SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The economic and social divides that exist in communities of color are often perpetuated from generation to generation. Breaking the cycle often depends on educating young people, and empowerment comes from providing them a voice.
Aliyah Dunn-Salahuddin is chair of the African-American studies department at City College of San Francisco. She grew-up in the Bayview-Hunters Point District, and her grandparents were displaced from the Fillmore District during urban renewal.
“But when you’re getting paid $12 dollars an hour, when you’re getting evicted from your house, or you don’t know where your grandmother’s going to go, that’s the real tragedy in all this,” Dunn-Salahuddin said.
Sheryl Davis is with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. She started the Bayview and Fillmore youth empowerment organization Magic Zone.
“These kids are seeing shootings or experiencing death on a regular basis. And as people try to make the message about what’s going on with police officers, it re-traumatizes them around, like, the murders or even just the shootings or the things that they hear,” Davis said. And we don’t take that into consideration when we try to make our point about how horrible the police are.”
At San Francisco’s Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, talking to kids 13 to 17 years old from the Bayview and Western Addition, it’s clear how many feel about police, with all of them saying they’ve experienced prejudice or racism:
“My uncle and my grandpa was killed by police.”
“I feel like as far as living in the quote, unquote ‘hood or whatever, I feel the police is, like, they’re becoming the biggest gang in the cities or whatever. It used to be more like black on black crime, like, killing and all that. But now it’s, like, police vs. black.”
“I think they’re, like, power-happy with their badges and guns.”
“They (police) abuse their authority. It doesn’t really matter where you are. My uncle, I know he was just walking into a bank. And I guess they thought he had something on them and they killed him.”
“They feel that what’s going on in our communities aren’t like a big deal, which it is, and has been since the world started, and there’s been a separation between black and white.”
Among the hopes and dreams these teenagers said they aspired to, one teen’s goal stood out. “I just want to make it to 18 so I can say I lived the life. At least I can say I lived my teenage years.”