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Open dialogue key to understanding racial issues

| June 21, 2020 1:00 AM

The Daily Inter Lake concluded a three-part series Saturday that highlighted the lives and experiences of people of color in the Flathead Valley. As communities around the world continue to join the Black Lives Matter movement in various ways, we believe it’s important to keep people of color at the center of the conversation.

This holds true for corners of the country where people of color make up a significant portion of the population, and for areas like the Flathead Valley where only 0.3% of the total population is black. Each of the three subjects interviewed by the Inter Lake made it clear that racism exists in the United States, in Montana and in the Flathead Valley, which means conversations about how to address discrimination and racism head-on should be commonplace here as well.

These discussions can come in many forms, but generally a good first step is acknowledging the amount of diversity in your own life and how that may impact your understanding of racial issues. Does your family or friend group include people of color who offer their perspectives on different topics? Do you strive to educate yourself on issues that impact minority communities?

The information we choose to digest and the people we surround ourselves with contribute greatly to our understanding of complex racial topics. And in predominantly white Montana, immersing oneself into local diverse communities can be a challenge. But that doesn’t mean other avenues and educational resources aren’t available.

We encourage people to consume content that focuses on the black experience, research the roots of the Black Lives Matter movement for themselves, ask hard questions of yourself and others, and if the opportunity arises, engage with and listen to the thoughts and opinions of people of color in your community. Chances are, there are plenty of people who would be happy to share their stories.

In fact, two of the three individuals interviewed by the Inter Lake reached out to us first and expressed interest in offering a black individual’s perspective on the state of racism in our country and how Montana can be a part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Reporters dove into each interview with eyes and ears open, but we first took a moment to acknowledge and understand our own newsroom diversity. Although the Inter Lake is an Equal Opportunity Employer, we are an all-white newsroom, and we believe that is important to recognize because it comes with its own challenges. Are we framing our stories correctly? Have we considered a wide array of perspectives? Have we, as a news source, done our part to make conversations about race more common?

We greatly valued the opportunity to listen to, learn from and lend a platform to members of our black community. And we hope their experiences encourage you to seek additional stories from people of color in your local community and beyond.