by Allen Jones
As a member of the Equity Advisory Committee (EAC) of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, I learned a lot. It was all bad for The City’s Black community.
The San Francisco Human Rights Commission (SFHRC) was formed in 1964 to fight discrimination against Blacks in The City. Today, it is clear to me that this charter commission discriminates against the Black community – with no end in sight.
I became a member of the EAC after witnessing a lack of leadership coming from City Hall concerning Black out-migration. During a February 2014 committee retreat, I recall Commissioner Susan Christian admonish the 15-member advisory committee against “embarrassing the mayor.”
Mayor Ed Lee, who appointed all commissioners as well as the current director, Theresa Sparks, a holdover from a prior administration, is conducting an embarrassing disservice to the Black community. In my opinion, the thousands of Blacks who left The City were systematically driven out.
Director Sparks, a White transgender, who should know a lot about discrimination, was the main focus in a 2012 lawsuit against The City. A straight Black male staffer who reported directly to Sparks charged among other things that he “faced discrimination based on sexual orientation and race.”
A landmark mandatory hiring ordinance passed in 2010 required work for local residents on all San Francisco-funded public works. In addition, the ordinance offered new opportunities for workers in disadvantaged communities. Mandatory hiring was opposed by the SF Human Rights Commission.
I thought it was odd that not one person from the HRC cared about the boycott of the travel and tourism industry, which was announced in January 2014 by the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce. The boycott continues despite recent reports to the contrary.
I sat in other meetings where there was no mention of the plight of Marcus Books. The oldest Black-owned book store in the country is now among the many former Black-owned businesses in The City.
Press releases from the HRC paint a picture of concern for Blacks to the public, but a careful examination reveals their true feelings.
One HRC press release acknowledges the passing of Nelson Mandela. I have lived in The City for more than 50 years. I could not equate Mr. Mandela’s heroics as “truly the hallmark of life in San Francisco.”
Another press release reminding recipients of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as well as a third release reminding everyone that February is Black History Month were condescending to say the least. These hollow echoes of respect for Blacks from this commission are in stark contrast to other press releases coming for this same city agency.
In December of 2013 a press release celebrated the HRC awarding up to $200,000 in grant funding for violence prevention and intervention services for transsexuals.
In April of 2014 another press release from the HRC extended a grant funding opportunity and request for proposals for community needs on violence prevention for LGBT persons in San Francisco.
My passion and experience were enough to get me approved to serve by current committee members, but my passion and experience caused the EAC to panic, which led to my removal.
In my defense, I am a person, not a puppet. And I certainly questioned a lot of what I knew did not equate to “equity.” I observed where the SF HRC had changed its responsibility from bulldog fighting discrimination against Blacks to that of puppet for City Hall policies, which exclude SF Blacks.
Common sense says you cannot reverse Black out-migration when you have a Human Rights Commission and director appointed by this mayor, who encourages Black out-migration by policy. So why did Mayor Ed Lee, a civil rights attorney, hire a young Black lawyer for the task of trying to reverse the Black out-migration of The City?
My guess is that the discrimination against Blacks was covered up by marginalization of Blacks with a three year $360,000 contract for one Black lawyer who the mayor will no doubt put on display at reelection time.
Allen Jones is a long time resident of San Francisco and former member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Equity Advisory Committee. As a Black, crippled homosexual, Jones knows discrimination. He challenges anyone to review his claim that being removed from his position by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission reminded him of the time he was told to “Shut up, you crippled nigger faggot.” That story is in his autobiography “Case Game: Activating the Activist,” which is on the shelf of San Francisco Public Library. He can be reached at (415) 756-7733 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his websites, at http://casegame.squarespace.com and http://sf49erfanrevolt.squarespace.com.