San Francisco must stop calling itself “diverse” until The City once again has a thriving population of black residents, Supervisor London Breed said Wednesday while discussing that community's 36 percent shrinkage during the last two decades.
“This City is doing something wrong when it comes to African-Americans,” said the supervisor, who is black.
Following the lead of King County in Washington, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee is reviewing Mayor Ed Lee's $7.9 billion city and county budget proposal with a greater emphasis on equity. This effort, initiated by Supervisor John Avalos, has highlighted several challenges long facing city leaders, including the outmigration of black residents.
San Francisco's black population was 78,931 in 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2010, it had declined to 50,768, a 35.7 percent decrease, comprising just 6.3 percent of The City's population of 805,235.
The population of all other races increased during that same time frame. San Francisco's Asian population grew by 58,497, to 266,398, and the Latino population increased by 27,367 residents, to 121,744.
Highlighting not only the population decrease but also the community's low median income and high incarceration rates, Breed called for “aggressive moves” by city officials.
Breed noted that the Department of Children, Youth and their Families, which administers grant funding for services, recently cut funding in District 5 — which includes the Haight, Fillmore and Western Addition neighborhoods she represents — by $531,000 while increasing by $1 million funding to District 3, which include Chinatown and North Beach, “when it has less children.”
“I don't necessarily think we need to reinvent the wheel in some instances, but we have to look at more of the ways in which we can start to deal with the problem in order to change these statistics,” Breed said.
The committee also discussed data suggesting that the median income of black households in San Francisco is $30,840, whereas it exceeds $50,000 for all other racial groups. And while black residents comprise 6.3 percent of The City's population, The City's jail population of 1,541 was 56 percent black last year.
Breed said it is important to start holding companies accountable about hiring practices.
“For example, recruiting from historically African-American colleges with a regards to a lot of tech jobs that are in our city, which are mostly held by white guys,” Breed said. “I have no problem with white guys. I just have a problem with the lack of diversity in the tech industry when it's booming in our city.”
“We have to do more and it's not always about The City allocating resources. It's about holding companies accountable,” she added.
Correction: This article was updated June 6, 2013. A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the time span in which the black population in San Francisco declined by 36 percent. That time period was during the last two decades.