What was supposed to be part of a nationwide “White Lives Matter” protest at Westlake Center on April 11 turned out to be a “Picket against white supremacy!” Organized by local community groups, the event was attended by close to 100 people who were there to “stand up to racists and fascists.” The Seattle “White Lives Matter” non-event mirrored other planned rallies across the country — NBC News reported that the rallies, which were hyped up by organizers as events that would make “the whole world tremble,” ended up being busts when the turn-out on Sunday was much lower than organizers had anticipated.
For more than a century, philosopher George Santayana’s warning has been often repeated: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day when we stop to remember the Holocaust, in which as many as 17.5 million people were systematically tortured and murdered by the Nazi regime between 1939–1945 throughout Europe. The largest groups that Hitler targeted were Jews, Slavs, and Romani people. LGBTQIA+ people, the mentally or physically disabled, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, People of Color, leftists, and dissidents made up the majority of the non-Jews who were also murdered. There were others, such as trade unionists, members of the Baha’i Faith, Catholics, Protestants, Socialists and others whom Hitler considered “unpure.”
What does “unpure” mean? It was the main driver of Aryan race propaganda, which is a legacy of American slave-owning racist ideology. Hitler harnessed the concept and convinced ethnic Germans that they were the superior race. The sophisticated propaganda campaign had a profound effect on the German people and proved to be the gateway to the horrific genocide of historic proportions that occurred during World War II.
In response to a disturbing recent rise in hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans locally and across the U.S., Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and other local leaders this week condemned attacks in Seattle and Washington State. A series of marches and rallies are planned across King County this weekend calling for investment in and resources for Asian communities and solidarity across racial lines with the victims and families of those who have suffered from the attacks.
“We saw this ugly trend surge a year ago, when COVID-19 first emerged in our state,” Inslee said in a written statement. “One year later, we have a vaccine for the virus — but racism is still running rampant. 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.”
Kevin Mather said he was “tired” of paying an interpreter for Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who wanted to return to the Seattle Mariners as a coach. Iwakuma’s English, Mather said, is “terrible.” And prospective outfielder Julio Rodriguez?
In June 2020, Hugo House, a Seattle nonprofit writing center, posted a brief message via email and on their website in an attempt to condemn racism and show solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Below the statement, Hugo House promoted a short list of poems and essays by Black writers. But by July, over 200 writers of Color and allies had signed an open letter addressing the performative nature of the statement and the organization’s lack of real investment, advocacy, and endorsement of local Black writers and communities.
“Hugo House’s recent email professing solidarity with the Black community rings hollow,” the letter reads. “The new civil rights movement makes clear that breaking down systemic and structural racism is all of our work, and we demand that Hugo House move concretely and transparently to invest its resources and make that change happen.”
(This article is co-published with The Seattle Times.)
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Americans are trauma-ridden people. The sooner we admit this, the sooner we can heal.
Our inherited legacy is threaded together from slaughter, slavery and brutalization, the humanity of millions of Black, brown, Indigenous, poor, trans and other people sacrificed for this country’s prosperity.
Over the span of a month we have seen white supremacists raid our nation’s Capitol trying to rip out the throat of our democracy.
It was a rare sunny day in January and the curtains in my dining room were drawn open to let the light in. I sat fidgeting with my sewing while on a Zoom meeting for work. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man come into my yard.
On the afternoon of Thursday, January 28, two dozen doctors, nurses, and support staff walked out of Carolyn Downs Family Medical Center in protest of the announcement that the clinic’s white male executive director, Raleigh Watts, would be reinstated on February 1 after being on paid administrative leave since October 2020. Dating back to October 2020, Watts was under an ongoing internal investigation into allegations of microaggressions, workplace abuse, and preferential treatment based on race.
It is the best of times and the worst of times. A time to celebrate the inauguration of a new president and a history-making vice president. Yet this is also a time of insurrection, impeachment, and a Republican party that continues to fail to take any accountability for lies and inaction in our nation’s capital and here at home.
As a Black parent, I have had conversations about race with my oldest daughter, who is 7, for most of her life. I remember being young and receiving lessons or hearing anecdotes about racism or how to behave in the presence of police when I was her age and younger.
The events last summer turned those stories into a concrete reality. I had discussed issues like police brutality with my daughter before, but these conversations were primarily based on reaction to news stories or my reaction to events that happened to close friends or family members. I would understand the firsthand accounts, then relay information to her.
The protests over the summer opened a new reality to my daughter. For the first time, she not only heard me speak on the importance of Black lives, but she had the opportunity to march for Black lives herself. Being at rallies, hearing speakers, and marching with thousands of people opened her 7-year-old eyes to the power and impactful nature of protest. Our conversations became more robust and her understanding of the world, and specifically how harsh this world can be to Black folks, was an enlightening experience for her and a breathtaking experience for me. I was impressed with how much her mind could process, but I was disappointed that she and her peers are having these experiences.