GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While local, national and social media sources may make it seem incidents of potential racism are on the rise, complaint records maintained by the state show that’s not the case in Michigan.
Over the past several days, three cases of perceived racism in West Michigan have gone viral.
The first was last week after a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officer pointed at a black man, who claimed the gesture was threatening. Saturday morning, Marcel Price, who is black, captured video that he said proved he was denied entry into a Grand Rapids bar because of his race. And Sunday, Brandoen Guyton, who is black, posted video of a man riding a motorcycle calling him the N-word following a traffic spat.
These incidents come at a time when racial issues seem to make news daily in the midst of tumultuous relations between police and the communities they serve as well as a fiery presidential race.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights tracks complaints on discrimination. Their figures show no uptick in complaints regarding race, national origin and religion.
In 2013, complaints in those three categories numbered 1,170. In 2014 and 2015, there were 1,217 and 1,005 complaints respectively. So far this year, there have been 508 — on track to be consistent with numbers in recent years.
Cle Jackson, the president of the Grand Rapids chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said technology may be part of the reason for the uptick in publicity surrounding incidents of racism. Victims of racism are able to record incidents using cellphone videos and instantly share them with the world.
Brandoen Guyton says said out his phone to record was an immediate reaction after the man on the motorcycle started using racial slurs.
“Let me expose that racism is still alive,” Guyton told 24 Hour News 8. “So for everybody who says, ‘This doesn’t happen, it’s not true,’ it clearly is true.”