Leading through Struggles To make an impact

To make the largest possible impact, I work to represent the socially marginalized and economically impacted because throughout my life I, too, have been socially marginalized and impacted. My life has been full of challenges and obstacles that I repeatedly overcame. That includes homelessness and displacement from home and community. That includes workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, being bullied, and being raped.
My struggles include having to fight and pay for my own education and housing, and watching all my vital resources and access to opportunities being destroyed, repeatedly, before my very eyes from age 19 to the present.

Finally, it includes being victimized by systems and public policy that is often written to protect us but have loopholes that are used by interests that are corrupted by greed. The corrupted interests are geared toward our destruction by through systems of government and business that undermine the ability of people with significant challenges to rise up into leadership or even just escape harm’s reach.

My history includes all of these experiences coupled with daily threats to my life, livelihood, freedom, and also physical and emotional violence. Yes, I’ve had to endure so much more. I am Black, I am Gay, I am Haitian-American, and I am Native American. I’m a part of a dying breed of first-generation San Francisco natives. Our decades-old affordability crisis undermines our ability for San Franciscans to achieve and maintain multi-generational experiences.

Our society excludes the experiences of the underprivileged, as shown by the lack of diversity in business leadership, nonprofit boards, membership of social-justice organizations, and representation in mainstream media and At times I cry, but I endure and persevere through the struggle as my survival is at stake — not just the image I project.

I only wear the fancy suit and crisp tie because our society recognizes and provides an opportunity to those with the appearance of privilege, wealth, and status. We prioritize these things over the life experiences and livelihoods of marginalized and impacted populations.

I have and enjoy none of those benefits, so I struggle like so many of us. I’m doing everything possible to remain actively engaged. I would sacrifice my life to protect our community. Our livelihood — access to job opportunities that match my skills and experience has been diminished and I feel uncertain about my future, but I’m not giving up. I can’t give up because my apathy will result in my death.

I have been successful in using my experience access to certain volunteer positions so that I could climb this mountain to lend my voice to those without a voice. I’m here to fight for you, my people, who are most vulnerable because I am VULNERABLE. I will serve you and our community at every table of leadership that your support allows me to sit at. I work hard at this because I care and because I’m tired of watching other people who have little knowledge about the day-to-day hardships and struggles of the people who are most in need.

I say to those of your who are woke and paying attention. It may not be possible to deliver real solutions to all our problems and issues if those who we empower to design them have never experienced these things first hand. I understand how the identities that we can’t remove put our lives at risk. My middle name is Hassan and I understand this heritage puts my life and liberties at risk.

Thanks for reading, being a friend, and supporting my efforts to lend a voice to the forgotten.

Believe we can connect on issues important to San Franciscans?

Let’s work together.

To become involved in making a difference.

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Like you, I’m fighting for a better future, for my family, the community and for the health of our human society.  Together, I have fought with you for justice and progress in matters of; social justice, human rights, civil rights, open government, public health and safety, homeless services, worker rights and workforce development, community heritage, and preservation.

Follow me online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @HainesForSF

Born and Raise, Here to Stay

My roots in the city have enabled me to form solid connections. To the Bears, Sisters, Fairies, Techies, Hipsters, Missionites, the Leather communities, and my newest friends in San Francisco’s political circles and more, I say this: you have become my extended family. From the Financial District to the Castro, the Mission to the Richmond, Haight to the Excelsior, the Bayview to Fillmore, SoMa to the Sunset, Ingleside to Hayes Valley, and where I live today in Lower Pacific Heights, San Francisco is and forever will be my home and heart.

I was born in San Francisco General, way back when they referred to it as “The Blood Bath.” Graduating from John O’Connell high school, with a trade certificate in carpentry, much of my classroom time was spent in bungalows. The school was forced to move from the Mission after the Loma Prieta earthquake due to contamination from asbestos, but my passion for learning never faltered.

In those younger years, I fell in love with photography and writing. I wrote for the San Francisco Teen newspaper and was honored to have my poetry published in a few literary anthologies. In college, at San Francisco State University, I pursued Journalism as a field of study. Truthfully, at that age, I had a little more fun taking Jazz, Afro-Haitian, and Modern Dance. I’m excited to return to my roots as a writer.

I am also educated, trained, certified and experienced as an Information Technology, Project and Operations Management professional. In recent years, I joined the Board of Directors at the District 5 Democratic Club, the San Francisco Black Leadership Forum, the Willie B. Kennedy Democratic Club, Alice B. Toklas serving on the communications committee. I am the Founder and President of San Francisco Black Community Matters. I volunteer at the Bayard Rustin Coalition as a project manager focusing on organizational development. I have also served on the Board of Directors at San Francisco Pride, Sacred Space. 2014 marked my third year of participation in AIDS/LifeCycle.

I have served our community on our Human Rights Committee — LGBT Advisory, Sunshine Task Force. I contribute to our community through my writing, photography and speaking publicly on the issues that impact our society. I represent the socially marginalized and economically impacted because I come from and preserved through these experiences.

I enjoy working with the community, organizing events, creating community development plans and building coalitions. I am proud to have promoted awareness of, and raised over ten thousand dollars of funding for, various causes. I have endeavored to do so in ways that support and highlight our heritage, local artists, and native cultures.

Here in the city, our communities are evolving at exponential rates. The inequities of this change for a multitude of groups of all ethnic and economic backgrounds have compelled me to get involved. To obtain a real-world education in public service and political process, I made a conscious decision.

Some years ago, I vowed to take an active role in our community, to help guide that evolution by interacting with all of our diverse groups. I hope to lead by example and motivate a younger generation to join me. Let’s all participate in shaping the future by affecting positive change in our society. The first steps on my journey have taught me valuable lessons. I want to thank all who have helped me along the way, especially the Bay Times for giving me a voice and helping me to share the experiences and perspective of an Old School San Francisco Native.

The quickest route to failure is not to try.

Believe we can connect on issues important to San Franciscans?

Let’s work together.

To become involved in making a difference.

255121834679766

Like you, I’m fighting for a better future, for my family, the community and for the health of our human society.  Together, I have fought with you for justice and progress in matters of; social justice, human rights, civil rights, open government, public health and safety, homeless services, worker rights and workforce development, community heritage, and preservation.

Follow me online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @HainesForSF

Fighting HIV for my Community

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Growing up in San Francisco, HIV/AIDS made a lasting impact on my life as a gay black man. I grew up in an era long before PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, an effective treatment-as-prevention option for men who have sex with men.). I grew up in the era of Pedro Zamora and movies like Philadelphia. This era was horrifying and left me with many doubts about my life expectancy as a gay black man. As a closeted 14-year-old, my view of being a gay man in San Francisco was colored with visions of death and illness. An entire generation of gay men in major cities like San Francisco and New York were dead or dying.

https://youtu.be/apyNIfzpm5k

img_1457The United States government and our political leadership at the time did nothing to even acknowledge, let alone address, the epidemic. Officials initially coined the disease “Gay Related Immune Disease” or GRID, and the world left us to die. I grew up assuming my life would end like that of the generation that came before me — outcast and without support.

As I grew up, I attended my first San Francisco Pride after being kicked out of the family house. I saw what our community was really like: resilient and strong despite overwhelming oppression, which gave rise to generations of LGBT activists and allies. As it became apparent that activism runs deep in my blood, my first efforts were to fight the spread of HIV by educating and organizing the African-American community so that they know that someone who looked like them cared.10858564_327264910798791_8104533255945633381_n

Over the last many years, I became an African-American face in the fight against HIV/AIDS because there were no such examples in my youth. I stand in support of my brothers and sisters because HIV/AIDS is still a major issue in communities of color (African American and Latino) which have HIV acquisition and transmission rates that higher than other ethnic communities. I work actively to educate and bring resources into our communities to do my part to end this disease.

I am proud of nearly a decade of service in various capacities through San Francisco AIDS Foundation as a veteran AIDS/LifeCycle rider, Seismic Challenge rider, Surf City AIDS Ride rider and spokesperson with the Center for Disease Control through their program Testing Makes Us Stronger. I am happy to promote the work of Bridge HIV, Strut, Magnet, and many other local organizations that support our community in preventing the spread of and treating this disease. I look forward to the day when we have a cure, when none of us live in fear or stigma, and when none of us lack access to resources such as PrEP.
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Why we need to break down the exclusivity of the Democratic Party.

To create a Democratic Party that feels inclusive, new representatives in our leadership must illustrate that they understand the consequences of our party politics, policies and resolutions on the most vulnerable people in our society. For the democratic party to truly be the “party of the people” we must also stop expecting to receive support from the minority communities that we don’t often engage with simply because we believe we may be the safer option when it comes time to vote.

Several prominent attendees at the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ annual retreat concluded that “the Democratic Party has a race problem”. I can draw from my own experiences, on this note, as recently as our San Francisco Assembly District Delegate elections. Our local party leaders and those hoping to become elected to the state party as Delegates organized slates. From my perspective and after several disappointing conversations, I see problems around issues in political vision, race, class, and privilege. These issues were not fun to discuss but are vital to overcoming the deeply seeded issues. If we are to become more inclusive and achieve true party unity we must take steps to address them head-on.

As a gay, African American with Native American and Haitian ancestor and Muslim heritage represented throughout my family. I have become very vocal on these issues as they present themselves in how our party operates. My ethnic and sexual identities are not my politics. My history of overcoming hardship which includes repeated displacement from jobs through workplace discrimination and displacement from my housing through the related economic instability and subsequent homelessness at various points in my life. These are the issues that I seek to impact and improve upon for others. My political vision of change is rooted in those hardships.

My advocacy is toward creating solutions to the same issues that have impacted my life, but for everyone in our community. Using my personal experience as a platform to this end allows me to give a voice to many people. I will use these positions to impact party policy in a way that would illustrate great empathy. This voice and my perspective influence people who share my experiences to become active in civic engagement and more importantly those who have never had to persevere through such problems to better understand the issues.

What lead to a Donald Trump presidency and the rise of the Republican Party and its deplorable values, vision, and character is symbolic of a deeper issue in our society. The “us against them”, “divide to conquer” mentality has led to ugly divisiveness in our country and Democrat-on-Democrat acts of physical violence — yes I have seen Democrats physically assault other Democrats. We are losing the war because our party leadership lacks a strong emphasis on the value of inclusivity and has become exclusive to only those who can afford to buy their way into the system or those who will compromise their values and “play along to get along”. Sadly, if you don’t have a seat at the table, you are usually on the menu.

The leadership structures of our party are out of reach to the new “average citizen.” Democrats of every flavor are earning a negative reputation of exclusivity and are often criticized for ignoring the needs and concerns of the most vulnerable in our communities by these same constituencies. This is because our vulnerable community can’t pay to play in the same ways that our political machinery has grown to operate.

The presidential election should be a wake-up call to us all. With our Presidential Election, tragically, illustrated that our country will not follow a Democratic leadership that isn’t directly engaging the communities and offering solutions to the problems of the 99%. Simultaneously, democratic leaders expected the growing number of people who are experiencing very hard times in this country to support our party endorsed candidates simply because they call themselves a Democrat (progressive or moderate).

The number of people who are vulnerable in terms of economics — housing security, job security etc. yet voted for Trump regardless of how the Republican Party agenda conflicts with our fundamental need to have a government that is responsive to the people to create accessible opportunities that support for all its citizens. This is indicative of the systemic issues inherent in a toxically exclusive Democratic Party.

U.S. citizens are losing faith in Democrats to be the “party of the people.” Voters that are registering as independent are surging in step with growing voter apathy and complacency is increasing at a startling pace. The exclusivity of our party has been driving us in this direction for far too long, resulting in the absurdity that is the Trump presidency. While we have been fighting among ourselves (the Bernie and Hillary divide), we took our eyes off the prize — which is growing unity and building our party’s strength in numbers in key constituencies.

As we gear up for the 2018 midterms and subsequent battles for control of our nation’s leadership, few of our future candidates seem to truly represent the experience of our people that are living with extreme hardship. Our party will continue to crumble if Democrats do not represent and engage the very people upon which this country runs — minorities, immigrants, and our youth. Those demographics that we often socially marginalize and that are often negatively economically impacted historically report feeling ignored by our party leadership. They are often never afforded a seat at the table without untenable self-compromise. Then what happens?

I became motivated to seek seats at different levels of our Democratic Party leadership because I feel that an important perspective is missing: the experiences of the foundation of our community which includes the suppressed, the impoverished, the homeless and the imprisoned. All of these groups also include different minority ethnicities. As a combined collective, they comprise the fastest growing segment of our society. Yet, as Democrats, we repeatedly fail to adequately engage and address the concerns of these people, until their central issues become so inescapable, economically privileged classes begin to agonize over the inconveniences that interrupt their pleasures — for instances homelessness and the idea that minorities are taking away jobs and opportunity from white men and women. That’s the ultimate slap in the face that drives people away from our party.

When and where it counts, we know that major decisions that affect our lives are being made by a chosen few who by comparison often enjoy very privileged life experiences. The growing majority — the voices, experiences, and lives of the impacted and marginalized simply don’t seem to matter as much in a society that prioritizes economics. We learned that a growing majority of our country may not have cared to vote because they believe our system isn’t built to include them. This is why large numbers of African Americans, Latinos, and other historically marginalized ethnic minority groups tend to opt out, especially those who are also locked into low-income communities.

Our systems are indeed built around individuals with economic privilege, access, and favoritism. The pattern of disillusionment because of the inequity that this causes repeats and it’s growing larger with each generation. While the issues and concerns of the wealthy and influential continue to be given preferential treatment by political elites, everyone else is literally left out in the cold.

If we hope to achieve victory it must be won through the inclusivity of our party. I believe that Democrats must focus on grooming representatives that aren’t a reflection of the same disparate social classes and economic elitism that has become so prevalent in our society. We must accept the hardest lesson of the 2016 presidential election: we cannot afford to continue to be so exclusive that our party suffocates.

If we want to grow our party, we must evolve to include and value less-privileged life experiences in our party leadership. These representatives will be better suited to help our us refocus our outreach efforts. These representatives will also be able to engage deeper into neglected communities because they know what neglect feels like and how it damages our communities.

This will result in a government that is appropriately responsive to the needs and expectations or our civilization. If we can accomplish this objective of becoming a party that is inclusive of these experiences in our leadership, people in our society will feel less abandoned because they will finally see someone that has walked in their footsteps. This kind of representative will better understand the barriers to active participation in civic engagement by people from communities that know hardship. This kind of representation can will have a great ability to break down the systems that exclude valuable people and their experiences.

The investments of the previous generations to protect, defend, and provide opportunities for our future are being dismantled. We must defend the defenseless, disregarded, and marginalized from the harm that Trump and his agenda seek to cause. We must also be prepared to counteract the negative impacts that bad Democratic policy will have on our society.

To create equity and stand for justice our party should switch gears and support leadership that is multicultural and capable of empathizing and understanding the experiences of the impoverished and communities of color that are negatively impacted by public policy that make it difficult to overcome issues such as poverty, homelessness, and gentrification. To represent the people in any official or elected capacity, your very presence must engender this ability to inspire the great masses of disenchanted citizens. This will be the true revolution of the people.

Believe we can connect on issues important to San Franciscans?

Let’s work together.

To become involved in making a difference.

255121834679766

Like you, I’m fighting for a better future, for my family, the community and for the health of our human society.  Together, I have fought with you for justice and progress in matters of; social justice, human rights, civil rights, open government, public health and safety, homeless services, worker rights and workforce development, community heritage, and preservation.

Follow me online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @HainesForSF

Exerpts from Real Talk: What Now? Mobilizing over the next 4 years,

aada3-1ubmhf1nfk_ybjmc8yc7osaSan Francisco community comes out in force to talk about Trump & how to be an activist — San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

“Shaun Haines, a multicultural Black and Native American panelist with Muslim heritage, also cited an increased worry about personal safety and racially-motivated crime and discrimination. “I know in the Haight there were signs representing the KKK. Walking around as an African American man, it’s a challenge.”

“Haines said that he does yoga and energy work like chanting. He also emphasized the importance of more personal contact, like hugging.”

“When I hug and kiss you, it’s because I need that love,” he said.

“Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself,” Siever said. “If you don’t forgive yourself, you’ll burn out.”

“Direct person-to-person contact is how you will change hearts and minds,” said Haines

Strut panel talks healing during Trump era

Published 01/26/2017

by David-Elijah Nahmod


Shaun has overcome great adversities such as homelessness at age 19. As an African American Gay man, Shaun fights for all San Franciscans but especially those who feel locked out of the system rejected and marginalized.

Believe we can connect on issues important to San Franciscans?

Let’s work together.

To become involved in making a difference.

255121834679766

Like you, I’m fighting for a better future, for my family, the community and for the health of our human society.  Together, I have fought with you for justice and progress in matters of; social justice, human rights, civil rights, open government, public health and safety, homeless services, worker rights and workforce development, community heritage, and preservation.

Follow me online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @HainesForSF