San Francisco Leaders Respond to Muni Brawl [VIDEO]

By Guest Columnist Nov 04, 2009

By Lily Chien-Davis

Community Discusses MUNI Fight from New America Media on Vimeo.

Last week my husband pulled open a YouTube video. “You’ve got to check this out,” he said. “Everyone’s been passing this around at work.” He was referring to the fight between two passengers, one Black and one Asian, that broke out on a Muni bus in San Francisco last month, caught on video by another passenger and has since gone viral on the Internet. New America Media mentions that since then, “hundreds of thousands of viewers have watched and commented on the incident.” On the surface, this may appear to be just a fight between two women on the bus, seen as entertainment on the Internet. It’s easy to mock it, or chalk it up to the everyday craziness on San Francisco’s Muni system. But the subtext of people’s reactions–be they horrified or unfazed–is a recognition that Asians and Blacks deal with racial tension on a larger scale. New America Media hosted a diverse coalition of both Black and Asian American civil rights leaders last Monday for a roundtable discussion on possible solutions to the underlying tensions that exist between the two communities. After examining what happened between the two women, the community discussed solutions to San Francisco’s race relations and violence. “The video that went out is a real call to action,” says Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media. There is hope in battling racism from the ground up, from both sides, if people can talk honestly about race. The Reverend Norman Fong, deputy director of the Chinatown Community Development Center had this to say: “We have more strength inter-ethnically, and the stuff that divides us is going to kill us.” Another possible solution that came out of the discussion was to create a “curriculum that is race conscious,” says Jane Kim, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education.” She mentioned that this was “a priority for the district,” and already on the way is the development of an “ethnic studies curriculum.” Listening to these leaders speak makes me hopeful that race relations will improve. Lateefah Simon, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco sums up the roundtable discussion well: “This is a beautiful acknowledgement, one: of the ongoing work, and two: an opportunity for us to continue, really focusing on the bubbling up of issues going on in our communities.”