Community members respond to Heritage Museum ad

Why are we surprised by stories about racism on Vashon?

Did you gasp in disbelief saying, “Oh, not on Vashon!” when reading “Vashon Racism” in “It’s Your History,” [an advertisement from the Vashon Heritage Museum] that appeared Jan. 9 edition of The Beachcomber? Some found it hard to believe the white residents protested the settlement of African Americans at Lisabeula in the 1930s.

“Oh, not on Vashon!” came to mind in recent years when we heard of a young black man who was walking home from his evening shift at a Vashon store. He was violently bullied and threatened by white people from a passing car. Denial, fear, empathy and disbelief is sensed in the pit of the stomach.

Why are we surprised by these stories? Perhaps you are not so surprised because you have experienced racism or know second hand about racism on Vashon. Is it possible to be skeptical that racism exists? Perhaps this 1930’s history is a clue as to why Vashon is populated in a great majority by white people.

How does the past connect to the present? We are all connected to these past times by varying lengths of the memory thread — we are not that far removed.

For example, a mural appeared just a couple of years ago on the west-facing outside wall of Vashon Center for the Arts. It tells a Vashon history that is clearly selective. Those curious could ask, whose story is missing? Black? Muslim? Latinx? Indigenous? Asian-American? Folks with a disability? Whose body image is invisible in the mural’s story, and how can we end this erasure?

— Bailey deIongh, Jessica Lisovsky, Karen Nelson, Wendy Noble and Kristina Turner

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Wildfires must be turning point for climate action

As the smoke clears, remember when you could barely breathe and everything became sepia.

Unemployment impacts the island community

Almost 600 islanders are still unemployed following the Governor’s COVID-shutdown orders in March.

We still need each other

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all vulnerable.

On Vashon, hope comes from working together

Stories of islanders lending a hand to build a more perfect, compassionate commons give us hope.

Zen and the Art of Well Maintenance

Here is what you should do to safeguard a residential well and the island’s collective water supply.

Think of Bees Before Using Harmful Chemicals

Some insect control products have been shown to be very harmful to bees.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact
Republican’s write-in campaign highlights post-primary intrigue | Roegner

Can former Bothell mayor beat two Democrats for lieutenant governor post?

A rent fund helps those most impacted by economic free-fall

We are working diligently and persistently to keep people in their homes in the midst of this crisis

Schools needed more input on learning plan

We wish that there had been more intensive communication and outreach to Vashon families.

Most Read