Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) residents, groups and community-based organizations in Missoula encounter systemic oppression, injustice and discrimination as we interface with municipalities and the business sector. We are often confronted with structural inequalities and exclusion which have deleterious effects on our lived experience and sense of place.
Given these experiences, BIPOC residents are supremely eligible, imminently qualified, and in the best position to offer valuable and relevant action strategies for creating a more just, inclusive, unbiased, and equitable Missoula.
Our BIPOC community knows what matters most to our own wellbeing. Thus, BIPOC-generated knowledge is integral in the process of dismantling oppressive and inequitable community structures/institutions and in bringing about social transformation in municipal systems. BIPOC-specific solutions and strategies must take precedence in creating structural change in Missoula.
The BIPOC led and directed research project LEARN Missoula (Listening, Engaging, Action, Reflection Network) uses a mixed method research approach nesting quantitative research within a primary qualitative design. We center BIPOC voices and solutions while scrutinizing existing/archival municipal departments data and interviewing departmental representatives using a critical paradigm that incorporates a racial justice lens.
LEARN Missoula is fiscally sponsored by All Nations Health Center in Missoula, Montana.
As our lead researcher, Dr. Laurellé C. Warner told the Missoula City Council:
“While you have the goal of addressing issues of systemic racism – it won’t be addressed until each of you recognize that there is an inherent sense of always centering whiteness. You need to understand this. When you bring us in to say, ‘hey, we want to understand you,’ you are still in a position of power because you are bringing us in when you need us. If we are in a position of equity, that doesn’t need to happen. There is no need to pull us in because we would already be in. There won’t be a need to privilege our voices because our voice will already be a part of the group. White people often think, ‘okay we are going to become more educated about racism.’ That is never the issue. The issue is coming to an understanding that in society, racism is privileged, and the fight is dismantling whiteness. Once you do that, everything else will fall into place.”
We need your help
Change begins with you. We invite all BIPOC residents to envision and design a just, safe, inclusive and equitable Missoula where we can experience an ongoing sense of safety, place, belonging and well-being. By speaking with us, you’ll be helping us connect the lived experiences of BIPOC community members to systemic challenges in Missoula. And you’re the crucial first step in helping our community create a comprehensive action plan for local leaders.