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SF Sounds’ ‘Bring on the Bayview’ by Sarah Burchard greenlights white supremacist gentrification

May 22, 2017

Bayview Hunters Point residents respond with an open letter to writer Sarah Burchard

by Tanea Lynx and Juana Teresa Tello

The Bay View newspaper pushed hard for the T-train light rail line beginning in 1992; finally, it was up and running in 2007, when this photo was taken. We knew gentrification would intensify, and the economic boom – the contracts and jobs the project would bring – would “anchor” the existing community by providing people the financial strength to stay here. But after years of City Hall promises to do no harm, they barred all but a few token residents from the work – which vastly enriched others – and kept Third Street torn up for five years, refusing even to apply for the federal funds all other SF neighborhoods undergoing transportation-related disruptive construction had received to mitigate the harm to businesses. Before the T-train, Third Street was mostly still Black-owned. Not today.

On April 13, the ​SF Sounds​ newspaper made the mistake of publishing an article written by Sarah Burchard, entitled ​“Bring on the Bayview​.” From what we’ve gathered, Sarah Burchard is a white person who is not from San Francisco. ​

As people born and raised in San Francisco and Bayview residents, we find Sarah’s article overtly ignorant and flat-out offensive. The article blatantly disrespects residents and our experiences in the current social, economic and political climate that have caused the violent disappearances of working class families from our city.

It is clear that Burchard didn’t write her article for Bayview residents; otherwise, she may have thought twice before submitting such distasteful and racist opinions about our home. As a historically Black community tucked in the southeast corner of San Francisco, the ​Bayview has been home to many Black families for generations since ​The Great Migration​.

Since the article was published, some backlash has taken place which has resulted in the article being removed from the ​SF Sounds ​website. A note from the publisher has been posted online in its place:

“​Note from the publisher: It has come to my attention that the article ‘Bring on the Bayview’ published in SF Sounds was problematic in tone and intention. The reason for writing the article was to help local businesses in the area and the people that live there. As the publisher and acting editor, I instructed the writer to be more gritty and funny. This was outside the writer’s writing style and resulted in the article that was published. Unfortunately, the article was published without editing, resulting in an outcome that was not intended. I apologize to the people that live in the Bayview area and promise to do better in the future. In doing so, SF Sounds will write more articles in the next year that shine a positive light on the community and the people that live there.”

It is clear that Burchard didn’t write her article for Bayview residents; otherwise, she may have thought twice before submitting such distasteful and racist opinions about our home.

The publisher and editors of ​SF Sounds​ should be ashamed of themselves for claiming that this piece was a result of instruction to be “more gritty and funny.” Additionally, the excuse that the piece was “published without editing” speaks to the level of carelessness, mediocrity and misplaced trust in privileged people who seek to “help the people that live here.”

The audacity of Burchards’s tone and the stereotypes her narrative perpetuates about our community is not only privileged and entitled, but cause for direct response. We feel there should be no “future” of published articles in this paper without a public apology to the residents of the Bayview. And, for the record, the Sarah Burchard-types of the world are not welcome in the Bayview.

These white-privileged opinions, in the current state of crisis in Bayview, are representative of the white supremacy that continues to prevail in our society and in concentrated forms in our city. Blatantly racist, classist and rife with colonial perspectives of dehumanization of Black and Brown people, Burchard notes that she now feels safe “taking her skinny white girl ass down to the Bayview.”

The publisher and editors of ​SF Sounds​ should be ashamed of themselves for claiming that this piece was a result of instruction to be “more gritty and funny.”

She says that she feels safe because “a lot has changed over the last couple years. As rents increased in the city, artists and blue-collar workers moved over bridges and farther down 3rd street. That corner of 3rd and Newcomb, local rappers used to sing about, is now surrounded by several respectable places to eat.” (Rappers usually rap, not sing, but OK).

Burchard goes on to make several grammar mistakes while naming eateries she likes that local Bayview residents don’t eat at (in fact, we had to look up more than half of the places she mentioned while reading her article). Trying to polarize herself as different from techies and pretending to recognize the strength of our community, she writes, “people down here just really seem stoked to be serving you.” So, no editors and publishers – no editing could have undone this. This entire piece is one large “edit, undo.”

Burchard boasts about her ability to walk freely in our neighborhood comforted by her white privilege, while the youth of color who live here are criminalized on a daily basis by the police. It is disgusting to read that the cost of her “safety” is funded by the $35 million budget increase for SFPD to police Southeast neighborhoods like Bayview.

Burchard goes on to make several grammar mistakes while naming eateries she likes that local Bayview residents don’t eat at (in fact, we had to look up more than half of the places she mentioned while reading her article).

The increase of such costs only makes for the detriment of Black residents – such is true for Kenneth Harding Jr., Mario Woods and Jessica Nelson Williams, all Black residents killed by the San Francisco Police Department in Bayview.

We ask the question to Burchard, “Safety for who?” The new police that come with the coffee shops and yoga studios and restaurants are the precursor for “redevelopment” and always result in long-time residents and natives being racially profiled in their own neighborhoods. Such is the story of gentrification and police violence that resulted in the murder of Alex Nieto by SFPD.

Perhaps Burchard has no idea how her words contribute to this form of modern day colonization and land grabs that take place in our city. But we have experienced nothing less from a capitalist society that upholds its power with state sanctioned violence against the Black and Brown bodies it exploits to build its wealth.

Such is the case for the last remaining Black residents left in the city of San Francisco, now a mere 3-5.8 percent of the population. Too many Black residents have been disappeared by forced displacement, police violence and murder, and jails in this city. Black residents are 3-5.8 percent of the population but more than half of the entire jail population in the city.

We ask the question to Burchard, “Safety for who?” The new police that come with the coffee shops and yoga studios and restaurants are the precursor for “redevelopment” and always result in long-time residents and natives being racially profiled in their own neighborhoods.

We see the hypocrisy within our local government that prioritizes profit over people and neglects the undeniable needs of their constituents, especially for affordable housing – while it redevelops formerly 100 percent affordable housing communities into “mixed income” developments.

While Burchard wasted her sad (presumably paid?) time writing this article, the average median income in San Francisco as a city steadily rose to over $88,000. The average median income for the Bayview, however, has yet to reach $40,000.

While she submitted this atrocious piece of elitist, neoliberal trash to be recognized, edited, published and put into print for readers to see, Black residents in the Bayview continued to experience being stopped by police disproportionately, to have their licenses suspended for inability to pay tickets, to be killed or brutalized by police, to experience the adverse health impacts of environmental racism and food desert zones due to generations of redlining and to be up to our ears in court debt.

Sarah Burchard wrote about restaurants in a neighborhood that is a food desert. Where many residents cannot afford to eat out at restaurants at all.

We know that her words are representative of many perspectives of our community. For years, voyeurs and settlers have come to enjoy our neighborhood while ignoring our existence. In fact, sometimes they call it ​Sunday Streets​.

Sarah Burchard wrote about restaurants in a neighborhood that is a food desert. Where many residents cannot afford to eat out at restaurants at all.

For years, we have been referred to by our deficiencies, from low birth weights, to crime statistics, to lack of transportation service and inequitable parks. But when does the mirror turn back to people like Sarah Burchard? Back to the city of San Francisco that has maintained our community in this state so that we are organizing and making demands to change the same things that our grandparents organized to change? This gives us reason to be skeptical: We question ​the quality clean-up prior and during construction at the shipyard, as there is proof of tampering with soil samples from the Superfund site. We worry that several storefronts are currently blighted, and given the recent trend, we fear they will soon be occupied by ​white settler businesses​ to cater to the residents of all the luxury housing developments northbound on Third Street leading into Mission Bay’s new UCSF hospital, AT&T ballpark and the future home of the Warriors.

Tanea Lynx

The T-train itself is a symbol of neglect as it only provides useful service to the AT&T Ball Park on game day even though it is situated in a ​public transit-dependent community​.

Through this uncertainty and violence, we take care of each other in the Bayview, because no one else does. We support our local businesses when we can. ​As these changes transform our community right before our eyes, we’re clear that these changes are not intended to benefit those of us who have been here. ​

And we will fight back. Sarah had one thing right – the community ​is​ strong here. She asked for it loud and clear in her title, “Bring on the Bayview.” So here we are. Here it is. Don’t come to Bayview if you can’t come correct.

And we will fight back. Sarah had one thing right – the community ​is​ strong here.

A note to the SF Sounds editor: If the purpose of the article was to write about food in our community, why wouldn’t you ask someone who isn’t afraid to be here – instead of inviting an inexperienced, racist writer whose only qualification is that she eats food? Additionally, if you wanted to bring business to eateries in our community, why wouldn’t you encourage a writer to visit places where ​we​ eat – legacy businesses that are owned by people of color with delicious food that hire locally? If you’d like to encourage people to support our community, educate them about Candlestick Park, which had been formerly public land under the jurisdiction of SF Parks & Recreation before city government privatized it by giving it to the dirty developer Lennar​ (now known as FivePoint Holdings). Lennar has intentions to profit at the expense of our community members, with plans to redevelop the toxic superfund site into luxury waterfront property.

Tanea Lynx is a third generation Black San Franciscan on both sides. She completed her undergraduate study at Columbia University and her Master’s thesis work at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is the child of an incarcerated parent, an abolitionist and a multi-genre writer currently writing a novel entitled “Sanctuary City” that provides an in-depth look at life as a Black San Franciscan in the current moment of gentrification and police violence. Tanea has more than 10 years of experience as an artist, activis, and educator in San Francisco. Find her here, and contact her at tanea.lynx@gmail.com.

Juana Teresa has been organizing in the Bay Area for over 12 years. She is an organizer, educator and skill development trainer serving youth and their families. As a San Francisco native and Bayview resident, her experience has helped wage and win community-led campaigns on a variety of social justice issues defending the rights of working class families of color. Juana is the co-founder of 5 Elements, a youth program that uses hip-hop culture to develop the social and emotional learning of young people through art, critical education and civic engagement. Her experience is dedicated to supporting the leadership development of young people to overcome adversity, while being leaders in our schools and communities. Contact her at juanateresatello86@gmail.com.

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4 thoughts on “SF Sounds’ ‘Bring on the Bayview’ by Sarah Burchard greenlights white supremacist gentrification

  1. Erika Correa

    WOW. YES!! GO OFFFFF. I am SO glad I landed upon this news site. As a student journalist who is a new resident in the Bayview neighborhood I was appalled and disgusted reading this article in SF SOUNDS. The blatant racism and lack of real reporting are an absolute joke. I could not believe someone allowed this garbage to print!!!! I was so mad reading it. It is such trash. It is an embarrassment to journalism as a whole, especially at a time when honest journalism is more important essential and crucial than ever.

    THANK YOU for addressing this. It is unacceptable. It is not okay.

    Keep holding it down.

    Reply
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