Morning in San Francisco brings not only brilliant sun and the bustle of produce stands opening but also the SF Department of Public Works, guarded by a police car, “cleaning up” the Mission by loading the worldly possessions and makeshift elements of what is a home on the streets for too many into the back of a truck.
It’s hard to tell, listening to these workers just doing their job, which they think of more as mere garbage: the things or the people. These people of color, male workers who do the city’s bidding sexually harass a white, tattooed female as she walks by them, even as they toss more and more pieces of what was a community of black males living together in falling-apart tents. A too-friendly neighbor from a nearby house asks the workers how they plan to carry some particularly big item “outta here. You gonna use a dollie?” she curiously inquires, her back to the few men left watching their homes and belongings vanish.
One of the street residents comes “home” to this stretch of sidewalk to see his home being dismantled, uttering a slow and sorrowful “hey hey hey.” On the wall next to him, someone has penned a good-bye to their spot using a sharpie on the freshly buffed wall that parallels this tiny outpost of what was a temporary refuge from the storm of evictions — Ellis Act and mostly not Ellis Act style — engulfing this city.
Racism, classism, sexism, exploitation, and pitting people against each other who should share an antagonism to all that’s going on, to all that’s being stolen and all the humans who are being debased, is just a good day’s work — a “good morning” — in San Francisco.
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(Photo by Cindy Milstein, streets of SF’s Mission, March 2014)