by tim wise
His words rang out with an unmistakable certitude.
“This is the most racist place I’ve ever lived,” said the man sitting across from me, a black writer and poet whose acquaintance I had only made earlier that day.
His expression made it clear that this was no mere hyperbole spat out so as to get a reaction. He meant every word and proceeded in about twenty minutes to lay out the case for why indeed this place where we were talking — San Francisco — was far more racist, in his estimation than any of several places he had lived in the South.
Worse than Birmingham.
Worse than Jackson, Mississippi.
Worse than Dallas.
San Francisco. Yes, that San Francisco.
From police harassment to profiling to housing discrimination to a persistent invisibility he’d felt since first arriving, there was no doubt that the ostensibly liberal enclave was head and shoulders above the rest.
And it wasn’t his opinion alone. I have heard similar feelings expressed about the Bay Area by peoples of color many times since, as well as about Seattle, Portland, and any number of other supposedly progressive paradises where various “alternative” types (of white folks at least) seem to feel at home.