San Francisco apologizes to Chinese American community for racist past

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Photo by Isabelle Roetcisoender of anti-Asian hate rally in San Francisco in February 2021

The Board of Supervisors in San Francisco formally apologized this week to the Chinese American community for acts of institutionalized racism.

According to CNN, the resolution from Supervisor Matt Haney recognizes “the shameful history of structural and systematic racism and discrimination against Chinese immigrants and the Chinese American community by the City and County of San Francisco (that) reaches back over 150 years and touched every aspect of life including employment, housing, education, and culture.”

The HuffPost reports that from 1873 – 1883, city leaders passed a dozen anti-Chinese laws meant to discriminate against Chinese laundries. A riot in 1887 damaged 20 Chinese-owned laundries and led to four deaths. In 1890, a law banned Chinese immigrants from living in the city.

Haney credited three Bay Area students for inspiring the law, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

“The Chinese community has deep roots in San Francisco,” said Lowell High School senior Dennis Casey Wu, one of the three students. “San Francisco apologizing for historical wrongdoings makes way for progress in solving the critical problems of discrimination and racism facing America today.”

Haney also credited UC Berkeley junior Drew Min and Stanford University sophomore George Tilton-Low.

The resolution coincides with Lunar New Year and follows a two year surge in anti-Asian hate across the country.

San Francisco is the fourth California city to apologize to the Chinese American community. Los Angeles, San Jose and Antioch are the others.

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