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Ethnic Cleansing, San Francisco, and White Supremacy

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last week I read a very good and interesting article (originally published at 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)


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