Gentrification Wins in SF w/ Low Voter Turnout

Davey-D-purple-frameNovember 4 2015 Well the 2015 elections in San Francisco are over and it looks like it was a big night for tech billionaires like Ron Conway along with big developers, greedy landlords and AIRBnB who he backed. Measure F and lost.

In short, GENTRIFICATION won big last night. It will stay alive and well and contrary to what many would like to believe those victories garnered by gentrifiers didn’t happen because of the record millions that was spent.  Measure F which would’ve allowed people to sue AIRBnB for illegal/unregistered listings didn’t lose because we saw commercial after commercial on TV every 5 minutes claiming the measure went ’too far’.

Measure I which would’ve put a stop to luxury condos in the historic Mission district didn’t lose because local politicians like Mayor Ed Lee opposed it on the behest of the developers who own and control him… It lost because in spite of the importance of these measures and the long term impact they will have on folks who are struggling day to day and in spite of all the attention nationally and locally they had, you still have 50-60% of the people who are eligible and registered to vote, stay home. You can look at the map precinct by precinct here if you think I’m lying:

In a recent interview, long time journalist Tim Redmond of 48 Hills said everything in yesterday’s election hinged on voter turnout..Whoever can turnout their people to pull the lever will determine direction of San Francisco Gentrifiers stepped up.. Those suffering under gentrification did not bring the numbers needed to turn the tide..

Now folks can get all philosophical and give all sorts of excuses about how both parties are controlled by the same people.. And how the system is corrupt and blah, blah, blah.. We heard it all before.  It’s bullshyt with respect to this.. On the ballot were important Measures put forth by people in the community..  Folks organized, held massive rallies and marches and went down to city hall to pressure and demand that the city put moratoriums on luxury condos..

Supervisors looked out at the packed room filled with angry citizens desperately trying to hold on to their homes and community and sided with developers.. Organizers went back looked at a variety of strategies and took advantage of the citizen ballot initiative process which isn’t even available in many cities and states around the country.. They gathered the signatures, got the Measure on the ballot.. They didn’t get corporate funding, they were grassroots and understood the hard times many were experiencing, especially with seeing their homes snatched up, rents skyrocketing and in some cases, homes being burnt up under suspicious circumstances, would lead folks to taking a stand by going to the polls to reverse an egregious wrong.. It did not..and that’s sad.. That’s sad as hell..

Ron Conway

Ron Conway

One man (Ron Conway) via a company he has heavily invested in (AIRBnB) spent almost 9 million dollars to defeat Measure F.. People say corporations are evil. They say tech Companies are tone def and insensitive and vulturistic, the opportunity to smash directly was not taken. It’s not like folks are mass organizing to boycott any of the products like Facebook, Google and dozens more he has investments in, so why not hand a sound defeat via the polls?

Ross Mirkarimi

Ross Mirkarimi

In other election results we saw that the police  and law enforcement had a big victory.. The rank and file in the sheriff department did not like long time progressive Ross Mirkarimi. At every turn the power elite in SF was looking for ways to upend him. They finally did it by convincing former deputy Vicki Hennessy to come out of retirement to run against him. She describes herself as a career cop who will no doubt do the bidding Mayor Ed Lee and the gentrifier class who came out in force at her victory party last night. She also noted that she in stark opposition to Mirkarimi when it comes to the issue of Sanctuary Cities.

Also former SFPD chief and now current District Attorney, George Gascon ran unopposed and got 98% of the vote. hence we should not expect any prosecutions of out of control police anytime soon…

Aaron Peskin

Aaron Peskin

If there is a bright spot in yesterday’s elections, it comes in the form of the district 3 race for supervisor. Ron Conway and the Gentrifier class put their money and hopes behind Julie Christensen. They went all out to defeat Aaron Peskin who about the business of reigning in tech companies and developers. Conway and his squad spent historic amounts of money on that race but in the end Peskin won. He changes the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors. If he sticks to his promises and his guns, Mayor Ed Lee will not be getting free passes and rubber stamps on all his development deals. Hopefully folks will find some political openings with Peskin on the board and be able to rock with them to turn somethings around..

The other bright spot is the coalition of people who came together to put  Measure F on the ballot to reign in AIRBnB are going to regroup, retool and reintroduce it in San Francisco and in other cities.. If it comes to Oakland, folks had best be ready to ride for it or start looking for nice apartments in Modesto or Stockton..These developers and tech billionaires like Conway have lots of money and are willing to spread it around in an effort to smash.. Hence there will be more elected officials who take the money and run #staywoke

Mike Hutchinson: How Oakland’s School Board Plans to Further Gentrification

Mike Hutchinson

Mike Hutchinson

Oakland, California like most city’s around the country and for that matter around the world has two big buzz word that spark intense, heated  passions among its residents GENTRIFICATION and PRIVATIZATION… Here in ‘tha town‘ public school privatization has been a key ingredient in the attempts by developers and big power brokers seeking to bring about an economic and demographic change. Translation, there are many in power who want Oakland to be whiter and more affluent.

This is playing out in very ugly ways within the Oakland Unified School District which over the past few years has seen an explosion in corporate back charter schools, a campaign to demonize teachers unions and now a new scheme which involves selling off a mostly Black and Brown Dewey high school  to developers to make way for high-rise luxury apartments..

Today on Hard Knock Radio, we sat down with long time community activist and education expert Mike Hutchinson who laid out what is taking place within Oakland’s educational landscape. He talked about the recent court decision that makes teachers receiving tenure unconstitutional. He talked to us about the proliferation of charter schools and who has been spending big time money to bring them into Oakland. he talked about the key players and organizations who are in the back pockets of Wal-Mart and the Koch Brothers who are funding charter schools..

During our interview Hutchinson talked at length about an aggressive and egregious plan by Oakland school board president David Kakishiba  who is also the executive director of EBAYC (East Bay Asian Youth Center) to sell off prime restate owned by Oakland Public schools, including Dewey High school near Lake Merritt  so developers can build 3 luxury 25 story high rises..When you hear what he has to say, it’ll make your head spin..

Oakland’s Mayoral Race; Who To Vote For & What Questions to Ask

OaklandWith Ras Baraka winning his bid for Mayor in Newark, NJ, the focus now turns to all the races set to unfold on June 3rd which is the next big election day for many around the country. Here in the Bay Area a major race for Mayor is unfolding in Oakland with 16 people running for office. People ideally need to be thinking, ‘Who they will they be voting for and why?? ‘

Ideally, our immediate focus should not be on who will win? but instead we should be focusing on what the positions each candidate has staked on key issues?  For example , before we start speculating who will win, we should be asking ourselves what are the positions and policies each Mayoral candidates in Oakland has to stem the tide of gentrification? This is especially important when we consider the thousands who have recently moved to Oakland and how its Black population once 60% has dwindled down to around 23% . How and why did that happen?

Let’s be clear there are some candidates who see the new influx especially in historically Black West Oakland as great. They honestly think gentrification often called ‘urban renewal‘ has improved the image and the quality of life for many in the city. Translation: the more white residents the better. Others feel that long time residents are getting the shaft. What plans are in store for Oakland’s next mayor around this issue?  What policies can they guarantee as mayor vs falling back on tired excuse that they can only advocate and hope the city council follows their lead?

Oakland-BrooklynAsk the candidates how they feel about the photo I posted where many are calling Oakland the New Brooklyn. Other have called Oakland the New San Francisco? Still others have said Oakland is the new Silicon Valley? Newcomers love the new labels. Long time residents hate it and feel like the city’s identity is being thrown under the bus with a marketing make over in which they had little if any input. How do you as an Oakland resident new or old feel about these labels?

How do you feel about Oakland having many of its sections renamed and marketed outside of town ie NOBE (North Oakland, Berkeley) or the new Brooklyn Basin project? Whats their thoughts on WOSP? (West Oakland’s Specific Plan?) More importantly how do the mayoral candidates feel and how have their actions reflected that sentiment? Are they placating new transplants? Again there are thousands of them ,making them a sizeable voting block or are they working with long time residents who don’t wanna leave the city they love?

How do our candidates feel about our sports teams.. The Raiders, the As and the Warriors?? What are they doing to keep them? What are they doing to cut ties? How important is it for you as an Oakland resident to have these teams?

What are the any of these candidates plans for affordable housing? Where do they stand on issues like rent control? How are these candidates dealing with housing discrimination? For those who don’t know, with gentrification has become desireable to only rent to out of towners who are willing to pay more or to rent to Non-Black/ Brown residents.. What are any of these current candidates doing about that?

Geoffreys Inner CircleHow are any of these mayoral candidates working to support and grow local businesses. There have always been innovative folks in Oakland who have been applauded all over the world for their being business savvy, yet the city has never recognized them.. In the past we seen city hall try to shut down businesses.. Folks may wanna talk to folks like to long time business owner Geoffrey Pete and ask him about the drama past mayors like Jerry Brown put him through in attempts to disrupt his thriving landmark business.

Currently we have OPD shutting down street vendors who have been a vibrant part of the culture forever. What opportunities are in place for homegrown businesses? Not newly arrived / recruited businesses, but homegrown folks who been here for decades and were never shown love? What opportunities are here for them?

What plans do any of these candidates have for schools? Are they anti teacher’s union and pro charter? Are they for universal pre-school or do they want folks to pay $1500-2000 a month for all these private preschools? Don’t ask these candidates what they are gonna do? Many have who are running have been active in Oakland prior to this year, so ask them what their track record is around education??

Oakland SchoolsAsk them if they are in favor of ‘Teach for America?’, ‘Common Core?‘ “No Child Left Behind ?‘ and Zero Tolerance policies?’ Ask them how they feel about our Community Colleges, CSUs and UC Systems? Are they politically aligned w/ folks who have been trying to privatize these once FREE public school systems and raise tuition or are they pushing to make sure these schools are free and accessible? Check their track record from the past, that’ll tell you a lot…

Where do mayoral candidates stand on jobs and job creation? Ask them if they are aware of the Jackson Rising plan around cooperative economics and if they talked with all the folks from the Bay Area and Oakland in particular who went to the recent conference in Jackson, Ms??

Ask them if they are pushing to make sure there are guarantees that Oakland residents will be hired for any new contracts awarded by the city? What have these candidates pushed for in the past? For example, with the BART extension to Oakland airport, what work did they put in advocating for Oakland residents to be hired? Don’t ask them what they say they are going to do.. Ask them what they did in the past? How did they vote? What letters did they write? What policies did they push? Show and prove..

Gang wars OaklandAsk these mayoral candidates what steps they have taken in the past to protect the image of this city? For example, when the Discovery Channel did a bogus special called ‘Gang Wars in Oakland‘ they claimed the city had 10k gang members and was the murder capital of the world. There are nowhere near 10 thousand gang members and it definitely wasn’t the murder capital. What reaction did any of these candidates have to our tarnished image?  How did they confront the Discovery Channel?

When the did the TV special Santa Rita, Oakland suggesting that Santa Rita prison was in oakland vs being in Dublin 30 miles away, what steps did these candidates do to correct that image? When they did the heavily promoted TV show on MSNBC ‘Lockdown Oakland‘ and then profiled violent crimes committed by people living in other cities how did our candidates react? What steps did they take to correct those falsehoods? Did any of these candidates buy into these narratives and call for more police and repressive policies, gang injunctions etc or did they know and love this city enough to know those stories were not only false portrayals but were actually fueled by an embattled police department pushing their own agenda to get more funding and more cops?

Oaklandpolice-225How do our candidates feel about the police and what’s their relationship to Oakland’s powerful police union? Do they feel Oakland needs more police? Do they feel the city needs less? What’s their plan to stop police brutality? What advocacy groups have they met with? What policies have they supported or not supported in the past around police reform? Did they show up to City Hall and weigh in when controversial policies like Gang Injunctions and youth curfews were debated? Where did they stand when the city voted to give Chief William Bratton 250K to consult the city?

Don’t wait on slick press releases and flashy commercials to get answers. Many of these candidates are on social media. Hit them up, ask the hard questions and be informed when you go to the polls June 3rd..

Reach out to some of these Oakland Mayoral candidates Shake Anderson Dan Siegel Libby Schaaf Bryan Parker Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Patrick McCullough, Courtney Ruby, Joe Tuman for Mayor of Oakland, Larry Lionel Young Jr, Sam Washington, Nancy Sidebotham, Margaret Wrigley-Larson, Peter Y. Liu, Bane Capital Ruby Paige Askew Gregory Wade

Explosive Just Cause Report Shows Health Impact of Gentrification

Robbie Clark of Just Cause

Robbie Clark of Just Cause

Hard Knock Radio 04-09-14 We sat down and spoke with Robbie Clark of Just Cause/ Causa Justa about the new 110 page report called Development Without Displacement: Resisting Gentrification in the Bay Area that shares important finding on the impacts of gentrification on Bay Area communities and some principles and policies for stabilizing our cities so that long-term residents and communities of color and stay and thrive.

The report was done with the Alameda County Department of Health and although it focuses on Bay Area cities Oakland and San Francisco its findings apply to regions all over the country. Whats most telling is how this gentrification process  of mass displacement along racial and class lines and its long-term health impact…

As Robbie Clark noted in our conversation everything from long commutes to no longer being around familiar settings and family and friends to not having access to adequate health facilities and resources in new places where folks are being displaced have had devastating impact. The stress of not being able to hold onto a home or having rents significantly increase has been unsettling for many resulting in long-term health issues.

Gentrification mapDuring our conversation we spoke about the root causes of gentrification in the Bay Area and the key role ruthless corporations have played in driving up home prices by pressuring politicians to put forth specific policies to prevent rent control and make evictions easy…

We also talk about the various waves of gentrification. Often we focus on the impact of Black and Brown folks in particular areas, but in cities like San Francisco, gentrified from 10 years ago are now showing those gentrifiers are being displaced. People who were forced to move away from the cities into far off suburbs are finding they are not safe from the predatory process as investment corporations are set on driving up home prices and rents in those areas as well. In short there is no escaping the practice by moving away. Its about pushing for policy changes and redefining how communities should  be.

Robbie was great in laying out several of the many solutions this report puts forth. Most important is organizing. It seems simple on the surface,but it’s not done as effectively as it can and should be. In addition what’s often not realized is that new comers into a community often feel empowered and quickly organize and petition locals municipalities to craft a vision for the community as they see fit. This vision often includes adding new police, putting forth new ordinances and developing policies to make it easier to remove families who they deem problematic.

The Eviction of Sabrina Carter-SF’s Privatization and Negro Removal Plan


Sabrina Carter

Sabrina Carter

Hard Knock Radio (04-02-14) Co-Host Anita Johnson speaks with Tiny Lisa Garcia of Poor News Network and long time resident Sabrina Carter about the ongoing privatization and gentrification that is unfolding in urban areas, in particular San Francisco…They talk about the large numbers of Black families being forcibly moved out of San Francisco

In the case of Sabrina Carter she is the latest person to come under the scourge of San Francisco’s Negro Removal Program where large numbers of Black people all over the city are being evicted for a variety of nefarious reasons. In this case , she is being evicted because she is unable to control the actions and behavior of her adult son. This eviction would leave Carter homeless…

Sabrina carterBelow is an excerpt from a recent SF Baview newspaper article penned by Lisa Garcia explaining the plight of Sabrina Carter and a recent protest that took place at City Hall..

“You can’t sing in here; you are constituting an unlawful assembly!” As we walked 30 deep – youth, adults, elders, singing the spirit of our African ancestors, our indigenous ancestors in resistance into City Hall – we were stopped by three sheriffs who said we were, in fact, an unlawful assembly because we were singing.

“I thought this was our constitutional right to free speech, to free song,” I said.

“No, you are protesting; therefore you are an unlawful assembly.”

“We aren’t protesting; we are singing,” I continued to say.

Then more sheriffs came. They talked among themselves. They had guns and batons. We had our voices. We were walking spirit of our ancestor freedom fighters inside the politrickster-infested walls of soul-ed out peoples of color, trying to get mines, capitalist pawns and apologists of the ruling class.

“Where are you going?”

“To see the mayor.”

“Well, you can’t see the mayor if you are singing. You can’t protest in this building.” As the men with the badges and the guns spoke, the walls shook. The floors trembled. The statues of politricksters past shook slightly on their marble podiums. Mama Sabrina’s face shook with tears. Her strong young 10-year-old and 19-year-old sons looked down as they stood valiantly by her.

When White Happens: Gentrification, Drug Dealing, and the American Dream

Was film maker Spike Lee right or wrong when he addressed the issue of gentrification? Below is another insightful article from authors, educators and racial justice activists J-Love Calderon and David Leonard that tackle this question and shows how gentrification manifests itself with those entrusted to protect and serve and their long standing policies… -Davey D-

Spike_Lee_(2012)Intended to be a celebration of Black History Month, Spike Lee reminded an audience at Pratt Institute that February was not simply about speeches and celebration but demanding justice and accountability, spotlighting white privilege and persistent forms of violence.  Asked about the “other side of gentrification,” Lee scoffed at the premise, making clear that racism sits on all sides:

 I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherfuckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something …. I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

John Mcwhorter

John Mcwhorter

While many dismissed his “rant” as “self-serving,” “hypocritical, or “Spike being Spike,” John McWhorter took the opportunity to celebrate gentrification (“a once sketchy neighborhood is now quiet and pleasant”) and to castigate Lee as a racist.  To McWhorter, Lee’s analysis and criticism of gentrification has nothing to do with the displacement of Black and Brown families, the eradication of communities of color, or white privilege, but Lee’s own bigotry toward whites.

“What’s really bothering Lee is that he doesn’t like seeing his old neighborhood full of white people,” noted the associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University.  “Or whitey, perhaps. Just as ‘thug’ is a new way of saying the N-word in polite society, Lee’s ‘m—–f—– hipster’ epithet for the new whites of Fort Greene is a sneaky way of saying ‘honkey.’

Lee is less a social analyst than a reincarnation of George Jefferson with his open hostility to whites.” So much wrong here; so little time.  But let us say that whereas the commonplace stereotype of Black youth as “thugs,” as “criminals,” as “dangerous,” as “destructive” and “toxic” leads to racial profiling, mass incarceration, and #every28hours, being “m—–f—– hipster” leads to a new brownstone, a new yoga shop, and a triple shot latte.  It leads to more of the same: privilege and opportunity.

El Puente muralBut is the fight against gentrification a lost cause? Some say yes, some say no, and  others are not pausing to engage in that conversation because they are busy being in action.  El Puente is  a 30-year old human rights organization sitting in the heart of Williamsburg Brooklyn, founded by Luis Garden Acosta, with Gino Maldonado and Frances Lucerna.  Their latest initiative is their response. “The Green Light District seeks to flip the disempowerment of gentrification by putting long-time invested residents at the forefront of change in their communities,” explains Anusha Venkataraman, Director of the Green Light District.

“The Southside of Williamsburg has changed radically but is still 46% Latino, but the narrative of ‘gentrification’ leaves out the stories and lived experiences of folks that have been here, invested in this community, and are still here. Through arts and cultural programming in public spaces, such as our annual ¡WEPA! Festival for Performing Arts, our organizing work with artists, and even through community gardening, we collectively amplify the visibility of the Latino community and culture. We also create safe spaces for newer residents to build bridges, relationships, and common ground with those there before them.” This organization with indigenous leadership continues to help sustain and empower the local community residents against the tide threatening to uproot their culture, contribution, and home.

Whiteness not only allows “hipsters” to claim space, transforming communities, but to be immune from the very same forces that have enacting violence for decades: the police.  We need to look no further than a recent piece on The Huffington Post to understand the privileges resulting from gentrification and whiteness.

I spent a day deliverying weedIn “I Spent A Day Delivering Weed In New York City,” Hunter Stuart celebrates the gentrification of Williamsburg and its drug market.  Chronicling the story of “Abe” and “Brian,” Stuart reminds readers over and over again that these are not your “normal” drug dealers: they drink “French-pressed coffee,” they wear suits, deliver drugs on bikes, and are “exceedingly well-mannered.”  Whereas others enter the drug trade because of  – a) single mothers; b) poverty; c) pathological values; d) all of the above – Abe and Brian took up drug dealing (the article actually calls them “couriers”) because they are “risk takers.”

As with their non-drug dealing counterparts that have gentrified neighborhoods throughout New York and communities across the nation, Abe and Brian are imagined as “good” since they are different type of drug dealers.  They are changing the way marijuana is delivered and the stigmas associated drug use/dealing.  According to Abe, they want to show, “That you can be a successful, active, social person, that you can affect people positively and that you can still smoke weed.” They are different.  “Even though what we do is illegal, we’re both morally sound people.  We try to do right by people. That’s what I always tell my mom, anyway.”

Not surprisingly, Abe and Brian (and all their employees) have built up their business without any consequences.  Noting how “things have gone smoothly” and that “no one’s been robbed, and no one’s been arrested,” Stuart makes clear that they can deal drugs without any of the associated the problems that seem to follow others.

“Working for our former boss, I saw around a dozen people get arrested,” Abe says, referring to the three years he and Brian spent as couriers for another New York City cannabis delivery service. “I don’t think we’re going to have that problem. We screen our riders and our clients really well.”

NYPD Weed ArrestsYes, the reason why nobody been arrested or charged with crimes that could lead to up to 15 years is about “screening.”  Not whiteness; not white privilege; not institutional racism, not the ways that racial profiling, and stop and frisk contribute to a racially stratified war on drugs.

As Jessie Daniels notes, New York is the “marijuana arrest capital of the world.” Notwithstanding an almost 40-year old decriminalization law, NY police arrested 50,000 people in 2011 for “possessing or burning marijuana in public view.”  Neither Abe or Brian could be counted amongst those arrested, a fact not unexpected given that 84% of those arrested were people of color.

From 2002-2012, the NYPD arrested about 440,000 people; 85 percent were Black and Latino. Whiteness has its privileges. The Huffington Post profile, not surprisingly, never acknowledges this context or Abe and Brian’s whiteness; the message is that their intelligence and cultural differences rather than racism and white privilege that has made their “business” successful.

Their ability to carry and sell with relative impunity reflects the privileges of whiteness; their ability to be reimagined as “moral” drug dealers, as “righteous” and ultimately beneficial to this gentrified community, tells us all we need to know about whiteness in America.  Their ability to move into neighborhoods like Williamsburg, displacing families and communities of color, generating wealth that they will pass onto the next generation, highlights the value of whiteness; their ability to “get rich with limited possibility of dying” is the personification of whiteness.

Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander

Speaking about the shifting economic landscape of drugs in America, Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, notes, “After 40 years of impoverished black men getting prison time for selling weed, white men are planning to get rich doing the same things,” she added. “So that’s why I think we have to start talking about reparations for the war on drugs. How do we repair the harms caused?”

White privilege, gentrification, the media choosing who to admire and who to criminalize are all part of the ways that white supremacy plays out in our day to day.  It’s time to speak up and act, to demand justice and opportunities for all people. We must keep the fight up until Black and Brown life is truly respected and treated as valuable and important as white peoples lives. In the end, this will be the ultimate victory.

Stand up for what’s right

JLove and David

See, Judge, ACT for Racial Justice:

Speak Up

Speak Up to Media: the Huff Post article we referenced is a perfect opportunity for you to point out the obvious mis-step not naming white privilege. Talk about it, blog about it, help people see why white privilege and racism must be named for us to create more justice.

Spike Lee: whether you like him or not, the media circus had a great time calling him out because he spoke the truth about race and gentrification with no sugar coatin’! People of color are often demonized when speaking out about racism. Step up your game and support the truth of the argument! Don’t let Black and Brown people become scapegoats to the larger system of racism.


Check out El Puente’s groundbreaking Green Light District initiative in response to rampant gentrification in Brooklyn.  Donate to them! Spread the word of how this powerful community is proactively working toward sustainability of the residents of color in Williamsburg.

Action Ideas from El Puente’s GLD Team

  • Get involved in community institutions, and recognize and get to know the culture and community that was there before you arrived
  • Get comfortable with discomfort! Building community with those from different backgrounds and life experiences isn’t easy, but it is important. Tasks the risk of stepping outside your comfort zone, talk to your neighbors, and LISTEN!
  • Invest in public spaces, like community gardens, where community building can happen
  • Invest time and energy in your neighborhood! It builds collective ownership

Join—Calling white folks who want to stand up for racial justice!

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Become a member and get involved directly:

About the Authors

David Leonard is a professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race at Washington State University.

JLove Calderon is a conscious media maker, social entrepreneur, and author of five books, including her latest: Occupying Privilege; Conversations on Love, Race, and Liberation.

The Gentrification of Black Power-Making Sure History is Not Distorted & Erased

black-power-pinA few weeks ago an online discussion about the concept of Black Power and whether or not it was being diluted and gentrified popped up on the facebook page of Jared Ball, long time radio host, journalist and professor at Morgan State and author of several books including I Mix What I Like and A Lie of Reivention Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X . A lot of interesting points were raised about the systemic erasing and distorting of history in academic settings which was resulting in a younger generation of scholars  building theory and ideas off of faulty information. This online conversation sparked off a round table that was recently hosted on the syndicated Hard Knock Radio.

A couple of other scholars Dr Quito Swan of Howard University (Black Power in Bermuda) and Professor Rickey Vincent of UC Berkeley and SF State (History of Funk, Party Music) were contacted for a robust round table discussion that covered a variety of topics ranging from the history and origins of the term and what inspired Kwame Toure then known as Stokely Carmichael along with Willie Ricks to kick things off during a rally in 1966 in Mississippi.

We talked about the deeper meanings behind the term and how it jived with the political and social dynamics at that time.  We also talked about the harsh reaction to the term from the US government and how almost immediately there were efforts to both eradicate and redefine it.

Dr Jared Ball

Dr Jared Ball

Initially Black Power was a call for folks to stand up against imperialism and over the years its been reduced to economic prowess and later Black people’s to get in position of power and mimic imperialistic actions long taken by the US. As Jared Ball noted Black Power has now become an ‘American story‘ of success where the status quo is maintained vs one that steadfastly opposed wrong headed policies put forth by this country.

Ricky Vincent built upon many of the points he put forth in his new book Party Music which chronicles the way music was influenced by the Black Power movements.. He noted that Carmichael tapped into an energy of resistence that was bubbling amongst Black folks all over the world. He just gave it a name. The state via the FBI recognized that energy and spent alot of time trying to dismantle and stifle that energy controlling and using culture.

We also talked about how the concept of Black Power played out on the international stage. This is Quito Swan‘s area of expertise and he put forth a number of salient points and reminded us that one of the challenges we have today is that as some try to soften and redefine Black power, they leave out how the freedom struggles in the US linked up with freedom struggles elsewhere, from the Carribean , throughout Latin America and Africa. He focused in on the first Black Power Convention that took place in 1969 in Bermuda.

Below is our Hard Knock Radio show roundtable -Enjoy

Mistah Fab Speaks About His Annual Food Drive & Gentrification in North Oakland

mistah-fabWe caught up with long time Oakland rapper Mistah Fab to talk to him about his 6th annual holiday giveaway. He will be giving away turkeys and plates of food for needy families in North Oakland off 45th and Market today (Tues Nov 27th ) where he grew up.

During our interview we talked at length about what Fab describes as the unwritten obligation artists have to give back to the community. He noted that many get paid handsomely from talking about the struggles, tribulations and overall lifestyle experienced by many in the hood. The least one can do is give back and not make this a one way street where you only take, take, take..

We talked about some of the Oakland artists and sports figures who have already done food drives like Seattle Seahawk running back Marshall Lynch and Cincinnati Bengal quarterback Josh Johnson. Fab noted how troubling it was to see over 500 families lining up at Oakland Tech where Lynch and Johnson attended school to get food. He noted that it was a clear indication about how dire it is for many and that at all costs all of us who can do better by extending a helping hand.

We also talked about the massive gentrification that is taking place in North Oakland and what sort of challenges its presented for his community. Fab noted that not too long ago during one of his charity events, new residents called the police in attempt to shut things down.. Fab found out who called and went and had a conversation and noted that dialogue is crucial.

Mistah Fab He said new comers to Oakland need to respect the people and culture that is already here and get familiar with things.. At the same time he noted that many who he grew up with need to be better educated about the process that’s unfolding.

He said many younger folks inherited houses from parents and grandparents and have been offered 300-400k  to sell their homes. Fab noted while that’s nice chunk of change, its important to hold on to your property because in the long run it will be worth twice as much..We also talked about his song writing prowess..

Lastly we concluded our convo about Fab and his song writing prowess. He laid out the artists he’s been working with, like Snoop Dogg and Too Short and some of the new projects he has on the horizon like the one with Keyisha Coles

SFPD Cant do Stop and Frisk, So They Now Turned to ‘Hunting’ & ‘Wolf Packing’

San Francisco Police Officers***Update**** The folks from Poor News Network have been following this case and released the following information about the young man shown in the video…His name is Kevin Clark and he’s an 18 year old Honors college student ..He was brutalized by the SFPD for simply walking down the street? He was not charged or arrested but cited for resisting and delaying. …..

The city of San Francisco, once a home to counter-culture and folks who were free-spirited has changed for the worse over the past 5-10 years.. Borrowing a page from New York’s Michael Bloomberg, the city by the Bay has modeled itself after New York by trying to become a playground for the über rich.. Poor folks mostly Black and Brown have been gentrified out of the city as the average rent has skyrocketed to 3500 for a one bedroom..

Over the past 10 years there’s been an explosion of ugly lime green (luxury green) high rises where starting price is a million dollars.. According to Tim Redmond of the Bay Guardian in a recent radio interview on KPFA, the target audiences for these new buildings are world travelers who seek to have homes in a variety of cities.. San Francisco being one of them.. His remarks underscored the landmark issue the BG called Soul of The City that focused on all htose being forced to move out of SF.. You can peep it HERE

As the SF has attempted to luxurize itself, one of the other tactics they attempted to borrow was Stop and Frisk from New York City. Mayor Ed Lee said he thought it would be a good idea, even SF is not known for being a violent city with an out of control crime problem.. many suspected that Lee would be concentrating Stop and Frisk efforts on folks living in the Tenderloin, which has a large homeless population and is an area where the mayor would like to see more high-tech companies relocate.. Twitter is already located in the tenderloin, not paying any taxes.

The other areas where many suspected Stop and Frisk would be used was in Bayview Hunters Point, the City’s last Black neighborhood.. Over the past 10 years Blacks have been moved out of SF with the population which was once a healthy 15% now less than 5%..

The other place where police repression was likely to be applied is ion the historic Mission district which is home to a very large Brown/ latino population. For folks who never been, the Mission has a similar vibe to LES/ The Village in New York, with alot of foot traffic, international flare, victorian houses which remind folks of brownstones and tons of eateries. . Many rich folks from out of town have been moving there, causing rents to rise and displacing long time residents.

San Francisco Police The Board of supervisors voted to over rule the mayor and turned down Stop and Frisk as level headed San Francisco residents made a huge stink. However, the Mayor undaunted along with his police have turned to another tactic.. Hunting or wolf packing. This how a a former San Francisco resident forced to relocate to Oakland described the tactic when she sent me this video of what she noted is this growing trend..

In the video below, you will see an example of this as  young Black man is nearly run over by a cop on the sidewalk..According to witnesses, he got into an argument with another cat his own age when police arrived upon the scene and immediately used their bikes to run him off the sidewalk…

He’s then slammed to the ground and his face mushed in the gutter for several minutes.. The suspect who is small is not resisting as more then 15 officers show up to arrest him.. The show of force is deliberate and a way of trying to intimidate residents.. It’s a damn shame to see this sort of abuse of power especially when you consider mayor Lee who was largely applauded for being the City’s first Asian-American Mayor was supposed to be a long-time Civil Rights attorney. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised as many traditional civil rights orgs and leaders has been turned the concept upside down.

This is a city who’s police department in the past year had to toss over 50 cases of trumped of felonies thanks to corruption. This is also a police department that shot a man (Kenneth Harding) and let him lay dying in the street for all to see when he couldn’t produce proof of a two dollar fare..

This video below from SF Hip Hop artist Dregs One breaks down the gentrification drama in the city by the Bay

The Drama Around Street Vendors, Oakland’s Art Murmur & Gentrification

The city of Oakland, has long been a place where people ‘steady grind‘..By that I mean, folks have long hustled goods and services on the city streets to ilk out a living. Rather than sell drugs or turn to prostitution, many have hustled their own music, homemade DVDs, offered up hair breading services, car washes and car repair and most recently food. For most, the extra income has allowed folks to just barely get by.

Every so often someone would blow up and makes it big, resulting in Oakland garnering a ‘rags to riches‘ reputation. The most famous of these tales is rap star Too Short selling home-made tapes out the trunk of his car and getting a big time record deal. Later on other artists like Hobo Junction and Living Legends would follow suit selling tapes in front of local record stores leading to international reputations.

In recent years the city of Oakland has undergone a lot of changes, among them a significant amount of gentrification. Newer more affluent residents have come to Oakland and have made moves to push out long time street vendors and hawkers. They been doing this by going to city council demanding that folks get expensive permits and for those selling food, purchase expensive equipment.

They’ve also pushed to limit the amount of space available for setting up shop and if that’s not enough they have positioned themselves to be the ones to decide who gets to use public space and who doesn’t. These gentrifiers have also lobbied city hall to dispense undercover cops and have them patrol the streets seeking street vendors who would now be deemed illegal operators. All this has led to protests around this new permitting process.

Long time Street Vendor Needa Bee

In our Hard Knock Radio interview long time Oakland resident Needa Bee speaks out about these new regulations coming at the behest of newly formed community associations who are paying big money to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars to establish themselves. Needa details how  out-of-town merchants who have come to Oakland and set up shop and have taken over popular homegrown activities like First Friday Art Murmur which was an 8 year ‘epic street party‘ that allowed local folks to sell their homemade fare. Now we see mostly people of color being pushed to the fringes resulting in what she describes as the poor being criminalized.. Peep and reflect on what Needa B lays out in our interview by clicking the link below

-Davey D-