With the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump less than 20 days away, Castro bar Lookout is preparing for life under the new administration by gathering the community tomorrow night to raise funds for the national civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center.
Beginning in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center—based in Montgomery, Alabama—has strived to protect the civil rights of vulnerable populations, expose and topple hate groups, and teach tolerance. Within the first 10 days following Trump’s unexpected victory, the organization documented more than 800 hate crimes against African Americans, Jews, Muslims and LGBT people reported in media outlets and its own webpage #ReportHate.
Amid continued concerns locally and nationally regarding politically fueled hate crimes, as well as the politics of Trump, his cabinet picks and the Republican-controlled Congress that opened its first session yesterday, Lookout co-owner Chris Hastings is hosting that fundraiser titled We Go High—a nod to the speech First Lady Michelle Obama gave at the Democratic National Convention, in which she said, "When they go low, we go high."
"The Southern Poverty Law Center is an amazing organization," Hastings tells Hoodline. "They monitor and report on hate organizations, facilitate programs aimed at teaching tolerance, especially to youth groups and schools, and fight injustice to our societies most at risk populations through a large team of dedicated lawyers."
"It's terrifying," Hastings said of hate crime reports since Election Day. "I know three people personally who have experienced hate crimes since the election. And I am fortunate enough to live and work in the liberal bubble that is San Francisco's Castro District."
Hastings added that he felt "punched in the gut" after Election Day. "I have never felt so disconnected with so many other Americans," he said. "I consumed as many editorials related to the election, from as many perspectives as possible as I could get my hands on, and that was a big help. While I didn't agree with everything I read, at least everything came from thought through intellectual perspective, and together those pieces helped me be able to understand how this transpired and better understand what it will mean for the future. I now feel like it's time to act."
Hastings also emphasizes the dangers of complacency. "Am I nervous and scared for what could happen?" he asked. "Yes, without question. But am I going to sit by and wait for it to happen? No. And I advocate for those in this community to do the same. That is what the We Go High event is about; it's about the idea that we are stronger together and through solidarity and positive collective efforts we can combat what ever comes our way."
Hastings was very happy to announce that community hostess Donna Sachet had gotten involved in the planning of the evening.
"The event is about community solidarity, so I'm allowing the night to take shape organically," he said. "We have a very large and amazing host committee who are volunteering their time to make this night happen. We do have an MC for the evening, Brian Kent, and there will be a few speeches from community leaders. We are hosting a raffle, and donating 50 percent of the sales from the night to the cause in addition to the donations we are taking at the door."
No advance tickets are required to attend the event at 8pm tomorrow. "We will be suggesting a donation of $30 at the door, but everyone is welcome regardless of contribution amount," he said. "Nobody will be turned away."
The Lookout is also accepting donations for the raffle drawing.
"This event will push Lookout over the $1 million mark for funds raised for our community since we opened in 2007," Hastings noted. "That's something that I am very proud of, and this feels like the perfect event to push us over that threshold."
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