Racial Equity Forum: API and Black Solidarity

Intersection of API and Black Experience of Systemic Racism in San Francisco
Dyan Ruiz | 10/28/2020

Richmond District Neighborhood Center hosted a forum on that addresses Asian Pacific Islander and Black solidarity featuring Dyan Ruiz, CoFounder of People Power Media, San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, and Kevine Boggess, Education and Policy Director at Coleman Advocates.

The Google Slides Presentation can be found here. Rough transcripts are below.

Intersection of API & Black Experience 

A lot to go over
Unfortunately there's a lot of material on this topic
Focus on African American, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino Americans
None of these identities are a monolith
But they do have some shared experiences with systemic racism

Labor Exploitation
Violent Discrimination
Segregation & Gentrification: 
Redlining, Redevelopment, White Flight, Disinvestment

This is the overview of topics
Labor exploitation
Violent discrimination
Anti-miscegenation or anti-mixed marriage laws
And the links between the forced segregation of communities and gentrification by way of redlining Redevelopment white flight and disinvestment
Ending on a up note with historical photos of solidarity

Labor Exploitation.  
An African American miner during the Gold Rush era, 1852.
SF Chronicle, 10/18/2020, Courtesy Western History Research, LA County Museum of Natural History

This photo is of an African-American minor during the gold Rush era taken in 1852. The man was photographed working in the Sierra Foothills.

This was from an article in the chronicle just this past Sunday.

California join the Union as a non-slavery state in 1850. but hundreds of enslaved people are already living in the state at the time of its mission, forced to work in minds and on plantations. Many of these first black residents weren't set free when they state passed its Constitution and the state permitted white prospectors from the south to keep slaves if they plan to eventually return to their home states.

In the South you had the cotton fields, and here you had the gold mines.

 Labor Exploitation.  
Chinese Tea carrier at tunnel, about 1867
The Guardian, 07/18/2019; Courtesy of Library of Congress

This is a photo of a Chinese tea carrier at a tunnel while building the connection between Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad, taken about 1867

Labor of these Chinese workers who built the Western leg of the railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains is largely forgotten

From 1863 to 1869, roughly 15,000 Chinese workers built the railroad. They made up most of the workforce between Sacramento and Promontory, Utah.

They were paid less than American workers and lived in tents, all the whites lived and trained cars. The work was tiresome manually shoveling several pounds of rocks hundreds of times a day and was extremely dangerous, killing hundreds of workers.

Labor Exploitation.  
Larry Itliong, Filipino Grape workers on strike
NPR, 09/19/2015, Courtesy Farmworker Movement Documentation Project

This is a photo of United farm workers leader Larry it Leong who along with Cesar Chavez led the Delano grape strike in 1960s that led to an international boycott of table grapes.

The Filipino farm workers, also called the Delano monongs, or elders, were actually the ones who first voted to strike for better working conditions on Sept. 7, 1965.

The next morning they went out to the vineyard and then they left crop on the ground and they walked out.

Cesar Chavez and others like Dolores Huerta I've been organizing Mexican workers around Delano for a few years but a strike wasn't in their immediate plans. Larry Itliong urged them to join their strike and they did and soon the union ends came together to become the United farm workers.

San Francisco was an important landing place for these workers. some settled in the city. Because of discrimination many people of color and new immigrants were hired for non-professional jobs and janitorial, laundry, and hotels.

Violent Discrimination.  
1877: meeting of the Workingmen's Party near city hall
SF Gate, 07/23/2017; Courtesy MPI/Getty Images

This photo depicts the labor gathering of about 8,000 people that soon devolved into an racist anti Chinese mob in July 1877.

The United States was suffering from the “Long Depression.” After the completion of the transcontinental railroad, many Chinese went to San Francisco and more came from China. The so-called Workingmen's Party was furious at Chinese immigrants who worked for less. The mobs destroyed property burned Chinese laundries, ripped up sidewalks to use as battering rams, broke into Chinese businesses to steal money and valuables and shot anyone who opposed them. By the morning of July 25th, three men were dead and about $100,000 of Chinese owned property was destroyed. One victim's name was Wong Go

The anti-chinese sentiment culminated in 1882 with the Chinese exclusion act alting Chinese immigration for 10 years and barring Chinese from becoming US citizens. This act wasn't fully dismantled until 1965.

Violent Discrimination.  
1941-1942: Japanese Bay area residents forced to internment camps
SF Chronicle, 01/02/2018;  Chronicle file photo

In February 1942, President Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing 110,000 Japanese Americans on the west coast, including more than 5,000 from San Francisco, to be incarcerated internment camps.

Japanese families lived in San Francisco beginning in the mid-1800s. By 1942, some established businesses had been passed down through multiple generations. Now the Japanese community in the wake of the Pearl harbor attack was treated like an enemy population. any person of Japanese ancestry was required to sell their belongings, give up their homes, and move into temporary relocation camps, usually race tracks like Tanforan in San Mateo, while internment facilities were built in the interior of the country.

Violent Discrimination.  
2019: Multiple SF police officers detain a man at gunpoint  
SF Chronicle, 06/12/2020;  Evan Sernoffsky (2019)

Nearly half of SF police use-of-force cases last year involved black people 
(SF Chronicle, Joaquin Palomino 06/12/2020)
A review of police data by the Chronicle in June said that last year in 2019, roughly 45% of Police use of force incidents in San Francisco involved African Americans. African-Americans make up just 5% of the City's population.

Disproportion has remained more or less unchanged since 2016 even as the total number of reported cases fell nearly twofold.

Mario Woods
SF Chronicle; 06/05/2019; Santiago Mejia 

Oscar Grant
CNN.com 05/04/2019

Jessica Williams

Mario Woods: 26-year-old shot in the Bayview by police officers in 2015

Jessica Williams: 29-year-old woman shot in the Bayview in 2016

Oscar Grant: 22-year-old shot at the fruitvale BART station in 2009

Filipino tenant Felix Ayson being escorted out of the
I-Hotel after his and many manongs’ eviction in 1977  
Photo by Chris Huie
Laws that prohibit cohabitation or marriage between different races. 

Anti-miscegenation laws are anti-mixed marriage laws. They prohibit the marriage of people from different races but at almost always means making it illegal for people of color to marry whites. California's law was first passed in 1850 and repealed in 1948. It banned blacks, asians, and Filipinos from marrying Whites.

After world war II, many former servicemen from the Philippines who fought for the US immigrated to San Francisco. They were unable to marry so they remained bachelors until their old age. This is why when people were evicted from the I-Hotel in 1977, many were manongs or Filipino male elders who had nowhere else to live.

Segregation & Gentrification
You can draw a straight line, in fact many straight lines, linking the segregation policies of the past and the gentrification and economic vulnerability of people of color now.

Segregation means keeping people apart. In this case we're talking about whites and people of color in San Francisco.

1930’s Redlining Map of San Francisco 
photo by the U of Richmond's Mapping Inequality project & Berkeley urbandisplacement.org/redlining

Process in which the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), a federal agency, gave neighborhoods ratings to guide investment. Redlining was an explicitly discriminatory policy, making it hard for residents to get loans for homeownership or maintenance, and led to cycles of disinvestment.

Before Redlining: There were racist laws and banking practices prohibiting people of color, especially immigrants to the US, from being able to own property. These were strictly enforced in most areas of the city, which is why ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown, NihonMachi, and the former Manilatown were formed.

Redlining was a process in which the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), a federal agency, gave neighborhoods ratings to guide investment. This policy is so named for the red or “hazardous” neighborhoods that were deemed riskiest. These neighborhoods were predominantly home to communities of color. This was no accident; the “hazardous” rating was in large part based on racial demographics.

A map drawn 80 years ago indicates the San Francisco residential zones that are "best" in green, "still desirable" in blue, "definitely declining" in yellow, and "hazardous" in red. 

D3 in red (hazardous) is the Fillmore, Japantown and Western Addition.
A3 (best) is Presidio Heights.

Redlining was an explicitly discriminatory policy. Redlining made it hard for residents to get loans for homeownership or maintenance, and led to cycles of disinvestment." 

This map was from the 1930s.

Urban Displacement Project, UC Berkeley and University of Richmond Mapping Inequality project has interactive redlining maps of all cities in the US because this happened all across the US.

1947 Planning Map
The South of Market Land Rush 
SPUR graphic

Around the 1950s, white people and capital began leaving the inner cities because of other housing and transportation policies which fueled the growth of mostly white suburbs.

This is phenomenon is called White Flight. 

On such policy was the GI Bill, the program that guaranteed will cost mortgage loans for returning world war II veterans but discrimination limited the extent to which black and other veterans were able to purchase homes in the suburbs. In fact the FHA largely required suburban developers to agree not to sell houses to black people to access these loans.

Redevelopment or Urban Renewal

Beginning in the 1950s, low-income households and communities of color bore the brunt of highway system expansion and mega projects as they were left behind in central city neighborhoods. Redevelopment was enabled by federal and state law, and was implemented by cities. 

In order to create a Redevelopment project area, the city agency needed an approved “blight” study. These urban renewal projects resulted in the mass clearance of homes, businesses, and neighborhood institutions, and set the stage for widespread public and private disinvestment in the decades that followed.

Areas targeted by Redevelopment included the Fillmore, Western Addition, NihonMachi or Japantown, Chinatown, Manilatown & and the South of Market.

The Fillmore-Post intersection in 1946. 
Photo by David Johnson
Western Addition Area 1 demolition, December 1953 
via SFPL
The Fillmore & Western Addition

Razing slums was key to reviving city centers, held the prevailing wisdom for many decades last century.

The Fillmore was a thriving commercial District and very multicultural. Black nightclubs and restaurants offering live entertainment made it the West coast African American cultural Nexus or the Harlem of the West.

In 1947 the SF planning commission submitted a proposal to raise and rebuild 36 block zone in the western addition. Blight report characterized Fillmore as a magnet for crime. But it seemed like these beautiful Victorian buildings and all those businesses were blighted because they were populated by black people who could not get loans to fix them up because of redlining.

During this pre-civil Rights era, few residents had much recourse although many did fight against Redevelopment.

Nihonmachi (Japantown)

Tazu Kawamoto photo album; 1939-1942
Copyright: CSU Dominguez Hills Department of Archives and Special Collections (used under fair-use exception: teaching)

Examiner file photo

The giant mall known as Japan Town was once the thriving center of the Japanese American community in San Francisco period before world war II neon mochi the Japanese American neighborhood was roughly 20 square blocks and house 95% of the city's Japanese americans.

After their forced displacement from internment, many returned.

One part of Redevelopment was the widening of Geary boulevard and the underpass which displaced residents and divided the black and Japanese communities.

Redevelopment and giant corporations like the kintetsu corporation conspired to build what some call the Japanese theme Park Mall you have today.

South of Market

Langton Street residents Lalett and Vanessa Fernandez with their son, 1980; Photo courtesy Janet Delaney
Future site of Yerba Buena West, 4th at Howard Street, 1978 Photo courtesy Janet Delaney
These photos are courtesy of Janet Delaney, you find them on her website and in her books.

The south of Market was home to many who worked in the nearby docks railroads factories and hotels. It was a landing place for money immigrants such as the Irish then the Filipinos.

"This land is too valuable to permit poor people to park on it." --Justin Herman, Executive Director, San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, 1970 

Plans to redevelop the area began in 1952 and what followed was the removal of 4,000 residents and more than 700 businesses. In 1969 local residents and owners formed tenants and owners in opposition to Redevelopment (TOOR) who filed the first of many lawsuits that delayed Redevelopment and reshaped its ultimate manifestation in SoMa. Redevelopment is how the convention center sfmoma and yerba buena arts Center was built.

Disinvestment & Gentrification.  
Overlap between Redlining & Gentrification in San Francisco 

Redlining, Urban Renewal, White Flight and many other policies and practices created racialized patterns of disinvestment in central cities that have left communities of color particularly susceptible to gentrification.

And as you can see here you can overlap the areas of redlining and and gentrification as well as Redevelopment. 

The urban displacement project has identified that 87% of today's trendifying areas were rated as hazardous for investment during red lining.

It's this disinvestment that has primed communities for  gentrification.

Gentrification is the process of neighborhood change including economic change in a historically disinvested neighborhood. This is done by real estate investment and new higher income residents moving in. It's marked by a demographic change not only in terms of income level but education and racial makeup of residents.

Marchers protest violence relating to assault on Asian store-owner Park Huey; Revere Street, 1964; 
Collection of: The Bancroft Library
Civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama 
Photo courtesy CAAM Public Media

There were many instances of solidarity between Asians and beetween Asiana and black communities in all of these struggles. 

This is a photo of civil rights activists Yuri Kochiyama who was a member of Malcolm X's the Organization of Afro-American Unity and was a friend to Martin Luther King. She fought for reparations for Japanese American internees.

This is a photo of a march in 1964 protesting the assault of an Asian store owner Park Huey. Shown here are the “Youth for Service Boys.”



“California’s conflicted history on slavery is central to reparations push for Black people” SF Chronicle, 10/18/2020 by Dustin Gardiner 

“'Forgotten by society' – how Chinese migrants built the transcontinental railroad” The Guardian, 07/18/2019 by Nadja Sayej

Grapes Of Wrath: The Forgotten Filipinos Who Led A Farmworker Revolution” NPR, 09/19/2015 by Lisa Morehouse

“140 years ago, San Francisco was set ablaze during the city's deadliest race riots” SF Gate, 07/23/2017 by Katie Dowd 

“Life and death: Anti-Japanese order devastated SF citizens” SF Chronicle, 01/02/2018 by Peter Hartlaub

“Japanese Internment” Historical Essay by Northern California Coalition on Immigrant Rights, FoundSF.org by Northern California Coalition on Immigrant Rights

“Nearly half of SF police use-of-force cases last year involved black people” SF Chronicle, 06/12/2020 by Joaquin Palomino

American Anti-miscegenation (Anti-Mixed Marriage) Laws, University of Idaho

“The Legacy of Redlining - Resources”  Urban Displacement Project, UC Berkeley

“60 Years of Urban Change: West” Institute for Quality Communities, The University of Oklahoma; by Shane Hampton 2/10/ 2015 

“How Urban Renewal Destroyed The Fillmore In Order to Save It” Hoodline 01/03/2016 Walter Thompson

“THE DESTRUCTION OF NIHONMACHI: Historical Essay” FoundSF, by Jesse Drew

“Japanese Internment: Historical Essay” Found SF, by Northern California Coalition on Immigrant Rights

“Redevelopment in South of Market: Historical Essay” Found SF by Gayle S. Rubin

YURI KOCHIYAMA (1921-2014)”, CAAM Presents, CAAM Public Media by momo 06/02/2014