Neighborhoods Without Borders

By: Bob Brown, Associate Director

Neighborhoods Without Borders (NWB) is a community-based network that uses an asset-based approach to work on critical Flint neighborhood issues and their root causes. Formed in 2012 by Robert Brown, CCED Flint Associate Director, Tendaji Ganges, and Flint colleagues, its current and ongoing efforts center on working to dismantle systemic and institutional racism. To honor Mr. Ganges after his passing in 2015, Brown and colleagues initiated the Tendaji Talks in 2016, as a community-based diversity, equity, and inclusion effort.

After seven years of monthly conversations and learning explorations, the NWB core team invited youth and adult community activists/builders to a special session of the Tendaji Talks on October 11, 2022 to understand existing community and individual anti-racism action, identify gaps to overcome, and to act on opportunities to work together.

“Racism, without doubt, continues to be the root cause of all inequity and violence in Flint and across our country. All of us do remarkable work. Let us amplify it by coming together, finding voice together, lifting all efforts up, and creating new opportunities to work together” - Robert Brown

Twenty-four people participated in the Oct 11th session, sharing with each other how they are individually or organizationally dealing with racism/white power and privilege. Here are some of their direct responses and suggestions: 

  • Creating events (Open Mic Night, Comma’s Book Store) for young Black Creatives; Lifting up the voices of youth 
  • Participating in Flint Community Reads, exploring books with messages about racism’s impact 
  • Liberating Black lives; policy changing; Black history/culture education; Change the system 
  • European Americans must take the lead and take responsibility for racism; understand the Middle Passage; bring the People’s Institute back to Flint; Put plan and resources together 
  • Truth and Racial Healing initiative: training healing circle practitioners, conducting healing circles; truth telling; Community Foundation's internal effort to eliminate institutional racism; 1990’s infrastructure for discussing racism in Flint 
  • Centuries of racism in the world; Foundational racism – those who built this country created an unjust and unequal system; White people must teach their own about racism; money is key; mental enslavement; Debt owed to Blacks dating back to 1870, cut the check/pay the debt. 
  • Navigation tools for young Blacks when confronting racism; Develop others; Defeat racism with money and developing others to positions of power and change. 
  • Teaching the dances of India 
  • Listen to the community when they tell us what they need 
  • White allies must speak up to other Whites for bad actions; We must all work together for the good of all. 

Everyone agreed to return to The Tendaji Talks in November (11/8/22) to begin the long-term work of creating, implementing, and leveraging strategies emerging from the Oct 11th session.

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