The Dream vs. Reality: On Being Black in San Francisco
Kimberly Reyes
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Let me say, Ms. Reyes, that although I empathize — something that will hopefully become clear to anyone who reads my entire comment — as a Black man born in SF (I consider it and Daly City my “dual hometowns”) and an artist deeply embedded in The City’s creative community, I’d be remiss not to point out the flaws in this piece.

The first and foremost being the umpteenth complaint of someone wanting to come to SF because they thought it was the Land of OZ, only to find the opposite upon arriving. Those of us with real roots here know what living and growing here means, flaws ‘n all. SF wasn’t created to specifically cater to the individual needs of someone migrating here, so it’s disengenuous for such a person to complain about The City not being tailor-made just for them.

Second, the fact that you’ve been here a mere two years speaks volumes. Everyone who’s arrived recently — artists and techies alike — has treated SF like a college town in which they plan to use only for what they want, then leave. They invade, do damage (Giants victory riots, economic displacement due to sudden influx of new residents, price increases, etc.), then declare that “SF is so over” when they’re done… after they’ve moved to Oakland to do the exact same thing. What’s more, thay almost never vote, and when they do, it’s against their best interests.

Meanwhile, we natives have to clean up your literal and figurative messes once you’re gone. That’s what we did after the yuppie influx in the ’80s, the dot-com boom of the late-’90s, and it’s what we’ll do after the new “tech bubble” bursts.

What stood out to me, Ms. Reyes, is that you mention being from NY. I once had a starry-eyed dream of moving to NY. I never got there, but I also realized that such rose-tinted dreams inevitably end in disappointment, as proven by all my friends who did move to NY. I also made a conscious choice to not take part in massive gentrification sweeping NY. (You worry about fewer Black folks in SF? Why do NY real estate listings refer to Harlem as “North Manhattan”?)

And as an artist, I can say with 1000% certainty that if you can’t find our thriving art community, you aren’t looking.

I can’t speak to your personal experience, but I can speak as both a Black man and lifelong San Franciscan. That’s why I can say that the complaints you’ve listed are the very ones gentrifiers use to push out us natives. You’re adding to the problem, whether you know it or not. That’s the attitude that’s left fewer Blacks in the Fillmore and fewer Latinxs in The Mission.

If you feel like you want to leave, we won’t stop you. But don’t complain that a city that was here before you got here wasn’t made just for you. And we’ll still be here when you’re gone.🌉✌🏿