Recently my husband Rich and I attended a formal event in Manistee. I grew up in Manistee and I always enjoy the time I spend there. Sadly, the entertainer at this gala made a most unfortunate statement that cannot go without mention. He was praising the Ramsdell Theatre (one of my favorite places in the entire world)—calling it the gem of West Michigan and then said something to the effect—oh there is the Frauenthal in Muskegon but you have to be a felon to work down there — you have to be a thug.
I was shocked. I live in Muskegon — have for a great deal of my life — and am sick and disgusted by the stereotyping and let’s just say it as it is — the racism directed at my resident city. Muskegon, although not as diverse as a large city, is probably the most diverse of the communities along the lakeshore with a distinct African American and Hispanic population.
As my husband so eloquently said, “Whenever one attempts to build oneself up by tearing down others the result is detrimental to all.”
My husband and I walked out and later confronted the entertainer. To be clear, this was not the fault of the event planners or anyone in Manistee. This disgusting insult lies solely on the shoulders of the individual man who said it.
And it got me to thinking: why do we have to compete with each other so much? West Michigan is full of art, nature, museums, theaters, walking and biking trails and more. Why do we need to compare and compete with each other? Why can’t we just simply enjoy the uniqueness of each community and share the love? We live in one of the most beautiful areas around. And since this month’s theme is to welcome summer—why not make plans to learn about the charms and history of all the communities around us? Enjoy a play at the Ramsdell and the Howmet in Whitehall and the Frauenthal in Muskegon. Check out the art galleries, parades and fairs in Pentwater, Ludington and Manistee. Don’t miss out on the unique delights of restaurants and local fare in Hart and Grand Haven. We don’t need to compete with each other—we need to embrace what we all share—Lake Michigan and small lakes in general—and respect each other by taking the time to learn and enjoy the different facets of all the communities in our area.
And this month is a perfect time to start.
P.S. SHAMELESS PROMOTION
I have the distinct honor of playing Berthe in “Pippin” — a Manistee Civic Players production directed by Carol Burba and performed at the Ramsdell Theatre June 30, July 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9th with a special performance at Epworth Heights in Ludington July 5. I am out of my comfort zone as I will sing, dance and act — but this is a special birthday year — a milestone — and I want to challenge myself. The cast is multi-talented and this retired public school teacher has some wonderful teachers in the high school students who are part of the play. “Pippin” is full of laughs, magic and beautiful songs. Don’t miss it. Details on purchasing tickets are on the ad on page five.