6.3.2020. Race in America. San Francisco. California.

Shirien Damra.

Black Lives Matter
National Resource list #GeorgeFloyd+
Split a donation between 70+ community bail funds, mutual aid funds, and racial justice organizers
Black-owned restaurants in the Bay Area
The 13th by Ava DuVernay
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi
What I Said When My White Friend Asked For My Black Opinion On White Privilege by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
Privilege/Class/Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race
PBS | Frontline | A Class Divided
VOTE THEM OUT in November. Every single last one of them.

Like most people, I have been spending a lot more time as of late pondering race and privilege in America currently. The story of Ahmaud Arbery really shook me: how is it possible that we are in 2020 and we have white men murdering a black man on a run in broad day light? I was talking to a friend about it that weekend and he said, "And this is what you hear about. Imagine how many more doesn't even get written up?"


Then Breonna Taylor. Then Christian Cooper. Then George Floyd. And how many more we haven't heard about in the news?

I moved to Oakland in 1987 as a Chinese immigrant with a British accent. That was my first exposure to black people as Hong Kong is extremely culturally monogamous. You cannot help but notice the racial tension in Oakland in the 80s and through the 90s, as it was predominately lower and working class black and I have not lived in the best parts of Oakland mostly. In fact, when I grew up in Oakland it was one of the most violent cities in America. There was plenty of police brutality in Oakland in addition to the rampant racial profiling, and even as a 10 year old I recognized all that. I remember the Rodney King riots in 1992 and the looting that followed in Oakland. Granted, I was only 15 at the time so I didn't quite understand what that actually meant. I also lacked emotional and intelligence intelligence at that young age to be able to comprehend the events.

While I have experienced discrimination as a minority female throughout my life in various forms, I can say with conviction that not once have I feared for my life, and especially not when I am dealing with authority figures. Which is clearly not the case for people that are black. This is why we are having this discussion. I have black friends and I did not understand the burden that they carry on a daily basis. When I really sat with this in the recent months, it makes me incredibly sad and angry that this is still happening in this day and age, and in some instances, encouraged. How is it even an option that violence or murder is encouraged or justified to those that are not a threat to you? How can anyone be so callous and shoot anyone, and due to the color of their skin? How is this different than when the Mayflower came filled with white pilgrims and they took over this land from the indigenous people and drove them out? How is this that much different really than the black slaves that arrived in 1619? How is it still possible that America is still taking advantage of the black communities that built this country up (literally) with their blood, sweat, tears and endless abuse?

Racism does not exist without white privilege. Because you are more likely able to get away with the murder of a black person if you are white, which history has proven repeatedly since the arrival of slaves on this land. Which now brings us to Amy Cooper, the white woman who claimed a black man is threatening her life when calling the NYPD while in fact he was telling her to leash her dog in an effort to protect the natural habitat while bird watching. Had Christian Cooper not taken the video of the entire ordeal, his name may also end in tragedy in the third paragraph above. That is the ultimate white privilege power move: a white woman not wanting to abide by the rule and instead calls the police on a black man claiming he is threatening her life and putting on an act lying about it. She knew exactly how to work the race card to her advantage in this situation with malicious intent.

Brittainy Newman. New York Times.

I have witnessed a fair share of white privilege in my days. I have been questioning 2 incidences in particular where 3 white women thought it was acceptable to invite and/or book themselves on trips I had planned for myself for years. I used to think that was because they have terrible etiquette. Because who invite/book themselves on someone else's holiday without asking if that is ok and then vilify you and lash out when you tell them that you did not invite them? Now I wonder if it's also white privilege that emboldened them to feel this entitlement and to not bother to apologize for these invasive actions. One of them half heartedly said, "I am so sorry things got so fucked up," before she lashed out of course.

I digress...

Then you have Breonna Taylor and George Floyd who were clearly peaceful, yet both were killed by the police separately. How is it that law enforcement get so many passes when there are clearly problem individuals? How are you protecting and serving when you are taking the lives of lawful individuals? And how convenient for them that they all happen to be white men?

To not be angry at the injustice would be immoral. Hence the global protests. Sadly, with protests you always have trouble makers, be it the right winged trying to take away from the peaceful protests or the authorities that use unnecessary force and tactics  to "contain" the situation and to instigate a riot. Protesters are protesters, and opportunistic individuals with a different agenda should never be confused with protesters. Sadly, sometimes these opportunistic individuals are police or law enforcement officers.

On Saturday 5.30.2020, I stumbled upon the peaceful protest demanding justice for George Floyd on Market Street in San Francisco. I normally am a protester myself, but due to the fact that I am immune compromised in the time of COVID-19, I have to participate and cheer from the sidewalk instead. It was a peaceful protest during the day and I saw beginning to end the thousands of people that marched.

Images above by Beth Thomas.

I was walking around to take inventory of what has changed downtown afterwards, since this has become a new hobby of mine since the lock down mid March. In fact, I recall some of the high end shops removing all their merchandise as early as 3.14.2020 and many stores have followed suit afterwards. It was until this weekend that stores started to restock their inventory and remove the boards in getting ready for curb side pick ups and for in store sales in 2 weeks. I was chatting with Daniel, the security guard at Cartier, about all this as Coach was redoing all their window displays and restocking their store. Dior was just in the process of reputting back up the boards that they had just removed. Dolce & Gabbana was fully restocked and boards moved. I even had walked by the Swarovski store to marvel at all their glass windows with full merchandise on display...

Apple Store.

Apple Store detail.


Dolve & Gabbana detail.

Christian Louboutin.

Christian Louboutin.

Acne Studios.

Bottega Veneta.

Saint Laurent.

All Saints.

Old Navy.

Union Square is 2 blocks from my apartment. I was taking a bath Saturday past 10PM when I heard a good amount of fireworks go off. Soon after, it sounded like a war zone filled with sirens, helicopters, gunshots, yelling, screeching, and explosions. That's when I knew the looting had begun. Speaking of opportunists, let us not confuse these looters from the protesters earlier in the day. I saw the footage (start at 1:10:50) of the looting myself and this was definitely not even close to the same crowd I saw peacefully protesting in the day. These were premeditated looters that came in with all the tools: hammers, electric saws, jackhammer, wooden planks, cinder blocks, guns, bats, etc. In fact, they broke through the extra thick bullet proof glass at Tourbillon and got the watches. They also came with their SUVs and trucks to hull it all away and quickly. What I saw Sunday morning at 8:30AM was only a single necklace left on a Dolce & Gabbana mannequin from the fully merchandised store I witnessed the afternoon before. The looting last for at least 4 hours as I was unable to sleep with all the ruckus, and it was also on my block at one point. They even looted the liquor store half a block from my apartment as you can see below.

What was the most surprising to me was that they broke into a building on Grant Ave in Chinatown a few blocks up in addition to a few jewelry stores there. My friend and I walked past the building as they were boarding up the front door. The tenants were outside talking about how the looters broke through and assaulted them and they got robbed. I was not crazy about that as my building also has a glass front door.

I have been talking to friends lately as we have been checking on each other to see how we are all doing throughout all this and our feelings about racial injustice. It has been a perfect storm to bring us to this point. The collective mourning and anger we have been feeling has been built up from the creation of America and not just from recent events with 400 years of oppression in various forms. I really wish that the history books would be rewritten so we can all be more aware of this and from a different point of view than white male historians. I am no expert on American history, in fact, I fell asleep in ALL my history classes throughout school. But I do read up on it on my own and educate myself when I have interest in specific subjects. Last night I forced myself to watch The 13th on Netflix. This articulated the suppression of blacks in America in such an intelligent way that it will break your heart, as it certainly broke mine. I am really tired of all the tears for all this. Aren't you?

Patricia Chang. SF Gate.