(Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Next week, a group of Bay Area non-profits, businesses and African-American leaders will gather for a “State of the Race” convention to discuss strategies to improve the quality of life and economic status of local African-Americans. The meeting follows the release of data indicating high levels of economic distress and Black population flight from some Bay Area cities.

Guests:
Jason Trimiew, director of business development for the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF)
Shawn Ginwright, associate professor of education in the Africana Studies Department and senior research associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University
Lena Miller, founder and co-executive director of Hunter's Point Family, a community-based development organization for at-risk Bayview Hunter's Point families
Jennifer B. Lyle, chief of operations for Building Blocks for Kids Collaborative, which focuses on the success of young people and their families living in Richmond's Iron Triangle

  • erictremont

    If a right-wing city experienced the level of Black flight that Oakland and San Francisco have experienced in recent years, the city’s political establishment would be accused of racial and ethnic cleansing.  Obviously, the misguided housing, education, law enforcement, and economic policies that Oakland and San Francisco have implemented have been a disaster for their Black communties.  When will the denialism stop?  Probably never.

    • Pittsburg’er

      Where exactly is that right-wing city with a signficant enough African American population to experience flight?

      • erictremont

        I am not sure if such a city actually exists, but my point is this: let’s pretend that Charlotte NC had a right wing mayor and city council, and it adopted policies which made housing more expensive, made schools more dysfunctional, and made crime go up, etc.  As a result of these policies, Blacks fled the city in droves.  I maintain that if such a scenario played out, the mayor and city council would be accused of promoting policies that amounted to racial and ethnic cleansing.

  • raymond

    I just want to say there are positive things happening in Richmond.
    Last Sunday, Richmond’s only bike shop Richmond Spokes had a grand opening with music, free food and even the mayor showed up. I was there,
    and it was a really positive, racially mixed group, and by the way, their executive director is black and has developed a program where kids learn how to fix bikes and gain an entrepreneurial spirit while doing so giving them a positive role model to what is possible.

  • Michele Rutherford

    The panelists are spot on related to the issues of what needs to be done differently.  I have worked on Family and Children’s issues in communities of color, particularly Bayview Hunters Point and Visitation Valley, over the past 20 years.  We are losing our infrastructure of black institutions which is who the families and community trust.   Moreover, we need to start with families when their children are young, providing hope, much like Jeffrey Canada has done in Harlem.  Early interventions and helping children and their families arrive at school confident, socialized and ready to succeed in school is an important formula for turning things around.  There are MANY public policies that don’t support this, but we are moving in the right direction.  Having partners anchored in the community is essential in making this work happen and in building trust.   Making sure families in low income families have access to quality early care and education is critical. This means ensuring that we are reaching and supporting the providers that are caring for children and that all families have access to affordable quality care that includes family support and peer support.  I agree with the panelist’s points about the healing that is needed, including physical and psychic healing.  How do we get access to the conference to connect resources with those who are instilling hope?

  • I have
    spent the better part of 27 years working in Bayview Hunters Point. It has been
    a rewarding but highly frustrating part of my career. Rewarding because BVHP is
    a neighborhood deeply rich in diversity, culture and community. Frustrating
    because it is a highly victimized community whose problems are increasing even
    as programs originally intended to improve the lot of residents are implemented
    and prove either ineffectual or actually deleterious the interests of the
    neighborhood.

    As to the
    programs, the government of the City of San Francisco has played an enormous
    and largely negative role. From actively misleading the neighborhood about the
    benefits of large development projects to actively dismantling community based
    capacity for providing employment referrals and the like in favor of City Hall
    based programs that don’t understand the neighborhood and instead partner with
    large regional and national nonprofits that are easier to manage but not as
    effective with problem solving. City Hall can claim that it is the current recession that has undermined its redevelopment and employment strategies, but as a witness to the community in fat years and lean, it is hard to see anything other than a continuing worsening cycle that is driving people from San Francisco rather than allowing this neighborhood to remain their home. The culture of knowing better than those of us
    in the neighborhood and the crushing of the local capacity the City has been engaged
    in over the last six years has been one big reasons problem solving has been
    difficult here.

    Another
    contributing factor is that San Francisco itself does not value its African
    American community. This problem goes beyond classic racism to a pervasive
    disinterest in addressing problems that from the outside appear intractable or
    worse that distract from people’s other interests. Two years ago when the
    question came up over the sale of a portion of Candlestick Point State
    Recreational Area to Lennar for development, we surveyed people at the City’s
    other major parks to learn how they would react if a portion of Golden Gate
    Park or Crissy Field or our other parks were placed on the block. We were
    dismayed at how many people strongly opposed the concept of selling parks
    outside of Bayview, but didn’t go to or care about parks in that community.
    Many of these individuals would never qualify as a classic racist, indeed some
    were accompanied by African American friends, but the failure to see BVHP as
    part of the City and its system of parks and recreational spaces as part of the
    larger San Francisco community was highly disturbing.

    I applaud
    the work of the fine organizations invited to Forum today. Nevertheless their existence,
    just as the existence of the organization I work for, is more of a confirmation
    of the problem.  Our work bandages on wounds caused by a deeper
    illness and inequity San Francisco and our larger society does not as yet care to
    seriously address.  What we have today in BVHP is the image and form of committment, what we need is support for the functions of change.

  • Since when is panelist Lena Miller African-American? Just curious. No disrespect intended.

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