On MLK Day, Black San Franciscans demand new measures to hold the City accountable

Written by on 01/19/2020

Martin Luther King Jr. promotes his book about the Birmingham Campaign, “Why We Can’t Wait,” at a press conference June 7, 1964. In his immortal “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he wrote that he was in Birmingham because “injustice is here” and that he was demanding immediate change because “‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’” In San Francisco, injustice is here, and we can’t wait for justice until after the last Black San Franciscan has been pushed out and over the bridge. – Photo: Walter Albertin, World Telegram & Sun

by Phelicia Jones, Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community – Justice
4 Mario Woods

As San Francisco politicians gather on Martin Luther King
Jr. Day to celebrate their work over the last year, we are left wondering what
there is to celebrate. Black San Franciscans have been and are still subject to
inexcusable disparities in every aspect of life – including law enforcement,
housing and employment.

Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community – Justice 4
Mario Woods founder Phelicia Jones demands that the leaders holding this annual
event set actionable annual goals with the input of the community, work on them
throughout the year, and present their progress on them at each annual MLK Jr. Day
Breakfast event. Only by achieving goals that improve the lives of Black San Franciscans
will there be anything to celebrate regarding racial equity in San Francisco.

Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community – Justice 4 Mario
Woods is joined at this event by ally groups Democratic Socialists of America
(SF), SF Berniecrats as well as San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, other
Black community members and more.

San Francisco leaders have “said that they’re working on
these issues, but after three reports in 55 years studying Black people in
regard to racism, Black San Franciscans are worse off than ever before,” Jones
stated. Jones acknowledges that the Board of Supervisors recently created
a new department to study racial inequality; however, she notes that it fits
into a long-standing pattern of the City gathering data, rather than taking
action.

“My hope,” said Jones, “is that this will not be just
another department with a catchy name which provides no equality, no equity and
no justice for Black San Franciscans.” It is now past time for action, not more
studies.

Dr. King said, “It may well be that we will have to repent
in this generation … for the appalling silence and indifference of the good
people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.’”

Surrounded by supporters, Wealth and Disparities in the Black Community – Justice 4 Mario Woods founder Phelicia Jones, speaking at a City Hall press conference on Nov. 27, 2018, condemns racism in City employment. In many City jobs that Blacks fought long and hard for, such as Muni driver, they are now rarely seen. Raising such basic issues and demanding they be addressed and resolved is the work she wants more City leaders of all colors to join in. – Photo: Kevin N. Hume, SF Examiner

Statistics show appalling disparities for Black San
Franciscans, and no significant improvement:

  • In 2019, the average Black
    city worker made 73 cents
    for every dollar a white worker earned, which was identical to the rates
    in 2018
    and 2017;
  • Black San Franciscans were
    arrested at a rate 10
    times higher than white people in 2019, worse than the 9
    times ratio in 2016, when the data was first collected;
  • Black San Franciscans were
    targets of police use of force 13
    times more often than white people in 2019, little improvement from the
    rate of 14
    times in 2016, when the data was first collected;
  • In 2019, Black people
    accounted for 37
    percent
    of the homeless population (while representing less than 5
    percent
    of the overall population), worse than the 34
    percent
    rate in 2017;
  • In addition, year after
    year, Black people have made up a disproportionately high number of those
    booked into San Francisco jail, serving longer time and harsher sentences.

“We demand that City Supervisors work to keep Black folks in
San Francisco and to improve their quality of life. We demand that they pass
policies to immediately relieve the disparities. We demand that the City show
us what they have or have not been doing. Just ‘collecting data’ isn’t good
enough,” Jones said.

A press conference will be held before the annual breakfast,
at 7:30-8:00 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, at the Marriott Marquis, 780
Mission St., San Francisco.

“Let nobody give you the impression that the problem of
racial injustice will work itself out. Let nobody give you the impression that
only time will solve the problem.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Contact Wealth and
Disparities in the Black Community – Justice 4 Mario Woods founder Phelicia
Jones at  mwjusticenow@gmail.com.

PHOTO: Martin Luther King promotes ‘Why We Can’t Wait’ at
press conf 060764 by Walter Albertin, World Telegram & Sun

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PHOTO: Phelicia Jones, SEIU Local 1021 condemn racism in
City employment 112718 by Kevin N. Hume, SF Examiner (19)

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Source: San Francisco Bay View


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