Chinatown block party puts focus on neighborhood solidarity

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — San Francisco community leaders and residents of Chinatown celebrated the second annual Ping Yuen Summer Block Party Saturday to spotlight a culturally diverse housing development and strengthen relationships between Asian and Black families struggling with economic hardship and racial tension during the pandemic. 

The Ping Yuen public housing project was built in the 1950s but the Chinatown Community Development Center took it over in 2015. 

“I’m a people person, I’m going to meet everybody,” said Carolyn Pollard, a Ping Yuen resident who has lived in Chinatown for 13 years. She was one of the volunteers for the block party. “Bring everybody together, the older people — we have to look out for each other. We really do.”

Pollard says some are still surprised to learn that she lives in the neighborhood as an African American woman but, while the affordable housing complex is predominantly made up of people of Chinese descent, it also has many Black families. 

“We all have the same goals, we all have the same aspirations and, if we work together as a community to get there, we can get there together,” said Malcolm Yeung, executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center. 

Yeung said unity is an ongoing job and requires everyone to constantly work on building solidarity among people of different backgrounds.  Rap performances shared the stage Saturday with Chinese dancers.  

“Us stepping up, us coming together, us condemning hate, us making investments to ensure safety and to provide resources to our small businesses in order to ensure that they thrive,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. 

Breed shared the stage with other city leaders including the newly appointed district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, who promised her team would work harder to make the community feel protected. 

“Our office is dedicated to keeping everybody in San Francisco safe,” Jenkins said. “No longer will we just allow people to walk around feeling like they’re going to be targeted because of who they are.”

Pollard sees the harmony that can be achieved between different groups living together each week. She does volunteer work regularly to help families in the housing complex and, as a longtime resident, she enjoys seeing her loved ones spend time in Chinatown with others from outside the community. She hopes the block party can continue year after year. 

“We should all try to get along and live with each other,” Pollard said.

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