In the wake of the Charleston, S.C. shooting, which left nine dead, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a blistering indictment Saturday of the treatment of black Americans during a speech in San Francisco.
“Once again, racist rhetoric has been metastasized as racist violence,” Clinton said at the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where she spoke in the morning.
Nearly 300 mayors attended the conference at the Hilton Union Square Hotel in The City. In her speech, the former secretary of state called out racism not as merely the acts of an angry few, but as pervasive “institutionalized racism” common to many Americans who do not “challenge our own assumptions or privilege.”
“Our problem is not kooks and klansmen,” Clinton said. “It’s the cruel joke that goes unchallenged, the offhand comment about not wanting ‘those people’ in the neighborhood.”
She offered a point-by-point critique of America’s treatment of the black community. But how does The City match up to Clinton’s assessment of national race-relations?
On segregation: “America’s schools are more segregated than they were in the 1960s,” Clinton said.
A report by the San Francisco Public Press found The City’s schools are deeply segregated. Six out of 10 San Francisco Unified School District schools have a simple majority of one ethnicity, and more than one fourth of SFUSD schools are “racially isolated,” meaning 60 percent or more of students in those schools belong to a single ethnic group.
That affects school funding, with more dollars from parent groups and others flowing to schools where white students are the majority, according to the report.
On police stops: “African-American men are more likely to be stopped and searched by police,” Clinton said.
As reported by the San Francisco Examiner, in 2014, black people accounted for 44 percent of all SFPD arrests, according to the department. Whites make up 42 percent of The City’s population, but make up 32 percent of all arrests in 2014.
San Francisco’s black population is 6 percent, according to 2013 census data.
On health outcomes: “How could that be true that black children are 500 percent more likely to die of asthma than white kids?” Clinton asked.
According to a 1999 report by UC San Francisco and the Department of Public Health, one in six Bayview children at that time had asthma. The neighborhood’s home to one of San Francisco’s largest black populations.
According to The City’s Asthma Task Force, from 2006-08 (the most recent data available), the Bayview still ranked among the highest areas for asthma hospitalization in San Francisco.
More recent city data shows black San Franciscans experience higher rates of diabetes and obesity than other ethnicities.
“It’s tempting to treat this as an isolated incident, that racism in America is largely behind us,” Clinton said, in San Francisco.
“I know there are truths we don’t want to say out loud,” she said, “but we have to. It’s the only way we can possibly move forward together.”