AFRICANGLOBE – Another Black History Month with pomp, circumstance and countless hollow speeches has been taking place all over San Francisco. Does anyone notice it is only a matter of time until Black people living in San Francisco will become history?
The 1970 Black population of “everyone’s favorite city” was a hundred thousand, according to city records. The latest census says Blacks account for just under 47,000 of the city’s 825,000 people.
Cost of living is blamed for Blacks leaving but, as a longtime resident, I am skeptical. This has been going on for more than 40 years. I see cleverly camouflaged racism, a condescending attitude towards Black residents, disrespect and a pattern of marginalization coming from City Hall as the root causes of so many to pack up and leave.
When the San Francisco Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in the 1950s, of all people, Willie Mays was denied the opportunity to purchase a home in the neighborhood he preferred simply because of the color of his skin. For the same reason, my father in 1963 had to purchase his San Francisco home in the name of a White female friend.
Blacks should be warned. Considering a move to San Francisco for a place to call home? Don’t do it! Unless you are a glutton for the punishment due to marginalization and disrespect, you stand little chance of taking full advantage of the pursuit of happiness in San Francisco.
San Francisco has not changed from the city that rolled out the unwelcome mats for the great Willie Mays, my father and countless thousands who answered the call of “Go West, young man, go West.” What has changed is the fact that the ill treatment of Blacks in San Francisco today comes with a very deceptive smile.
In 2009, former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom commissioned a Black out-migration study that resulted in a detailed report from a who’s who list of experts on everything San Francisco. This report, updated in 2012, is now the responsibility of current Mayor Edwin Lee, a former civil rights attorney.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC), first formed in 1964 to deal with the discrimination against Blacks at the time, is set to commemorate 50 years of fighting against discrimination in the city.
According to my email inbox, in press releases from the HRC’s former chairman, he compared the work of the commission to the work of Nelson Mandela in one statement and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in another and reminded Blacks that this is Black History Month in a third – only fools, fools. Fifty thousand fewer Blacks living in San Francisco in 50 years of HRC fighting discrimination against Blacks does not resemble Dr. King, Nelson Mandela or any other civil rights champion in history, let alone offer any hope for the future.
On Jan. 1, 2014, the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce threatened a boycott of the city’s travel and tourism industry due to the lack of Black business participation in that industry. Call me cynical, but history tells me that all it takes is a few crumbs thrown at the Black chamber and they’d roll over and call the threat of boycott a success after hearing a take-it-or-leave-it statement from White business leaders. So far, however, they’re standing strong.
Finally, when you say Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, you think Black people. Bayview Hunters Point is the last stronghold that Blacks have in the city, even though Blacks do not make up the majority population in this southeastern part of the city. Unfortunately, one might also think crime. Though Bayview Hunters Point has the most stable home ownership of the entire city, most of the news reported from this section of the city is related to young men getting shot and killed or an elderly person who was robbed.
On Jan. 17, 2014, Mayor Ed Lee gave his State of the City address at the old Hunters Point Shipyard. He boasted of his vision for the future of San Francisco, then promised a new housing development for the forgotten part of the city where he stood smiling. In my opinion, he must have known that less than three weeks later another change was coming concerning the Black residents of the city.
A developer selected by a former administration subcontracted the marketing of the redeveloped Hunters Point Shipyard with one major change. With no respect for what the name Hunters Point might mean to the longtime Black residents of the area, the subcontractor announced a new name for the development: “San Francisco Shipyard.”
Unless a Black person is willing to move to San Francisco and contribute to reversing the current trend of disrespect for Blacks by city leaders, I say don’t do it!
Benjamin Franklin said, “Experience is a dear teacher and a fool will learn no other way.”
By: Allen Jones
Mr. Jones is the author of “Case Game: Activating the Activist,” he can be contacted at (415) 756-7733 or via Email at [email protected]. Visit his websites, at http://casegame.squarespace.com and http://sf49erfanrevolt.squarespace.com.