“My hope is that I can help San Francisco have a brighter and more inclusive future,” said Grace Kay.
Kay is a utility specialist with the Regulatory and Legislative Compliance team in the SFPUC’s Power Enterprise. Her role focuses on advocating for policies in various local, state and federal legislative, and regulatory venues to help further the SFPUC’s goal of providing clean, safe, reliable, and affordable power to its customers. A mother of two young children, Kay understands how her work contributes to the future of her children.
For Kay, Asian Pacific American Heritage month is an opportunity to recognize the many stories of Asian immigrants who have made their way to this country to start new lives and the contributions they’ve made as a result. As the child of parents who emigrated from Korea in the 1980’s, she often thinks about the immigrant experience, the bravery it took for her parents to do what they did, and the sacrifices they made along the way.
Kay shared that there has been a lot of media coverage recently around the country of racially motivated violence against Asians, especially against Asian elders, which is heartbreaking for her.
“I think the very first step we can take to fight against anti-Asian discrimination is the simple acknowledgement that this is taking place,” she said. “Due to Asians often being seen as both the ‘model minority’ and perpetually foreign or ‘other,’ it can often be easy to dismiss the Asian immigrant or Asian-American experience.”
Kay recognized that this in itself is very complicated, for Asians in America are not a monolithic entity and their backgrounds vary widely depending on country-of-origin and language. “There needs to be a collective acknowledgement and solidarity for the common struggles and challenges we face as people of color in this country from both Asians and non-Asians, which will go a long way in helping us combat discrimination,” she said.
While the violence and discrimination against the Asian community may be magnified during the pandemic, Kay said it is not anything new. “Recent incidents have presented a window of opportunity to discuss these issues and speak up about the experiences where we can,” she shared. “I have two little boys and not only do I want them to have an appreciation for their heritage as they get older, but to give them better awareness, tools and language to navigate what it means to being Asian American today.”