Q & A with Bill Meyer
By The Yemeni American News
The Yemeni American News decided to sit down and interview Hamtramck resident Bill Meyer. Mr. Meyer moved to Hamtramck in 1999 and has lived there since. He has been a musician all his life. He is also a peace and justice activist. He is the founder of the community organization called OneHamtramck. Mr. Meyer was also the Chair of Human Relations Commission in Hamtramck for five years.
We decided to do a Q & A with Mr. Meyer to hear his thoughts on some of the topics that are currently happening in his hometown of Hamtramck.
Q: What are your thoughts on the two mayoral candidates (Current Mayor Karen Majewski and challenger Mohammed Hassan) who are running for the election in November?
A: Well first of all, the OneHamtramck organization doesn’t endorse political candidates. However, I was hoping for change in the leadership in the city because I know the limitations of what’s going on right now. For the last 12 years we really haven’t advanced in areas where we need to advance. Beautiful words, great speeches, and representing the city is not enough. You have to make active attempts to bring justice and fair representation into the city.
As for Hassan, I don’t know if he’ll be a good mayor or not. I really don’t know. He has to be able to work with everybody and communicate well. He’s qualified in the financial area and has more experience in that area than our current mayor. But I’m not going to take stands on any one of them at this point.
Q: What is your overall view of Hamtramck and how this city is being run?
A: Well first of all, I love Hamtramck. I love it for its diversity and for its people. I’ve had many great experiences here. People thought we were nuts when we moved back here from the suburbs. But this city is a better example of what the world is like out there because of its diversity.
As for how this city is being run, we can’t continue to cover up the problems and gloss it over like it was never there. The mayor ignores the other half of the picture of the problems that are going on in the city. I can’t go a block into the city without hearing stories about how they are being mistreated because of their ethnicity or religion. People talk to me because they know I am apart of an organization that defends people against discrimination.
Q: What is your solution for Hamtramck in terms of unifying its people?
A: You can solve the problems in different levels. You can go to the city hall and change laws to make it fair for everybody in the city. You can change laws in the state to make it more fair for everybody in the state. You can solve problems in the national level, and try to get a president that actually represents and wants to support everybody.
Q: Do you feel that Hamtramck is segregated?
A: On the surface, Hamtramck is considered the land of diversity. Which is great because you have to start with diversity first. But that’s not enough. Hamtramck is also divided in many ways. People may talk one way when they are in front of you, but they’ll go back in their houses and talk bad about your style or your religion because it’s not like yours. That happens not only in Hamtramck, but all over the place. We got that seriously here because there is so much diversity. I think overall, our city is dealing with diversity in safe ways.
Q: What is your hope for the future of Hamtramck?
A: My hope for humanity and not just Hamtramck is I hope we find a way to create safety, security, peace and love for each other. I hope that we find a way to live with no fear, with no poverty, no disease, no war. I believe changes have to be made on a state and national level as well as locally. We can solve our local problems to some degree, but it’s a much bigger issue than just Hamtramck. We have to first of all find a way to involve the non-white community in government. City Hall says, “We can’t find qualified educated people,” well they have to.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I am just one person with one opinion. Everyone else in the city has an opinion. Everyone’s opinion should be heard and listened to respectfully. I am not saying that I have the answers; we have to find answers collectively. We have to find a way to talk and respect each other on an equal level.
In the meantime, we need a more humane system in the world. Where people see that you are having a problem and you help them. Now I see that in the Muslim community in Hamtramck more than anywhere else. That’s why I appreciate the Muslim presence in Hamtramck because they offer a better attitude with how to deal with issues. We can learn a lot from the Muslim community. To be honest, I think it is the Muslim community that has saved Hamtramck. They saved the businesses here, they’re paying the taxes, but they are not given the power to do things. We have to hire non-whites to positions of authority, especially in a city with a vast majority of non-whites. We need to be conscious of fair representation. Then they all can work together. If that can happen, then I will be thrilled.
Hamtramck resident Bill Meyer is the founder of the organization called OneHamtramck.