increasing equity in our programs and partnerships

Whatcom Family & Community Network’s (WFCN) vision, values, and key frameworks demand that we build community capacity for equity, social connection, inclusion, empowerment, and collective action. We work from a resilience and hope-building model to be trauma-informed.  We understand that if our work is not anti-racist, it is not trauma informed, and we are learning how to translate this understanding into action. We know and want to emphasize that becoming an anti-racist organization is an ongoing process – continuously learning, growing, and adapting is essential to building informed and trusting relationships within the community. The Summer of Equity Action effort, an 8-week plan of action in the summer of 2021, to kickstart WFCN, and encourage our coalitions, sponsored programs, and community partners to begin and/or make progress toward anti-racist action, is just one step along WFCN’s journey to create a more equitable future for everyone.

WFCN Anti-Racist Statement of Support and Action (click to view full statement)

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 engaging white allies and people of color in conversations 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. Internal to our organization, we provide training and facilitate 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.

our call to action

Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

Dear Whatcom Prevention Coalition (WPC), Mt. Baker Community Coalition (MBCC) Members, Fiscally Sponsored Programs and Community Partners:

As an organization that is committed to improving the lives of children, youth, and families in Whatcom County, we know we cannot do so effectively without acknowledging and addressing the impacts of discrimination on the individuals and communities we serve. We believe that all people should experience safety and wellbeing in community human service agencies. More importantly, we are clear that WFCN, like other local white-centered organizations and systems, has not provided that experience by excluding, omitting, and/or tokenizing individuals and communities based on their identities and demographics. As such, we are publicly committing to taking the journey to become a fully inclusive anti-racist multicultural organization.

This is our call for you, as a partner and program of ours, to engage in this work with us.  We invite you to start or journey farther in your efforts to become a welcoming, accepting, and safe home for people regardless of their identities. We aim to work together to reduce and eliminate exposure to childhood trauma, including the byproducts of racism and discrimination, so we can prevent substance use and abuse and promote mental wellbeing.

Why Now? 

Now–this moment and forward is what we have. We have been reading, learning, listening, and participating in community-wide processes that center the need to address racism. Our board of directors, staff and community members have been working to include equity, inclusion, and other values into our strategic plan. Engaging in an organizational assessment toward anti-racist action is one more step along our journey. Since our work is based on collective action in coalitions and networks, we’re inviting our partners into the action with us. We must address social justice issues focused on racism together.

Why Us? 

Structural racism hinders the well-being of children, youth, and families in our community. By advocating for and taking internal action toward anti-racism on an organizational level, we apply our values to increase community capacity for equity, education, empowerment, connection, inclusion, love, and healing through collective action.

WFCN and our two coalitions, Whatcom Prevention Coalition (WPC), and Mt Baker Community Coalition (MBCC) have been building cultural humility and equity understanding through programming and professional development for years. We have invested in and promoted professional development in the form of paying for members to attend REACH (Race, Equity and Cultural Humility) training and promoting other REACH trainings hosted by others.  WPC convened an Equity and Cultural Thinking Circle whose participants called for actionable outcomes. This encouragement of our coalitions and partners to begin and/or progress their anti-racism efforts is one of our actionable  outcome efforts.  Please join us today by setting and achieving a winnable goal for your organization!

How?

The following is a suggested framework that can be used by organizations to apply anti-racism practices and policies within their structure and communities, and thus participate in the ongoing process of becoming a fully inclusive anti-racist multicultural organization. We have provided helpful resources in different “phases”: Learn, Reflect, Set Goal, Apply, and Revise. These phases were designed so that they can be followed in a cycle, recognizing that addressing racism is a continuous process.

LEARN: How to Facilitate Anti-Oppression and Belonging in the Workplace

We are using anti-racist frameworks as the basis for our anti-oppression analysis in movement towards our vision of equity. By holding anti-racism as the foundation instead of an afterthought, we strive to disrupt white supremacy on an organizational level. White supremacy is defined as being “a series of characteristics that institutionalize whiteness and westernness as both normal and superior to other ethnic, racial, and regional identities and customs” (Gray). 

We also center hope science in our work to imagine an anti-racist future. We wish to raise hope in our community so that we can truly increase equity, belonging, access to opportunity, participation, shared power, and diverse leadership in Whatcom County. Check out the links below and our additional resources page  to gain an understanding and explore the possibilities of anti-racism, intersectionality. hope science, and LGBTQ+ inclusion.

  • Racism:
    • “How Racism Works” by Western States Center (pages 37-39) – A Cycle of Racist Oppression, the Three Expressions of Racism, and The Four Faces of Racism
    • What is Systemic Racism?  – Race Forward created a series of videos that explore how systemic racism impacts the lives of people in the United States, including the racial wealth gap, employment, housing discrimination, government surveillance, and incarceration.  

REFLECT: What Does an Anti-Racist Organization Look Like?

Organizations committed to being anti-racist must have comprehensive knowledge of who they are serving and the historical context of the current community. Disaggregating data helps to reveal the impact of racism on community health factors.  This is essential in creating trauma-informed networks dedicated to resilience and connection. At WFCN, we know that change moves at the speed of trust and that connection, relationship, and social interactions are central to developing that trust. Where there is trust, people can come together and do good work.  Let’s create spaces and places with more equitable health outcomes.

  • Bellingham Racial History Timeline – Acknowledge the historical treatment of black, indigenous, and other people of color in Whatcom’s largest city to understand how the past impacts their experiences today.
  • Whatcom Census Info – Recognize the types of people who live in Whatcom county and the distribution of the population
Infographic data from https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-counties/wa/whatcom-county-population

SET GOAL: Take the Assessment to Determine Your Next Steps

The Anti-Racism Organizational Assessment Chart is one of the tools that can be used to gauge an organization’s anti-racism efforts. It includes four different “stages” of organizations; the left most stage titled the “All White Club” is considered the most exclusive and least anti-racist, and the far right stage the “Anti-Racist Organization” is the most anti-racist. Keep in mind that most organizations will have characteristics from each of the stages, so the goal is not to simply “diagnose” your organization, rather this tool is meant to help critically analyze where you have room for improvement.

Organizations and/or their representatives are welcome to participate in our 2021 Summer of Equity Action project. We ask those who choose to participate to:

  1. Read through the Anti-Racism Organizational Assessment Chart
  2. Complete the following accompanying Anti-Racism Organizational Assessment Worksheet
  3. Respond to our Survey Monkey with one goal that can be accomplished by July 23rd.

If you need assistance making your goal attainable, below we offer you two worksheets provided by Dr. Chan Hellman at Whatcom County’s workshop on Hope-Centered, Trauma Informed efforts.

We encourage organizations and representatives to continue using this tool after the Summer of Equity Action to assist in your organization’s transition towards anti-racism.

APPLY: How Do We Implement Anti-Racist Frameworks?

The process of goal-setting is essential for an organization to progress towards anti-racism. Long-term visions and short-term measurable goals both contribute to promoting equitable practices. According to Western Center’s “Dismantling Racism” resource book, organizational strategies “need to be tangible…in other words, ‘eliminate racism’ is not a tangible goal while ‘get the board to adopt by-laws specifying percentages based on race, gender, income, sexual identity, etc.’ is” (70). This guideline aids us in the constant practice of promoting anti-racism in order to build connections, trust, and resilience. Below are several suggestions and resources to begin – or continue – to pursue your organization’s equity goals.

  • Multi-Racial Partnerships & Coalitions: Race-Related Training Programs  (Flipping the Script page 120) – Questions to ask when creating a training program to address anti-racism in the workplace.
  • POC and White Caucuses  (Dismantling Racism: A Resource Book pages 72-74) – How to use Caucuses as a strategy for change. 
  • Implementing a Change Team (Dismantling Racism: A Resource Book pages 67-71) – How to use Change Teams in an organization. 
  • Hire for Diversity (Our Hiring Practices are Inequitable and Need to Change) – A resource describing the need for DEI hiring and the ways we can shift the paradigm around the hiring process.
  • Create resources in multiple languages so that they are more accessible for the community.
  • Belonging & Civic Muscle (Thriving Together pages 60-64) – A set of proposed frameworks to increase participation in communities and create greater acceptance in organizations.
  • Creating a Targeted Universalism Framework (Berkley Othering & Belonging Institute) – How to implement “Targeted Universalism,” a strategy that focuses on specific ideas that contribute to larger general goals. The page describes how to take a broad goal and address its individual aspects while still focusing on structural change.
  • Awake to Woke to Work | Equity in the Center – Ground yourself in the process of building a Race Equity Culture. Explore the levers that drive change and the stages that mark transformation using the Race Equity Cycle. In collaboration with over 120 experts in the fields of DEI and race equity, we provide insights, tactics, and best practices to shift organizational culture and operationalize equity.
  • Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE) as an Anti-Racism Framework in Action – A HOPE-informed process towards policy and practice change. Through case studies in early childhood education and pediatrics, readers see the framework in action.

REVISE: Evaluate and Access

The work of dismantling structural racism is an ongoing and dynamic process. Evaluating progress, revising goals, and reassessing next steps is vital to the continual advancement of equitable organizations in Whatcom County. For example, WFCN will be connecting with organizations within local coalitions at the beginning and end of July 2021 to reflect on equity goals that they are striving to achieve and how to continue forward. We have included resources to help set up these evaluation processes and how to advance with your anti-racism journey (or the anti-racism cycle) 


Additional Resources

View a growing list of additional resources here. Suggestions of resources to add are welcome. Email Kristin at info@wfcn.org to share a resource you think should be included.

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