Hundreds attended a multicultural and multiracial rally held in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza during the first Lunar New Year weekend on Sunday, Feb. 14. The event, organized in the effort to decry a recent high-profile string of violent attacks on Asian and Pacific Islander people, featured speakers with deep roots in San Francisco.
Tinisch Hollins, cofounder of SF Black Wall Street and associate director of Californians for Safety and Justice, called for collective responsibility and movement building. Hollins shared her experiences as a Black woman and a survivor of crime who lost two brothers to gun violence in the city. Speaking for MegaBlack SF, an anti-racist, Black-led business empowerment organization, Hollins told the crowd, “We denounce the disgusting acts of racism and violence that have taken place in our communities and against the Asian community in San Francisco. When one of us is attacked in the city, we are all less safe. When racism motivates the attack, we all feel it.” Hollins is proud of marching in the Lunar New Year parades many times, as well as recognizing different Asian dialects and knowing where they come from.
As a survivor, Hollins said she understands the trauma and the feeling of betrayal when someone is attacked in their home. “We have to acknowledge the common enemy: racism—the ideas and biases that we’ve all been socially conditioned to believe about each other. The belief that the color of someone’s skin makes them more prone to violence or more prone to be accepting of violence. We have to eradicate that.” Hollins called for going beyond moments of solidarity and doing the deep work of healing and acknowledging, namely, unaddressed trauma, addiction and homelessness in San Francisco.
When organizers reached out to him about forming patrols across the bay in Oakland Chinatown, Leung was quick to pass along advice. “Be very mindful not to create more problems for the very community you’re trying to protect,” Leung had said. “Don’t cause more problems between the Asian community and other communities.”
The last speech of the event was made by Eddy Zheng, founder and president of New Breath Foundation, who MC’d for a similar event in Oakland Chinatown the previous day. Zheng has deep ties to both Oakland and San Francisco, having worked with youth and survivors of violence in many disenfranchised neighborhoods. “I was able to understand some of the violence and poverty that is impacting people of color,” said Zheng, who now advocates for more culturally competent resources for youth and seniors.
“If the Asian American community don’t understand that, and African American community don’t understand that, then who is going to lose?,” posed Zheng. “It’s going to be all BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] communities that lose.”
Sarah Belle Lin
Capital and Main