I’m writing today to share my sorrow over the murders of eight people at Asian-owned businesses in Georgia last week and the escalation of attacks on Asian people over the last year. The violence is not new, but in a time when Chinese people have been blamed for the pandemic by the highest level of leadership in the United States, attacks on Asian communities are on the rise.
Before joining Point Reyes National Seashore Association 11 years ago, I lived in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. I also worked at the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center (Tel-Hi), a vibrant 131-year-old multi-cultural center serving the North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods. At this gathering place for people ages 2 to 100, I made many wonderful friends and I’m heartbroken that any child, woman, or man feels afraid and is in danger because of ignorance and racism born of white supremacy values. I also worry for my National Park Service colleagues, PRNSA members and volunteers, and any visitor to the park who may be feeling unsafe. Watching Governor Newsom and California State Assemblyman David Chiu speak at a gathering of the Stop Asian Hate organization in Chinatown over the weekend brought home the pain of the situation. Newsom, visibly emotional, spoke about the shame of the persistent racism that was on larger display over the last year. Assemblyman Chiu was the district supervisor when I lived in North Beach and I remember fondly making pancakes with him at a literacy fundraiser at the community center. He was a frequent and favorite visitor who understands the value of strong, diverse communities. I support his legislation to create a hotline to report hate crimes and applaud his call for “leadership across our nation, in every state, at every level of society, to take action and bring justice to victims.” I believe leaders are also needed to create safer spaces, including parks. We pledge to address racism in our adult and youth programs and offer new programming aimed at welcoming the Asian community at the Seashore.
One of my favorite contributions during my three years at Tel-Hi was rebuilding the community garden. I purposely would hand-water the beds at the end of the day when parents and grandparents picked up their children. The conversations over what was growing was an easy way for an introvert like me to connect with the diverse members of the community. Nature is a natural way to bring folks together. I see great value and potential in our park as such a gathering place. Below are resources to learn more about how to #StopAsianHate, including several groups to consider making a financial contribution. I’ve made a personal gift to Tel-Hi and to Stop AAPI Hate in honor of Ruby Gim, who lovingly managed the senior program at Tel-Hi until she was brutally murdered by someone who should have protected her. Misogyny, violence, and white supremacy are often intertwined. At PRNSA, we continue to condemn all forms of racism and reaffirm our commitment to helping make Point Reyes National Seashore a place where all are wholeheartedly welcome and safe. Through our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee we are working on ways to support this goal. Please feel free to share your ideas and thank you for being part of this important work with us.
Donna Faure, Executive Director