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“Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, and one white – separate and unequal.” And, unless immediate corrective action is taken, “large scale and continuing violence could result, followed by white retaliation, and, ultimately, the separation of the two communities into a garrison state.” These are words from the much publicized and relatively blunt report of the President’s Commission on Civil Disorders.
In November 2010, Joe Debro sent the Bay View a 200-page “book” he wrote in 1968 on racism in construction. His family has generously agreed that it be published in the Bay View. To begin, here is the prolog he wrote in 2010 to update it. In 1968, three of us undertook a study of the manpower implications of small business financing. In 2010, 42 years later, not much has changed.
Black people have largely been locked out of construction work in San Francisco since 1998. That’s a shame, because construction work is a solution to many of the ills in the Black community. Construction wages are high, and when Black contractors have work, they are generally eager to train Black workers regardless of their school, police or prison records.
Like President Clinton in his first run for president, Oakland’s city auditor developed her creds in the conservative community by creating a Sista Souljah moment. She publicly spanked two Black City Council members. These council members, Desley Brooks and Larry Reid, were trying desperately to level the economic playing field in Oakland. They were trying to integrate the money.
As a descendant of former slaves and as an immigrant from the South, I have a unique perspective on segregation. My parents migrated to Oakland from Jackson, Mississippi, in 1944. In Jackson there were signs which posted the segregation policies. In California there were segregation policies, but no signs.
Bayview Hunters Point might consider investing Lennar's "community benefits" in a scholarship fund, a community development group, and a credit union that can pool the funds with residents’ own deposits and loan them for higher education, buying or improving a home, and founding or expanding a business to residents who have long been redlined and betrayed by banks.
On Friday I walked the BART connector project. I found one worker who was a descendant of slaves on this $1 billion project. The minority contractors, who tend to employ members of their own tribe, have contracts whose value is less than 1/2 of 1 percent.
The nation has lost one of its unsung civil rights heroes: Ray Dones was the Martin Luther King of the construction industry. We lost Ray at a time when his kind of leadership is most needed. We all recognize now that the best way to fight violent crime is with a well paying job.
On Saturday, Jan. 30, at 10 a.m., the Bay Area Black Builders plan to picket the Lord’s house. Beth Eden Church, a great church in the Black community, indicates that it has contracted with a White contractor apparently chosen by the lender, to build an addition.
The Bayview Library is a second home for the children and all the people of Bayview Hunters Point. Now the City wants to replace it with a new building, but who will build it? Low bidder on the project was Liberty Builders, located a block from the library and owned by Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff, who is trusted to hire from the community. But the City just snatched the contract from Liberty and gave it to KCK Builders, a white contractor with no Black participation. Will the community allow KCK to build the library?
In the firestorm created by implicating Maxine Waters in what is called an ethics violation, we take our eyes off of the ball. The community of descendents of former slaves needs contracts. We need Maxine to embarrass Treasury about how few contracts reach our community. We need Maxine’s voice to speak out on how few public works contracts – and the good jobs they create – reach our community.
Jimon Clark, a young bright Black male, 13 years old, was executed on the mean streets of East Oakland on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010. His execution was a one-day news story. His young life was so much more. We need police who are trusted by the East Oakland community.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who waged a more successful war on drugs than the entire U.S. government, was concerned with people like Ronald Reagan and George Bush, who made enormous profits from this trade by flooding urban America with poison. Her efforts to investigate were suppressed by Porter Goss, who then chaired the House Intelligence Committee. Now Goss heads the ethics office that charged Waters with ethics violations for her legitimate advocacy for Black banks and economic justice for Black and Brown people.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters conducts her drug war from the top down. Her view is to follow the money. Our government wages drug war on street vendors. The government’s view is to lock up as many young Blacks as is possible.
"There was no ethics violation." - Joseph Debro, president of Bay Area Black Builders. "Rep. Waters is far too valuable to our community to give up without a fight!" - Danny Bakewell Sr., chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. "This is a political witch-hunt that singles out advocacy for the poor." - Len Canty, chairman of the Black Economic Council
San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell's legislation that will help Black contractors win contracts and hire workers and on-the-job trainees was unanimously approved. That's another step toward Blacks building the new Bayview Library! If you want a job, come to the meeting of the Bay Area Black Builders on Saturday, June 12, 12 noon, upstairs at 1099 Sunnydale. Sign up so if Liberty Builders does win the contract, you'll have a good chance to go to work ... and make history.
The state of Arizona has just exploded any pretense of civil rights. It has begun the exposure of the American labor hypocrisy. We need our labor cost to be lower than that for which Blacks are willing to work. The reality is Americans will do any job if the pay is right. We should remind ourselves that this argument is about pay.
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