I come from the depths of Glen Park canyon where coyotes and pot smoking pre-teens cohabitate and roam; the back of the MUNI bus where suckas would get murked by my fellow public school peers for throwing head-to-toe-toe-to-head snotty stares; my great-great-grandma’s laundromat on the horse-carriage-filled Valencia street of the late 1800s; the 1970 Lowell High School “Welcome Back” dance when a young Nikkei buck from the Richmond caught eyes with young queen from the Sunset amidst a sea of pioneering acid-trippers; within the concrete caverns of theBayshore freeway underpass where a good friend told me he resided; this is my Mama, the topography of my ancestors, my home: San Francisco.
These lived experiences are not just my own, but ours, apart of the collective narrative and culture of San Francisco. As a fifth generation San Franciscan, I was fortunate to be raised by a collaborative, polycultural community that nourished my radical imagination. I grew up valuing the various narratives of struggle that built this golden city. But today, more than ever, this culture of collective struggle is becoming less visible and respected in the face of the almighty dollar.
Seven dollar cups of coffee; the highest displacement rate of black Americans second to post-Katrina New Orleans, chrome Aston Martins going 60 miles per hour in the now “up and coming” neighborhoods, flocks of metal cranes piercing the landscape, casual yet covert transphobic racism, and the uncompassionate cackles of the young, profit-driven, and privileged toward the older man on the corner admirably collecting aluminum cans to recycle. This is the San Francisco we are currently witnessing…again.
From the eviction of the Ohlone peoples in the late-1700s to the horrific “urban renewal” in the Fillmore from the 1950s to 1970s, the colonial mechanism of physical and cultural displacement, or quite frankly, erasure, is nothing new to his provincial city. Just as displacement is as San Franciscan as cioppino and burritos, so is resistance.
These specific pieces showcased are the ARTifacts of my existence, the testament and celebration ofthefive generations of resilience in the face of oppression. As a culture bearer of our past and the author of the future, my thriving existence as an artist is in and of itself resistance. From the racist 1870 street ordinance that banned my great-great-grand-aunties from carrying their belongings on bamboo poles to the Anti-Asian Exclusion act to the more recent corporate takeover of America’s first Japantown, my narrative, our narrative, was never supposed to thrive, let alone survive. But low and behold, we’re still here.
Whether by blasting RBL Posse slaps through our subwoofers during the September sunshine or sharing our stories to the vibrant young authors, the youth, we are more than just witnesses. Like the brilliant artists that sculpted this beautifully intricate culture before us – the immigrants, the bold, the hopeful, the risk-takers, the misfits, the eclectic thinkers, the luminous lot of America’s upstream swimmers – we are the continuing, active architects of this dynamic city. Let us embody the radically collaborative community we were bore from. Let us celebrate our resilience. Let us thrive shamelessly in this existenceand bloom.