The Whatcom Human Rights Task Force Board issued this open letter:
The picture painted by the letter is disappointing and expected. The letter essentially explains that the city is recreating the trauma of life in White Supremacy Culture recreated in a listening session meant to end it. This is the chicken-and-the-egg problem of our time: how do we dismantle racist institutions when the only vehicles we have to do the work are racist institutions. It’s not that Mayor Seth Fleetwood is explicitly racist, its that all the apparatus at his disposal is at least implicitly if not explicitly racist.
I propose an alternative: we raise money to fund a POC designed and led process that POC led organizations determine to be inclusive and productive. We have excellent facilitation resources in Whatcom County. The City of Bellingham can provide the resources of BTV to broadcast the reimagined listening sessions and any other resources the Council’s political courage will allow.
The first attempt to have a community discussion cannot sacrifice any effectiveness for efficiency or expediency of any kind. This is a conversation that we are only starting to figure out how to settle in to – get serious about – not rush to “get it over with”. We need to work on getting comfortable having these difficult conversations because there are so many to be had.
We have world-class facilitation and group process leaders right here in Whatcom County – let’s use their expertise to make this count. Let’s start with a process that build trust across our communities. Most importantly, let’s show, not tell, communities of color they matter here by listening to them about listening sessions. We have the resources to deliver an inclusive, productive process; the question is if we have the will to realize it.