Recent Articles

Racial Listening Sessions…or Tone Deaf?

By

The Whatcom Human Rights Task Force (WHRTF) has sent an open email letter to Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood and Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu. It is critical of the “Listening Sessions” on race and justice that Fleetwood and Sidhu jointly announced last week. The letter notes that the planning for the sessions is itself “... soaked in the very thing it wishes to conquer.” It then goes on to explain exactly what that means and how it needs to be corrected before any listening sessions should be held.

A surprise to me is that the sessions were apparently planned by government agencies and did not involve active participation by the very people they seek to involve. Our longest existing local and respected human rights group - Whatcom Human Rights Task Force - was not involved. There is no mention of the WHRTF which was founded in 1994 and has worked toward fair treatment for all in our community.

Indeed, a quick read of the news post on the city’s website lists many government agencies, including the prosecutor’s office, the police and the sheriff. Hmmm. How openly does an identified person want to participate with the police watching? The listening sessions appear to be a quickie action by government officials who are anxious to display sensitivity. The sort of meeting that fades and provides no positive results in the future. The Human Rights Task Force has just called out this rushed and haphazard process.

The following paragraph from the letter summarizes their concerns. BIPOC is an acronym for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

How can there be an honest and productive conversation when: 1. the conversation is being controlled by those holding power; and 2. there is a lack of transparency and honesty when promoting these sessions. How can we be sure BIPOC voices will be prioritized without being tokenized?

After the summary, there are suggestions on how such a series of listening sessions might be organized and what the goals should be. That is, how to find solutions for ending systemic racism in local governments and deal with white supremacy locally. The suggestions make very clear that they are talking about local governments needing to change.

In my experience, this letter is an important step by the WHRTF as they speak out with a constructive but critical voice. In the past, they have tried very hard to work with the city and county - especially with law enforcement agencies. Now, they are finally calling out these governments. This is a very real step up. The rest of us can support them and let the mayor and executive know that we actually really genuinely truly want change, that we all agree this letter is not something to quickly puff away or even ignore.

The letter is attached as a PDF and is a quick five minute or less read. It explains their concerns clearly. It can be downloaded and forwarded to ... whomever.

Attached Files

Comments by Readers

Stoney Bird

Jul 27, 2020

Well done, Human Rights Task Force!

Read More...

Dianne Foster

Jul 28, 2020

Thank-you John!

Read More...

Forest Cat

Jul 29, 2020

Most certainly our local politicians are “anxious to display sensitivity”.

What a choice opportunity for classic pandering, and resultant boosting of one’s future campaign coffers!

Read More...

Virginia Herrick

Aug 27, 2020

I hope the effort, thought, and care put into this letter are appreciated, and that outreach is forthcoming. Now is not the time for posturing or pandering—now is the time for sincere EFFORT! Listening is not enough.

Read More...

Racial Listening Sessions…or Tone Deaf?

By John ServaisOn Jul 27, 2020

The Whatcom Human Rights Task Force (WHRTF) has sent an open email letter to Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood and Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu. It is critical of the “Listening [...]

4 comments, most recent 1 month ago

COVID-19 Deaths in Whatcom County

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 26, 2020

On March 22nd, a COVID-19 case was announced at the Shuksan Long Term Care Center in Bellingham’s York Neighborhood and by March 25th the first of 11 residents had died, [...]

2 comments, most recent 2 months ago

Musings from a Political Junkie in Quarantine

By Guest WriterOn Jul 23, 2020

Dianne Foster, guest writer and political junkie in quarantine - - - Once again it’s that time of year, and I’m compiling my personal recommendations about this year’[...]

14 comments, most recent 1 month ago

Open The WWU Campus In September?  What Then The Toll?

By Dick ConoboyOn Jul 23, 2020

Upate: In a related development Washington State University announced today that all undergraduate classes at its Pullman campus would be online for in the fall 2020. “Given the alarming rise in [...]

11 comments, most recent 2 months ago

Republican-leaning states take the lead!

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 21, 2020

This article is co-authored with Eric Tyberg, a retired IT executive and consultant residing in Lincoln, California. Originally from Falun, Wisconsin, he rose through the ranks at IBM and formed [...]

4 comments, most recent 2 weeks ago

Cougar Inside Bellingham Yard

By John ServaisOn Jul 21, 2020

This beautiful big cat is a large cougar, also called a mountain lion. It was seen prowling a backyard in the city of Bellingham this past weekend and photographed by [...]

6 comments, most recent 2 weeks ago

Update on the COVID-19 Warning System for San Juan County

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 18, 2020

Co-author of this article is Peter A. Morrison, Ph.D., RAND Corporation Senior Demographer (retired) and President, Peter A. Morrison and Associates, Inc. He is an applied demographer based on [...]

Why is flag at half-staff?

By John ServaisOn Jul 18, 2020

Saturday, July 18, 2020 The flag is at half-staff in honor of U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia who died yesterday. The presidential notice for lowering today was only issued near [...]

Enough!

By Guest WriterOn Jul 13, 2020

[This is a third article from our guest writer who does not wish to make his identity known. I refer to him as G, a retiree who moved to Bellingham [...]

5 comments, most recent 3 months ago

WWU Campus is Closed And Should Stay That Way

By Dick ConoboyOn Jul 06, 2020

Any substantial number of the student body at Western Washington University who physically return to campus in the fall will constitute a reverse Spring Break, an infectious phenomenon verified after [...]

23 comments, most recent 3 months ago

Is “Being Republican” a Risk to One’s Health and the Health of Others?

By David A. SwansonOn Jul 03, 2020

[This article has two co-authors. The first is Eric Tyberg, a retired IT executive and consultant residing in Lincoln, California. Originally from Falun, Wisconsin, he rose through the ranks at [...]

6 comments, most recent 3 months ago

Fledgling Great Blue Herons Need Our Help

By Jamie K. DonaldsonOn Jul 02, 2020

Hurry down to the Post Point Great Blue Heron colony in the next few days to catch sight of a wondrous event: the giant baby herons are preparing to leave [...]

1 comment, most recent 3 months ago

Just Whose Flag Is It Anyway?

By Dick ConoboyOn Jun 30, 2020

Who the patriot? Who the abuser? Speak! 4 U.S. Code § 8. FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES: Respect for flag; No disrespect should be shown to the flag [...]

15 comments, most recent 2 months ago

Revisiting the Estimation of Unconfirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Whatcom County

By David A. SwansonOn Jun 27, 2020

[Co-author of this article is Ronald E. Cossman, Ph.D., a Research Professor and Research Fellow at the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University. He also directs the [...]

Reminder - Fireworks Are Banned In Bellingham

By Dick ConoboyOn Jun 26, 2020

This 4th of July will be the first celebrated under the oppressive miasma of pandemic. Bellingham’s prohibition of consumer fireworks has been in effect for six years now with [...]

2 comments, most recent 2 months ago

State Street Creamery Reborn! Sort Of.

By Dick ConoboyOn Jun 25, 2020

State Street Creamery? It never existed, at least under that name. The parcel in question was originally the site of a dairy whose building from 1949 still stands although now occupied [...]

3 comments, most recent 3 months ago

A Tale of 39 Counties: Re-opening Washington and Political Orientation

By David A. SwansonOn Jun 21, 2020

[Co-author of this article is Eric Tyberg, a retired IT executive and consultant residing in Lincoln, California. Originally from Falun, Wisconsin, he rose through the ranks at IBM and formed [...]

12 comments, most recent 3 months ago

The Second Time As Tragedy

By Guest WriterOn Jun 18, 2020

[Our guest writer is Dr. Bill Lyne, Professor of English (American and African American Literature) at Western Washington University who writes a blog for the United Faculty of Washington State [...]

6 comments, most recent 4 months ago

A Tale of Two Counties: Re-opening Skagit and Whatcom

By David A. SwansonOn Jun 16, 2020

[Co-author of this article is Eric Tyberg, a retired IT executive and consultant residing in Lincoln, California. Originally from Falun, Wisconsin, he rose through the ranks at IBM and formed [...]

5 comments, most recent 4 months ago

Public Support for Alternatives to the Public Market as a Homeless Shelter

By Guest WriterOn Jun 14, 2020

John and Janet Crews guest write. The Crews family has been involved in downtown Bellingham since the end of WWII when Jack Crews, partnered to open Luke and Crews Floor [...]

1 comment, most recent 4 months ago