Detroit, by will of a vote of its people, is working to assess the damage done by a history of racism and discrimination in its policies. Yet, there are other cities that could benefit from this kind of effort.
The suburbs in southeast Michigan also have rich and complicated histories with discrimination. Some of them were founded on laws and policies that excluded colored people.
Still, there is an opportunity to dig deeply into this history, to help create an equitable future. Ferndale is one such suburb actively trying to understand this history within its borders, to serve the public with more inclusivity and equity.
“Addressing equity and creating more inclusive policies is ongoing work. You’re never done.” — Melanie Piana, Mayor of Ferndale
Listen: Why one suburban city declared an official commitment to antiracism.
Mayor Melanie Piana is the mayor of Ferndale. She’s been looking into the history of Ferndale and working to create an antiracist, equitable suburban city.
Piana says she felt compelled to create the city’s antiracism declaration based a feeling that leaders bear responsibility to undo racist policies, whether or not they were ones who originally implemented them.
“Addressing equity and creating more inclusive policies is ongoing work,” says Piana. “You’re never done.”
Thomas Sugrue is a history professor at New York University. He says discrimination played an important role in the creation of the suburbs.
“The city suburbs are very much the creature of public policy,” says Surge. “And specifically of policy decisions that were either made with racial and discriminatory intent or played a critical role in intensifying racial inequality in the metropolitan area.”