June 3, 2020
Forward Montana and Forward Montana Foundation denounces the white supremacy and police violence that is killing Black lives. We proudly support the #BlackLivesMatter uprisings and actions across the nation and state of Montana
In 2004, the founders of our organization believed in an equitable Montana where all people could thrive. They believed Montana would be stronger, more just, and a better place to live if the diverse voices of our generation were elevated across our state. Our own organization has had to deal with its own inequities and harmful behavior and we remain deeply committed to this journey of anti-racism. Some steps we are taking include working with a consultant to integrate anti-oppression into every aspect of the organization, creating space for our team to be involved in local racial justice efforts in their communities, and providing staff and Board members with anti-racism training.
We are deeply disappointed by elected leaders inciting terror in the communities they claim to serve by allowing state-sanctioned violence against peaceful protestors. From the enslavement of people from Africa to the genocide of Indigenous peoples, this state-sanctioned violence built our nation. As a country, we must come to terms with this violent racism and recognize how that trauma continues today. We must recognize that slavery and Jim Crow laws have taken on a new form of life. We must recognize that this is our generation’s chance to pave a different reality for ourselves and for our children. This is our moment to take a stand for what is right.
Sometimes the traditional ways of doing things no longer work. Sometimes the traditional ways of doing things never worked. The simple truth is that when our country’s Founding Fathers drafted our founding documents, they purposefully ignored non-White landowning men and purposefully declared Black slaves as not human enough. By layering in white supremacy to our nation’s founding, they ensured that racism would be ingrained into all our nation’s systems, allowing it to stand the test of time.
For too long many of us have been complicit and ignored this truth. And like many truths that are buried deep within, there comes a time when we have to face it head on. We must recognize that we can still hold onto the values of a democracy while reckoning with this past.
As a civic engagement organization that deeply believes in our democracy and the rights the Constitution guarantees, we know that the health of our republic is only as strong as the people who can fully participate in it.
And so the other simple truth is that while voting is one of our greatest tools to create change, it isn’t enough. Our society’s biggest transformations only came after intense periods of mass mobilizations and yes, even riots and civil disobedience.
The uprisings are a response to the centuries of oppression Black people have faced and are currently facing. The uprisings are a response to the racist policies that oppress Black people, Indigenous peoples, and people of color.
Now is the time to reimagine a society that truly works for everyone. Young people represent the most diverse generation in our country’s history. The strength of our generation not only lies in this diversity; but it lies in our unwavering belief in equity and justice.
At Forward Montana and Forward Montana Foundation, we are committed to supporting solutions that create a safer and more equitable society. We are committed to supporting racial justice organizations and affinity spaces for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
If you are a non-melanated person wondering what you can do, check out this link.
As a start, we suggest giving to the Montana Racial Equity Project, University of Montana’s African American Studies department (indicate the Diana Riley Fund to go directly to the Black Solidarity Summit), Montana State University’s Black Student Union and Western Native Voice.
When the media attention dies down, when the Instagram stories fade away, how will you actively continue to show up? Will you?