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San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce calls for boycott of San Francisco’s tourism and hospitality industry

December 21, 2013

by Xochitl Jackson

San Francisco – After several years of advocating for African Americans to have an equal opportunity to benefit from San Francisco’s lucrative tourism and hospitality industry, the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce (SFAACC) is calling a national boycott against San Francisco’s tourism and hospitality industry, beginning Jan. 1, 2014. SFAACC is demanding the City of San Francisco

  • conduct hearings into the discriminatory practices and lack of representation of African Americans in the hospitality industry, and
  • redirect 5 percent of the Tourism Improvement District (TID) fund into nonprofit organizations that will recruit, train and place African Americans into hospitality industry jobs, and
  • direct tourism spending into African American neighborhoods and businesses.

SFAACC logoIn recent months the SFAACC has met with and written the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Board of Supervisors and the mayor regarding the exclusion of African Americans in the tourism and hospitality industry. Despite approximately $8 billion in annual tourist spending flowing into the City, the amount that flows into San Francisco’s African American community is infinitesimal.

The San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce (SFAACC) is calling a national boycott against San Francisco’s tourism and hospitality industry, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

SFAACC asserts that African American neighborhoods are seldom promoted by the San Francisco Travel Association (SFTA) and African American businesses are often refused contract opportunities. In fact, a recent video by SFTA to promote San Francisco to the world and draw tourism to the City did not include any African American or Latino images or destinations. The issue is exacerbated by the lack of African Americans employed in the industry, despite the efforts of Unite Here Local 2’s efforts to push hotels for greater diversity in hiring with a memorandum of understanding they created for the City’s hotels.

Fred Jordan, web
Fred Jordan
In an effort to resolve the disparities, SFAACC met with Theresa Sparks, director of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), to express concerns regarding the tourism industry in general and the SFTA in particular. Ms. Sparks offered HRC as a “mediator” and agreed to meet separately with Mike Casey, president of Unite Here Local 2 and Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of SFTA, to discuss SFAACC’s concerns.

In her report to the SFAACC, she apparently provided misleading statements. According to Mike Casey, he denies telling Sparks that he “is not aware of any overt discrimination” in San Francisco’s hospitality industry and considers that statement a misrepresentation of their meeting. Ms. Sparks also failed to address the major issues and concerns of the SFAACC in her meeting with Mr. D’Alessandro.

Community outreach, jobs, job training, contract opportunities and economic development were apparently not on the agenda and not discussed. Fred Jordan, president of the SFAACC, stated: “It’s apparent that the African American community in San Francisco has no advocates in the public sector regarding this issue. No one seems to want to confront one of the most blatant and visible forms of discrimination affecting African Americans in San Francisco – being shut out of San Francisco’s number one industry, tourism.”

The repercussions from this discrimination have been staggering. Some of the disturbing facts include:

  • The median income of African American households in San Francisco is $30,840, just 35 percent of the median white household at $89,140.
  • The African American population in San Francisco has dropped from 13.4 percent in 1970 to less than 4 percent today – the worst percentage decline of any major American city.
  • 50 percent of African American children do not graduate from San Francisco high schools.
  • Although less than 4 percent of the general population, African Americans make up 54 percent of San Francisco’s jail population.
  • The life expectancy of African Americans living in San Francisco’s Bayview district is 14 years less than residents of Russian Hill or Pacific Heights.
  • The African American unemployment rate in San Francisco is more than three times that of whites. The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds is in the 40-45 percent range.

“No one seems to want to confront one of the most blatant and visible forms of discrimination affecting African Americans in San Francisco – being shut out of San Francisco’s number one industry, tourism.”

The City’s failure to genuinely address these issues is further reflected in the lack of action by the HRC to implement any of the recommended next steps outlined in the City’s “Report of the San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on African-American Out-Migration,” published in 2009, or in its “Comparative Review and Analysis of Equity and Diversity” reports by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission released in November 2011. Among the recommendations of this report was the following:

“Establish an African-American economic development district in the city to serve as the center of a new tourism area that will attract tourists in the same way as a Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf or other locations central to the tourism economy.”

United 4 Justice rally Candlestick 090813-5 Fred Jordan by Kilo G. Perry
Fred Jordan and the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce were part of the United 4 Justice coalition that organized a rally at Candlestick Park on Sept. 8, 2013, to protest the lockout of Blacks from construction of the 49ers’ new stadium. – Photo: Kilo G. Perry
Since 1993, the City and County has conducted numerous studies with recommendations on how to support the economic growth of the African American community and slow the out-migration of African Americans from the City. To date, none have been implemented and HRC has paid little more than lip service with special events and recognition ceremonies of community leaders.

Jordan states, “We’ve had enough of the studies and reports that acknowledge the problems but do absolutely nothing to help solve them. SFTA’s biased behavior and City Hall’s attitude of benign neglect has allowed this situation to deteriorate to the point where we have no alternative but to call for a boycott of San Francisco.”

Phase One begins Jan. 1, 2014, and will include requesting all African American associations and organizations not to bring any of their meetings, conventions or conferences to San Francisco.

Phase Two begins Feb. 1 and includes requesting educational organizations not to bring any of their meetings or conventions to San Francisco.

Phase Three begins March 1 and includes informing legal and medical organizations of our boycott and requests that they take their meeting and convention business elsewhere.

“SFTA’s biased behavior and City Hall’s attitude of benign neglect has allowed this situation to deteriorate to the point where we have no alternative but to call for a boycott of San Francisco.”

SFAACC also plans to hold peaceful demonstrations outside all major conferences in and around Moscone Center to bring national and global awareness to the discrimination taking place in San Francisco.

Xochitl Jackson and the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce can be reached at info@sfaacc.com or (415) 749-6400.

 

33 thoughts on “San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce calls for boycott of San Francisco’s tourism and hospitality industry

    1. Jameson Scott

      How do you work harder when the work is denied you? Wake up! READ! We want the money to flow to our community so we can work. You are spouting the same stereotypical comments of the culturally handicapped. Open your eyes, open your heart and open your mind. Maybe then you will reach enlightment.

      Reply
      1. Guest

        It's enlightenment. The Hispanics have grown in numbers in SF and no one shifted money in their direction besides paychecks if they showed up to work. I'm finding it difficult to lay the disturbing facts section of this essay at the feet of the tourism board. Changes within a community can begin when brothers and sisters marry more, form families and raise kids in homes that value finishing high school.

        Reply
  1. KajunKlown

    Who in their right mind wants to visit the hood?! If I ever go to San Francisco, I want to be able to return home with all of my possessions!!

    Reply
    1. harryo

      Racist….the 'hood includes the Western Addition, which includes Alamo Square, Fillmore and Divisadero Streets, as well as the lower Haight….Last time I checked, folks persuaded the Board of Supervisors to ban large tour buses from Alamo Square, which is part of the 'hood.

      Reply
    2. Jameson Scott

      You know there is more to the Black community than just the "Hood". Look at the police blotter and you will see you are safer in the Hood that the hotel district. They just don't tell you because its easy to klown you into believing otherwise.

      Reply
  2. Mr. Wisdom

    Asking to be given opportunities is not the answer. Being qualified for a job thru education and a disciplined work ethic is the answer. Entitlement and handouts get you nowhere. Work and discipline are the virtues of an industrious career. A “chamber of commerce” should know this.

    Reply
    1. Jameson Scott

      Why is it when the City and County of San Francisco gives money to a "San Francisco Business association" its business, yet when African American owned businesses ask that only a percentage be directed to our "chamber of commerce" its entitlement and handouts. If you understood how governments works you would see that the city is using money to forward an agenda of discrimination and segregation. You would think someone who calls themselves "Mr. Wisdom" would know this.

      Reply
  3. Jeff

    Why is it all their stats refer to "Whites", if this is about the hospitality and tourist industries shouldn't the article be targeting Latinos? They are the Dominate "race" (since this is obviously a race issue with the SFAACC). Latinos make up 80% of all hotel and restaurant workers in San Francisco and I don't remember a single outreach program or even a single tax dollar given to them to train, educate or buy to Band-Aids for hurt feelings, in fact I think they work hard for what they have. WOW now there's a thought! How about the SFAACC stop crying about what others have worked hard for and look inward at their own community and those family's that are raising these "drains" on the city.

    Reply
    1. Sick and Tired

      This is a joke right? Worked harder for? Know your history before you demonstrate your ignorance. According to a Pew Research poll the economic gulf between Whites and Blacks is roughly the same as it was half a century ago. Thanks to public policies and unscrupulous business practices the gaps between Blacks and Whites in the areas of household income and household wealth have widened. This has everything to do with the fact that we live in a country that has promoted white affirmative action, policies such as benign neglect to ignore the history of Blacks in America and you say we should be on equal footing and have an equal opportunity to be successful. Wake up and smell your own coffee – according to Brandis University a WHITE educational establishment Blacks can never recover from the atrocities inflicted upon us that continue to oppress us at the hands of White America.

      The legacy of slavery has benefited every white person in this country–directly and personally. In a very gross analogy, if you run a series of foot races over 300 years but prevent 13 percent of the participants from learning how to run for 180 years and then give them concrete sneakers for another 80 years–but allow them full access for 40 years, it will take the 13 percent quite a few races to be competitive because the other 87 percent advanced their skills by practice and repetition.

      Life is not a foot race, but it is a fact that the average white person would not economically benefit from switching places with an average black person (black households average one-tenth the household wealth of white households). If you believe all people are created equal, there has to be a reason for this–and there is: racism.

      Reply
    2. ron

      of course jeff you must be white which means your opinion has no value here !try the kkk or republican party or support local prisons ..band aid my ass i work ten times harder than any white or latino..
      Latino are not a threat because they easier to mix with white people , as far as working harder white people never have done anything except cause trouble against people of color world wide!as far as black yes they do need to get there shit together become better parents and stop letting the state run their households!

      Reply
    1. harryo

      25 years ago Hayes Valley and Alamo Square was the last place you would take tourists…Bayview is going through the same transition.

      Reply
    2. Jameson Scott

      This is as insensitive as Justine Sacco's AIDS comment. African American business are not only in Hunters Point and by the way Hunters Point is a thriving community. Start promoting European tourist to Hunters Point? So you agree the City is only trying to reach European tourists.

      Reply
  4. John Mulligan

    "50 percent of African American children do not graduate from San Francisco high schools." = "The median income of African American households in San Francisco is $30,840, just 35 percent of the median white household at $89,140." & "Although less than 4 percent of the general population, African Americans make up 54 percent of San Francisco’s jail population." & "The African American unemployment rate in San Francisco is more than three times that of whites. The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds is in the 40-45 percent range."

    Meanwhile, over in Chinatown, you got kids studying on the weekend. That's on you.

    Reply
    1. Jameson Scott

      At some point you may wake up and realize the stat's you quote are wrong. Check with the Sheriff's office. Stat's show the majority of inmates – especially for violent crimes are white. Have you every supported the African American battle for schools in the community. Are you aware of the school closures the Unified because when they need money the close African American schools? Have you been to the new Bayview Library where kids are studying every day including weekends? Have you ever considered that the unemployment rate is because of lack of access and opportunity such as the Chamber is requesting? Seems like many who are unable to embrace diversity, you have allow yourself to be hoodwinked by misinformation designed to feed your prejudice.

      Reply
      1. John Mulligan

        The stats I quoted are from the article. Despite that, they are sadly accurate. I have yet to see an article from this website that places any of the blame where it belongs: undisciplined and lazy children, undisciplined and lazy parents. As long as you try to restrict the conversation to "lack of opportunity" or "discrimination," you will get very few if any supporters because people living in the city remember what they see on the street. Want more stats? Here: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the… check out the FBI. Homicide 50% black, rape almost 60% black, robbery almost 50%, aggravated assault about 60%. That's with black people as 12% of the population. If all those kids in the Bayview were studying, you know damn well they would not be getting arrested and everyone else knows it too. My dad grew up hearing from the handout crowd and so did I. I'll be damned if my kid does.

        Reply
  5. Juanpelon

    I support the SFAACC strike fully. The San Francisco community in general appear to be the biggest form of racism that exists in this country. I am ashamed that the SF community is so racist.

    Reply
    1. Harryo

      I don't know…So few Black organization come to San Francisco now, would such a boycott be similar to the Hawaiian congressional delegation complaining about the lack of Amtrak funds going to Hawaii?

      Reply
      1. Jameson Scott

        If you are unwelcomed and uninvited you go to where you are. It's not as if Black organizations have not looked to San Francisco as a destination, its the game that is played to discourage them for coming. You cannot wake up Black and experience this first hand. But what you can do is can the dry humor at the expense of a community, lend a hand for justice and form an opinion for experience and not prejudice.

        Reply
  6. Sick and Tired

    Those who have not been enlightened and who will never accept the facts coming from anyone Black try listening to those who control the power, oppress Blacks and think before you write. Tourism would not be to bring visitors to one of the many "killing zones" but to participate in the economic opportunities that the City's top moneymaking industry has historically excluded Blacks from participating in. Try listening to the truth from a rich white member of the 1% who may enlighten you to the fact that working harder doesn't equate to success if you are Black. History and facts prove this and this type of response is a symptom of the problem, after all who could work harder than slaves. Educate yourself before spewing racist comments watch http://youtu.be/CVnBlpxgbdk

    Reply
  7. WINO

    No snark. No sarcasm. No hate. This is a white person giving advice so feel free to tune out.
    "50 percent of African American children do not graduate from San Francisco high schools."
    The problem is the family. Latinos have strong families, strong ties to religion. I live in Oakland, my children go to public school, and we have many black friends, although our friends are hard workers and value the family they have. Sadly, few have fathers, and the ones that do fare far better.

    You want an advocate for the tourism industry? How about an advocate for a stable family? You get stable families, you get stable children, you get them to finish school, life becomes more valuable, crime diminishes because the future is brighter, everything gets better.

    My marriage is far from perfect, we fight, man we fight over money, it's the most common thing to destroy a marriage, but hasn't destroyed us yet. But it takes work to stay together, and patience. Get the family thing together and everything else will come. Keep your children well.

    That is as gentile as I can put it. Responsibility is not a burden, it is a power.

    Reply
  8. Edith Sistrunk

    Well I am surprise to read these hard core facts about the disparity for Minorities in the San Francisco Bay Area with the tourism business and other facts afflicting the minority population. The only thing I can add is that we must pray for improvement in 2014. As I read this article about how a Jewish businessman implied about the African American community being a community that is known as having fluid money, we must learn to love and respect each other. We as African Americans or African descendants has not arrived in America or any where in the world until we learn how to connect with our history and learn to value what we have and use it in a positive way to connect with each other.

    Reply
  9. A Bother

    Why do people hate us when we stand up for our rights and a piece of the "American pie". This racism is so strong . Other minorities and immigrants adopt the Sam bias behavior and end up fighting each other for the majority cultures table scraps. Lets continue with the boycott and any other action to help our people. We must demand respect from all. Don't listen to the critica about fatherless children . Borax came from there, Raplh Bunch came from there. Let support whatever family structure we have and continue to demand. Remember " Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has and it never wil"

    Reply
  10. Pretty

    The SFAACC is correct on this issue. People who think this is about Blacks wanting special ftreatment or lacking self-determination either don't live in SF, or have never tried to get one of the lucrative bar and restraunt positions here while Black and qualified. Whatever the case, they don't know what they are talking about. The majority of hospitality companies are owned, managed, or operated by Asians or other non-Black Americans. Regardless if they are are immigrants or American nationals, people hire or don't hire, based on ethnicity, race, and nationality – period. That is illegal. So, I've often wondered how so many businesses in the city get away with extremely blatant discrimination. Even when those businesses reluctantly hire people from ethnicities or races other than their own, they shut them out by refusing to speak English around them or using other methods to let them know they are not welcome, until they become so uncomfortable that they leave. That way, they can say they hired people of other ethnicities, but they don't stay. Or, it is obvious they only hire people of one ethnicity, so people don't even apply. Add to that the myths about certain Black neighborhoods, like the Bayview. There are certain parts of the Bayview that are quite nice, and no, everyone that goes there don't get shot! That's just crazy talk that adds to the rampent negative images of us, and our culture, that all Black Americans deal with in SF.

    Reply
  11. c. sade turnipseed

    As a SF native, who now lives in the Mississippi Delta…I am not shocked by the protest nor by the criticisms. I wish I had more time today to elaborate, but suffice it to say, we live in a country that is still struggling with the outcomes of the Civil War. The Southern strategy is to maintain White supremacy and Black inferiority, by any means necessary; and, the ideology has indeed spread…throughout the country. Dr Francis Cress Welsing discusses many many truths about the White Supremacy challenge and reveals their main fear is one of annihilation…They are afraid of disappearing as an ethnic group…think about it.

    I believe our African American strategy should be one of survival as well. And it should begin with community building and refusal to accept other peoples "game plan" for us. We have always been a people to make a way out of no way. We were always able to survive, because we loved each other (and everyone else); and thereby took care of each other. Hence the phrase "It takes a village." That is our way. It is an ancient African way that we must adhere to. In the season of Kwanzaa, this is the time to reassess, strategize and put in to place all seven principles of the Nguzo Saba and move forward.
    So let us do this…
    “Establish an African-American economic development district in the city to serve as the center of a new tourism area that will attract tourists in the same way as a Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf or other locations central to the tourism economy.” Our cultural history is rich, lovely and very lucrative … everyone knows this is true…therefore, as the late great master prophet and poet Gil Scott Heron has said, "To control your resources is to control your world." Our resources extend to Africa and beyond…let's free ourselves of the perceptual bondage that is holding us in a place of inferiority and mental slavery. "UP UP YOU MIGHTY RACE!" (Marcus Garvey)

    Reply
  12. seamus

    You can't send tourists into Bayview or Hunter's Point. They'll be robbed or worse. It would be irresponsible for some tourism board to direct travlers to these dangerous places.

    Reply
  13. Renaldo Ricketts

    The gentrification scheme in San Fancisco is working, first the Fillmore and now Hunters point. The objective is to move all Blacks out of SF. The first step is towards elimination is the no hire policy, this is the collective unspoken in the alledged liberal city of SF. They simply don't hire you,and who's quilty of this, look around the city and open your eyes. I took a trip to Hunters Point recently and saw an all white lobby, of people and this was on 3rd st in the middle of a Black hood. The whites are moving in and slowly they will simply what happened in the Fillmore, build million dollar condos and eliminate Blacks from Hunters Point. This is all by design,the city has had a plan for over 40 yrs to drive Black people out of SF.
    The city hall rats are all part of this scheme.of course no one is going to admit it, that'll be social suicide. The trend is obvious and vicious, we should picket major tourist attractions,and show the world the true face of SanFrancisco. No it'snot a liberal town for Blacks they are pushing Blacks further out the main stream everyday. The no hire policy is a given in the hospitality industry,we need to organize and picket all of them! Remember the Fillmore- it fell to corporate hands,and Blacks will never return!

    Reply
    1. seamus

      It's not an anti-black thing. It's just getting expensive to live there. There's lots of SF whites moving to Oakland because they can't afford SF. This angers some Oaklanders because they appear not to want whites in certain Oakland neighborhoods.

      Reply

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