Program Coordinator, Bayview Youth Advocates
Honoring African American and Asian American history and resilience is the purpose of “Youth Unity Mural,” located at 5012 3rd Street. As the program coordinator for Bayview Youth Advocates (BYA), I set a goal to translate this powerful history into something the youths can fashion into wearable pride. Since BYA summer program was held virtually, I decided to box the mural opportunity like a gift—working with Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco (CCC) and San Francisco African American Arts and Cultural District (SFAAACD)—until the six-week BYA summer curriculum was over. Leadership is a gift that keeps giving. In a way, the youths had a reveal before the community unveiling of the mural on Saturday, August 15, 2021. They learned that they would work with CCC to select the artists for the mural. Together they decided to hire Helice Wen and Kalani Ware as the talent behind the creative process. The youths were encouraged to evaluate all the artists from an open call through CCC based on (1) passion for Bayview Hunters Point, (2) cultural pride and diversity, and (3) advocacy for youth development.
What made this part of the journey fulfilling was the youth’s decision-making abilities shining through. Youth took their administration skills and made a literal paint brush to support the artists to create a big bold statement of unity. The message of unity evokes recent incidents of AAPI hate and Black Lives Matter intolerance and creates a peaceful place for folks to rest their concerned eyes. Harmony, education and outreach are at the heart of BYA. For four days the youths focused on the mural while receiving kudos and affirmations from the community. The youths honed their skills and focused their energy to create a beautiful message of joy, solidarity, and unity among races. The project honors the affect community, who will see the images daily.
During this effort, the youths learned painting techniques from the artists as well as how to mix and match colors to provide the mural the hues and highlights for the images that best fit the stories. These skills are ones that the youths can take into their futures and perhaps one day use to brighten other communities and serve as role models for future generations.
When the community joined together for the unveiling, youths increased their visibility and advocacy by making brief remarks about their time with peers, the artists and passers-by rooting for them and bringing positivity their way. The entire project from start to finish was harmonizing and rewarding thanks to everyone involved.
Youth Unity Mural Unveiling: