Thousands of people participate in a march honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in San Antonio on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Credit: Eric Gay / AP

Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

I wanted to first say that it is much appreciated that the BDN editorial board wrote a follow up and apology to the MLK editorial. I hope to share a few thoughts with board members as they carry this lesson and opportunity forward.

I work with Native leaders and community members all over the country and we talk about how to work with the media, with our allies and have challenging conversations. The labor has been on us for generations to call others in and educate. And we do it because who else will?  

With what happened earlier this week, our allies, fellow white community members used the lessons we have taught them, my Black, Brown and Indigenous relatives, to speak up when harm was being done. Thankfully you listened, but as you indicated, it was after you heard from community members that you decided there was an impact.

Defensiveness is natural, I see it all the time. Even explanations, excuses and deflection are expected, I also see that all the time. What is unfortunate is that this article reads like you had no intention of listening to the masses calling for correction. Why must the burden fall again on Black and Brown shoulders?

As you look forward to other “holiday” editorials I would encourage you to dismiss the notion that it’s the same old thing and doesn’t deserve a fresh take every year. Because after generations of trauma, silence, invisibility, erasure, genocide, theft, and inequity we are finally seeing movement and every opportunity to speak up and out about those gains, about the stories of the struggle and resilience, and the hope this brings to our next seven generations is a gift. And that gift should not be squandered for the sake of convenience.

This is your opportunity to do better. Learn from this experience and change your practice. That is anti-racism work. Feel the feelings of disappointment, frustration, sadness. That is anti-racism work. Sit with the discomfort of the criticism without trying to explain it away or avoid accountability. That is anti-racism work. And once you have done this enough times it becomes your new norm, you’re not relying on the under-resourced communities to call something out because you took the time to ensure it was right the first time.

April Fournier

Citizen

Navajo Nation

City Councilor

Portland