We envision a community where every person can reach full potential. This can't happen unless all people have equitable opportunities to live positive lives. Here, in their own words, are the personal perspectives of three partners working towards equity for people in Kalamazoo County.

photo of tracy hallTracy Hall

Western Michigan University / Gender & Women’s Studies and Political Science

It should be no surprise to anyone that gender inequality is a pervasive and systemic problem around the world. Right here in the United States, women lack an equitable place at the table in just about every major political, social and economic institution. Specifically, the gap in women in electoral politics is ubiquitous even though women have been outvoting men since the 1980s. For example, women comprise approximately 20 percent of the seats in Congress and less than 25 percent of the seats in the State Legislatures and statewide elected executive offices. Historically our society has discouraged women from getting involved in electoral politics. We must continue to alter this mindset and encourage women to run for political office at every level.

Jonathan Romero

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center / Welcoming Michigan

Michigan holds a special place in my heart as it received me with open arms when I was a newcomer. Michiganders welcomed me in many ways: they loaned me their cars to do groceries, they invited me home for Thanksgiving, and they connected me to jobs. These acts of kindness set me up for success. Today, I promote the same values in my community-building work around immigrant integration. I believe it is imperative to build and support strong, secure and successful places to live. We must work together and leverage the full potential of all who live here, so that we may improve the livelihoods of all our neighbors, including the 12,175 foreign-born residents of this community. Extending a hand can benefit us all. Together. It’s better.

Jay Maddock

Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center

We have more work to do when it comes to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals and families. When 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ, we must do more. When transwomen are being criminalized and murdered, we must do more. When it is still legal in Michigan to fire or refuse housing to someone because they are LGBTQ, we must do more. When safe health care is not accessible to LGBTQ people we must do more. Until we acknowledge the intersections between racial justice, immigrant justice, economic justice, reproductive justice and LGBTQ justice, we cannot do more. It’s time for us, as a community to do more by acknowledging how our individual causes are tied. We are stronger in action together.