The Montana Racial Equity Project held Race in Montana: Bozeman Community Forum on Sept. 15. The day was dedicated to raising collective awareness of racial injustices and inequalities within our community and instilling skills to create positive, lasting change. The activities throughout the day promoted productive conversation and worked to open individuals’ minds. The project is supported through a grant by Humanities Montana.
Judith Heilman founded the project after a career in law enforcement. Marci McLean, Paul S. John and Carly Seifert join her on the board. The day’s events took place at the Bozeman Public Library and finished with keynote speaker Kristin Barker on “The Bumpy Road to a Positive White Identity”at the Museum of the Rockies. She discussed the journey to an unwinding unconscious racism and its necessary difficulties. Barker believes people are inherently good, but it can get clouded by our conditioning, such as receiving history and media through a white lens. Other factors listed were: the myth of meritocracy, identifying racism as a trait of bad people, or only conducted by the KKK and white nationalists, seeing white as “normal” and having a distorted understanding of systems in our society.
All of the day’s panels were recorded live and are available on the Montana Racial Equity Project Facebook page.