CHSA’s Sue Lee responds to Chinatown tour guide rant (video)

Earlier this week, a tour guide’s racist rant through Chinatown to a busload of tourists was posted on YouTube (story at SFGate.com, interview of tour guide by ABC7 News). SF Chinatown community leaders held a press conference on October 23, 2014 at the Chinese Culture Center to address the recent racist tirade leveled against the neighborhood.

City and community leaders in attendance include Rev. Norman Fong of CCDC, SF Supervisor David Chiu, SF Planning Commissioner Rodney Fong, SF Chamber of Commerce Jim Lazarus, SF Supervisor Malia Cohen, Vincent Pan of Chinese for Affirmative Action, Hellas Leung, Chinese Six Companies, Chinatown supporters and the youth.

Chinese Historical Society of America’s Executive Director Sue Lee gave these remarks in response to the controversy. Her full remarks are as follows:

I’m so grateful for the opportunity this afternoon to be here to respond to this racist rant. You know, I’m frankly not surprised. We are right here at Portsmouth Square. The American flag was planted right here, Portsmouth Square, and San Francisco was born here. And the Chinese, who first came in 1850 in response to the Gold Rush, formed Chinatown around the birthplace of San Francisco.

This is our space. And it’s so pathetic that a purported tour guide had to go into her rants, and misconceptions, and outright lies to entertain her tour audience. Everybody’s been a tourist, and you appreciate being entertained when you visit a new place. And to have that audience applaud her at the end is disgusting. And for nobody to have stood up and said, “This is absolutely wrong,” is disgusting.

So I look forward to the opportunity to sit down with City Sightseeing Tours and other tourist visitor industry people, so that we can help guide the narrative about our neighborhood. Not to script them, but to give them material so that they can produce entertaining information that’s accurate and true. And given, produced, conducted by young people, older people, who have the experience here. So that visitors leave San Francisco with a sense that, hey, they have touched something in the City that they bring home with them, and that they’ll come back. Because tourism is an industry that relies on people coming back. So we don’t want people coming back with lies in their heads about the Chinese community here.

So I’m really, again, very grateful to the community leaders and our city leaders for convening this, and look forward to that upcoming dialogue. Thank you.”

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