Last night I spoke at a peace and unity rally in the Portola district of San Francisco. The Portola usually doesn’t make news in the Bay Area. It is a small and quiet neighborhood comprised of working class residents of many ages and backgrounds.
Yet yesterday evening, a crowd gathered in response to the shock that “No More Chinese” had been spray-painted in screaming, bright orange letters on several buildings in and around the community. A suspect has since been arrested and charged.
The rally, which was organized by neighborhood groups and Supervisor David Campos, featured a diverse group of speakers. It was heartwarming to be with people in the affected area who wanted to support each other.
When I was asked to say a few words, this is what I said:
It is very important to understand that these acts of vandalism were hate crimes.
Because hate crimes are different. Because hate crimes do not occur in a vacuum. Hate crimes are contagious. Hate crimes are connected.
They are connected to the anti-immigrant rhetoric used by politicians. They are connected to the violence against Black churches. They are connected to the killing of transgender people. And they are connected to the historic and current discrimination faced by Chinese Americans in San Francisco.
We need to do more to address the hate in hate crimes. And the way we do it is not with more hate but with more love. I am not talking about a Hollywood version of love. The love we need is a love where we show up for one another. The love we need is a love that shares power. The love we need is a love where we work together towards common goals.
In some ways, speaking against bigotry is easier than practicing this type of love. But the peace we deserve only comes from a commitment to justice for all.
As the demographics of the City and our country continue to change, we must grow our understanding of what it means to be a safe and healthy community. And we need to be radically inclusive so everyone can be a part of it.
The people of the Portola were ready to lead the way.