As we brought together the stories appearing in this issue of The Beachcomber, we were struck by how they seem to be centered around a common and relevant theme: unity. Let us explain.
On the front page is an article about those now vying for the title of the island’s unofficial mayor, a silly and sweet contest and Vashon tradition that supports vital nonprofits in our community. You will also read about the volunteers, performers and artists keeping the island’s arts and culture scene flourishing throughout the pandemic at Vashon Live. There is also news about the Vashon Food Bank and the large donation it received last month to press on with its essential mission as more islanders find themselves out of work and may soon need some assistance putting food on the table.
That’s not all. On this page, Susan McCabe writes about the culmination of efforts that have produced the long-awaited Whole Vashon Catalog, a body of work that, as she describes it, is “an expression of our community’s commitment to the Earth,” focusing on the ways we can work together to help reduce the island’s carbon footprint. And islander Renee Henson asks at what point will supposed allies to the Black community reflect on their own prejudices and act in good faith to take responsibility for dismantling the system of white supremacy in our country that has brought us to this moment.
“We are still waiting for America to live up to its promises of freedom and liberty for all,” Henson writes, going further to say that our toxic economic system values human life less than the accumulation of wealth and has poisoned us for hundreds of years.
No doubt we are witnessing a slow dawning of realization across our country that our economic, political and justice systems in this country, no matter their given principles, do not serve all people equally. Some have always been saying this. Others are hearing it now for the first time. And not a moment too soon, as hate is amplified by those who wish to stop progress or drive a wedge between us. Just this weekend, President Donald Trump used Twitter to share a now-deleted video of an apparent supporter of his shouting “white power,” a vile rally cry and white supremacist slogan according to the Anti-Defamation League.
What unity can there be when so many of our leaders or influential people in our culture — those who have the power to start conversations or make meaningful change — seem intent on dividing us further?
We can’t answer that question at The Beachcomber. But for our island, we can see that even in such times as these, people are trying to connect, and to strengthen our community’s safety net. In recent weeks we have seen many act in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, creating art and taking part in demonstrations against racist violence and police brutality.
None of this is to say that the work is done or that Vashon is the exception. It is not. We must continue to talk about racism and bigotry, including how it pervades our community and abroad. And hate is not the only crisis we have to face here. As if times were not already hard enough for some before, the economic recession caused by the pandemic has left many especially vulnerable. On page eight, you will see updated information from VashonBePrepared about the rising level of unemployment on Vashon. The island’s social service agencies, organizations and nonprofits are surely considering how they may best respond to help meet greater needs and utilize scarce resources. They will need your support, if you have the means, to be able to provide assistance to your neighbors and fellow islanders. If you can’t do that, no problem — check in on others. Talk to the people who live in your community. Keep sharing information that you find valuable. And take a break if you need it. But your community can’t afford to lose you — the commitments and contributions you make here are strong threads in a fraying world. Be ready to pull tight.