WFCN Stands United for
American Asian Pacific Islander Day Against Bullying & Hate
May 18, 2021
Dear Beloved Whatcom County,
Whatcom Family & Community Network (WFCN) envisions a thriving community built on equity, social connection, participation, and opportunities. Our mission is to promote wellbeing in children, youth, and families by convening and supporting communities to build their capacity. Our work aims to reduce and eliminate exposures to toxic stress and trauma for children, youth and families and increase protective factors so that all can thrive. Childhood trauma can occur as forms of community trauma such as exposure to discrimination, violence, bullying, and harassment. Racism is a form of community trauma and is thus a threat not only to our mission, but to our community’s wellbeing.
Our values guide our actions–we believe in connection, inclusion, love, healing and equity. Our solid stance is that there is no place for bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence toward one another in our communities.
We are each impacted by the systems in which we live–systems where discrimination and racism play out daily. We aim to build community capacity for acceptance and belonging with a lens toward equity and cultural humility, compassion and curiosity in the face of conflict and discomfort. We invest time and effort to increase healthy social connection that strengthens bonds and builds bridges.
WFCN commits to be an anti-racist organization. This means that we commit ourselves to never-ending improvement to ensure people of color have an organizational home to take leadership, share power, and transform organizational norms and culture. This looks like challenging white allies and other people of color on issues of equity, inclusion, and participation; sharing in decision making about how resources are allocated and what work gets done based on priority setting; and allowing everyone the space to make mistakes – to be human. We provide training and encourage discussions about racism, white privilege, power, and accountability. We set clear standards for inclusion at all levels of the organization. We consistently review our mission, vision, policies, procedures, and every other guiding fundamental aspect of our organization to ensure our commitment to end racism is a constant theme.
In Whatcom County, racism has been declared a public health crisis (Whatcom County Health Board, 2020). We call on our coalition members, community partners and all whose lives we connect with to join us in a collective effort to educate, show love, offer connection and healing, and promote inclusion and equity through anti-racist actions.
Individually, we are called to examine ourselves, our bias and privilege, our participation, and our impact on others. We are called to educate ourselves, reflect on our behaviors and do the work of changing our minds, our words, our actions so that we can collectively act to recognize systemic oppression, call for and act for systemic change. We are called to notice when we see racism and bias in action and to speak up to stop the harm it causes.
We partner with our community to address health disparities to increase resilience and hope for those who identify as people of color, who find belonging in the LGBTQ+ community, who due to poverty and other social issues are living in places without access to healthcare and other basic human needs. Through our work, we embed resilience-based practices into systems, to mitigate trauma and toxic stress; to heal the pain of historical injustice and increase resilience and hope in communities so that we experience wellbeing, especially for youth. We work to decrease risks and elevate protections that prevent youth substance use/abuse and increase their mental wellbeing. We work so youth may lead healthy lives and reach their full potential.
I write today, as part of our participation in American Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Day Against Hate and Bullying. We recognize recent local and national incidents of racial aggression and violence against people who identify as part of the AAPI community or who by outward appearance may be assumed affiliated with these communities.
Bellingham and Whatcom County have histories woven with racism. Significant incidents were focused on people of Asian descent. Residents and workers of Chinese, Punjabi and Japanese descent have experienced harm, pain and trauma in our community. History is important to remember, so that we can learn from it and do better. I was reminded this spring about a December 2019 hate crime against an Asian Uber driver in Bellingham instigated because of wearing a turban. We should not forget. This happens in our beloved community and we have opportunities to participate in counteracting hatred with love; harm with healing; othering with connection.
Together, I am hopeful that we will act in ways that bring about a more compassionate, united and equitable society that values differences and recognizes the humanity and beauty in racial, cultural and other differences.
As adults we teach our children by our values, words and actions. Please show up with compassion, courage, love and an offer of connection to those targeted by racial violence, hate speech, inappropriate humor, and other forms of aggression. Help our children heal these divides, steer away from these behaviors and lean into the future with hope for safety, love and kindness.
We strive not to be complacent or compliant in the current social landscape where division and acts of racial hatred are the headlines. Each of us has a role to play in changing the future for the better.
Please educate yourself on the following facts and consider the actions that you can take.
Do you know?
The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University released findings in early March that showed hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked 149% between 2019 and 2020, even though hate crimes overall declined. (Politifact; The Poynter Institute)
A separate group, Stop AAPI Hate, catalogued nearly 3,800 hateful incidents — which is not limited to crimes — during the first year of the pandemic. Most of those hateful incidents targeted women. (Politifact; The Poynter Institute)
According to the most recent annual report by the FBI on hate crimes, Washington State has the third highest number of reported hate crimes against members of the AAPI community.
AAPI community members are 3 times less likely than white Americans to seek and receive care for mental health concerns due to culturally specific barriers.
What you can do to provide support and get involved:
(From Washington Health Care Authority, Division of Behavior Health and Rehabilitation)
- Learn about the rich and complex history of the AAPI community and their role in the development of the USA.
- Learn skills in Bystander Intervention. Here is one source of information: https://www.advancingjustice-aajc.org/events
- Be aware of counseling and mental health services and organizations that cater specifically to AAPI community members such as:
- Support local organizations and communities that provide services and resources to members of the AAPI community such as the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.
- Attend a training on preventing and intervening during racial harassment.
- Report a hate crime or assault if you witness one:
- Maintain an up-to-date understanding of the impact that COVID-19 and negative stereotyping have had on the AAPI community by looking into resources such as:
- Speak up about racism against the AAPI community as it ties to COVID-19. Connect and get involved in the process.
- Listen to those impacted.
Respectfully and With Hope,
Kristi Slette, Executive Director
On Behalf of the Staff and Board of Directors of Whatcom Family & Community Network