“In this time of astonishing moral crisis, silence is complicity. Because in the palm of our hand we have the ability to respond — to speak, to post, to organize, to act, online and on the ground, and in the voting booth. Speak, even if your voice trembles.”
Valarie Kaur, civil rights activist
Now is the time for every member of this community - individuals, organizations, business leaders, and public officials - to take responsibility for the legacy we will leave for future generations: one of tolerance and inclusion or an acceptance of hatred and bigotry. The time for silence has long passed, as evidenced by the increasing boldness of those who intend to sow seeds of fear within our community. If we are to foster an environment of diversity and inclusion, we must publicly stand up to denounce hate right now.
Whatcom County has a long history of white supremacist based violence which began with the displacement of the Coast Salish people. Since then, white supremacist-based efforts contributed to the exclusion of Chinese and East Indian immigrants from the county in the early 1900s. In the 1920s, the city of Bellingham sanctioned and even welcomed events held by Klu Klux Klan members. In the next approximately 100 years, racism continued to be pervasive, with internment, sundowning, fish wars, cross burning, and more. More recently, activity by the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front has increased throughout the County as well.
On October 10th, it was discovered that a number of local businesses in Downtown Bellingham and Fairhaven were vandalized with flyers bearing a swastika, and the message, “We Are Everywhere”. This cowardly act is only the most recent display of hatred and intimidation in our community. Throughout this year, there have been reports of gun-toting members of white supremacist groups on the streets of downtown Bellingham at night, intimidation of school-aged youth at Black Lives Matter solidarity rallies, and destruction of signs and artwork that promote racial equity.
These public displays of bigotry, white supremacy, and hate are not an abstract issue for many people in Whatcom County: they are a persistent part of the experience of many of our county’s residents. The supremacist ideology that is being expressed and displayed cannot be allowed to take up space, intimidate people, and subsequently threaten the well-being of our entire community. The residents that are impacted as a result of these displays of virulent racism and hatred are part of the community that we each represent with our respective position(s). We must each ensure that Whatcom County embodies a place where all who live here experience inclusion, acceptance, and love.
Together we must:
- Stand up against hate; stand up for love;
- Stand up for diversity, equity and inclusion;
- Stand up for unity and healing;
- Stand up for truth and reconciliation.
Specifically we call on you: our political candidates and elected officials, representatives of our educational institutions, leaders of nonprofit and other organizations, business owners, other community leaders, and individual citizens to join those condemning these historic and recent actions before their threats manifest into further harm to our community members. By signing below, you agree to the following statement:
We/I, (individual or organization), the undersigned, do hereby declare that we/I unequivocally condemn white supremacy, defined as: the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, and should therefore dominate society. We/I condemn white supremacist ideology, as well as the display, expression, and promotion of white supremacist ideas. We/I commit to publicly stand up, strategize, make statements, take actions to denounce hate, develop strategies within our/my locus of control, and to take additional actions to stop the rise of threats of violence and symbols of hate in our community.
Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, Riveters Collective, Mission Accomplished? Whatcom Focused Youth Movement
Letter in Downloadable PDF Format: https://tinyurl.com/y5q6kgfg