I appreciate the words of Columbia Falls Principal, Scott Gaiser in recognizing, “that there is a great deal of work to be done to reestablish your trust and continue a positive relationship with students and staff at Browning High School and the Browning community”.
It is my opinion that the efforts to do this is not so much with the school district but the adults in your community whose actions last year in Hamilton and at the recent home game in your community was done with intent and it is they who have to answer to that themselves in my opinion.
Modern day racism tends to be covert and if you are on the receiving end, you may be questioning whether you were the target of a racist act or not. Why? Because the perpetrators of the act will say the sign did not mean that or it was a slip of the tongue and it was not intended to be racist.
Sadly, the perpetrators may not recognize their actions as racist because their behavior does not follow the pattern of overt forms of racism commonly seen in the media. So what is it then?
I believe that racism reveals itself in two forms. The first form is prejudice, which refers to negative beliefs, feelings, judgments, or opinions we hold about people based upon the group affiliation. In our case, it is the Native American population in Montana.
The second form is discrimination and occurs when a person might be harassed or treated less favorably because of their membership in a particular group, which is the Native American population in this state.
If individuals hold these beliefs, then it manifests itself to publicly taking actions of discrimination against members of that group as the end result.
So, I don’t believe any further animosity towards the individual’s actions will resolve anything on our part from the community of Browning. The “adults” in the two school districts and this newspaper have taken the appropriate action.
I would just offer that those individuals should consider that they have a larger responsibility to the young people in your community to teach them the values of respect and understanding that the diversity of cultures in this state is a positive contribution in what makes us Montanans.
George Heavy Runner