San Francisco apologizes to Black residents for decades of racist policies

Authorities in San Francisco have formally apologised to African Americans and their descendants for the city’s role in perpetuating racism and discrimination.

"This historic resolution apologises on behalf of San Francisco to the African American community and their descendants for decades of systemic and structural discrimination, targeted acts of violence, atrocities," said City Supervisor Shamann Walton, "as well as committing to the rectification and redress of past policies and misdeeds."

San Francisco joins another major US city, Boston, in issuing an apology. Nine states have formally apologised for slavery, according to the resolution.

"We have much more work to do but this apology most certainly is an important step," said Walton, the only Black member of the board and chief proponent of the resolution.

Deep racial wealth gap

The African American Reparations Advisory Committee has proposed that every eligible Black adult receive a $5 million lump-sum cash payment and a guaranteed income of nearly $100,000 a year to remedy San Francisco’s deep racial wealth gap.

There has, however, been no action on those proposals.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the historically Black Fillmore neighbourhood, which was razed in the last century and resulted in the displacement of residents, said that some leaders who back the apology still want to build "unaffordable housing for mostly wealthy, white people" on public land.

Disproportionate homelessness

Black people make up 38 percent of San Francisco's homeless population despite being less than 6 percent of the general population, according to a 2022 federal count.

There are about 46,000 Black residents in San Francisco.

In 2020, California became the first state in the nation to create a task force on reparations. The state committee, which dissolved in 2023, also offered numerous policy recommendations, including methodologies to calculate cash payments to descendants of enslaved people.

Cheryl Thornton, a city employee who is Black, said that an apology alone does little to address current problems, such as shorter lifespans for Black people.

"That's why reparations is important in health care," she said. "And it's just because of the lack of healthy food, the lack of access to medical care and the lack of access to quality education."


Source: TRT