The idea that I’m not racist contributes to the problem”- Bozeman activist hopeful that Montanans will continue conversation about race

BOZEMAN- Over the weekend close to 1500 people organized in Bozeman in response to the in-custody murder of George Floyd.

Judith Heilman the Executive Director at the Montana Racial Equity Project says she was hopeful that maybe 500 people would show up, but was blown away with the actual amount.

Another demonstration is scheduled for Friday, June 5, 2020, at 4 p.m. which will take place at Bogert Park in Bozeman,

Heilman says that the hope is that this will continue a larger conversation in Bozeman about race with the eventual goal of making a stronger Montana. 

She hopes that we as a community can start to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, ask hard questions, and critically think. 

“What non-melanated, -white people- need to do, is they need to read, they need to watch, they need to listen, they need to learn, and, then they need to act,” Heilman said. 

Heilman says that rallies and demonstrations are an opportunity to give the community a self-check and evaluate why we think the way we think along with how it can evolve. 

The path towards changing a bias or the way one thinks, it's going to be uncomfortable.  

“Know that [you are] going to make mistakes, don’t feel like- oh I give up if you make a mistake-- you're going to make mistakes,”  Heilman said, “you can't learn to ski without making a mistake and falling, and you need to listen to the voices of the people who are experts on this- and that is us black people [and] native people in particular.”

Heilman went on to say that truly evaluating and being receptive to changing a bias will help prevent future tragedy.

“The idea that I'm not racist, I’m a good person, I don’t have any hate in my heart, so I don't have to do anything,” Heilman said, “actually contributes to the problem.” 

The hope is that the rally will create deeper a conversation on ways for people who are black, brown, and native can live free from police violence in Bozeman and across the country. 

If you are unable to attend the rally but would like to support, you can donate to the Montana State University of Black Student Union.

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