Photo: Eric Risberg/Associated Press
San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently spoke with Vogue about certain white progressives involved in the recent demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, and did not have very nice things to say.
Breed stated that while she’s happy more white Americans are now supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement — recent polling shows upwards of 60% of white Americans support the protests and calls for police reform — she has “a real problem with the takeover of the movement by white people.”
“I want people to respect the opinions and feelings of Black people and allow us to decide what is in our best interest,” Breed told Vogue. “I talk about the plan to reduce the police budget and reallocate those resources to the African American community, and a large number of non-Blacks reached out to tell me what I should do for the Black community. Then, they say what their community deserves because of their challenges as well. That really bothered me. The Black community [of San Francisco] is capable of speaking for ourselves and deciding what’s in our best interest.”
Polling from the Pew Research Center has shown that just 22% of African-Americans want police funding “decreased a lot,” with the overwhelming majority favoring small decreases, no change, or even increases. Breed’s proposal to reallocate some funding was met with pushback from some white progressives who accused her of not going far enough. This prompted protests at Breed’s home, protests she was not happy about.
“The people who came out to my home last time, they were all white and wearing masks and walking with these ‘firework sticks’ down the street chanting ‘Black Lives Matter!'” she said. “But then they get to my house and start shooting these fireworks off and aiming them at my window and banging on the gate and calling me names to come outside. It was like, what? In the projects, when you come to somebody’s house, you are coming to get your butt beat. Because I will come out and throw some grits on you if you don’t back up!”
Breed went on to accuse white progressives of projecting beliefs onto African-Americans, and stated that many “progressive policies” historically backed by whites in San Francisco have not worked for the city’s Black residents.
“What’s happening in San Francisco now, and has for so many years, is you have a progressive movement made up of people who are mostly white and feel that they know what’s in the best interest of Black people,” she said. “I’m over that … half the policies pushed in San Francisco are ‘progressive policies’ that don’t work for Black people. Because, if they did, why are things far worse for Black people here? In San Francisco, a city where less than 5 to 6% of the population is African American and yet we are disproportionately overrepresented in everything that’s bad: high school dropouts, arrests, homelessness. You name it.”
Across the Bay, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf found herself accused of white projection after her response to finding ropes that looked like nooses on a tree at Lake Merritt. Schaaf announced that the city was working with the FBI on a hate crime investigation into the nooses, despite a black resident stating he put the ropes up months ago as exercise equipment.
“Intentions do not matter, these are extremely serious acts,” Schaaf said at a press conference. “They have no place in our city at any time, but especially not this time.”
Schaaf faced criticism for continuing the investigation, and was accused of virtue signaling by HBO’s Bill Maher in a larger monologue about white progressives projecting beliefs onto minorities and taking it upon themselves to “cancel” those they deem insufficiently woke on racial issues.
“Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf wasn’t going to let all that cheat her out of a chance to signal her virtue,” he said. “Why is this white woman seeing racism where a Black man isn’t? The mayor also said, ‘intentions don’t matter,’ but they do matter. And white people need to stop trying to cancel other white people whose heart is in the right place but don’t exactly get it right on the first try.”
You can read Breed’s full Vogue interview, in which she also discussed her city’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the unique challenges Black mayors face here.
Eric Ting is an SFGATE digital reporter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter:@_ericting
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