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The Divide - Part 8 of 11

While the topography of Northern Michigan is a beautifully diverse collective, the human population is markedly homogenous.


Every time I travel to a metropolitan area, I feel immediately enriched by the many languages spoken, races represented, and cultures sharing space and experiences.


Arrival to Mackinac Island offers up an opportunity for engagement with people from across the state, country, and beyond, both in the patrons and in the staff populating the island during the busiest summer months.


Having most recently visited the island during that peak time, in the middle of August, that faction of temporary residents present to uphold the many businesses during the peak season, there was not an obvious discrepancy in the demographics of patrons to employees by my review.


Arrival for this final Saturday, also notable for the first time I visited the island with a person of color as my travel buddy, was a very different experience.


Nearly all of the participants in the Trail Run were white, or white presenting, and nearly every staff person of the resort where the race was based was not.


Further exploration of the Grand Hotel offered a similar distinction, perhaps more starkly painted as the evening’s theme of “Somewhere in Time” found the hotel guests dressed in “period clothing” that evoked images of a time when very intentional segregation was the norm.


As we walked and talked, considering colonialism, and the ways in which the North and South participated in segregation and enslavement historically and currently, the view of visitors and workforce on the island seemed ever more a dichotomy.


Able to see the apparent joy in the faces of those in service and in patronage of the island, we left this topic in a place of noticing, with opportunity for more research into the history and current truth of island experience and gratitude for projects like #TroubledWater that also highlight and honor the indigenous history of these lands.

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