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Voter Voices: "The undoing of racism isn’t going to be done overnight."

Khadijah Brown
Courtesy of Khadijah Brown
Khadijah Brown started Uplift Kalamazoo after the murder of George Floyd.

We’ve been talking to folks across the state to hear what’s on their minds this election season in our series Voter Voices.

For performing artist and activist Khadijah Brown, policing is very much on her mind as she heads to the polls.

Earlier this year she co-founded a group called Uplift Kalamazoo to help the Black community and address systemic racism in the city.

On policing in Kalamazoo

"I love all people, I really do. I just don’t tolerate a lot when it comes to morals.

Voter Voices

"Uplift started when George Floyd passed away. It sorta kinda started from there, with meeting the community needs and addressing the problems that we have when it comes with [the] Kalamazoo Police Department.

"To me, police in Kalamazoo -- and at large -- is like...becoming a stranger in your own home ...knowing that any time that you can be a victim for not doing anything.

"Only reason why I have tolerance for police officers is because my brother is an officer. But even my brother knows that I don't mess with the police. And he respects that. He's just as I am. He's truthful and honest in everything that he does. He polices correctly. He builds relationships with the people in his community. He lives in the heart of the community that he serves."

On protesting

"When they tear gassed the protesters in downtown Kalamazoo as they were holding signs... I'm just like, I'm literally reading a history book right now. I'm reading what you all did when they walked across the bridge to go vote.

"Black people have been protesting for human rights since the beginning of time. Since they got here. Whether or not they protesting, or were just running away from the slave camps or, however they want to call it, from a plantation. Or whether it was done protesting - when they walking in the middle of the street with signs.

"The police [system] was founded on racism. It's going to continue to be racist until they get shut down and rethought and rebuilt.

"Yes, the undoing of racism isn’t going to be done overnight. But I feel like addressing it can happen immediately. Acknowledging it can happen immediately. Change in policies can happen immediately.

"However November 3 plays out, we are still going into a time to where it's all about clear vision and accountability. And we just got to be strong enough and resilient enough to keep fighting."

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
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