1999-07-10 Grand Haven Tribune "Letter to the Editor Corrections"

Letter to the Editor Corrections
Grand Haven Tribune

(the following article was wrote in response to errors made in the article printed June 7th, 1999 in the Grand Haven Tribune. [click here] to view that article)

Dear Editor,

The Focus on People article by Clarence Poel dated June7th featured information I presented at the Grand Haven Rotary Club on behalf of the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance. Although appreciating the media coverage relevant to the need for racial tolerance, there were statements I would like to clarify.

In reference to healing racism in our community, Mr. Poel quotes me as having said: "This is not a moral issue, but one of economics." The intended statement was, "This is not ONLY a moral issue, but ALSO one of economics." I might add it is also, in my opening, a theological issue.

Mr. Poel goes on to report "we provide minority people training to help them. The Institute for Racial Training was well attended." The Institute for the Healing of Racism is not a program for training minority people. Rather it is a nine week program dedicated to assisting ALL individuals and communities to heal the wounds and divisions caused by racism. The Institute is a national organization, but programs are locally organized. Currently ten sessions are being facilitated annually in Muskegon by the faith-based organizations, Citizen's Uniting for Peace. The Grand Rapids area has been at the forefront of expanding the Institutes, with even the Chamber committed to training its members. The Institute will be held for the first time in Grand Haven this September, hosted by Rev. Ron James.

Finally, Mr. Poel quotes me as saying, "I went to the churches for support and received little help." I would like to emphasize that many churches are very supportive of our work in the community and we are most grateful for that support. Additionally, several clergy are members of the Alliance and membership represents various faiths throughout our community. Before founding the Ethnic Diversity Alliance, I sought out a place to devote energies to increasing tolerance for racial diversity. One of the sectors I looked to were the faith communities. Although I found various committees working on wider issues, such as peace and social justice, I did not find any group focused on the specific task of reducing barriers to racial inclusion. It was due to this absence that the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance was founded.

Again, I most appreciate the attention to increasing the appreciation for racial diversity in our community and am continually impressed with the outpouring of support for these efforts. We warmly welcome all questions, comments, and interest.

Very Truely,
Gail Harrison, Executive Director of the North Ottawa Ethnic Diversity Alliance