We see you

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear students, families, staff and community,

This has been an especially challenging week. As our equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) team was preparing a blog post on anti-Asian violence to support our collective learning, the traumatic events in Atlanta unfolded.  I want to acknowledge the fear and trauma that many of our community members from Asian and Pacific Islander backgrounds were already experiencing, now exacerbated by the tragic shootings on Tuesday in Georgia.

Our commitment to EDI, which is questioned and even attacked, needs to be shared by all of us in our community. Once again, we must ask ourselves the hard questions of how we hold ourselves accountable for enacting justice and dismantling the systems that enable racism, bigotry and hate in order to lift the invisible labor from the backs of our students and staff of color. You may find this webpage of resources helpful, which includes guidance on how to talk to children about traumatic events and racism.

Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement recently and said, “Washington is a place where all people should feel safe and included. This is a welcoming state and I have a zero-tolerance policy for hate and racism. We must all condemn the acts of hate and violence displayed in the rising incidence of anti-Asian hate crimes in both Washington state and across the country. This is wholly unacceptable and must not stand.”

I completely agree with our governor. Washington state may seem far from Georgia, but we are not disconnected from acts of racism and hate. In Bellingham, our staff, students and families experience acts of violence, including racial slurs, silencing and exclusion.

We continue to look to The Bellingham Promise as a guide. “We believe all children should be loved” is one of our core beliefs. I ask each of you to think about how our schools, district and community can re-energize our efforts against hatred and bigotry to ensure that our students feel loved, as well as our staff, families and community, then take action and communicate your ideas. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with me and staff.

Please read the EDI blog on anti-Asian violence to increase our collective awareness and knowledge about Bellingham history. With greater awareness and more learning and support, we can act to interrupt factors that perpetuate systemic inequities.

Here is a snippet from the blog:

What can we do?  As a community, we can raise awareness about systemic inequalities and their impacts on our families.  Speak up when you witness discrimination and provide advocacy and support resources, along with district policies, as needed:

  • Seattle-based Asian Counseling and Referral Service promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities – including immigrants, refugees, and American-born – by developing, providing and advocating for innovative, effective and efficient community-based multilingual and multicultural services.
  • The Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs serves to improve the lives of Asian Pacific Americans in Washington state by ensuring their access to participation in the fields of government, business, education, and other areas (Chapter 43.117 RCW).
  • Bellingham Public Schools’ Harassment, Intimidation And Bullying procedure and reporting forms are available online. 
  • The Washington State Employee Assistance Program, which supports Bellingham Public Schools staff, is available 24/7 and includes counseling supports.

I want to remind you that if you need support, you are not alone; we can help. Please contact your child’s teacher, counselor, principal, me or any trusted staff member in your child’s school.

Greg Baker