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Old 08-11-2013, 01:33 AM
 
9 posts, read 137,514 times
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Hi Everyone,

I'm a mixed-race black female in my early 40's, married to a wonderful (though sometimes crotchety), white man in his mid-50's. He is a native Montanan, but lived in Seattle for 20 years before moving here to L.A. to be with me a few years ago.

How do say this? My hubby HATES California, especially L.A., lol! He cannot stand how people are so superficial out here, or the way they drive (rudely), or how people here are inconsiderate etc. There are many reasons he hates it here and no amount of nice weather will make him want to stay.

In spite of the fact that I grew up in L.A., I don't blame him one bit for hating L.A. I'm at the point where I too, want to get away and move somewhere where things are a bit more sane. So we are planning to move to Missoula in a couple of months, since he lived there before (he grew up in Great Falls). I started researching Montana and particularly Missoula and though I've always known Montana doesn't have a sizeable black population (or other non-white races for that matter), I was pretty taken aback to see that the number of black people in Missoula is 239.

Aside from the countless times I've been the only black person in a crowd of people (like a heavy metal night
club or rock concert), I have always been in a racially mixed environment. L.A. is a huge melting pot of people from different countries, different races, as well as many, many mixed-race persons of all races. There is no shortage of eating at restaurants that serve foods that are Mexican, Indian, Peruvian, Japanese, Chilean, Brazilian, Ethiopian and many others.

So what should I expect living in Missoula as black person #240? Can I expect people to assume the worst stereotype one would have about a black female? As an interracial couple, will my hubby and I be getting The Look? Are there places in Montana that a black person avoids for safety reasons (i.e. KKK?) I hope I haven't offended anyone with these questions. I'm honestly wanting to know what should I expect in Missoula, as well as the entire state in general.

As for dining and entertainment, I already know since Missoula is small, there are very few restaurants that serve food from other countries, and I couldn't find if there are any venues for big-name acts. What are things you can do in Missoula for recreation?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

 
Old 08-11-2013, 08:14 AM
 
4,612 posts, read 3,932,985 times
Reputation: 9676
You'll be fine. Prepare to slow down and breathe easy. Welcome to Montana.
 
Old 08-11-2013, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Snyder, OK
8 posts, read 53,685 times
Reputation: 19
When I worked in the oilfields near Miles City a few years ago, I worked with Afro-Americans daily. I never noticed any racial tensions, nor did I ever see people of other races working on my crew get treated any differently by the residents of towns we worked near.
 
Old 08-11-2013, 10:19 AM
 
297 posts, read 664,712 times
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Hi, I'm in Missoula. I'm white and grew up in the South so was shocked at the lack of racial diversity the first summer I worked here in Montana. "Where IS everybody?," I wondered. That said, I think Missoula is your best choice in the state (Bozeman would be good, too, as both are university towns with more diversity than the rest of Montana).

Here in a college town, there are a fair number of ethnic groups and races other than white. I don't think people stare but am not sure I would be noticing that anyway, as I tend to kind of daydream when I'm walking around (don't worry, folks, I pay attention to my driving!). I see mixed-race couples and don't think they get The Look either. However, I will say that children from isolated areas who come to town with their families to shop may stare, simply because they may literally never see a black person when they live. But then they don't have any stereotypes either, hopefully.

I agree with you that there's a sad dearth of ethnic food and restaurants in Missoula. We do have Mexican, Irish, Thai, Chinese, two good sushi places, and some Americanized Italian. Probably some more I'm not thinking of off the top of my head. We used to have a fantastic Indian cafe called Tipu's Tiger but it was sold and then the new owners ruined it & it closed. Every spring there's a huge International Food Festival at UM that's a ton of fun and very popular. There may be some groups or clubs that have ethnic food meetings/gatherings... or you could start one.

UM gets some big music groups for concerts, but not many. I believe they are planning to upgrade the coliseum in hopes of attracting more acts. UM football and basketball have huge followings, especially football. There are several theater groups. Outdoor recreation is king -- hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing (downhill and cross-country), boating, 4-wheeling, snowmobiling, rafting, and so on.

Any other questions, just ask!

P.S. I'd avoid living in extreme northwest Montana, as that has a bad reputation for hate groups. Just MHO.
 
Old 08-11-2013, 11:44 AM
Status: "FREE CASCADIA!" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Denver, Colorado
3,238 posts, read 3,979,334 times
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MontanaGyrl, when you say extreme Northwest MOntana, I assume you are referring to Kalispell? Possibly, Libby? Actually, the town of Whitefish, would probably be one of the best towns for a mixed black/white couple. I met a pretty black girl with dreadlocks working at the coffeeshop in WHitefish when I visiting there 2 years ago for my trip to Glacier. She seem to like living there and didn't have problems.

However, I will agree that perhaps Kalispell or some real backwoodsy remote town isn't the best place for a black person to live. The notorious PLE (Pioneer Little Europe) Neo-Nazi group has its homebase in Kalispell, which is one thing that would keep me out of that town. However, most of the towns around Glacier National Park I think would be suitable, as the area has tourists and people from all over the world retiring, visiting ,vacationing and owning 2nd/3rd homes.

BTW, LA City Girl, I am Jewish and planning on moving possibly to Montana or back to Idaho, North IDaho to be exact. You may also consider Boise, as it has quite a large black population compaerd to the rest of the area. I saw a lot of black people all over Boise area. However, Boise is kinda ugly, but there is definitely a slower pace of life there compared to So Cal and there is beautiful mountains and scenery about 2 hours away.
 
Old 08-11-2013, 02:16 PM
 
297 posts, read 664,712 times
Reputation: 276
RotseCherut, I did mean the Flathead Valley in general and then north and west of it. Tourist towns like Whitefish and Bigfork, though, I agree with you -- not so racist.

Over the years I've read a lot of people say they're not interested in moving to Kalispell because of the Neo-Nazi group. I think they should make their feelings known to the Chamber of Commerce there!

Btw, I lived in Kalispell back in the '70s. What a pretty little place. No Neo-Nazis, not much traffic... sigh. Oh, and north Idaho also has some notorious NN groups, unfortunately.
 
Old 08-11-2013, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 36,298,679 times
Reputation: 2147483647
L.A.CityGirl,

I had to read your post several times, not because it was confusing, but more because I like the way it was worded.

Diversity - being composed of differing elements .......... I absolutely hate that term. So often it is used as an absolute. "Our town is very diverse because all the numbers are spread out." That doesn't mean a town is diverse. It simply means the numbers are the same. I have lived all over this country and too often I saw numbers that were equal, but never together, the town was segregated. So what good was a diversity of numbers? I noticed you didn't use that word.

Also, if you read back through the Montana Forum, you will find many many threads asking the same question, but actually not asking how things would be, or how people would be, but more demanding that they'd better be right. A person can demand all they want and all it does is create separation of thought. You didn't do that.

It has been my experience that you will not have any problems. Even though there is a small number of Black people, doesn't mean they are not excepted, because they are. At least everywhere I have been. I haven't seen in the Mountain States, what I have seen in the Southern States and even what I have seen in the 20 years I lived in Southern California. Too often in Southern California I saw an area that were black people, an area that were asian people, an area that were hispanic. But by golly, those towns were diverse.

What I have seen in the Mountain States is neighbors. That is how people are judged, not by nationality or color. Do you help neighbors in need? Do you support yourself and not expect the Government to do so? Do you get involved with the community? Those are the things people look for.

The only problems you will find is things like finding particular foods, or maybe a good hair stylist that is experienced..... but in life, those are pretty small problems.

I think you will do absolutely fine. Of course, you know that you are going to freeze your butt off the first winter, getting used to it.
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Old 08-11-2013, 03:38 PM
 
9 posts, read 137,514 times
Reputation: 26
Thanks to all you guys for replying...you all rock! My hubby wasn't aware of some of the changes that have taken place in Montana.

historyfan- Thanks for the welcome. My hubby is a historian (not by trade, though.) He got his history degree from U.M.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGyrl View Post
Hi, I'm in Missoula. I'm white and grew up in the South so was shocked at the lack of racial diversity the first summer I worked here in Montana. "Where IS everybody?," I wondered. That said, I think Missoula is your best choice in the state (Bozeman would be good, too, as both are university towns with more diversity than the rest of Montana).
That is what my hubby said as well, MontanaGyrl. He said Missoula, Bozeman and Kalispell were the three best places for us to move to. We are glad we didn't decide to go to Kalispell, as my hubby was unaware of the NN group being headquartered there until just now, when he read RosteCherut's reply.

Quote:
I see mixed-race couples and don't think they get The Look either. However, I will say that children from isolated areas who come to town with their families to shop may stare, simply because they may literally never see a black person when they live. But then they don't have any stereotypes either, hopefully.
Thanks for the headsup.

Quote:
Every spring there's a huge International Food Festival at UM that's a ton of fun and very popular. There may be some groups or clubs that have ethnic food meetings/gatherings... or you could start one.
That's good to know. I will make sure to check that out, though I also think I will either a.) Buy cookbooks for international recipes, and b.) See if there's any online food services that ships Indian food overnight packed in dry ice, LOL!

Quote:
UM gets some big music groups for concerts, but not many. I believe they are planning to upgrade the coliseum in hopes of attracting more acts. UM football and basketball have huge followings, especially football. There are several theater groups. Outdoor recreation is king -- hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing (downhill and cross-country), boating, 4-wheeling, snowmobiling, rafting, and so on.
That's good to know about U.M. Hope by the time we get settled, there will be one decent show we can attend there. I am also looking forward to doing hikes since I want to get back in shape and what better place to hike than Montana? There so much beauty to admire! There are plenty of places to hike in L.A., but the finding a place to park at these hiking places is a challenge.

Quote:
Any other questions, just ask!
Thank you.

Quote:
P.S. I'd avoid living in extreme northwest Montana, as that has a bad reputation for hate groups. Just MHO.
Thank you very much for the heads up on that!

I will be back later, because I want respond to RosteCherut and Elkhunter's posts.
 
Old 08-11-2013, 10:07 PM
 
9 posts, read 137,514 times
Reputation: 26
@RosteCherut -

Thank you for chiming in! It's funny how you replied on this thread. I read your thread last night, it was from about a week or so ago where you were asking about how parts of Montana is in respect to Jewish people, so after reading your thread, I decided to start one of my own.

I appreciate the details regarding Glacier National park, as well as the info on Boise even though my hubby and I aren't considering moving there. My husband was surprised when he read what you said about Kalispell having Neo Nazis.

I hope everything works out for you in your move....Shalom!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElkHunter
L.A.CityGirl,

I had to read your post several times, not because it was confusing, but more because I like the way it was worded.
Thank you for the kind words....it's much appreciated!

Quote:
Diversity - being composed of differing elements .......... I absolutely hate that term.
My hubby and I both hate the word "diversity" as well. Probably because it's been used unto death in promoting political-correctness (something my hubby and I both hate. We feel everyone should be equally offended, LOL!)

Quote:
Also, if you read back through the Montana Forum, you will find many many threads asking the same question, but actually not asking how things would be, or how people would be, but more demanding that they'd better be right. A person can demand all they want and all it does is create separation of thought. You didn't do that.
I'd rather find out how people's reactions will be to my presence because even though I've been in a racially mixed environment all my life, when I was a kid in the 70's. I was one of about four or five kids in my school, up through junior high. I experienced a lot of racism from my schoolmates, particularly in elementary school. I had to learn which people liked me and which ones didn't like me because of my race. So I guess I've never stopped looking to a person's reaction as a way of gauging their acceptance of me.

Quote:
It has been my experience that you will not have any problems. Even though there is a small number of Black people, doesn't mean they are not excepted, because they are. At least everywhere I have been. I haven't seen in the Mountain States, what I have seen in the Southern States and even what I have seen in the 20 years I lived in Southern California.
Thank you. What you have said is very reassuring for me. I think my anxiety about living in such a racially homogenous state is compounded by the fact that I've never lived anywhere else outside of California.

Quote:
Too often in Southern California I saw an area that were black people, an area that were asian people, an area that were hispanic. But by golly, those towns were diverse.
BINGO! You are spot on when you speak of certain neighborhoods in L.A. being segregated. I never understood how it could be that way, and I probably never will. I never liked how there were certain neighborhoods in L.A. that were segregated. I've always made it a point to live in neighborhoods that were racially mixed, which is why I have stayed in and around Hollywood for most of my adult life.

Quote:
What I have seen in the Mountain States is neighbors. That is how people are judged, not by nationality or color. Do you help neighbors in need? Do you support yourself and not expect the Government to do so? Do you get involved with the community? Those are the things people look for.
That's great. One thing about L.A. is that no one knows their neighbors much. Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. However, I think in the suburbs like Pasadena, Pomona, and San Bernardino county, the neighbors might be acquainted with each other, but nothing close to Montana residents.

Quote:
The only problems you will find is things like finding particular foods, or maybe a good hair stylist that is experienced..... but in life, those are pretty small problems.
Yup, I'm working on the food problem. I've already found some places that ship certain foods overnight in dry ice, LOL! Foods that I know I really won't find in Missoula. As for a hair stylist, I haven't chemically straightened my hair in over 2 years. I style it myself and trim it every 3 months. As long as I have my must-have hair products (which I order online), I'm set.

Quote:
I think you will do absolutely fine. Of course, you know that you are going to freeze your butt off the first winter, getting used to it.
Tell me about it! My hubby thinks we Californians are wimps, because most people here will wear jackets when it's 50 degrees outside. He is getting a kick out of reminding me that I will need some really warm clothes to wear this winter. Brrr!!

Thank you Elkhunter for your info. All the info I've gotten here so far is helping in easing my moving anxiety.
 
Old 08-12-2013, 12:59 AM
Status: "FREE CASCADIA!" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Denver, Colorado
3,238 posts, read 3,979,334 times
Reputation: 4158
Shalom LA City Girl! I am glad I could be of help to you and glad my original post was an inspiration to make your own post. Actually, I was happy to see your post, as I feel we both are in a similar situation.

For your information, I spent half a year in Africa, so I can truly identify with you about your anxiety of being a minority in a place where people look different. At least you speak the same language and dialect as people in Montana. I will say from my experience, the one most important thing about moving to an area with a different culture, where you may stick out a bit, is to try your best to blend in, learn the lingo, the way of life and learn what subjects are best to avoid talking about. In Montana, you will be somewhat of a novelty, so if people stare it will be out of curiosity and interest than anything else.

I think the suggestions of Missoula are great, as this would obviously be a very accepting place. Missoula has had that reputation of open-mindedness and diversity, being a hippy, liberal , college town. The only issue I have with the town is I feel it may be a bit to liberal for a more right-wingish person like myself. However, it is still Montana and I know the consensus of Montanans in general is co-existence and accepting people of different religious, political and social views. This is a great benefit of places like Montana and Northern Idaho versus Washington and even Oregon, where people can be very vigilant and ostracize you for not thinking like they do.


Anyway, I hope you enjoy MOntana.. I am considering North Idaho now possibly, because it is quite a bit cheaper I am discovering and there is a lot of beauty there and the beautiful mountains of Montana are just an hour drive away. Although, I am still considering Montana.. Going to do more research.

You may also consider Coeur d'Alene/Sandpoint area.. Don't write off Bozeman, Livingston or even Billings. These are all areas I am considering living.

I also thought you may want to know the Rabbi at synagogue in Bozeman, who is an Orthodox Jew, who openly walks around in Jewish religious garb, told me he loves people of Montana and says they are not racist. He told me they are very accepting, friendly and live and let live people. These are good words coming from a guy who probably looks very exotic to the average Montanan.
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