“What’s Next?” Midland County Inclusion Alliance invites community to join conversation

Correction: This story has been updated to say that Dr. Amy Beasley is a DEI consultant for Dow.

“What’s next?”

Austin Channing Brown, author of "I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness," asked participants this question in a virtual conversation about race, justice, and community last month.

The question inspired many leaders in the community who are working to educate others about the importance of inclusion.

“We just wanted to open it up to the community to contribute to that conversation,” says MCIA member Dr. Amy Beasley. “What does the community think needs to be met and how does the community want to come together and be part of that? There's always room for more perspective, more experience, and more ideas at the table. Diversity is our strength and when you give everyone equal opportunity and include everybody, what you put together is always better.”

“A year ago we were like, ‘It’s time for us to start having some of these conversations as a community,’” says Beasley. “We could feel that people were wanting more information and asking for more action.”

Austin Channing Brown, author of "I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness" spoke in a virtual conversation in September to the Midland area community about diversity and inclusion. Photo courtesy of Dr. Alveda Williams.
The MCIA is hosting the What’s Next Community Conversation, an in-person, socially distanced event where participants can share personal stories and suggestions about next steps for increasing inclusivity within Midland County.

The event will be outside the Midland Center for the Arts (MCFTA) from 6-7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9. Space is limited, so those who are interested in attending are encouraged to register in advance at midlandinclusioncouncil.com/workshop-registration. There will be a virtual version on Tuesday, Oct. 13 for those who are unable to attend in-person.
 

"Our goal is to walk out of these conversations with some actions. Things that we as the Inclusion Alliance can do, or that other people in the community can do on their own or with their friends, neighbors, or co-workers, to really help advance this idea of creating a more inclusive community.”

- Katie Miller, MCIA member and community engagement manager at MCFTA

Founded in 2019, the Midland County Inclusion Alliance (MCIA) is a collaboration between the Midland Business Inclusion Council (MBIC) and the Midland Community Inclusion Council (MCIC), which work in conjunction to promote the value of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community in Midland County.

“MCIA was born about two years ago and it was really just a group of Midland County citizens who are really passionate about creating a more inclusive community and finding new ways to get involved and bring others into that conversation,” says Beasley, who is serving a one-year term as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant to Midland Public Schools and is also a DEI consultant for Dow.

“Our goal is to walk out of these conversations with some actions,” says Katie Miller, MCIA member and community engagement manager at MCFTA. “Things that we as the Inclusion Alliance can do, or that other people in the community can do on their own or with their friends, neighbors, or co-workers, to really help advance this idea of creating a more inclusive community.”

MCIA is also offering an online discussion group about the book “So You Want to Talk About Race” by author Ijeoma Oluo and virtual workshops such as “Microaggressions 101” and “Inclusion and Allyship 101.”

“Inclusion is a huge part of quality of life, and it's something that the county has kind of struggled with,” says Miller. “I hear stories all the time of people saying, ‘I don't feel safe here,’ or, ‘I don't really feel welcome in this community,’ and so we really want to bring people together to have those hard conversations.”

Founded in 2019, the Midland County Inclusion Alliance is a collaboration between the Midland Business Inclusion Council and the Midland Community Inclusion Council, which work to promote the value of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community in Midland County.

Dr. Vennesa Jansma will be leading the “Microaggressions 101” virtual workshop. She is a research scientist at Dow and moved to Midland seven years ago.

“At that time it wasn’t very diverse and so moving here was very difficult,” says Jansma. “So to be able to have a platform to discuss these topics is very near and dear to my heart.”

Participants of this workshop will learn about how to recognize microaggressions, understand the damage they cause, and how to intervene.

“These microaggressions wouldn’t affect just your world,” says Jansma. “The importance of being tolerant and empathetic of what others are going through, that's kind of where that discussion will go.”

Miller says giving people the tools required to have these conversations is a big step forward toward making some actionable change.

“I think the momentum is going to continue,” says Miller. “There are a bunch of different entities doing incredible work and we're really looking forward to partnering with them and working in concert with all of these other individuals that are bringing different perspectives and experiences to the table. It can't just be one organization, it has to be the whole community coming together.”

To learn more about the Midland County Inclusion Alliance, or to find out about upcoming events, visit midlandinclusioncouncil.com.

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