Whatcom County’s Racist Racial History and Present

An anonymous group of scholars has compiled a timeline of Bellingham’s racial history and said this with great understatement:

The lack of racial diversity in Bellingham is not an accident. Colonization, followed by a history of discriminatory practices, policies, and events, have shaped our city. We have to understand our history to create a better future.

Bellingham Racial History Timeline

You can view the time line here:


It paints a sordid history of white supremacy in Bellingham and Whatcom County. From the original theft of the land from the indigenous Coast Salish People to mobs expelling Chinese People and later Sikhs to the strongest Ku Klux Klan chapter in Washington State. Later there were “Silver Shirts” which were inspired by the brown shirts of Nazi Germany.

I knew that people in the county were conservative and religious, and still the sum picture is much worse than I realized. This is part of my failure to see what has been happening and it is humbling.

My impression from the past couple months now of my awakening to the pervasiveness of white supremacy is that the amount of racism in Whatcom County is horrendous and intolerable. The stories I have heard from my friends of color are heart breaking and disturbing. First of all, every person in my small sample finds Whatcom County unbearably racist compared to other places they have lived and want to leave. It seems that the little bits of racist vile I’ve heard are a near constant hum for people of color in Whatcom County.

These friends have endured every form of humiliation from long glares to a doctor of color being asked by a white patient to get them a white nurse. Some are constantly offended by white ignorance of black culture or history or the ignorance in general – seriously what is with not wearing a mask white people!?. While others have been stopped by undercover police for wearing their hat backwards. Then there are all the stories that I have heard at the Solidarity Rally at Marine Park and Rhythmic Unrest where people of color do not feel physically safe here. Ugly. Unacceptable.

Y’all should check out the comments on NextDoor.com to see for yourself. There is group of racist bullies on there that claim not to be racist. They refer to people of color as thugs and talk about not wanting to live in neighborhoods that are mostly people of color. Then when I commented on their racist comments, NextDoor.Com banned me for a week for “name calling”.

We need to be sober about how deeply this evil is rooted. The starting place is much more rudimentary that most would think. The debt much larger than most imagine. I’m going to keep working to expose it because the sooner we get to work to uprooting this evil, the sooner we can begin to heal.

For more information, see:

Skagit River Journal article.

Western Front article 1.

Western Front article 2.

The Strongest Chapter in WA: Bellingham’s KKK

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