Let your voice be heard: Participate in Racial and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion survey

When Midland says they want to be a community where everyone thrives, they mean it.


The We Hear You Coalition has released their “Midland Racial and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion” survey. The survey focuses on six areas of concern in regards to racial and ethnic (in)equality: healthcare, housing, business, police, government structure, and income and poverty. It will also serve as a baseline for where the community is at.


“We can always make change, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right change,” says Diane Brown Wilhelm, Councilman of Midland’s Ward IV.


With a baseline established, it will be possible to set goals for the future and track progress. The Coalition plans on creating a dashboard for the public to track progress.


“Our vision is, we want to be a community where everyone thrives. Well, we have data that shows everyone is not thriving,” says Brown Wilhelm.


As of 2015, 34% of Midland County residents were ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) or poverty. Black and Hispanic people are disproportionately affected. Brown Wilhelm says that this population lives predominantly in the southeastern portion of the city.


Diane Brown Wilhelm is a member of the We Hear You Coalition and is Councilman of Midland’s Ward IV. “We feel we’re pretty connected in the community, and at the same time we’re wondering how did we miss this? How did we miss this population of people that we have here?” asks Brown Wilhelm. “And we do want to talk to them and understand their story.”


By taking the survey, you have the opportunity to share your story.


The survey should take approximately 25 minutes to complete. The Coalition has partnered with Saginaw Valley State University with all of their research, including the design and modification of this survey.


“It goes by really quickly …. The way it’s structured and the way the questions are asked, once you get started, you’re just curious.”


As of Monday morning, over 1100 results were submitted. The results will be shared publicly in aggregate, but individual results will remain anonymous. Public discussions about the results will also take place.


Midland County residents over the age of 18 are encouraged to take the survey, which will close mid-March. Because Midland Public Schools already has many diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, the Coalition chose to focus on adults.


We Hear You Coalition is on the forefront to leading change in Midland County


“We’re a team. We work together,” says Brown Wilhelm. “... We’ve done a lot of work over the years, but we want to be ahead of it.”


Brown Wilhelm is a member of the We Hear You Coalition. The Coalition arose from the protests following George Floyd’s killing. The intent was not only to hear out the public’s concerns, but to also address them.


“There’s a difference between hearing and listening and it’s now time to truly listen,” says Brown Wilhelm.


The Coalition is composed of many community leaders and members: Mayor Maureen Donker, Chief of Police Nicole Ford, president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF) Sharon Mortensen, and County Commissioner District 7 Scott Noesen have all banded together.


“People are putting their hearts into this,” says Brown Wilhelm. “ ... It’s a love for people, a love for our community, and a love for reaching out to help others.”


To learn more about the Coalition, visit their webpage and watch the Jan. 2021 roundtable discussion. MACF’s Cultural Awareness Coalition is another resource to learn about local DEI initiatives — follow their Facebook page to stay informed and up-to-date.

Read more articles by Crystal Gwizdala.

Crystal Gwizdala is a freelance writer with a focus on health and science. As a lifelong resident of the Tri-Cities, she loves sharing how our communities are overcoming challenges. Crystal is also a serial hobbyist — her interests range from hiking or drawing to figuring out how to do a handstand. Her work can be seen in Wide Open Eats, The Xylom, Woman & Home, and The Detroit Free Press. To see what Crystal’s up to, you can follow her on Twitter @CrystalGwizdala.