Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Bellingham Public Schools | February 2021

Our diverse community provides opportunities to learn and celebrate with each other.

Bellingham Public Schools highlights heritage and identity months to recognize contributions of various groups in the United States, many who remain underrepresented in education. We honor and acknowledge diversity allowing us to explore the origins of heritage and identity.

It's February! The air is crisp and the sun continues to tease us. It's time to welcome a lunar new year, remember the occupation of Wounded Knee, and celebrate identity and heritage. In the month of February, and every month throughout the year, we appreciate Black history, art, scholarship and leadership.


Big things for a small month! Let's do this!

Three paint splatters in red, green, and yellow symbolizing the Pan-African solidarity.  Black history month is written in block text on right.

In 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Negro History week, he recognized the importance of raising awareness of African Americans’ contributions to history. 50 years later, the week became a month, February, dedicated to Black history. Dr. Woodson intended to highlight the contributions of Black people throughout history, supporting equality and civil rights, while increasing the visibility of Black life and history, at a time when few newspapers, books, and universities took notice of the Black community.


The 2021 theme of Black History Month, "The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity" explores the diaspora of contemporary Black families and the history of Africans in time and place. Factors such as slavery, inequality and poverty have placed undue pressure on Black culture, customs and traditions.


Globally, the contributions of Black scientists, authors, artists, teachers, community members, political figures, scholars and more impact our lives. In our schools, we commit to sharing authentic narratives and attempt to avoid the Dangers of Whitewashing Black History.


The 1619 Project began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the introduction of American slavery. From the website:


A word of warning: There is gruesome material in these stories, material that readers will find disturbing. That is, unfortunately, as it must be. American history cannot be told truthfully without a clear vision of how inhuman and immoral the treatment of black Americans has been. By acknowledging this shameful history, by trying hard to understand its powerful influence on the present, perhaps we can prepare ourselves for a more just future.


That is the hope of this project.


There are painful truths in our nation's upbringing. There are also powerful recognitions and celebrations to highlight. Learn more about Black History Milestones with videos, articles, and powerful images.


Black history can be taught in every subject and from all perspectives. Teachers and educators bring lessons into the classrooms. Families can participate in teaching and learning Black history with the Center for Racial Justice in Education.


The murder of George Floyd, along with many other named and unnamed lives lost, awakened many to the constant fight for justice. The Black Lives Matter movement brought together community members interested in equal rights and, more specifically, justice for Black bodies and equity in educational access. The BLM@School website has many teaching and learning resources with contributors from around the country.

A quote by Dr. Mae Jemison, first Black female astronaut: Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations.  The background is a brown wood surface with a lightbulb lit on the far right side.

Local events for Black History Month

In partnership with Whatcom Community College's Simpson Intercultural Center and Associated Students' Programming and Diversity Board, we are proud to bring three virtual events to our educators and families. Each session will be recorded and made available on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion webpage.

More February highlights

Happy Lunar New Year is on the left in yellow script.  Bright orange, blue, and pink graphic firework bursts adorn the right side.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year on Friday, Feb. 12, marks the start of a new lunar cycle and celebrations differ by country and culture; however, there are a few commonalities:


  • Color brightens the days leading up to the big celebration, from red décor to floral arrangements and the blossoms of fruit trees to decorative cranes (birds).
  • Shared wealth and gifts vary, dependent on types and strengths of relationships, display gratitude and might be accompanied by uplifting messages and good luck blessings for the new year.
  • Dances of both people and flames adorn the Lunar New Year festivals. Pyrotechnics serve to ward off Nian (in some cultures), the lion-like monster who rose from the sea to feast on human flesh. In some traditions, the dance features people in costume moving to the sounds of drums and cymbals.
  • In the days leading up to Lunar New Year, many traditions include a deep clean to wash away the bad luck of the past year. However, dusting is avoided on Lunar New Year's Day to ensure that good fortune will not get swept away.
  • As with many celebrations, food is love.


Example Lunar New celebrations


Seollal (Korea): In Korea, the new year is welcomed over three days, the day before Korean New Year, Korean New Year's Day, and the day after.


Chinese New Year begins Feb. 4, when preparations begin and last until New Year's Eve. Spring Festival begins on Feb. 12 and ends on Feb. 22. Preparations for the Lantern Festival begin on Feb. 23, culminating on Feb. 26.


Tet Vietnam can be an important mark for change, plans, and progress. In some traditions, families believe that Tet activities must incorporate happiness, joy, and good luck. Paying homage to the ancestors, families pray, visit graves, and construct altars with offerings of food, flowers and incense.


Tell us how you celebrate Lunar New Year!

Purim

The festival of Purim, Feb. 25-26, commemorates the (Divinely orchestrated) salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian empire from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther). The lively and fun celebration may include costumes and hamantaschen (or oznay Haman), three-cornered pastries bursting with poppy seeds or another sweet filling.


Special thanks to Julie for sharing Purim with us!


Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day season (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Feb. 17. Priests or pastors may share reflective sermons during solemn services centered around communal and personal confession. Many Christians will refocus their attention on the life of Christ, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection during Lent.


Valentine's Day

Feb. 14 comes around every year, marked by traditional card envelopes, chocolates, conversation hearts, cards, and love. Did you know that Pope Gelasius declared the 14th day of February Feast Day for St. Valentine, a Roman saint and martyr, in 496 AD?


Groundhog Day

Along with our Canadian neighbors, we'll be looking for shadows on Feb. 2. If the groundhog sees a shadow, we might expect 6 more weeks of winter. If not, springtime might be just around the corner.


What is happening in your home, community, or culture? Tell us about your big days in February.

A blue-gray sky with whispery clouds and some stars shine in the background.  The upper left and lower right corners have an outline of a brain.  Bright yellow text reads: Keep learning.

Moments in history | February

  1. 1973: About 50 Sioux occupy Wounded Knee for 71 days, calling for global attention to intergenerational mistreatment from federal and local agencies.
  2. 2012: The murder of Trayvon Martin, coupled with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, sparks a national and global movement to protect and honor Black lives.
  3. 1965: Malcolm X, a leader interested in holding the United States accountable for the treatment of Black people, was assassinated.
  4. 1968: Teachers and administrators organized and implemented the first statewide teachers' strike in Florida.
  5. 1942: President Roosevelt authorized Executive Order 9066 which incarcerated Japanese US citizens and confiscated lives, homes and businesses.


Resource: https://www.zinnedproject.org

Learning together

To realize equity, diversity and inclusion, a pillar of The Bellingham Promise, we commit to our continued learning.


Click on the following links and read the stories, listen to the series, or review the resources. Consider adding your thoughts to the What does equity look like to you? question on EDI webpage, commenting on our EDI blog or following along as conversations ebb and flow, following patterns of growth and forging new ideas.

Policies and practices

Partnering with families, Bellingham Public Schools will develop a space for sharing and celebration. Families are invited to submit suggestions, videos, photos, and descriptions of celebrations and stories to janis.velasquezfarmer@bellinghamschools.org. Check the EDI blog for community responses.


Each month, we will highlight nationally recognized heritage months and other days of identity, celebration, and remembrance with narratives, links to local events, good reads, exhibits and more.


Depending on the holiday, family traditions and beliefs, some students or staff may miss school or class to observe a holiday. Please reference Policy 3122 and Policy 5409.

  • Holidays may have an element of fasting and/or late-night events. We ask staff to make reasonable accommodations to support staff and colleagues.
  • We also ask PTAs and staff, including coaches and advisors, to try to avoid high holidays for events and exams, whenever possible, in accordance with 2340P.

The Team

The Bellingham Schools logo shows a smaller person with a larger person reading.  The logo sits on top of a snowflake in the background.