angry reader of the week: jane kim

Oh yes. Once again, it's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Jane Kim, President of the San Francisco School Board.

Who are you?
Jane Kim.

What are you?
President of the San Francisco Board of Education, attorney at Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, youth advocate and a proud Asian American. I'm a former Community Organizer, bass player, black belt (Tae Kwon Do), music lover, and co-founder of Locus Arts, a venue which supported emerging API artists. I am 100% fierce Korean American. And I am blessed.

Where are you?
San Francisco! I live in District 6, at the intersection of the dynamic neighborhoods of SoMa (South of Market), Tenderloin, and Inner Mission. I love where I live-- cuz I love food, music and art - and people! The diversity of people is reflected in the wealth of restaurants and arts/performance venues in the neighborhood, including Turtle Tower (best pho in the city, northern style), Sai Jai Thai (best pork shoulder, yum), Farmer Brown (organic soul food), Tin (new delish vietnamese), So (best chicken wings and cha cha mien), 1:AM Gallery, Bindlestiff Studio and Somarts Cultural Center.

Where are you from?
Born and raised in NYC, I still have some of that hard, urban edge! But after 11 years in the mellow and beautiful Bay Area, I've been told that I'm soft. I don't even know how to jaywalk anymore -- I used to only jaywalk in Chinatown, but then we put in a better traffic/pedestrian system to increase pedestrian safety. Other residual trauma from growing up New York: I don't know how to bike! (I learned to drive in my 20's as well!) Luckily my friends at the SF Bike Coalition have been patiently teaching me how to ride on two wheels (what a treat!) so I can crash into inanimate objects like poles and benches in San Francisco. On the flipside, it makes it easier to promote early bike learning for our youth -- a fabulous, sustainable and quick way to get around!

What do you do?
I develop, guide and implement policy and budget for the San Francisco Unified School District. My top goals: 1) Closing the Opportunity Gap and making public education an equalizer for our young people (which has not always been the case), 2) Reforming our horrible student discipline process and institutionalizing Restorative Justice in our schools, 3) Building Youth Leaders to keep our movement sustainable, 4) Utilizing SFUSD's under-utilized and surplus property to benefit our communities by building Educator Housing and bringing farmer markets and community gardens to neighborhoods with less access to fresh and healthy food. I am also proud to be the first large urban school district to institutionalize Ethnic Studies in our high schools this year!

I also work as an attorney at Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights where I am currently working on Voting Rights, Community Initiatives to bring free legal services to our low-income communities of color and building relations between the Asian American and African American communities - which, if you've read the press lately, is a necessary conversation that needs to continue.

I love what I do.

What are you all about?
I am about building long-term leadership, grassroots organizing, community building and having decision-making powers over public dollars and public policy-making for our people. I am about loving what I do and having fun too without forgetting the urgency and gravity of the work. Activists and organizers often view themselves as martyrs-- but they often burn out. We must do this work out of love and enjoy every minute. The challenges we are facing are long-term, systemic and urgent-- our solutions must be long-term, systematic and relevant. I intend to be around for the long-term. I am lucky to be surrounded by hardworking, dedicated, passionate, inspiring and fun people who feel the same way-- they keep me centered on my principles and accountable.

Some days can be challenging, but I'm excited every morning I wake up-- to keep chipping away and making change which makes our community more equitable. As coined by Cornel West, I'm a prisoner of hope.

What makes you angry?
Inefficiency and guardians of the status quo! It's the stuff that prevents urgent things from getting addressed. Crafty messaging has prevented people from understanding that taxes are an investment in our community and an investment benefits us all. Who doesn't want vibrant, well-resourced schools, streets with trees, bike lanes, safer neighborhoods, and public transportation that moves quickly and comes on time?

Anger can be the fire - but love for your community is the oxygen. Policies and work must ultimately be driven by love for long-term, sustainable change, even if initiated by anger.

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