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San Francisco | Racial Justice

SF Blacks Have to Fight SF Human Rights Commission for Human Rights
by Allen Jones ( jones-allen [at] att.net )
Saturday Aug 16th, 2014 5:01 PM
Like many other major cities in America, San Francisco is losing its Black residents. However, the reason most point to is economics but I say it is a lack of respect that has caused so many to leave.
I am a former member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission's Equity Advisory Committee. In my short time on this committee I can honestly say the entire, current seven member SF HRC commissioners, should be replaced.

Simply put, as a Black homosexual myself, I see this commission is only concerned with gay causes, at a time when the SF Black community really needs The City to stand up for human rights violation against Blacks in San Francisco.

Any reasonable person would not object to the Human Rights Commission, which was first formed in 1964 to fight discrimination against SF Blacks to, expand the fight against all forms of discrimination in the city. However, it appears, for quite some time that Blacks dealing with discrimination in The City are a low priority.

Walk onto the 8th floor office of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission located at 25 Van Ness Ave. and you will notice to the left, two chairs separated by a table that holds various human rights related reading material. One such item is our own monthly San Francisco BayView Newspaper.

The July 2014 issue contains the sad story of Daryle Washington, who gave up his job with Recology Corp. of San Francisco. This father of five could no longer endure the work stress after reporting a White co-worker, who hung a noose on the job some seven months earlier.

The fact that Mr. Washington could get no help resolving the matter with his employer that has a contract with The City led him to seek remedy from litigation. The SF HRC, which has jurisdiction over this kind of harassment but judging the way the SF HRC handled other incidents of a noose, Mr. Washington would only be wasting energy if he was to file a report with this city agency.

March 4, 2014, I sat in the 8th floor conference area of the HRC for a pre-scheduled meeting with commissioners, Susan Christian, Sheryl Davis and the commission's "Equity Advisory Committee" facilitator Zoe Polk to discuss matters of Black oppression. As we were waiting for the meeting to begin,, HRC Director Teresa Sparks a White transgender was discussing with Commissioner Susan Christian a Black lesbian and current chair of the commission, how best to cut a check of support---I think I heard the sum of $1,500.00 but I honestly do not remember the amount--- for a teenaged transgender.

This Contra Costa County high school-er accused boys from her school of sexual assault. I could tell the commissioners were unaware of the latest news. The transgender teen made up the whole story. Therefore, I broke the news to them and they dropped the matter.

What are the chances that the director of the HRC Ms. Sparks and HRC Commissioner Christian would read the story in their office of, Mr. Washington, a father of five, who did not make up a story of harassment. The thought of cutting Mr. Washington a check of support in his time of need is impossible. In my opinion it is because the leadership of SF HRC prioritizes based on sexual orientation.

A Black man living in San Francisco cannot call on the SF Human Rights Commission to resolve a race based harassment dispute with his employer. The SF Human Rights Commission's White Executive Director Theresa Sparks, cost The City $210,000.00. In 2013 the SF Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to settle a discrimination suit from a former Black HRC staffer.

The San Francisco Black community needs to take action against the lack of leadership from Mayor Ed Lee and the SF Board of Supervisors for their continued support of this commission and its Executive Director or at the very least, rename it.

If those from the LGBT community remain silent on this issue it would not surprise many in the Black community one bit. A large portion of the Black community is homophobic, however, the LGBT community could help if they would only practice what they preach, "Equality for All."

By not allowing our elected officials to continue to take our human rights agency and turn it into the Gay Cause Commission would be a start.