of age to participate in the survey.
The results of the survey were shared with the public, as well as organizations and government agencies in the Midland community to help us better understand, identify, and address issues of racial/ethnic inequity shared in the responses, including the City of Midland and Midland Police Department. Survey respondents were required to be at least 18 years of age and a resident of Midland County to participate.
Scroll up to see information on the responses to this survey.
January 2021 - We Hear You Coalition Introduces its Efforts via Community Roundtable
Following several months of meetings and collaboration, community leaders in local government, law enforcement, philanthropy, and industry sat down with City staff in January 2021 to outline the Coalition's goals. Watch the video above to learn more about the Coalition's mission and what it hopes to accomplish to identify, improve, and impact diversity and inclusion in the Midland community.