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Anti-Racism group connects in Grand Haven

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Anti-Racism Kensington 33

Community members in Ottawa County are banding together to fight racism on the lakeshore. The area’s Anti-Racism Task Force launched more than a year ago but met for the first-time ever in person this week, with new ideas and initiatives.

“It’s really exciting after having a whole year of virtual meetings to be able to meet each other and talk about the importance of this work,” Barbara Lee VanHorssen said.

Dozens of community members in Ottawa County gathered Monday in downtown Grand Haven for a meet and greet with the Anti-Racism Task Force in Grand Haven.

The group, headed by Barbara Lee Vanhorssen, Executive Director of the Momentum Center, has hosted a series of town halls on racism and bias over the past year as a way to invite voices of color to the table and combat racism in the area.

“This is not rhetorical. It is not theoretical. It’s real. it’s happening,” Vanhorssen said.

While support has been great, discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion haven’t been welcomed in by everyone in the county, she said. "There’s a small group of people who have asked commissioners to dismantle DEI initiatives.”

Part of the evening’s event included a statement of support for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in Grand Haven, which community members were asked to sign. Vanhorssen said the task force also crafted a letter to share with city commissioners.

As talks push forward, task force town halls are set to resume in October with a series on race and religion.

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