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This video of a tour guide’s racist rant against Chinese people in San Francisco is making the rounds. And it’s as terrible as you think it is.
Not only does she get into it with how she hates every aspect of Chinatown and its people, the audience also applauds and chants. (There’s questions about whether they understand what she’s saying, but I digress.)
Yes, it’s racist. Yes, it’s insensitive. But more importantly, she misses the boat on the whole point of Chinatown (pun totally intended). If she were truly informed on the history of Chinatown in San Francisco, she would understand the duress and discrimination that thousands of Chinese people suffered through during the Chinese Exclusion Act. She would able to convey the oral history that makes Chinatown, and all of San Francisco, culturally rich and historically significant.
I get it. She probably had a bad previous experience in Chinatown renting, visiting, or walking through. Whatever. It’s city living. She just needs to suck it up instead of getting her panties in a wad.
But what bothers me even more are the comments that people have posted on YouTube about the rant. If you were to only read the comments, you’d think that there’s an ethnic cleansing of urban centers that’s on the horizon. And we all know how that goes.
I don’t feel bad for her. Frankly, she’s disposable. Rather, I feel bad for all of the tour guides of San Francisco who do their jobs well, day in and day out. I feel bad for all the tourists who had to endure her prejudiced comments. I feel bad for a city who now has to deal with another black mark on its reputation. And I feel sorry for those internet trolls who feel empowered to generalize cultures and spew racist stereotypes.
Thanks to internet justice, we’ll eventually figure out who she is and the tour company she worked for. And there will be outrage.
But this is also an incredible opportunity for residents to learn a little bit more about the great city that we live in. About its historical struggles, the characters that shaped the city, and the true meaning of being a San Franciscan.
I put a lot of weight on finding your context in the greater world. The conversation in San Francisco lately has been intensely focused on the gentrification of the city and the techie invasion. Maybe this is a great time for everyone to hit the pause button, take a history lesson, a learn a little bit about where we all truly belong in this community. We should never forget our roots.