Ethnic Cleansing, San Francisco, and White Supremacy

Last week I read a very good and interesting article (originally published at BlackAgendaReport.com) in the The Bay View a Black owned and operated newspaper based out of Bay View Hunters Point (the most predominate Black neighborhood in the city) which tackles issues effecting the Black community in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and the nation. As the author was writing about gang injunctions imposed on the Latino and Black communities in the Filmore and the Mission district he stated:

Not surprisingly, the City Attorney's injunction list did not include the Downtown Gang, also known as the AWDG (All White Downtown Gang). These gang members virtually control all public policy in San Francisco, including who will live in the City and who will not.

How does one identify members of the Downtown Gang? Well, for starters, like members of all gangs, the AWDG hang out together: at museum galas, society do's, first nighters at the opera and the symphony, parties in Pacific Heights, winter in Tahoe and so forth. But the best way to ID them is to use the old-fashioned follow-the-money method. Pick a politician, check out the big buck contributors and then see whether the politician's policies benefit private sector profit or the public good. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to find a political spear carrier for the AWDG and then the AWDG member who owns and supplies the spears.

This is a very good explanation of describing white privilege and white supremacy in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as in the nation, all one really has to do is follow the money.

The author wrote how when mayor Gavin Newsom was in trouble with his Green Party opponent during his run for mayor, the AWDGs closed ranks:

Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi hit the phones. Republican businessmen rushed to the fore. George Shultz, a Republican flush with new found Bechtel riches from Iraq, opened his wallet, as did the heirs to the Getty oil fortune, who were Newsom's original sponsors. Republicans Charles Schwab and Donald Fisher wrote checks. The Swig and Shorenstein families, real estate developers who had underwritten the activities of local Democrats for years, dialed in their dollars.

And, of course, Newsom won and policies favored by the AWDG continue to flourish during his regime - like the onslaught to quickly privatize the shipyard property, regardless of the health of the residents during construction on this toxic site or the fact that no one in the neighborhood will ever be able to live in the new housing units. In 2006, Lennar Corp. was cited multiple times for failing to monitor and control asbestos dust during the grading phase on Parcel A. Oddly enough, the project was never shut down to correct any non-compliant operations.

Finally, several local African American neighborhood organizations went to City Hall this year to protest this continuing contamination and request that the City red tag the site until safety measures could be enforced. Their request fell upon deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the AWDG, not content with securing a financial stranglehold on future development of public lands, continues to target existing public housing for privatization.

One reason why white people are so blind to their privilege is obviously because one can't really see what one already has. So in order to show someone their privilege you have to break it down in terms they can understand. In this article we can see how white privilege and white supremacy effects whites and people of color in this city. The real movers and shakers in politics are those who (obviously) have money. These people can pump in money to start up "grass-roots" organizations, fund lobbyist groups, wine and dine city officials and supervisors, fund TV, newspaper, radio, and internet ads, as well as gain important spots on the local and national news because of this so called "buzz" their money has generated around a certain issue.

Historically in this country money has flowed from and through the hands of white people with very little trickling down to people of color and those of the underclass. While wage gaps have decreased for some ethnic groups compared to whites, the reality is is that wealth is still in the hands of whites through property, the stock market, trade, etc. Carlo made a good point by using Monopoly as a metaphor. Everyone in the game who passes go collects $200, therefore equal pay, yet those who make the real money and wield the real power are those who own most of the property on the board, collecting the big bucks on every turn as other players land on their property.

Those who effect and shape policy in San Francisco are those who wield the money. Those who wield the money (because of past and present day injustices) are white people. As whites in this city systematically try to gain more capital and create more benefits for themselves people of color get effected by these policies. A capitalist wants to make a profit in land redevelopment. Well than redevelop the cheapest and least cared about part of the city, the Filmore, a Black neighborhood. When the Filmore was bulldozed down hundreds of Black businesses, businesses which generated income for the Black community, were destroyed. In their place came high end apartments and expensive cafes. What happened to the Black community was of little interest to the white politicians at City Hall, the white media, and the white population in the Bay Area. The only way it was looked at by whites was a "redevelopment" and a "rejuvenation."

This of course continues to this day. But before I ramble on any more I recommend you all read the article.

Image From:
Public Broadcasting System (PBS)


TruthWillSetYouFree said...

Jack Stephen’s diatribe regarding “white supremacy” and the woes of the Bayview-Hunter’s Point (BHP) neighborhood are off the mark on so many levels that I feel compelled to respond. The badly flawed spelling and grammar are the first indication of the level that the discourse will take. Couldn’t you at least spell “Bayview” correctly?

Bigoted stereotyping among African Americans who blame all white people for their oppression is just as wrong-headed as white people who consider all black people to be low-life criminals. The real enemy of poor folks—-white and black—-is rich conservatives who get fat on the backs of the lower classes. Unfortunately, bigotry is one of the most effective tools they have for keeping the lower classes down, and people who spew this kind of swill are their handmaidens.

I’ve lived in Bayview almost 10 years, am a history buff, and have researched the history of the BHP neighborhood, as well as, to a lesser extent, the Western Addition. I don’t have time and you don’t have the space for me to go into a long, detailed discussion of the woes of BHP. Suffice to say that during the late 30s and 40s, blacks coming up in the diaspora from the deep South found a better life in BHP and some level of acceptance. Life was good in the neighborhood for several decades, but a large influx of poor blacks from the Western Addition when that neighborhood underwent “urban renewal” and the closing of the shipbuilding and meatpacking industries in BHP caused a serious downturn in the local economy. None of this had anything to do with racism, although the effects were felt deeply within the African American community. Riots following the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King, including rampant, gratuitous destruction of businesses along 3rd St., caused a widespread flight of non-black business owners and residents, inaugurating the grimmest period in BHP history.

Wallowing in a victim mentality is a serious affliction that affects a segment of the African American community, paralyzing them and creating the biggest roadblock to progress. Sure, it feels good to blame all one’s failures on some external boogieman, but it’s also psychologically devastating. To claim that someone else has complete power over one’s life means that you’re weak, ineffectual and hopeless, a state of mind that leads to a lot of rage and mental illness. If you insist that some external force has complete control over you and is the cause of your failures, then you have no ownership of your successes either, and no hope of becoming the agent of your own betterment. If you refuse to look at your own responsibility in your failures, you can’t work toward overcoming them. The Bay View is a really badly written rant that luxuriates in this mentality. Few people in BHP read it-—it’s mostly a case of the choir preaching to the choir and reinforcing their own wrong-headedness. What truth there is in it gets lost in an avalanche of bad, nonobjective writing.

The sad truth is that the biggest cause of decent African Americans evacuating BHP is that they’re escaping from black-on-black violence and crime fomented by thugs and gangbangers. Predictably, whiners like Stephens decry the loss of liberties of gang members, but they ignore the oppression of BHP residents by the low-life element in the neighborhood. He thinks that he’s presenting a compelling argument by name-dropping a bunch of rich white people—-his “white gang.” But he doesn’t give a clear explanation of how specifically all these white people are oppressing the black segment of BHP residents that he presumes to champion. A case could be made for some of them, but he fails to do so and it has nothing to do with ethnic heritage.

Stephens decries the privatization of public land, and it’s true that a better developer than Lennar or a better plan might be developed, but it won’t come from complainers like Stephens or Willie Ratliff (editor of the Bay View). Their whole raison d’etre is to complain, not to provide real solutions. If you press Ratliff, he’ll say that people like him should be put in charge of the development of Hunter’s Point. What a disaster that would be!

With regard to the pollution kicked up by the construction, a study was done at the request of local residents by a disinterested third party, and the finding was that the construction did not cause a serious increase in local health problems. In fact, BHP has had an inordinately dusty and polluted environment long before the construction at Hunter’s Point ever began. Unscrupulous pollution-causing businesses like concrete manufacturers have been allowed to create huge amounts of dust and other pollution, only rarely penalized or forced to stop by the city. Trashy people living in BHP have also been throwing garbage around for years—-small wonder that unscrupulous building contractors don’t feel any qualms about adding their detritus to the mix.

A serious mold problem in the public housing has been one of the most serious causes of health problems among poor residents of Hunter’s Point, but rebuilding of deteriorated housing by a private concern in cooperation with the city holds much promise, especially since George Bush’s federal government refuses to pony up any cash for this. The number of subsidized housing units will not diminish, and adding market-level units to the mix will assure more positive energy in the neighborhoods. It will help poor kids in project housing to have more positive role models than drug dealers, gangbangers and prostitutes. Similar developments in other parts of the country have been extremely successful and considered responsible for turning around high-crime project neighborhoods.

There are many progressive African American residents of BHP who look forward to the redevelopment of the neighborhood as the best hope for the next generation and the best chance for all residents to have a reasonably pleasant environment. Complainers who preach to the choir don’t get this, and they never offer real solutions. Unfortunately, this is the loudest element. As the saying goes, “an empty barrel makes the most noise.”