Kelly Stec, Mayor Pro Tempore, Wyandotte

Published on June 8, 2023

StecKelly 2021

I spend an awful lot of my time in the policy realm thinking about how we can build a Michigan that works for everybody. To me, that requires thinking about anti-racism, equity, inclusion, and justice – all the things that can very easily just be buzzwords if you’re not actively thinking about and doing them.

I love the 21-Day Equity Challenge because it presents us with an opportunity to think, learn and engage in open dialogue. As someone who was born and raised in Wyandotte and returned after college, I know that – like a lot of places – we’re a city full of people with open hearts and minds who just don’t know how to talk about difficult topics. Some feel like race is a dirty word or prefer to say things like “I don’t see color.” I know the opposite is true.

It’s important that we acknowledge Wyandotte – like a lot of other white flight suburbs – does have this racist past. Otherwise, there’s no way to move past it. We simply cannot build a welcoming Wyandotte without saying out loud that we know at one point this was not true and we’re taking active steps to be different now.

I believe we can celebrate and recognize all the cool, cultural things that make a place great and understand the reality of the legacy of sundown towns and other racist systems that have shaped our region.

In the future, I hope to engage youth groups around the Equity Challenge and host a community conversation. As a white person, I feel like it’s important to engage in this challenge and encourage others to do so. If you are afraid of what you’re going to learn, you first must be willing to accept that it’s deeply human to make mistakes. If you catch your own bias voice showing up in your mind as you do the challenge, you have to have the conversation with yourself and ask, “Why did I just think that?” and then backtrack and see what conversations or experiences have happened where that was the default thought and take steps to correct it. Just get over the notion that you’ll one – ever be perfect or two – ever be free of the society we live in. That’s helped me a lot in my own equity journey, and I hope it helps others as well.