Saturday, December 8, 2007

SF Journal San Fran Editorial 08/1977


August 3, 1977 Vol.2 no. 3 p.4


Tenants’ Spirit

"You know all those media stereotypes of Chinatown elderly being passive, weak,.. .etc., etc.? Forget them.

Forget the establishment newspapers that photograph the pioneers as one-dimensional shadows that have no spirit left in them.

The press conference called by the tenants of the San Fran Hotel last Sunday (see story, Page l) was full of spirit and determination.

Fifty years of restaurant work In the United States has not broken the spirit of tenant Jimmy Yee. His determination to fight for his home is shared with Mr. Lee, Mr. Jew, Mr. Fong, Mr. Leong and the other tenants of the San Fran Hotel on Clay Street.

Unintimidated by the expectation of establishment media that press conferences be conducted in English, Jimmy Yee gave a lifting speech in his native “thlee yip” (fourth) dialect even though he speaks fluent English.

Mrs. Lau of the Chinatown Tenants Organizing Committee also spoke in Chinese. The entire press conference was conducted bilingually to reach both Chinese-speaking and English-speakIng passersby who were attracted to the sidewalk presentation

No matter what language was used, the message was clear: the men and women who have worked long hours for so much of their 1ives are determjned to have decent housing In the community where they feel most comfortable-Chinatown.

One elderly tenant’s son who is financially successful, tried to convince his father to move out of the San Fran, but the tenant doesn’t want to move and has chosen to stay with his fellow tenants to fight for his 'home.'

Despite the fact that these pioneers are low-income, that doesn’t mean they don’t have pride. They know what they can afford and how stringently they have to budget every penny. They pay for the necessities—food and shelter—with the satisfaction that it is their own hard-earned money.

That is one of the reasons that landlords who raise their rents without justification and without providing maintenance have met with such assertive resistance from these longtime Californ’ pioneers.

We are proud of the elderly tenants who have taken on the negligent landlords and wholeheartedly support the struggle of the tenants."

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