A member of the San Francisco School Board referred to Asian Americans as “house n****r[s]” in a 2016 tweet thread, in a comment highlighted by the organizer of a movement to recall her.
Alison Collins, who serves as vice president on the school board, published a long Twitter thread in December 2016 in which she explained her intention “to combat anti-black racism in the Asian community at at [sic] my daughters’ mostly Asian Am[erican] school.”
Collins accused “many Asian American Ts, Ss, and Ps” — teachers, students, and parents — of promoting “the ‘model minority’ BS” and of using “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.’”
“I even see it in my FB timeline with former HS peers. Their TLs are full of White and Asian ppl. No recognition #BlackLivesMatter exists,” she stated, before describing how her daughter had experienced Asian-American boys teasing a Latino classmate. “She spoke up when none of the other staff did,” Collins recalled. “The after school counselor was Asian. :/”
She then demanded to know “[w]here are the vocal Asians speaking up against Trump?”
“Don’t Asian Americans know they are on his list as well?” Collins continued. “Do they think they won’t be deported? profiled? beaten? Being a house n****r is still being a n****r. You’re still considered “the help.”
The entire thread was highlighted by a parent-led group titled “Recall SF School Board.”
In a subsequent press release, the organization called the tweets “unacceptable for any elected school official, but especially so in a school district where over a third of the children are Asian.”
Siva Raj, one of the two organizers of the group, told National Review that Collins’ comments shed additional light on the board’s decision to eliminate merit-based admission at Lowell High School — the best high school in the district — and replace it with a lottery system.
“The district’s about a 30-34 percent and Asian American, Lowell is about 55 percent — Asian American kids tend to do better on merit based admission scores,” he explained. “Ever since the recall campaign started, one of the things we’ve been trying to understand and kind of clarify is that this whole decision was made with the best intent . . . and now we can understand why: there seems to be deep seated prejudice against the Asian American community.”
“It’s unacceptable for our elected leader, any elected leader, to have such high degree of personal animosity towards any ethnic minority in this country,” he continued. “Let alone someone who’s on our school board, who’s making day-to-day decisions on the safety and welfare of all our children. I would expect her to be absolutely, completely 100 percent unbiased.”
Collins, who joined the San Francisco school board in 2018, has personal ties to the public school system, which “helped her mother rise out of poverty, and helped her father become one of the first Black professors at UCLA,” per her bio. On her personal website, Collins notes a number of initiatives she participated in to aid Chinese-speaking students and their families.
She told National Review that “I’m not going to comment on social media posts from five years ago,” adding that she has “been heartbroken seeing the escalating violence against my Asian-American brothers, sisters and siblings.”
“What has been even more upsetting is seeing the ways that the media often erase the true nature of the problem,” she continued. “Seeing hate crimes labeled ‘sex addiction’, and seeing videos of police and EMTs responding to the needs of perpetrators of violence while overlooking the needs of the people they target is telling. This isn’t just about one or two incidents circulating in the news cycle—it’s a pervasive culture. One we must all collectively name and dismantle.”
In explaining the decision to change the admission standards at Lowell, which was also a school being considered for a name change by the school board, Collins explained in a February blog post that it was a “key contributor” to “the problems with racist abuse and discrimination at the school,” and referenced infamous antiracist proponent Ibram X. Kendi.
“Folks who argue that changes to admissions policies are unfair are also uninformed of the relationship between test-based admissions policies and racist discrimination educators have been discussing for decades,” she explained. “In fact, the resolution cites testimony Ibram X. Kendi prepared in support of the Boston School Committees’ decision to eliminate standardized test scores from admissions to Boston’s selective enrollment “exam schools.”
After a January “anti-racism training” at Lowell was hacked and flooded with racist slurs and pornographic images, Collins and the school board moved to make the admissions shift permanent.
Raj acknowledged the concerns, but said the response aimed “to score political points.”
“There have been incidents of bullying, racism, sexual harassment, all kinds of things that happened to school district over the years that have not really been addressed, that have not really been directly addressed,” he said. “People have been using them to score political points rather than actually addressing the root causes of all of these incidents.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a comment from Collins.