A week into my internship and I was already assigned the task to contact the attorney general of all fifty states with a very specific inquiry “Can you send me a list of all the cities in your state that maintain a city ordinance.”. At first, it was difficult for me to understand the significance of the question and its purpose but after debriefing, Lyonel (my boss) explained how this was one of many approaches that could be taken to demonstrate the purpose for which a new non-discrimination city ordinance needs to be adopted.
To clarify more of what my role was, the city of Grand Rapids holds a city ordinance that states it is against discrimination and how it is illegal to practice yet it holds no true consequences. For example, an individual may file a complaint after having experienced discrimination but there is not a detailed process of how the case will be investigated much less does the ordinance state what the consequences are if either the defendant or prosecutor or found guilty. Lyonel was compelled to compose a more efficient and detailed non-discrimination ordinance that promised justice after experiencing discrimination and lacking support. Having the opportunity to even hear about this social effort to implement a more structured and effective non-discrimination ordinance made me feel more at ease about beginning my journey at LINC UP. Although the initial approach was tedious and I was not too comfortable with the work I was achieving, I eventually was able to take on a better perspective and gradually immerse myself in the project as I attended more meetings, both from city hall and meeting with city council members.