Last week a group formed by parents uncovered a series of tweets which San Francisco School Board vice president Alison Collins had published in 2016. Those tweets including things like this, saying many Asian teachers, students and parents “use white supremacist thinking” to “get ahead.”
In fact many Asian American Ts, Ss, and Ps actively promote these myths. They use white supremacist thinking to assimilate and "get ahead".
— Alison Collins 高勵思 (@AliMCollins) December 4, 2016
There were a lot more, some of them worse. The tweets were uncovered by a parent group seeking to recall Collins and two other members of the school board. The reaction to them was pretty strong. Over the weekend, SF Mayor London Breed and more than a dozen other local officials called on Collins to resign. She has so far refused to do that and Tuesday night, at the first meeting of the board since this issue arose, she offered a somewhat vague apology:
“I’d like to re-emphasize my sincere and heartfelt apologies,” Collins said. “I appreciate the opportunity to be part of a restorative and transformative dialogue going forward that calls us in together as leaders in this city. That call is for us to live and model the values we bring through policy and action and to double down on our commitment to listen, and continuing fighting for educational opportunities and racial justice for all, and all communities as a member of the Board of Education.”
That wasn’t enough for at least two members of the board. Today, KRON 4 reports they plan to introduce a resolution Thursday to strip Collins of her titles and responsibilities:
Fellow school board member Jenny Lam called for Collins to make this apology several days ago and stands behind demands for Collins to resign.
“I am not alone when I say I don’t have confidence in Commissioner Collins’s ability to fairly govern a school district that is almost half API with no bias. Restorative justice begins by acknowledging the harm and making the intentional effort to connect with those in the community that has been harmed,” Lam said.
Lam and board member Moliga will introduce a resolution at a special meeting on Thursday, calling for Collins to be stripped of her VP position and committee assignments.
Mission Local reports that Jenny Lam had a phone conversation with Collins after this story broke last week and that call did not go well:
Lam says she was not inclined to advocate for Collins’ resignation until after their phone conversation ended. Lam says Collins was unapologetic and that “voices were raised.”
One unnamed politician told Mission Local that left-leaning politicians feel they have no choice but to hang Collins out to dry because she hasn’t really apologized. Also, there’s a bit of self-preservation in their response:
Left-leaning San Francisco politicians calling for Collins’ resignation — both Asian and not Asian — know the score. Web partisans unearthed some low-hanging fruit, the mainstream media picked up the story, and Collins was quickly irradiated and weaponized.
“We all got played here,” one tells me. “But how can we as Asian leaders defend her when she doesn’t give us anything? We can’t make her be contrite.”…
For Collins to not acknowledge why so many Asian Americans, including former allies and endorsers, would react so strongly, for her not to pick up on the raw pain Asian Americans are feeling now — this is more than a political miscalculation. It reveals an inability to listen and a lack of judgment and empathy.
But it was also a political miscalculation. And that’s why every last vestige of San Francisco government is now calling for Collins to step down. Because even her ideological allies see where this could go: This could be the French Laundry moment for the nascent recall attempt of Collins and fellow commissioners Faauuga Moliga and Gabriela López. Failure to fall into line and call for Collins to go could be weaponized further against an elected official, as it was in the case of Ross Mirkarimi. This has become a litmus test of sorts.
So far board president Gariela Lopez hasn’t called for Collins to resign. On the contrary, when 1,000 people signed up to speak about this at the board meeting last night Lopez tried to limit the damage by giving equal time to supporters and detractors even though there were a lot more of the latter:
Against the wishes of Lam and Moliga, López limited public comment to 50 minutes, with 20 minutes each for those “supporting” and “opposing” Collins.
Lam said she believed this presented a false equivalence when many of the 1,000 people came to call on Collins to resign, including parent Thomas Kim.
“How would I explain this to my children?” Kim said of the tweets. “I do want us to find a way to move on. I don’t know how to proceed, Vice President Collins, with you as a leader in this district. Please take leadership and resign so we can all move on.”
We’ll find out Thursday whether Lopez or other board members will turn on Collins out of self-preservation or stick with her and tell Asian parents to pound sand.