The Somewhat-Racist Italian Flag Light-Pole Stickers of North Beach and What One Chinese Dude Did About Them Ten Years Ago

One thing that me and our local real estate cabal agree upon is the sanctity of Broadway as a neighborhood dividing line on the east si-iiiide of San Francisco.

So I’ll admit that any area above B’Way isn’t a part of Chinatown. Fine.

But, you know, Chinese/Asian businesses started a foothold in North Beach proper, above B’Way, back in the day and certain people didn’t like it, not one bit.

So, these Italian light pole flags started going up a few decades ago as a response to the encroachment, the Asian Invasion. Take a look below.

Now I’ll tell you, one person who didn’t cotton to these flags was furniture store owner Ed Yee. You see, he preferred American flags. Read all about his campaign against colori italiani in this bit by Ilene Lelchuk from all the way back in aught-two. Ed’s windmill-tilting even made the Fox News back then.

But, after some blowback from people like Louis Calabro of the “European American Issues Forum” the City Family came down on Ed so his campaign to put up American flags on the Italian poles ended.

Count them, go ahead. These things are all over the place:

Click to expand

Oh well.

Back in the 1800’s, people in North Beach would throw rocks at Chinese and Chinese Americans who ventured north of Broadway. You know, to send a message about who belongs where.

These days, we “defend” the Italian-ness, the whiteness of North Beach in a different way.

O.K. fine.

But I don’t approve.

We ought to take all these stickers down.

In closing:

“It’s a visual and therefore a visceral betrayal. Stop it!”

John Malkovich, Transformers III: Dark of the Moon

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9 Responses to “The Somewhat-Racist Italian Flag Light-Pole Stickers of North Beach and What One Chinese Dude Did About Them Ten Years Ago”

  1. San Francisco is 1/3 Chinese today. It is not the 1800’s and there is hardly any support for the Italians who formed North Beach, yet the schools and other businesses get shut down for Chinese New Year. I think it is more racist that Chinese are objecting to the Italian flag in a neighborhood that was built and focused on Italian-American heritage.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Fair enough. But I think that North Beach should embrace Chinese and Chinese-Americans.

  3. Camarografo says:

    They’re Mexican flags without the medallion……….shhhhhhhh!

  4. Don’t you think it should be the other way around as well? There are already Chinese restaurants and businesses in North Beach. Is there an Italian restaurant in Chinatown? Nope. Besides, this story is based on events that happened back in 2002, not 2012

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t thing Chinatown cares a whit about being invade by North Beach – it’s not a concern.

    Who would open an Italian restaurant in Chinatown?

  6. Obviously North Beach doesn’t care about Chinese restaurants so calling North Beach racist for putting up Italian flags is a racist statement in and of itself if a Chinese guy in 2002 tried covering them up with American flags. That’s far more racist than putting up Italian flags in an Italian neighborhood. Would that make it OK if I tore down all the Chinese language street signs in Chinatown? No because the Chinese people who live there like the signs and need them not just for cultural reasons, but because some of them still can’t speak English and need to know the name of the streets.

  7. Jim Lang says:

    Yeah, those little italian flags are a manifestation of subtle (or not so subtle racism) I’ve also see overt racism in action in north beach too — asian patrons being picked on by the counterman at a local north beach charcuterie.

    Anyone who’s trying to shift the conversation away is patently in denial. Neighborhood change — deal with it. And, I support the American flag.

  8. pchazzz says:

    Why so Italophobic? Celebrating one’s ethnic heritage doesn’t disrespect people who are not of that heritage. Dredging up a ten-year old news item to inject racism where it doesn’t belong is pretty pathetic.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Uh, the Italian flags are still there.

    I’m not saying all Italian flags are racist, I’m saying that San Francisco putting up these flags is racist. See the diff?

    The Chinese and Chinese Americans of C-town don’t care about keeping the Italians out of C-Town. That’s why San Francisco doesn’t pay to put Chinese flags on the light poles of C-Town.

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