Black San Franciscans protest growing poverty as rich San Franciscans meet President Obama and Kanye West
The Democratic fundraiser featuring President Obama and Kanye West at the storied Warfield in San Francisco this Saturday, Oct. 10, offers an opportunity for two of America’s most successful African Americans to raise millions of dollars for their causes.
San Francisco NAACP President Amos Brown meets with the Board of Supervisors about the growing racial income disparity in the city. – Photo: Scott Strazzante, SF Chronicle
But the question remains: When will their causes truly align with those of African Americans who continue to be left behind in our community?
This Saturday’s concert is not a time to line up to sit down for a show. It is time for African Americans to stand up and demand a far better showing of support for our people from all sectors and levels of civic responsibility.
Over the years, poetic displays by both West and the President have instilled hope and promise for a better future for all Americans, but just last weekend the San Francisco Chronicle recited a far less inspiring truth. As a vast majority of San Franciscans watched their incomes rise in our increasingly wealthy city, African Americans have seen their earnings decline, according to the newspaper.
White household income rose by 14 percent to $104,300 annually since 2011. Asians and Latino households also saw increases during the same period. As for our people, median household income fell by nearly 5 percent to an unlivable $29,500.
As a vast majority of San Franciscans watched their incomes rise in our increasingly wealthy city, African Americans have seen their earnings decline to an unlivable $29,500.
This should be viewed as an embarrassment and frankly a crime. But it is a rousing success for those who appear insistent on obliterating African American culture in a powerful city and region that we played a central part in building.
We were recruited from all over the nation to build and unload ships at Bay Area shipyards during World War II and then passed over for the few jobs that remained once those shipyards closed. We were left to rot without opportunity or hope in jobless ghettos.
Our contributions enabled the Bay Area to transform into the technology powerhouse it is today, but instead of jobs, education and opportunities for affordable housing, we were rewarded with a failed urban renewal plan that did nothing more than cut our population in this city in half.
Now two of the most powerful and influential African American celebrities will share a San Francisco stage in an attempt to unify their supporters. Who will they talk to? Whose support are they looking to court? Certainly not ours.
At $29,500 per year, we cannot be expected to pay for tickets that cost between $250 and $10,000. Think about it: A ticket for an event featuring African Americans costs a third of what most African Americans earn in San Francisco in an entire year.
Think about it: A ticket for an event featuring African Americans costs a third of what most African Americans earn in San Francisco in an entire year.
While few of us will be able to join the party inside, we must view the president’s visit as an opportunity to voice our opinions from the outside – a position to which we have unfortunately become accustomed.
We say let them play their music. Let them make their speeches. Let them get their crowd going. That is fine, because we will be louder.
I’m calling on all of our brothers and sisters, no matter what color and ethnicity, to assemble outside the Warfield this Saturday so that we may walk to the beat of our own drum, make our own speeches and mobilize our own crowd against the injustices that have not been addressed. We must take a page out of Mr. West’s celebrity playbook by grabbing the proverbial microphone from the hands of this Democratic fundraiser in order to talk about the issues that truly deserve our attention.
I’m calling on all of our brothers and sisters, no matter what color and ethnicity, to assemble outside the Warfield this Saturday so that we may walk to the beat of our own drum, make our own speeches and mobilize our own crowd against the injustices that have not been addressed.
Nothing would be more poetic than to see the president and Mr. West take the stage and acknowledge us. So few of us remain in San Francisco, and that’s why it is so important for all of us to be there so that we are heard at last.
A rally will be held in front of the Warfield Theater, located at 982 Market St., San Francisco, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, to protest the long-term inherent racism toward African Americans in the city of San Francisco.
Dr. Amos C. Brown, President, NAACP San Francisco Branch
Carletta Jackson-Lane, Sojourner Truth Foster Family Service Agency