Missoula’s BIPOC Placation Plan Is Running Into Some Trouble

by William Skink

Last week before Thanksgiving I wrote about two placation plans Missoula is devising, one for the unhoused living at the Reserve Street homeless encampment, and one for people with meth addictions.

The latter plan entails employing one of Missoula’s favorite placation strategies, the good ‘ol money to study schtick.

To show you how popular this go-to strategy has become, after George Floyd was killed by a police officer over the summer, Missoula’s enlightened brain trust suggested ANOTHER STUDY to appease Missoula’s BIPOC community, but now that the timeframe of 12 weeks has come and gone, with nothing to show, there is some understandable frustration boiling up that I’m happy to see the Missoula Current reporting on. From the link:

Iko’tsimiskimaki “Ekoo” Beck, a lifelong Missoula resident and Blackfeet Nation member, works as a community organizer for Montana Women Vote.

Like Cox, Beck agreed that investing more time and money in research is not an effective strategy.

“I also think that doing research is the wrong step at this point. I’ve lived here my entire life. Our experiences, as previously stated, have been shared a ton of times,” she said.

Instead of more research, Beck directed council members to specific action and issues they could work on addressing.

“There is a large houselessness Indigenous population in Missoula. That’s ridiculous. We’re Indigenous to this land. We should not be houseless. We should not be homeless on our own lands, right? That’s a basic level racial justice issue that you guys should be solving,” she said.

Right on, Ekoo. And here’s more well-deserved criticism:

For Chloe Behan, an Indigenous community member and student at the University of Montana, the steps that City Council has taken so far to address these social justice issues feel inconsequential.

“They’re trying to use this very outward facing solution. It is a very surface level solution that focuses only on the appearance of the city,” she said.

“It won’t be effective for anybody’s actual life other than for city council members and the mayor to be like ‘Alright, we did that. We can stop feeling bad. We can feel better about what we’ve done for BIPOC people.’ When in reality, they haven’t done anything.”

It looks like THIS placation plan is running into some problems from a more discerning group of people than the general public in Missoula, who eagerly throw tax money at all kinds of things.

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
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Missoula’s BIPOC Placation Plan Is Running Into Some Trouble

  1. Dennis Gene Flagen says:

    Yes the business owners in the area near the new “temporary” homeless shelter are not happy. One owner was interviewed on local TV station. He was most upset that the area residents and business owners were not made aware of this shelter. I guess the people that pay the taxes to keep the bureaucrats in jobs are not that important in these decisions. I also find it interesting that the camp is actually further away from agencies that these folks need to deal with. From what I read they are bringing services to them how I know not. Well it is just another band aid fix. So what happens when the $100,000 Covid Relief money runs out. That is the 64 thousand dollar question.

  2. Djinn&Tonic says:

    So what happens when the $100,000 Covid Relief money runs out. That is the 64 thousand dollar question.

    Lets study, that…

  3. James Arden says:

    The funny thing is that I think that the Missoula Current article you linked is the first article that authored by a Missoula Current writer that we’ve taken down. City officals and members of LEARN called it inaccurate, unbalanced and impertinent. I don’t think it was inaccurate, just lacking context. We might edit stuff after we publish it, sure, but that’s about it. The greatest criticism my articles recieve usually end up being by myself, so it kind of stands out when we recieve ire from city council members and the communications director. Maybe they were right about some aspects about the article — I only skimmed it — but overall I’m concerned about this group from a journalistic perspective. I’m not going to delve into my personal beliefs, but the taxpayer-funded group has definetly recieved recieved some criticisms from the public, so the article has a well-intended purpose in voicing them.

    When I reached out to them to write this story (https://missoulacurrent.com/montana-today/2020/09/bipoc-inequity-oppression/) with the idea of potentially making their study more clear to the public on what they aim to do as they were intially meant to present it in September, the final product turned out fine, but the process to get there was probably the most frustrating that I’ve ever experienced writing a story. It was during an interview that kind of made me decide that I’m really not interested in reporting on the group anymore (which is rather rare when I write 1200-word stories on stuff like the parking commission.) It was about halfway through an interview with one of the sources that they started insisting they review the article before we publish it, which I have never been confronted with such a request before, even when I wrote with questionable experience for my local daily paper in high school. But I know that you really never want to do that in journalism, so I said that we don’t do that. But then the source continued with his insistence, and went on to imply that I was racist because of historical racism in journalism. Simply because I am white and wasn’t allowing him a privilege that we don’t give to anyone, it seemed like he was going to stonewall me. I lied to him and said sure, I get where you are coming from, but god at that point I just wanted to get the interview over with. It seemed like whatever I was writing, if it wasn’t lauding them at every turn, they wouldn’t be happy with. I ended up sharing quotes with the group as a sort of placation, and even then the person I quoted from said he was misquoted although all my notes were precisely transcribed from a taping of the interview. They responded by explaining human language to me, saying that words have different contexts and can mean different things, and I think at that point I wanted nothing more to do with the group. They essentially reached all the key points to piss me, a relatively passive person, off.

    So, yeah I’m intereseted to see what results come out of the study, but at the same time I’m worried that if nothing comes out of the study, how are we going to hold them accountable. For the story that we took down, when the author reached out to them, they responded with nothing more but a press release. It’s a sensitive issue, that I think limits how we can cover it. There’s a reason why I used my pseudonym here.

Leave a Reply