What’s in a name?
Kenji Liu, artist and program director of Geneva Car Barn and Power House, was inspired by this question during the start of the Occupy movement when Frank H. Ogawa Plaza was unofficially renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by the Occupy Oakland protestors. In response, he created two posters to show solidarity for the memory of both Frank H. Ogawa and Oscar Grant, explaining:
This is not just about inclusion, but about having a complex analysis from which to act together. As Audre Lorde has written, "difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark." We can recognize the different ways capitalism has attacked each of our communities. We can bring this imagination to our aspirations for our places, our movements and our society.
Shortly after, this discussion on naming inspired Kenji to create a powerful meme where he renamed BART stops after local activists and revolutionary heroes. He asked his friends and colleagues to chime in via Facebook: "I'm starting to decolonize the BART system. Take a closer look. Suggestions welcome." The map, Decolonized Area Rapid Transit (DART), started a thoughtful conversation about what stops should be named and who should be represented.
The first draft of the map included comments like:
- ha ha this is awesome. gender balance and queer it up a bit, tho!
- Doo'koo'o'sliid (San Francisco Peaks) Navajo Sacred Mountain to the West
- harvey milk in frisco?
The second draft, posted later that day, had comments such as:
- I love this project! I think the Oakland Airport should be under Angela Davis' name since she lives here. Yuri Kuchiyama is a must; she lives in Oakland too!
- I'd hate to bump Malcolm X, but got any Filipino heroes for Daly City? Maybe he could have Balboa Park (though my choice would be Diego Rivera for his mural at City College). Technically, the Korematsu nursery was southeast of Fruitvale (though their flowers probably travelled by streetcar through Oakland en route to the SF ferry).
- Is Colma missing? Because Im assuming Daly City is Philip Vera Cruz, which I think Union City should be as Union City was once farmland and gladiola fields.
Taking all these comments into consideration, Kenji revised that the DART map to feature San Francisco luminaries like Harvey Milk, Harry Bridges (labor leader), Al Robles (poet and former staff of SFAC Community Arts & Education [formerly known as Neighborhood Arts Program]), Dolores Huerta, Ishmael Reed (featured in SFAC Gallery’s latest catalogue), poet Cherríe Moraga, and poet June Jordan.
The crowd sourced DART map spread quickly and Kenji started a campaign via IndieGoGo to raise funds for distribution of silk-screened t-shirts with the map. The DART map was so popular that Kenji raised over 200 percent of his fundraising goal within seven hours.
SFAC is proud to be connected to this project as the distribution site for donors to the campaign. Stay tuned to find out how you can make a direct purchase of this t-shirt.