This country and the economic and political power structure we know today emerged from the system of racism and slavery. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we have individuals threatened by the emergence of a multicultural and equitable society. This challenges their understanding of identity and place. What we saw last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., was a blatant rebellion to the growth of a civil society based on equity, not race or religious identity.
We build a better history by acknowledging the past and presence of racism and other deep divisions in our country. This country in large measure was built on slavery. Emblems of slavery must be confronted, not to dismantle or revise the past, but to build upon the new common ground of a strong diverse society.
This is how we will take back America, by pushing it forward.
The call for the so-called Patriot Prayer rally on Crissy Field on Aug. 26 is a dangerous affront to our region and country and threat to public safety. Crissy Field lies in the midst of sacred burial grounds of our First People. It is next to Fort Mason, where thousands of ships docked during wartime to win liberty and religious freedom for ourselves and the world. It is across the Bay from Angel Island, where thousands upon thousands of immigrants entered our country to find a better life and to make valuable contributions to our society. It is just down the hill from the San Francisco National Cemetery, the final resting place for thousands of veterans who died for the freedom of our country.
Every day, the Presidio YMCA is the home of thousands of children, youth and adults in programs throughout the National Park Service and beyond. We host a wide diversity of Bay Area residents, many of whom come from underserved neighborhoods and find sanctuary in the natural environment.
This proposed rally will pose a great threat to many important programs. We will carefully monitor the situation to ensure the safety of our participants.
Our call is to embrace the variations by which people are born into this world, and all of the ways in which we can create a positive, nurturing space for self-expression and human potential.
Work for the common good and nourish the common ground.
Chuck Collins is president and CEO of the YMCA of San Francisco.