Prepare To Decenter Your Whiteness, Missoula

by William Skink

Missoula needs to do something about its whiteness. If we were graded on our whiteness we’d get an A for ALMOST ALL WHITE. Seriously, census bureau quick facts puts our blazingly white whiteness at 91.2%. That is how white we are.

So what can we do about this problem? Can we DECENTER our whiteness? Social worker Laurelle Warner thinks that YES WE CAN. From the link:

Giving marginalized individuals a seat at the table and decentering whiteness as the majority culture in Missoula could help peck away at systemic racism, community advocates told city and county leaders on Wednesday.

Held over social media, elected officials from a newly formed committee joined members of the Community Research Project in exploring everything from police funding to racism and reforming the criminal justice system.

“I do understand the voices of marginalized individuals and how they’re moved away from the center,” said Laurelle Warner. “Right now there’s this hierarchy that always leverages the voices of those whose currency is white. If we’re going to truly begin to dismantle systematic racism, we need to understand that it comes as a direct byproduct of centering whiteness.”

I’m not sure what’s going on here with leveraged voices and white currency. The currency I’m familiar with, which determines things like how much food one can acquire for one’s family, is cash money currency. If you don’t have enough of that currency you can’t eat or live with walls and a roof over your head.

How does a community as blazingly white as Missoula decenter its whiteness? I know, let’s leverage white guilt to engage in symbolic tokenism and use taxpayer money to create a government position to disseminate race-centered propaganda:

“The focus needs to be decentering whiteness as the norm, decentering whiteness as the majority culture in Missoula,” she said. “How do we get to a place in our city where we have a sense of equity across the board, and not have one particular group that’s centered or put in a superior or higher position than all the others?”

Several City Council members expressed a desire to make sincere connections with Missoula’s Native American community, as well as other minority groups. They noted the lack of racial diversity on the City Council and asked several community leaders if they felt represented by officials who are predominately white.

“We don’t see ourselves reflected in this council,” said Jamar Galbreath. “That’s exactly what we’re talking about – the lack of representation of people of color who are in our governing bodies across the nation, and Missoula isn’t an exception to that. We’re also calling for a position to be implemented at the city and county level that will work to translate these stories and experiences. That connection can’t happen if we’re not present.”

Well ok then.


About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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10 Responses to Prepare To Decenter Your Whiteness, Missoula

  1. Sandy says:

    You sound like you’re going through a midlife crisis.

    • I went through my midlife crisis a few years ago, but thanks for the concern. I see you’re commenting with a campus email account, are you a student or do you work at the worst performing flagship University in the country?

  2. S Brennan says:

    I agree with Laurelle Warner’s point that she’d be perfect person to receive a sizable salary leading a local government agency to “de-center whiteness” in regions of the country that are too “white”. Unfortunately for Laurelle Warner, that will require her to relocate to Lincoln County, West Virginia. At 98.3% white Lincoln County, West Virginia is in dire need of Laurelle Warner’s expertise. Lincoln County, West Virginia is clearly in far worse shape than Missoula, I am sure once this has been brought to Laurelle Warner’s attention she will see the need…and immediately start packing for her new assignment that will bring racial diversity to West Virginia. God bless Laurelle Warner and best wishes as she takes on the work of the lord in Lincoln County, West Virginia.

    and yeah…I really do think

    • that is some extreme whiteness, for sure, but the reason we need Warner here in Missoula is to create the illusion of liberal progress toward equality when what is ACTUALLY HAPPENING is the continued neoliberal gentrification projects cheer-led by our alcoholic mayor, which is transforming our college town into an elitist repository for wealthy urban refugees fleeing their cities for the relative safety of Montana.

      • S Brennan says:

        This is just an FYI ’bout me and many others like me in the 80ish percentile trying to retire before we die. The cities have become way too expensive to live/retire in for all but the uppermost in society due to the “investment property” mentality, low interest rates and the tax treatment real estate gets.

        I moved out of Seattle in 2013 for numerous reasons, number of people [particularly software “hipsters”] being the number one reason. The inflated prices in the “near abroad” of the city also precluded residence nearby.

        So, I bought a tiny vacant lot in So-Or that had been on the market for almost a decade…nobody could figure out how to put a conventional ranch on it…most of the lot is 45 degree grade. I designed/built a 700 ft^2 footprint “row house” with a roof on it…now people living in 3500 ft^2 or bigger houses give me shit about my “fancy” 1400 ft^2 house built for under 300 while living in a 13 ft trailer. And I am still working on that house today…I started in 2014 btw.

  3. Alexander Sleep says:

    Its funny because I am white and I don’t see my representation in City Council either. I have dealt with city council and they enjoy there club regardless of your race.

  4. Out in the woods says:

    Is wanting more Wilderness in a mostly white area white privilege? Love your blog, commenting as a white privileged hick. I appreciate your commentary on the Missoula bubble as it effects most everything rural about 1.5 hours out of the city. What is jacked is though there is racism everywhere there is a special kind of racism that exists with white democrats against Natives on the Rez who don’t get it. It exists with Republicans but I like to point out the little things. I really appreciate you and Strandberg’s writings. You tell it how it is. Cheets

  5. Djinn&Tonic says:

    Late to da pardey, but… White Fragility is just the commodification of white liberal guilt, capitalism can sell anything …

  6. Pingback: Matt Taibbi’s Take On “White Fragility” | Reptile Dysfunction

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