On The Token’s Role In Evolving Narrative Control For The New Colonizers

by Travis Mateer

My question about whether or not the new mandate of BIPOC cultural platforming could be considered a form of narrative control was allowed at first by moderator Joseph Grady, but despite acknowledging my white privilege several times, I was ultimately told to shut up and listen.

Maybe it was my description of what our caring, liberal community DOES NOT KNOW about what happened to Sean Stevenson and Johnny Lee Perry. Or maybe it was my interpretation of equality meaning Native writers like Sherman Alexie get to do the same things with their fame and celebrity as the privileged whites.

Whatever it was, my perspective was definitely not appreciated by anyone in that room. Especially the moderator, who dropped an f-bomb on me. Nice.

For the tokens who get curated and put on display for PR purposes, it might be instructive to examine some of the people on TEAM ARTS MISSOULA, like Heidi Starrett, the white lady who does sales for the Missoula Broadcasting Company.

Here’s an Arts Missoula post from Heidi Starrett from April of this year getting psyched to support the government-picked-winners that got to survive the pandemic, which was recently declared over by the CDC. From the link:

As Missoula, along with countless communities across the globe, is  “getting back to normal” following 2 years of a worldwide pandemic, its become even more clear how prominent arts & culture are in our daily lives. With the return of concerts, live theater, film festivals and countless other arts & cultural related events currently in the planning stages for a big return this summer, there seems to be a bit of a buzz around our little mountain city.  Seeing and hearing individuals thrilled to plan for summer events and organizations excited to bring new & improved annual events back to life, the excitement is palpable, which has been a reminder to me of how fortunate we are in Missoula to have access to the arts. 

Access to the arts offers a rich experience that can truly shape our lives & our community, allows us to see the world beyond our own front door, our neighborhood or our own city and can inform ones view of the world. The arts allow us to understand the experience and point of view of others with whom we may not otherwise connect.  But can you imagine a community without direct access to arts & culture?

The next person on the board I’d like to highlight, who is also white, is Scott Woodall of ABC Fox Montana. Here’s a man with some media access and the distinct look of white privilege to get something done!

And here is the search result from his news station when I searched for the name SEAN STEVENSON:

Yes, the name of the man assaulted at the Poverello Center on January 3rd, 2020, then later euthanized at St. Pats hospital WITHOUT his family being notified first, only came up THIRD in the search results. I’m sure Scott Woodall is losing sleep over this marginalization of a BIPOC person who died in our caring, liberal community.

The last white person I’d like to highlight is someone I spoke with a few weeks ago about homeless issues, since his name hit the media as a BIG supporter of the 5 million dollar mill levy to replace the heroin-like funding our funding addicts in social services need to keep enabling the reason they exist. Remember, I say that having worked at the Poverello Center for 7 years.

Here’s what this “white” car salesman thinks about putting an additional tax burden on struggling property owners who probably are white themselves, since they live in Missoula, and therefore should just shut the fuck up about it.

“Soon, ARPA funding provided to Missoula by our federal government will run out. There’s currently no plan in place to run programs supported by that funding,” said Shannon Flanagan, who is helping spearhead the levy request. “Without replacing this funding, the programs the city and county has created to support those in the community who are experiencing struggles with homelessness, addiction and mental health will disappear.”

Since all these white people on the board of ARTS MISSOULA love art so much, I have a PERFECT poem for them. Also, if a white guy token is needed for a panel, I humbly offer my services. Now, let’s do a poem, shall we!

the token fits the slot
be it house or field
sorry, that was yesterday
today's a different deal
for I have seen Black Mirrors
outline future scenes
aggressive helicopters?
no, there is no need
talents of the tongue
can always be absorbed 
slot engineering is
a function of the war
yes, there's still nostalgia
for dropping from the sky
containers of explosion 
to stupefy the mind
but non-kinetic means
feature deeper hooks
now the war depends 
on shaping where you look
the token is ok
the token will survive 
you and me, we shall see
if we are alive

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.

3 Responses to On The Token’s Role In Evolving Narrative Control For The New Colonizers

  1. Help make the coiunty mil levy unnecessary and defeatable by defunding Rogers Internationsl and supporting other revenue-neutral amendments to the city’s propsed executive budget Monday evening at the City Council meeting. Councilors Carlino and Jordan will propose numerous budget amendments that save taxpayer money and actually serve our underfunded needs.

  2. Pingback: Understanding Mayor Engen’s Final Proclamation Using A Quote From Orwell’s 1984 | Zoom Chron Blog

  3. Pingback: And The Award Goes To…Artists Who Don’t Challenge The New Paradigm Of Power! | Zoom Chron Blog

Leave a Reply