Geiss introduces bill to establish African, Caribbean, and Diaspora Affairs Commission

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) has introduced a bill to establish the African, Caribbean, and Diaspora Affairs Commission and the Office of African, Caribbean, and Diaspora Affairs, both of which will be housed in the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. 

Modeled after similar commissions and offices within the Department of Civil Rights, Senate Bill 1034 would create a 15-member, intergenerational commission tasked with reviewing, studying, encouraging, and recognizing the achievements of African, Caribbean, and Diaspora residents in Michigan. 

“Given the tumultuous time we are living in, history is calling on us to end discrimination and injustices against African, Caribbean and Diaspora residents,” Sen. Geiss said. “An important step to solving the racial injustices in this state and country begin by providing these communities with a seat at the policy-making table. In doing so, our state will be better suited to rooting out systemic racial inequities and injustices that dramatically and disproportionately affect the Black community, and offering a more inclusive future for all Michiganders.”

The information collected by the Commission and Office will be used to advise the governor, Michigan Legislature, and Department of Civil Rights on changes that can be made to state policies and programs, as well as addressing systemic barriers unique to Black residents in Michigan.

“As a Black Immigrant from the Caribbean, U.S. Army war veteran, and mother to African American sons, it is critical that our collective voices are at the table when decisions are being made involving our lives. The time is now to create a safe and productive space for our state to acknowledge that together, we are stronger,” said Sophia L. Chue, executive director of the Caribbean Community Service Center in Detroit.

Akindele Akinyemi, president and CEO of the Global African Business Association, added, “African and Caribbean immigrants, as well as African Americans in our state, continue to play a major role in reshaping local urban communities in the State of Michigan as it pertains to small business development, technology, agriculture, education, and cultural development. Therefore, the importance of this commission being created will not only provide a serious voice and platform for the African/Caribbean and African American communities here in the State of Michigan, but also provide the necessary framework on how our great state can position itself, in the 21st century, to conduct business, trade, and a much-needed sustainability plan between the State of Michigan and the African Diaspora at-large.”

“The establishment of this particular commission represents a catalyst for Black residents in the state of Michigan to collectively address the unique challenges facing our communities together,” said Seydi Sarr, founder of the African Bureau for Immigration and Social Affairs. “The African, Caribbean and Diaspora Affairs Commission will create a welcoming space for all African descendants in the state to coalesce and reshape our politics as usual, as we stand together to protect and transform our communities, highlighting our contributions to the great state of Michigan in public memory, as well as elevating our sense of belonging and connection to care for the authentic expressions of our communities’ needs.” 

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