Disabled Elder fights to keep a roof while Larry Ellison's Billion Dollar Boat Sinks.
I had just seen a news report telling of a catamaran collapsing and sinking into San Francisco Bay. The mast, the sum of parts that made up this vessel seemed to tangle in the rise and fall of water which made it appear as unstable and flimsy as a cheap umbrella in a rainstorm. The reporter indicated that the catamaran was part of Team Oracle, part of the big to-do known as the America’s cup. The dramatic images make for good TV but I couldn’t get emotionally attached like so many millions over this spectacle--the fate of this symbol of rich man’s watersports—with accompanying privilege and arrogance-was something I couldn’t care less about. Shortly after the newscast, I spoke to a friend who summed up my feelings about the sinking catamaran and the America’s Cup: “Please tell me Larry Ellison was on that boat”. Was he?
While these folks made it to the six o’clock news, flaunting said wealth and privilege, African descended elder and native San Franciscan Kathy Galves tries to maintain a roof over her head. Ms. Galves lost her home of 40 years to foreclosure. Ms. Galves, a black woman, a black elder trying to stay in the city of her birth. A city whose mandate to erase the black community that was conceived and hatched by the agents of redevelopment and business long ago, a city whose black exodus is a mark of its shame, an exodus that is killing the heart and soul of the city.
However, you won’t see Ms. Galves story on the news. Eviction of black elders in the city doesn’t seem to be newsworthy to those who own and control media, at least, not as newsworthy as Larry Ellison’s boat. Ms. Galves now stays in a motel and is a step away from houselessness. The owner of the motel tried to evict her after 30 days residence—the period in which she would establish tenant’s rights in the city of San Francisco. Ms.Galves walks with a dignity that cannot be sunk, her eyes still holding light, unsinkable in the arid landscape of gentrifiers and corporate unaccountability.
Ms. Galves story is more important than the sinking catamaran with the oracle logo. It holds more meaning than all those boats on the bay and everything they stand for. Their lack of dignity and humility—floating on the bay—is a blight on our city, an eye sore to those with eyes who see a city losing its spirit, its heart, its soul.
Ms. Galves moves forward, dignity in place—looking for a place to call home, in a city that is her home, yet filled with exiles and those displaced in a city that was their birthplace, a birthplace of dreams, an escape from Jim Crow terror to become the blueprint model for gentrification.
Kathy Galves—let her name ring out in every corner, every rooftop, every street, every inch of the city. We are not going to forget.