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Bayview Hunters Point is the soul of San Francisco. It’s changing but its history and heroes can’t be erased and must be celebrated. They are the foundation and inspiration for the thriving community we will rebuild. In “Picture Bayview Hunters Point,” a labor of love, says director Joanna Haigood, Zaccho Dance Theatre, a BVHP-based cultural treasure, performs that history and presents those heroes unforgettably. Bring everyone, especially the children and young people, to this lavish but free performance – inside and outside the Opera House.
For the last couple of years in San Francisco, the beginning of December has been marked by a bloody tradition: the murder of Black men by San Francisco police. On Dec. 1, just one day before we were set to gather around the family of Mario Woods to remember his life on the two-year anniversary of his killing, the SFPD shot and killed another of Bayview Hunters Point’s own sons, Keita O’Neil aka Icky. The result of letting Icky’s murder go without response is that another one of us gets killed. They didn’t kill Icky because he was a hustler. They killed Icky because in San Francisco our Black and Brown lives are considered expendable.
When we last checked in with LaWanda Dickerson of U3Fit earlier this year, the fitness instructor and nutritionist was working with Bayview residents to help them get in shape and improve their health. Now, Dickerson has a new venture in the works: opening her own studio at 4646 Third St. in mid-September. The space was previously home to First Cup Coffee but has been empty since a 2015 fire. The U3Fit Meal Prep Fitness Studio will be part café, part fitness training facility.
Along with the many changes and new development that has come to Bayview Hunters Point, one in particular is extremely motivating. Bayview native Richard Washington, 44, is an inspiring entrepreneur who has set out to bring a little elegance and class back to the community. Once involved in a life of crime, he has decided to come back into his community and devote himself toward constructing a luxurious nail care salon for both the women and men of Bayview.
Report after report reminds and warns the Black community that AIDS is not yet under control for the Black population. However, when I saw several new 6-foot-by-4-foot billboard ads in the Castro district of San Francisco this past week with the image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. under the heading, “AIDS is a civil rights issue,” I first thought, “Well, that’s a stretch.”
By the late 1940s, after the war, virtually every young Black youth in San Francisco had a chance to attend City College, for free. We now need another generation of K-12 Black students to gain that chance. Now, the challenge for an entire community of Black people is how to ignite the interest of young Blacks to compete for the education they need – as Malcolm X once stated, “by any means necessary.”
HO! HO! HO! The holiday season is upon us! Times are good. Folks crowding the malls, spending cash or charging their purchases; some buying on the layaway plan! Where are WE shopping? Are dollars channeled BACK to BLACK businesses on THIRD Street!??? Tough question! I travel through the corridor every day, not impressed at the options where I can spend my money.
Dr. Willie Ratcliff is publisher of the San Francisco Bay View, one of the leading Black newspapers in the U.S. and a treasured source of left news in the Bay Area. In an interview with Michael Chase and Ragina Johnson, Ratcliff, a longtime resident of the city, reflected on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and its closure, environmental racism and the changes in the Fillmore neighborhood, a historically Black area known as “Harlem West.”
We get criminalized in Bayview Hunters Point on the T-Train, and the police chase people down because they don’t have a transfer. I spoke before the Board of Supervisors, and a couple of days later Kenneth Harding was shot down over a $2 transfer. African American youth in San Francisco have a 70 percent unemployment rate, so our population is rapidly decreasing. It’s going to continue to decrease when the police are criminalizing our poverty. When I tried to videotape a cop, they put me under arrest, they beat me up. I was hospitalized, and I was put in jail. They gave me $95,000 bail.
The Hunters Point Rebellion, touched off Sept. 27, 1966, 45 years ago today, by the police murder of Matthew Johnson, 16, was put down after only 128 hours with massive force. The repression left scars that make it hard for people who lived through the rebellion to talk about it 45 years later. The Bay View encourages those who remember to share your story so that what should be a proud chapter in Black history of defying injustice is never forgotten. Those who remember the 1966 rebellion are encouraged to email their recollections to the Bay View at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the current wave of uprisings across England ... and the insurgence of flash mobs across the United States ... it is appropriate to call on the history of rebellions by our people. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, riot is the language of the unheard; and so it comes as no surprise that the language of our underclass is of the same dialect that it has been for decades and even centuries ...
Generally, what happened to Harding happens in colonized spaces to colonized subjects, from Hunters Point to Baghdad. The victims are people of color. Five centuries of colonially-constructed rationales have served the purpose of minimizing the value of racialized subjects.
“The police in our community occupy our area, our community, as a foreign troop occupies territory. And the police are in our community not to promote our welfare or our security or our safety, but they are there to contain us, to brutalize us and murder us,” said Huey P. Newton, co-founder and minister of defense of the Black Panther Party. Hunters Point has stood up to the Lennar Corp. and the City about the shipyard. It is time to expand that movement to include police terrorism, put new energy into it, and claim our right to live and not be wantonly killed.
In September 1966, after police killed 16-year-old Matthew Johnson, I stood in the Bayview Opera House as police bullets from Third Street ripped through the building, hitting my childhood friend. This is how the 1966 Hunters Point riots began. Forty-five years later, blood has been spilled by police bullets just feet from where young Mr. Johnson died. Welcome the family of Kenneth Harding on Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m., at the Center for Self Improvement, 5048 Third St. at Revere, San Francisco.
Shot dead in his car on July 15, 2011, a mere 30 and a half months after Oscar’s BART police assassination, Johntue Caldwell, godfather of Oscar Grant’s daughter, Tatiana, was one of the terrorized Black youth on the Fruitvale BART platform with Oscar on Jan. 1, 2009. He leaves behind two young sons.
The Black population in San Francisco drastically declined when urban renewal, Redevelopment and the gentrification of the Fillmore/Western Addition started in the ‘60s, bulldozed the hearts of African Americans, many forced to move out of the City.
With the original floor from 1888 restored, The Bayview Opera House continues to provide arts education and cultural enrichment to San Franciscans on a low or no cost basis. The recent Dare To Dream arts program and upcoming Black History Month celebrations are just a few of the events.
“Ain’t nothing free in this world, babe. Everybody gotta pay to play. The only issue is that most of us is broke to begin with. And we’ll take what we need, from anybody we can, just to get in the game.” This is a statement my husband made to me just two days before he was murdered – no, assassinated – on Third Street on Mother’s Day.
Did you know that in his eye-opening investigation, filmmaker Aron Ranen revealed that “Koreans have come to control virtually every aspect of the multi-billion dollar black hair care industry, from manufacturing to distribution to retail sales, while simultaneously employing tactics to put African-American merchants and wholesalers out of business?”