London Breed Elected San Francisco’s First African American Woman Mayor – Is That Good For Black SF?

London Breed is the new Mayor of San Francisco!

After a roller-coaster-ride of voting lead-changes, Breed’s voting advantaged surged to the point where Mark Leno, who was for a few days last week considered the winner of the campaign, conceded the race. For the first time in its history, San Francisco’s mayor will be a black woman.

As Heather Knight gushed in The San Francisco Chronicle, “Lost in all the nerding out was the sheer significance of what was being counted. On Wednesday, we could finally let it sink in: Supervisor London Breed, 43, has become the first woman of color to win election to San Francisco’s top job.”

It’s also an amazing signal of social change in another way: only 5.6 percent of San Francisco’s population is black, and about half of what percentage the SF African American population was when this blogger co-wrote the study (with the late Noel Day of Polaris Research and for San Francisco Human Right Commission Executive Director Ed Lee, who would later become Mayor of San Francisco) “The Economic Status Of African Americans in San Francisco: 1964-1990”, 10 percent.

Think about it: the black population in San Francisco has shrank to almost nothing, and yet “The City’s” overwhelmingly white population that was considered by some to be part of a Bay Area that was alergic to electing blacks for public office, did just that. They elected a 43-year-old black woman to be the leader of their city. London Breed, whom I met at the Alice B.Toklas Democratic Club Breakfast three years ago, has a giant responsibility: to make San Francisco more accessible for blacks. The question is, will Mayor Breed see that as something she must do, or will she assume the electorate doesn’t want that?

After Noel Day and I wrote “The Economic Status Of African Americans in San Francisco”, I recall sittting down with him to determine what the meaning of the data I researched was. One conclusion he came to, and that he specifically talked about in our conversations before presenting the study in 1992, was that “the kind of African Americans who are able to comfortably live in San Francisco in the future will be more like their white counterparts: well-educated and technically oriented,” Day said.

Breed, with the backing of much of San Francisco’s tech community, arguably is the kind of black San Franciscan Day was thinking of when he said that.

But another observation found its way into the study’s conclusions is that San Francisco’s black population would be bifurcated: divided between the rich and poor, with a tiny middle class in between.

If London Breed is the kind of modern, tech-savvy black San Franciscan Day talked about with me in 1992, will she help African Americans on the lower class level?

We shall see.

Stay tuned.

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