A group fighting racism in Kalamazoo is moving online because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Sholanna Lewis is the the executive director of the Kalamazoo Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation initiative. She says, as many other aspects of life move online, the stress of the pandemic can bring ugly things to the surface.
"The things that people may say online may be very different from the things they may say in person because of the ability to hide your face, hide your name, and operate in that fashion. So, we know that this going to bring out some of the deeply held beliefs that folks do still have."
A recent Kalamazoo City Commission meeting online was "Zoom-bombed" by racist comments.
TRHT began in Kalamazoo in 2017 under the auspices of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. It's part of a national initiative by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that incudes similar programs in Battle Creek, Lansing, and Flint.
Lewis says COVID-19 will probably fall hardest on people who were already struggling with things like housing and healthcare.
"And we know that people of color often fall into those categories at higher rates, at least. And so, we know that this is such an important moment for us to continue to deepen our work."
TRHT launched its "Virtual Healing Project" with an online town hall meeting on April 2. But Lewis says that's just the beginning.
"We're interested in not just having town hall-style events but also things like wellness workshops and other opportunities, even sharing artistry in this format."