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As we move through this holiday season of giving, we find ourselves in the time that most of us ponder how the year has gone for us and the ones for whom we love and care. The vast majority of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in Montana pretty much have a constant and consistent struggle with racism, bigotry, and prejudice. In addition to our outward rejection of them, we’ve also hoped and/or prayed for health, kindness, and mercy to prevail. But we here in Bozeman, our state, and our country find ourselves in an ever expanding toxic and extremely harmful stew of systemic and individual racism and discrimination due to white supremacy.

It’s clear that the “gifts” of white supremacy have been a hard pushback against equity and diversity, the rollback of voting rights, gerrymandering, the repudiation of study through the lens of critical race theory (which is only studied at college and graduate school level), and expanding militias here in Montana. All this in the effort to hammer down even harder on systemic marginalization.

The vast majority of those of us who are under the thumb of systemic marginalization and oppression know exactly how it manifests itself. We’ve known it since we were young children when we could feel it even though we could not yet put a name to it. We could see it even though we could not yet explain it. And need I note that racism — systemic or otherwise — takes no holiday?

The Montana Racial Equity Project exists to lift the voices and elevate the agency of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, persons with disabilities, queer and trans people, as well as Muslim and Jewish people. We exist not just to push back on systemic oppressions but to push forward. By pushing forward on behalf of those of us considered by the majority to be the least of us, we bring everyone forward into a more just city, state, and country for all.

As we near the end of this year, I strongly urge you to consider those of us who struggle for parity and for a much bigger banquet table which will accommodate everyone. Give to those nonprofits which are doing the hard work for justice and equity for all. Make this a season of solidarity.

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