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The Most Racist Cities in America

There have been a lot of lists circling around my screen these days that claim to list the top five or top ten most racist cities in America, and New Orleans keeps showing up on every list. Now that has me scratching my head a little bit because while yes, we are a Southern city, and yes New Orleans has lots of racism to go around, to narrow New Orleans down to the top ten in the U.S. is ill founded.

When I was in Indiana adopting my African American son, the attorney wrote into the legal plea for adoption that I would be raising him in a city that is majority African American. This meant something to him and it means something to me. New Orleans is a Chocolate City. African Americans, along with the Indigenous, Spanish, French and Acadian people created a melting pot of culture here that makes this city one of the most unique in the United States.

Our airport is named after Louis Armstrong.

Essence has held its annual festival here for the last 20 years.

Our concert hall is named after Mahalia Jackson.

Congo Square is sacred ground.

And, sadly there is racism here.

I almost think the reason New Orleans keeps showing up on these lists is on account of the indelible images of the 2005 Federal Flood that led the rest of the country to believe this is a city of poor Blacks. However, the horror that was televised around the world was a bit deceiving. What the country saw was a city under water with poor African Americans on their roofs. What I saw was a failure of the federal government to give a damn about them from the getgo, and don’t get me started on the Corp of Engineer’s unconscionable building of knowingly defective levees or President Bush’s and other politico’s turning a blind eye and not orchestrating a satisfactory response to this disaster. Yes, there is structural racism here too, and it is not just here, it is everywhere, on every list – racism isn’t just home in New Orleans.

The United States of America has racism in its DNA.

On one list, I saw someone purporting that San Francisco is not a racist city – um – hello person, there are no African Americans in San Francisco. Would it be better to live in a city like San Francisco or Seattle where there are no African Americans? I don’t think so. I lived in San Francisco for 16 years and its whiteness was blinding, or at least I thought so, and then I moved to Marin County and realized wow, there is an even whiter place to live. This is why I left the Bay Area to return home to this colorful city.

I made a decision to stay here after the storm to help New Orleans rebuild because it is my home. And now it is my son’s home.

I choose every day to raise my African American son here in this city even though I acknowledge it is a dangerous environment for Black males. Then again, I believe every environment in this country is unsafe for Black males. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what city to move to that would be safe for a young African American boy.

If you know of a place where a young African American male could grow to his fullest potential, not be judged on the basis of his skin color, and have every opportunity open to him to live free and thrive, please holler at me.





January 14, 2015 - 3:36 pm

Rachel - Some of the links you sent are not good anymore but I was able to find the articles. I wanted to tell you that my days in San Francisco and then San Rafael were surreal because of the sea of whiteness. And the division of the bay between Black and white – Oakland vs San Francisco – was so glaring and yet no one seemed to notice. I’m glad people are noticing.

January 14, 2015 - 2:53 am

Rachel - I have not checked out the links you have sent because it’s late and I just turned in my third work project, but I hear what you are saying. It’s always unfortunate to have people passing as progressive and liberal and not seeing the inherent bias that they bring to the table. It’s a shame we can’t make some wand waving device that would force people to check their bias before stating that they are progressive and liberal and especially, “not racist”.

January 14, 2015 - 2:05 am

AWB Who Cares - Concerning the matter of and inclusive of every level of
African American people in San Francisco/SELMA-cisco

Welcome to SELMA-cisco. Not the Selma Alabama of
today, the one of the MLK era, just much more covert.
According one Claudette Colvin, a woman who at the age
of 15, did the same as Rosa Parks, before Rosa Parks.
I had the opportunity to meet her and many others. Including
the author of the book, The New Jim Crow. SELMA-cisco
is a great part of that “NEW”.
Before Rosa Parks There Was Claudette Colvin

In the numbered list below, notice all the places in the
South and the “DEEP” South, that in this area specifically
concerning African American people, have progressed much
further than San Francisco. Not professing, just doing.
– From 2007

Sunday, April 14, 2013
Best Cities for African Americans to Find Jobs and Business

1. Washington, D.C.
2. Atlanta, GA
3. Raleigh-Durham, NC
4. Houston, TX
5. Nashville, TN
6. Dallas, TX
7. Charlotte, NC
8. Indianapolis, IN
9. Columbus, OH
10. Jacksonville, FL

One can prove the same for other people too. Especially
those of Spanish heritage and the many hard working
individuals who are being forced out of their homes and
businesses regardless of ethnicity.

The landlord of a very good friend of mine made it known that
my friend and his roommate’s has 11 days to get out of their
apartment. Their landlord made this known to them after they
were away for their holiday vacation. The landlord did did
not follow any prescribed legal procedure and the city,
SELMA-cisco, is going along with the landlord. You guessed
it! If you didn’t, I bet you can.

Black History Month but not in SELMA-cisco.

by Maurice Campbell
Saturday Dec 29th, 2007 3:09 PM

Black Plight Black Flight san Francisco


Welcome to SELMA-cisco.

December 28, 2014 - 9:54 am

Rachel - I lived in San Francisco for 16 years – a city that many think is post racial and progressive, but I saw the opposite. While people greeted me there with – “oh you are from the South, so sorry” – I saw hatred of Chinese and African American as blatant and as much as I have seen here in New Orleans. The gentrification of San Francisco was nothing short of appalling. I lived through the 90’s there and saw ableism, ageism, racism, and on and on as young, white people came there and grew rich and as you said were able to enjoy all of the things that people of color are arrested for. In particular, my then husband worked at 25th and Mission and I witnessed the us and them. I understand that the second dot com has waved through San Francisco again and I have no regrets for having left.

December 28, 2014 - 4:38 am

AWB Who Cares - Over the many years, watching Mission and Valencia Streets turn into a racist white people KKK village, greatly with the full assistance of the police and the city politicians. The greatest example of this is the fact that white people and those that are deemed well to do are allowed to openly engage in activities that black and brown people were and are arrested for.

The New Slogan for San Francisco must be. San Francisco theNew Modern Day Mississippi of the West and growing more and more in that direction. If you have a racist kkk attitude and lots of money, we will find a place for you and for a little while if you are black or brown, maybe

If you are any ethnicity and will help us maintain our overall kkk deed doing and the appearance of being equally open to everyone, we will find a place for you, for a little while, maybe

We have and are documenting.

September 21, 2014 - 12:17 pm

Rachel - The Kwanzaa ProjectSep 6, 2014

I will be very interested in answers to this question. It has become my contention after exhaustive search by my wife and I that NO city is best. We have found deep seated racism in EVERY city we have traveled to. It is ingrained in the fabric of this country. I speak from the experience of traveling in several places outside the US as well. We have considered dual citizenship because we want to keep our US citizenship, are proud to be American, but fearful of what is to come. Problem is: America’s hatred is well known and now many countries are not too enamored with us. So this is a catch 22.

America and its citizens need to look inward individually (much like you have already) and examine why it has it’s race problem – On both sides by the way.
This problem threatens to destroy this country. So when you ask What’s the best city? I don’t see one. We are where we are BECAUSE we are, NOT because it is necessarily the best place. I cringe when my son is out late and I block out the thought of a phone call from anyone other than my son.

I get a call from my son late in the evening and I have to suppress the panic that goes thru my mind. I don’t want to be THAT statistic or news report. I remind him about this almost every week. That is no way to live but it is the reality in these times.
I am reminded of the Egyptian symbol of the up and down triangles. It represents As Above, So Below. In the Bible it is worded as “What you sow, so shall you reap”. Americans of all races should heed this warning. There is a lot of bad things being said and the karma associated with these things MAY be devastating.
Once again, you pose a GREAT and thought provoking question.

Transracial ParentingSep 6, 2014

We are in bad situation, we can’t run away from it and there is no where to hide. I saw this guy (Prince Ea) on video and he was spot on – we have to change who we are on the inside. We have all adopted the culture as our own – race, war, violence – all this has been handed down to us and we can’t change things through rallies and protests, we can only change who we are as individuals, and by changing ourselves we change the world.

And I hear you about your son and it saddens me. I know we created this mess and now we are living its manifestation – “you slavers will know, what it’s like to be a slave? – sang Nina Simone – but we need to stop this madness now.

The Kwanzaa ProjectSep 7, 2014

Totally agree. A protest and a rally is an outward expression of inner turmoil, but what about bringing peace at home. Children need a refuge from the world’s ills. If they receive that, they often will exhibit behavior consistent with success. If they don’t they will manifest behavior that will be abhorent to society. We must change within and THEN demand change by the ballot box and our $s. We have the tools….but right now they lay dormant in our toolbox. 

September 21, 2014 - 12:13 pm

Rachel - Interesting article shows that the best cities are ones where there are hardly any African Americans.

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