In the People's Interest

Even in Bozeman, we must speak out against racism


Even as a white-passing half Asian woman, the white-ness of growing up in Bozeman left me feeling not quite isolated, but never really included, either. The truth is that our small, beautiful, affluent town is homogenous. This homogeneity is what has moved me today to write to our community.
It scares me that the whiteness of Bozeman might make us feel that we do not have to care about incidents like George Floyd’s murder. I always had the privilege of leaving my car unlocked while walking down Main Street, never really having to grapple with the fact that diversity, while increasing, is near non-existent in Bozeman. We, as a small hub of generally liberal leanings in an otherwise red state, often spout our belief in equality and inclusion, advancement through investing in education, and progressiveness. However, the fact of the matter is that we generally do not have to face the discomfort of living in a place where people are affected by this incident. If we truly believe in equality and inclusion, the people of Bozeman must be engaged.
George Floyd’s murder is just one example of the racism and abuse of power that plagues police forces in America. This racism is a basic fact of the country we live in. I believe that the conversation about George Floyd shouldn’t end with police reform. Everyone needs to be re-evaluating their own implicit racial biases. In Bozeman, we can ask ourselves — what can I do? How can I help?
Though COVID-19 may obstruct one’s ability to protest, there are still things that we can do from the safety of our own homes, and even from the isolation of a place as lacking in diversity as Bozeman. We can ride the momentum of this atrocity to make our town more inclusive. We can call on our police departments to require all officers to have a body camera. We can demand that
explicit incidents of racial bias be punished by more than just a mere suspension in both our local and MSU police forces. We can even individually tackle our own implicit biases by reading books
with protagonists who are nonwhite, or watching documentaries about different cultures or people — maybe even in place of the newest ski movie release. We can even just spend a few hours today reading about why this is so important, or talk about this with our friends and our community members. The point is, even in Bozeman, we can and should do something.
Guest Editorial by Alisa Braun just completed a fellowship with Princeton in Asia and will be starting her PhD at Berkeley in the fall.

We should all be outraged by George Floyd’s murder
We watched in horror this week as a black man in Minneapolis was murdered by a white police officer. We all should be outraged.
The video of this has driven the wedge lower in the racial divide in this country. As George Floyd lay dying with a police officer’s knee on his neck he pleaded, “Sir, I can’t breathe.” ‘Sir’ and the  other officers who stood and watched and tried to prevent the video from being filmed should all be incarcerated for life. This officer’s reputation precedes him; he has had many complaints from the citizens of Minneapolis/St. Paul and has been disciplined at least three times that I know of for his police brutality and racial terror tactics. He should have been fired years ago.
The world will be watching as these officers go to trial, as surly they must. My heart goes out to the Floyd family and all those who are grieving for him.
Mattie Whitehouse

Bozeman Daily Chronicle Letter to the Editor and Guest Editorial, 6/2/20

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