San Francisco could face $32 million loss from African American tourism boycott

by Xochilt Jackson

San Francisco – San Francisco’s leading Black business organization has told the San Francisco Travel Association the boycott of San Francisco’s tourism and hospitality industry is not over. Fred Jordan, president of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, informed Joe D’Alessandro, president of San Francisco Travel, “The Chamber’s concerns and demands have not been addressed, and we want to make it clear that until they are, this boycott is not over.”

SF Historical Cultural & Society BHM Awards Caesar Churchwell AAACC 022314 by Lance Burton, PFC, webSan Francisco Travel sat down with the SF NAACP, members of the community, representatives of the mayor’s office and board members of the SFAACC to begin a dialogue on the lack of African American inclusion in San Francisco Travel’s promotions, board positions, staffing and outreach. San Francisco Travel set up committees to come up with recommendations by April 30. San Francisco Travel then decided to circumvent the Chamber, negotiate with other community organizations and issue a press release that the boycott issues were resolved.

“We want to make it crystal clear,” said Jordan, “the boycott is on. We will continue to fight for equity for our community and opportunities for African American businesses in San Francisco.”

Although the Chamber reluctantly supported the creation of San Francisco Travel’s ad hoc committees, Dr. Caesar Churchwell, senior vice president of the Chamber, stated. “There is really no need for any new committees or discussions. The City has been conducting meetings and studies for years. The problems and potential solutions were identified five years ago.”

Churchwell was referring to two reports issued by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission: “Report of the San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on African American Out-Migration” published in 2009 and the “Comparative Review and Analysis of Equity and Diversity” released November 2011. Since 1993, the City 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 San Francisco – an exodus unparalleled by any other major American city.

Among the recommendations of the 2011 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 tourist economy.”

Phase One of the boycott, requesting African American meetings and conventions not to come to San Francisco, is in full swing and has garnered the support of at least 10 large associations with potential revenues of approximately $32 million, with more signing on each month.

Phase One of the boycott, requesting African American meetings and conventions not to come to San Francisco, is in full swing and has garnered the support of at least 10 large associations with potential revenues of approximately $32 million, with more signing on each month.

Although the second phase of the boycott has been postponed pending the outcome of negotiations with San Francisco Travel and the City, Phase Two – targeting educational associations – will be implemented on April 1, if no serious progress has been made.

“The San Francisco African American Chamber called the boycott and only the Chamber can call it off. We have a responsibility to our members and our community to ensure that they have access to the same opportunities as other businesses in San Francisco. Right now, that is simply not the case,” stated Churchwell.

San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce event group photoThe Chamber’s concerns regarding the lifestyle of African Americans in San Francisco go far beyond the tourism and hospitality industry. Over the past 30 years, the African American population in San Francisco has dropped from 14 percent to 3 percent, yet over 50 percent of the City jail is African American – a direct result of a lack of job opportunities.

Residents of Bayview Hunters Point have a life expectancy that is 14 years less than residents of Pacific Heights, and just 50 percent of our children are graduating from San Francisco high schools. The mayor’s office and the Board of Supervisors need to take action and pay more than lip service to these issues. When it comes to being progressive, talk is cheap.

Xochilt Jackson and the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce can be reached at info@sfaacc.com or 1006 Webster St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-749-6400.