Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County

Juneteenth 2023

As Juneteenth approaches each year, our nation contemplates the dramatic stain slavery leaves on our history and how its legacy continues to impact millions of citizens today.

Racism, in each of the countless forms it has manifested in years since, has created stark differences in economic security across racial and ethnic groups and allowed de facto segregation to proliferate in cities and towns across the country despite it being outlawed in the 1960’s.

Here at Habitat for Humanity of Whatcom County, we are considering our role in undoing this national trauma, however meager it may seem.

Whatcom County has its own tainted history of racism, and the lack of racial diversity we see today was no accident. Beginning with the initial dispossession of the Coast Salish Tribes and exclusion of blacks by settlers, residents of this city have fought to maintain racial hegemony through the exploitation and subsequent expulsion of various immigrant groups, lynchings and cross-burnings, a significant K.K.K. presence throughout the 1920’s, sundowning in the 1950’s, and much more.

Even today, racist graffiti, propaganda, flyers, and threats appear in our county on a near yearly basis. This is not to mention the food desert in Birchwood – one of the most racially diverse neighborhoods in Bellingham. Furthermore, the Nooksack and Lummi reservations have been long-time food deserts, and, prior to the closure of the Birchwood Albertsons, the Lummi tribe frequently used said store as their primary grocer.

From Habitat’s inception at Koinonia Farm to its present-day international influence, the organization has maintained a commitment to racial justice. Today, we adhere to this commitment in a variety of ways. Through collaboration with other affiliates and Habitat for Humanity International, and by being especially attentive to the particularities of our county’s racist history, we can construct racially and economically diverse neighborhoods and continue to advance the cause of racial equity in Whatcom County.

To learn more about the relationship between racial inequities and housing policy in our county and how our affiliate aims to undo these injustices, visit our Race and Housing page under the What We Do tab of our website.

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