i remember first going to uc santa barbara & being baffled by the number of privileged folks that pulled the shifty eyes, the head-to-toe-toe-to-head looks, the semi-fearful-semi-disgusted-semi-awkward-yet-always-silent-with-zero-smile looks when me & the other females of color would tread a typically white space (with the occasional tokens that seem to conform to the scenery), the fucked-up peer sloshing through the crowded party only to step on my foot, push me, & say "ew, you need to go." it was in these extremely frustrating moments that i would rep frisco the absolute hardest; remembering that if i were to ever step to anybody like that in my respective sf public schools, muni spaces, or public areas, that i would indeed get my shit banked. (to this day, forever thankful.)
i can't help but see the same silly conformity i witnessed at a uc santa barbara party, here at home in my mama land of frisco.
what conformity? well i mean: 1. the lack of community, 2. the lack of human compassion/empathy, 3. values of profit over people, 4. the lack of neighborly small talk on the street, 5. the carefree transplants that see this city as merely their playground to get fucked up, make money, meet hella people, eat good food, share it on instagram, & say "oh, i live in the city" without caring to know the working class families on your block, or without caring to see or understand the incredibly beautiful narratives of struggle that built this golden city.
sure maybe i am getting older & entering new spaces of the "real world". well if the real world means two white girls at the tipsy pig bar saying, "this is our cue to leave..." after immediately seeing two young mixed-race frisco-raised men of color walk into the bar, then i might be pulling some out of pocket shit the next time you see me. sure, i understand change occurs. but when the city, my home, is becoming drier/whacker with every new eviction, more & more money-centered & less community-minded with more & more goofy ass aston martins zooming through residential neighborhoods with children walking, i mean, i will be telling you what's really on my mind. i cannot see my home ransacked by more metal cranes & "luxurious" high-rise condominiums only to promote apathy & dead fishes that swim with the nonexistent, illusive mainstream. i'm not saying i'm finna bank somebody's shit (violence is not quite the language i try to perpetuate), i'm just saying, that i will be sharing, i will be voicing, i will be saying. i will be saying. i will be saying. i will be saying. i will be saying.
i do believe in compassion & i do believe we are all, including myself, not able to always see the water that we all are swimming in. i get that not everyone had the same upbringing as i, attending an alternative public school focused on polyculturalism & community building via art. i am not saying my upbringing is better or more righteous than anyone else's. i guess i just love having being born & raised in san francisco, traversing the panoramic city across time with my parents', grandparents', great grandparents', & great great grandparents' shared stories. i guess i just feel so fortunate to have grown up with a diverse array of city folks that have shown me at a young age what a positive, tolerant, polycultural, inclusive community can look & feel like. i guess i just get hurt feelings when i see some young dudes of privilege laugh at an older chinese man collecting cans from the nearby trashcan. i guess i just get really hot when i am told that there are "too many asians in san francisco".
audre lorde once said: "when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. but when we are silent we are still afraid. so it is better to speak" / "what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood".
to my fellow homegrown sf cats & trans-bay cats fearing displacement: we are all artists, we are all storytellers -- it is in the way we live day to day, in the way we occupy our space in our communities. let our collective culture be known, let us share. feel free to say. just say. do say. i will say. i just did say. i said. i will continue to say.
Eryn Kimura is a practicing “artivist”, community organizer, youth facilitator, and art teacher.
Eryn Kimura received her BA in Asian-American Studies and Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013. Her undergraduate work focused on education reform, Asian-American female identity formation, social movements, and Afro-Asian solidarities. Returning to San Francisco, Eryn began to engage in “artivism” – art and activism. With her detailed illustrations, paintings, and unique “おはりえ” collages, her art has been featured in numerous local exhibitions and publications, such as Kearny Street Workshop, SOMArts and Cultural Center, LA-based Issue Magazine, and C-Head Magazine.
Eryn has served as a local community organizer, activist, and API youth mentor in San Francisco's Japantown-Fillmore community, and facilitated recyclable, installation-based youth art classes in Bayview Hunter's Point.
Unable to afford San Francisco, Eryn Kimura currently resides in the countryside of Kyoto prefecture, Japan, teaching at three local junior highs and two elementary schools.
Eryn Kimura is a fifth generation San Franciscan, multi-ethnic Asian-American, and proud product of the San Francisco public school system.
Eryn’s work can be viewed on her website: erynkimura.com