San Francisco apologizes for historical racism, violence against Chinese Americans

San Francisco Chinese American Discrimination Apology
  • The San Francisco Board of Supervisors released a resolution apologizing for the "systemic and structural discrimination" the city imposed against the Chinese American community over the past 150 years.
  • The resolution, filed by Supervisor Matt Haney in November, was prepared by three local undergraduate and high school students: Drew Min of UC Berkeley, Dennis Casey Wu of Lowell High School and George Tilton-Low of Stanford University.
  • The resolution was announced on Tuesday, coinciding with the celebration of the Lunar New Year.
  • San Francisco’s apology comes months after earlier formal apologies made by three other California cities — Antioch, San Jose and Los Angeles — last year.

San Francisco has formally apologized for its historical discrimination and violence against the Chinese community, becoming the fourth city in California to do so.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors revealed its unanimous support of a resolution that recognizes the city’s discriminatory policies implemented against residents of Chinese descent, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

The decision, released on the Lunar New Year holiday, admits that the Board of Supervisors passed laws that were discriminatory toward Chinese immigrants.

Through the resolution, the board and the city apologized for the “systemic and structural discrimination” and past acts of violence imposed against Asian Americans.

At the hearing for the resolution, API Council of San Francisco Director Cally Wong said, “The recent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes continues to affirm [that Asian and Pacific Islanders] continue to be seen as foreigners and not Americans.” 

Chinatown Community Development Centre Executive Director Malcolm Yeung explained how the resolution also acknowledges the “resilience” of Chinese Americans, reported the Los Angeles Times.

“Segregation is what really drove the creation of Chinatown,” Yeung said at the meeting. “But the brilliant thing about our community is that over time, we transformed Chinatown from a place that was a function of perhaps the worst elements of the history of this country into a true resource and gateway for the generations of working families that come to San Francisco and to America.”

The resolution, filed by Supervisor Matt Haney in November, was prepared by three local undergraduate and high school students who were shocked to discover how the city had treated the Chinese American community for over 150 years, as NextShark previously reported.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, San Francisco city officials banned gongs, prohibited carrying poles known as “yeo ho,” shut down hundreds of Chinese-owned laundries and restricted Chinese Americans from getting government jobs.

Drew Min of UC Berkeley, Dennis Casey Wu of Lowell High School and George Tilton-Low of Stanford University found that many of the racist laws targeting Asians later implemented across the country were modeled after the very laws crafted by San Francisco’s board of supervisors.

“It just comes to show that history is not so far, it’s not so distant and history tends to repeat itself,” Min was quoted as saying. “And what better way to try to mend the future but by correcting the mistakes of the past?”

San Francisco’s resolution comes months after three other California cities made their own formal apologies. Antioch offered its formal apology in May last year before San Jose issued an apology in September and Los Angeles in October.

Featured Image via San Francisco Chronicle

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