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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Racial Justice
Newsom’s San Francisco: Most Racist City in California
Will you be joining me Saturday morning at Whitney Young Child Development Center for our rally at 9:30 and then a meeting with the mayor that he describes as “an in-depth community discussion”? It should be interesting.
Especially considering the thick new report that the nine-member Black Caucus of the California Legislature – the most Black representation ever – released Jan. 31. It’s called “The State of Black California,” and it finds that the disparity between Blacks and whites is much bigger in San Francisco than anywhere else in the state.
Listen to this: In the most expensive city in the world, Blacks’ per capita income is less than half – only 44 percent – that of whites. No wonder 35,000 Black San Franciscans have been pushed out of the city since 1990.
Here in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco’s last Black homeland, where all signs point to a concerted City Hall policy to push out all Black people and where, to that end, police are ordered to “saturate” our neighborhood while their helicopters hang heavy every day over our heads and, when we don’t seem scared enough, they terrorize us with a tank and call in the snipers to shoot our children in the back, we know we’re more likely to get arrested here than just about anyplace else on earth.
And now the report tells us exactly how likely: The felony arrest rate for Black San Franciscans – the proportion of us who are arrested and accused of a felony – is 13.95 percent! That compares with a felony arrest rate for Asians of .62 percent, Latinos of 2.85 percent and whites of 2 percent.
You’re not imagining it – that IS a boot on your neck, a racist boot.
Just like the Navy that experimented on people and animals at the Hunters Point Shipyard’s Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory to discover how much radioactive poison they could survive, City Hall is testing us to discover how much racism we can take before we either leave or stand our ground and resist.
Is there a cause and effect correlation between our extremely low incomes and our extremely high arrest rate? Of course there is.
When residents of Alice Griffith (Double Rock) public housing testified Monday at City Hall on whether their homes should be sacrificed for Lennar’s upscale housing and 49er fans’ tailgating parties, Mother Laboria P. Smoore, who has lived there for decades, said no. Instead, she told the Supervisors, “We want our young men to have jobs, not be jailed over and over again.”
Black Commentator columnist Anthony Asadullah Samad nailed the correlation too when he reviewed “The State of Black California” this week at http://www.blackcommentator.com: “Racism has always been economic, as competition for jobs, housing, education and business capital (or farming subsidies) was always the basis for political and social exclusion.
“It’s the same with Black America. Economics continues to be the area
where Blacks are most disadvantaged, and most unequal. Economics dictates housing, health care, education and one’s ability to confront the criminal justice system. Competition issues still dictate these socio-economic factors, as those with resources haven’t been willing to deconstruct barriers that allow for full access to equality.”
Our incessant struggle to survive poverty and the police is not caused by some genetic tendency to be lazy and criminal. It’s caused by the barriers erected by “those with resources” – i.e., money – who want us outta here. They know that ingenious Black people have always made a way out of no way, have always found a way over, under, around or through their barriers.
Here are a few quotes from the report describing those barriers:
On equality: “The relatively lower score of blacks in San Francisco is propelled mostly by their worse outcomes in economics and education. If it were not for blacks’ relatively higher scores in civic participation in San Francisco, the overall Equality Index score for blacks in this metropolitan area would be much lower.” In other words, we’re treated worse but fight back harder.
On economics: “The gap in median household income between blacks and whites is highest in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. In fact, the black/white median household income ratio is lowest in San Francisco …. Racial inequality in unemployment between blacks and whites … is greatest in San Francisco …. The poverty rate of blacks is highest in San Francisco …. Racial inequality in poverty between blacks and whites is significantly greater in Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.”
On housing: “Physical housing conditions faced by blacks are worse in San Francisco.”
On health: “Blacks’ death rates are highest in San Jose, San Francisco and the Inland Empire …. In California, blacks’ infant death rate at 11.6 per 1,000 live births is significantly higher than that of whites at 4.8.” San Francisco is one of four cities with the worst Black infant death rates.
On education: “Blacks’ outcomes relative to those of whites are much worse in the Bay Area, in both Oakland and San Francisco, due to greater racial inequality in course quality, test scores and high school dropout rates.” “Racial inequality in college completion between blacks and whites is greatest in San Francisco.”
On criminal justice: “Blacks’ felony arrest rate is highest absolutely in San Francisco at 14 percent …. Blacks have the highest misdemeanor arrest rate in San Francisco at 11 percent.”
On civic participation: “(I)n California, blacks’ civic participation levels are higher than that of whites … particularly … in San Francisco.”
We need to tell Mayor Newsom about some of the remedies our Black legislators recommend. One that I’ve long advocated is for the City to hire from low-income neighborhoods for public works construction.
Remember Third Street light rail, how we couldn’t get closer to a job than to stand on the sidewalk and watch? San Francisco spends billions of our tax dollars on construction every year and locks us out of the jobs. Let’s see if Mayor Newsom can lie his way out of that.
Other recommendations are construction trades training in school, more technology training, re-entry programs for parolees, balancing penalties for crack and powder cocaine, lifting bans to employment for ex-offenders, vocational training in jails and prisons, using schools for community programs after school, assisting low-income families with down payments, expanding community health clinics, funding affordable housing, and reducing the disparity in HIV/AIDS, homicides, infant mortality, foster care and school dropouts.
As a contractor for 42 years, I especially like the recommendation to expand contracting opportunities for Blacks. That’s a big barrier breaker, because Black contractors hire Black workers. Construction wages can support extended families and dramatically improve the economy of Black neighborhoods almost overnight.
“I don’t want nobody to give me nothing. Open up the door; I’ll get it myself,” said James Brown. If Mayor Newsom won’t commit to opening up the doors to Blacks in construction and development – not with empty promises but with real jobs and contracts and financing – then he is San Francisco’s No. 1 racist. He’s already the mayor of the most racist city in the state.
This week marks my 15th anniversary as publisher of the Bay View. In the next 15 years, I want to see the racist exodus of Blacks from San Francisco turn completely around and the Black population grow bigger than ever and organize to fight for justice and win. Will you join me? Let’s get started Saturday morning, when we meet the mayor and make him confront his own racism and the racism that is killing the soul of San Francisco.
Contact Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff at (415) 671-0789 or publisher [at] sfbayview.com.