With much anticipation I woke up on February 4, 2016 to watch a longstanding traditional ceremony. U.S. presidents have invited the winning champions of our nation’s professional sports teams to the White House.
I knew Obama would be hosting my…I mean the 2015 champion Warriors. And couldn’t wait to hear President Barack Obama the comedian. He did not disappoint, especially when he took a swipe at congress. YouTube it.
Before I heard the president in great humor and praise of my favorite NBA team, I was reminded by reading this same day was also the birthday of the late and great civil rights icon, Rosa Parks; born February 4, 1913. I don’t see this as a coincidence. I clearly see that in the year 2016, another civil rights movement is in order.
The mission of this movement should be to stop a most unusual Black-on-Black crime that has already jumped off in the Bay Area, pitting San Francisco against our brothers and sisters in Oakland, CA.
The perpetrators of this Black-on-Black crime are San Francisco City Hall and their willing accomplice, the owners of the Golden State Warriors. They have demonstrated a blatant disrespect of these two neighboring Black communities.
Though Rosa Parks was not the first Black person to resist the disrespect of being relegated to the back of a bus, it was her refusal on December 1, 1955 to give up her seat to a White man and subsequent arrest that called for a “One day” bus boycott by the Montgomery, Alabama NAACP chapter. The boycott lasted 381 days and caused many Blacks to walk as well as sit with their heads held high for decades.
If SF Blacks do not respect ourselves, we can’t expect the majority of San Francisco, let alone the nation who otherwise empathizes, to be in cahoots when we rise up and demand respect in a 2016 movement.
The gospel, soul and R&B group, The Staple Singers said it best; in one of their many hits: “Respect Yourself”, released in 1972. “…if you don’t respect yourself, ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot…”
On July 15, 2010 a group of investors led by a man named Joe Lacob purchased the Golden State Warriors. Immediate rumors began that Lacob wanted to build another arena for his team. I recall hearing that he already had his eyes set on San Francisco. Nevertheless, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee sent a letter to the Warriors owner suggesting a piece of land along the city's Embarcadero.
It was followed up with a strange Embarcadero ceremony at the site. The mayor and top executives; along with a couple of stars from the team on stage. The fact that Mayor Ed Lee mispronounced the name of the team’s star player, Stephen Curry, by introducing him as “Steven Curry”, was the first clue that, this mayor could care less about basketball.
To silence the cries from the jobs for Blacks crowd, the owners of the team and SF politicians got together and came up with a scheme. A promise to hire a certain number of Blacks to get their way. They even had the audacity to have another public ceremony where they signed the agreement.
This meant absolutely nothing to the rich people whose view would be blocked by the project. The rumblings by rich people whose views of water were being threatened put the matter before voters in a well-financed and well organized campaign that sent SF politicians and the Warriors back to the drawing board.
I will never forget the time a Black man approached me outside a supermarket to sign a petition to place the project before the voters. He argued, "We don’t want it to block the view of the water." He sounded as if he was one of the rich property owners. But based on his appearance, I am certain he was a homeless person paid to collect signatures for something where he had no stake in the outcome.
A new site in the city became available when another billionaire offered up for sale some land that the Warriors viewed as promising. Located across the street from a newly built UCSF hospital, which has an emergency room causing another commotion.
But with the help of what I would describe as a shady Environmental Impact Report that sailed across the bay with approval and a questionable “$60 million” traffic abatement promise that the Warriors agreed to pay for, it made the project 99% possible.
This traffic abatement promise angered Mission Bay Alliance, a group already opposed to the project. This group consisting of locals, as well as medical professionals in the area smelled a rat and had a promise of their own.
Mission Bay Alliance went to court with a legitimate legal complaint of how a powerful nurse's union group who once opposed to the project, on the grounds that an 18,500 person arena spelled traffic nightmare, was persuaded to change its position after the $60 million for traffic abatement promise worked out with the team and City Hall.
Though I am no lawyer, I do not believe this lawsuit has a chance in hell. I’ve been around long enough to know logic and a little money does not trump a lot of money. However, the Mission Bay Alliance lawsuit did push back the Warriors planned opening date by one year.
But more should be done to send a strong message of respect for the Black communities of San Francisco and Oakland must be mounted, if SF Blacks are determined to respect themselves.
Keep in mind that the voters of San Francisco said, “No” to attempts to block the view of water. But if this project was to get the go ahead it would be saying yes to blocking traffic next to an emergency room hospital. Now, I could be wrong, but I do not believe that this is the real spirit of San Franciscans.
Nevertheless, there is a way that we SF Blacks can remind SF City Hall and sports franchises everywhere that the spirit of Black San Franciscans is clear. We not only respect ourselves, but we also respect the Black community of Oakland who stand to lose the most from this proposed San Francisco Warriors arena.
First, let me identify the Black on Black crime. The Golden State Warriors are the talk of the sports world and their headquarters has been located in a Black community, Oakland, CA since 1971. The city of Oakland, which like San Francisco has a dwindling Black population, but still can boast of a 26% Black population. Living across the bay in San Francisco it is 6 percent.
But the position of SF Blacks should be that we do not take, from our brothers and sisters, we help them.
If the Black residents of San Francisco collected enough signatures to place on the November 2016 ballot a proposed law that, prohibits building of any sports or large scale arena within one mile of a hospital that has an emergency room; retroactive to January 1, 2015, we will cause all greedy professional sports franchise owners and their greedy co-conspirator politicians to think twice before using poor communities any way they please.
Sure, San Francisco would lose out on bragging rights of having the hottest team in the NBA. But I am willing to go out on a limb and say we SF Blacks would be just as proud to have that team right next door.
Now, I can’t speak for Rosa Parks, but I can imagine her hearing our campaign slogan: “The proposed Golden State Warriors San Francisco arena is a Black San Francisco, on Black Oakland crime that you don’t have to be Black to help prevent”, would get her vote.