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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Feature

Re: “Hidden Monuments to Racism

Check out the history of International House in Berkeley.. A early beginning of change:

Posted by Monroe Pastermack on 09/21/2017 at 8:30 PM

Re: “One of Oakland's Most Historic Figures Was Also Horribly Racist

I could add many facts to support my belief that Jack London was not a racist, but his daughter Joan offers one story worth sharing. In her book, "Jack London and his Daughters", she recalled happily playing with a black girl named Annie in West Oakland. One day, white boys called her names for playing with a black girl and for being at Jennie Prentiss's home. She yelled that Jennie was not black as she ran into Jennie's kitchen. She recalled that she did not see Jennie as black, and different from her, until that moment. Jennie comforted her and gave her some cookies. She ended the story by telling that she went back to her friend "-Annie, who was also black, beloved Annie who was my friend." I grew up in Kern Co among a lot of racists, and I know that racists teach young children their hatred. Joan (1901 - 1971) graduated from Cal and worked as a researcher and director of publications for the CA State Federation of Labor. She coauthored "So Shall Ye Reap: The Story of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers' Movement. She credited her father for encouraging her lifelong commitment to worker rights.

Posted by Lisa Hire on 09/21/2017 at 5:56 PM

Re: “One of Oakland's Most Historic Figures Was Also Horribly Racist

This article is way off. The following is from another article.

An amateur boxer and avid boxing fan, London reported on the 1910 Johnson-Jeffries fight, in which the black boxer Jack Johnson vanquished Jim Jeffries, known as the "Great White Hope". In 1908, London had reported on an earlier fight of Johnson's, contrasting the black boxer's coolness and intellectual style, with the apelike appearance and fighting style of his Canadian opponent, Tommy Burns:

'what . . . [won] on Saturday was bigness, coolness, quickness, cleverness, and vast physical superiority... Because a white man wishes a white man to win, this should not prevent him from giving absolute credit to the best man, even when that best man was black. All hail to Johnson.' London wrote that Johnson was 'superb. He was impregnable . . . as inaccessible as Mont Blanc.'

Those who defend London against charges of racism cite the letter he wrote to the Japanese-American Commercial Weekly in 1913:

In reply to yours of August 16, 1913. First of all, I should say by stopping the stupid newspaper from always fomenting race prejudice. This of course, being impossible, I would say, next, by educating the people of Japan so that they will be too intelligently tolerant to respond to any call to race prejudice. And, finally, by realizing, in industry and government, of socialismwhich last word is merely a word that stands for the actual application of in the affairs of men of the theory of the Brotherhood of Man.

"In the meantime the nations and races are only unruly boys who have not yet grown to the stature of men. So we must expect them to do unruly and boisterous things at times. And, just as boys grow up, so the races of mankind will grow up and laugh when they look back upon their childish quarrels."

Posted by Darrell Robert Parker on 09/21/2017 at 5:28 PM

Re: “The East Bay Still Has Some Very Visible Reminders of Our History of Racism

The economic cost of living in Albany has contributed to lack of diversity at least when it comes to African Americans, however the number of Asian and East Asian residents might well be increasing due to tech sector jobs. The incident at Albany High does not reflect the feeling of Albany citizens and is abhorrent to everyone I have spoken with, especially the gaul to sue the school district by the offending student and his parents. As far as the cross is concerned the Albany Lions should be ashamed of their lawsuit and the cross should come down easement or no easement. Let the citizens put it to a vote.

Posted by Janna Katz on 09/21/2017 at 4:45 PM

Re: “Hidden Monuments to Racism

Read The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein for a deep dive on this issue - an amazing book:…

Posted by Zach Franklin on 09/21/2017 at 2:54 PM

Re: “Hidden Monuments to Racism

A renewed push should be made to rename LeConte school.
When my ex and I bought a house together in Kensington, aka "Berkeley Woods" a few years ago, upon review of the original development docs., came upon a clause specifically stating "only those of the Caucasian race" were allowed to purchase homes.
Rather shocking and disgusting

Posted by Diana BB on 09/21/2017 at 12:38 PM

Re: “The East Bay Still Has Some Very Visible Reminders of Our History of Racism

As recently as right now, someone from EBX should take a stroll around Deep East Oakland.

Jobs? No racism there. Crime prevention? No possible racism. Community policing? You betcha. Black kids doing great in school? Uh huh.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 09/21/2017 at 12:06 PM

Re: “Hidden Monuments to Racism

This is the American history that all Americans need to know about. History books and popular culture conveniently forget that beyond slavery, America was brutally hateful and racist for people of color. All those ignorant flag waving alt right Trump fans all around the country spewing hate towards immigrants and talking about this is their country need to be educated. The original wealth of this country was built on the backs of Black and Chinese labor. Poor whites were exploited in the rise of the coal industry and the late 20th century saw Mexican labor exploited for riches and profits. The symbols of the continuous terrorism of Black people are ingrained in the American culture. These need to be exposed and publicly discussed in order for the country to move forward. If we don't, many people will continue to wallow in ignorance believing that their whiteness alone is representative of some divine exceptionalism. The truth is that their elevated stature is reflective of centuries of hate and systemic exploitation.

Posted by Gary Patton on 09/21/2017 at 9:55 AM

Re: “Hidden Monuments to Racism

Is anyone surprised by this? If so, you've been living under a rock. African Americans have been ostracized & treated like scum from the moment they were forced into this hell whole of a country for...having more melanin? I'll never understand the whites only mentality. As if blacks had a choice to arrive in this country or the resources to make an immediate departure. I mean with all that money earned as chattel slaves while watching their family members get lyched/hung from trees at the local neighborhood gatherings they could have built their own multimillion dollar communities, right?????

Posted by light of the dark on 09/21/2017 at 8:33 AM

Re: “The East Bay Still Has Some Very Visible Reminders of Our History of Racism

Mr. Ferrell, if you are contesting the historical facts referenced in this 'SO erroneous' article, could you present your evidence?

Posted by John Seal on 09/21/2017 at 8:17 AM

Re: “One of Oakland's Most Historic Figures Was Also Horribly Racist

Good to know that this article is mostly NOT true. Thank you commenters.

Posted by Francesca M. Austin on 09/21/2017 at 8:12 AM

Re: “The Albany Cross Resurrects Memories of the KKK

Albany Hill Park 4 All calls on the City of Albany to vigorously protect our diverse residents and treasured public park lands from the lawsuit recently filed by the Albany Lions Club. The lawsuit seeks to permanently establish a 20 foot lighted Christian cross on public park land atop Albany Hill and to force the City to sell more than an acre of this prime public open space into private hands. We believe that the park land surrounding the cross should not be made private instead, the cross should be relocated to private land. Public land should not be used to promote one particular religion above others. We seek to make Albany a more inclusive and welcoming community for all.
More information is available at:

Posted by Celine Wallace on 09/20/2017 at 10:30 PM

Re: “One of Oakland's Most Historic Figures Was Also Horribly Racist

Zero fact checking Cygna. Tiny fragments out of context constitute jingoistic writing. Do some reading of the actual source material.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 09/20/2017 at 7:52 PM

Re: “One of Oakland's Most Historic Figures Was Also Horribly Racist

As others have stated, this article is poorly researched and ignores historical context. London was actually relatively advanced in his racial attitudes for his time, and experienced an continuous evolution in his racial awareness throughout his life. As Gene Anderson states, he was raised in large part by a black foster mother, whose family he lived with for a good portion of his childhood. Many of his short stories, particularly his later ones, valorize people of color who are victims of colonialism and oppression by white people. The author could have mentioned "Koolau the Leper", "Mauki" or "Chun Ah Chun", just to mention three of London's dozens of short stories where protagonists of color rebel against, outwit and/or kill their racist colonial oppressors. "The Unparalleled Invasion" is in fact read by most scholars as a cautionary tale about biological warfare rather than taking it on face value as a celebration of Chinese extermination. London stated repeatedly that the real meaning of his stories lay in "the motif beneath the motif" he actually wrote his stories to NOT be taken solely at face value. Regarding the Jeffries/Johnson fight, he admitted that "as a white man" he wanted to Jeffries to win, but gave full credit to Johnson for his overwhelming victory- one of the only white sportswriters to do so. London wrote: "All hail to Johnson... what . . . [won] on Saturday was bigness, coolness, quickness, cleverness, and vast physical superiority."

Even though the author of this article feels that readers must be "forced" to read London in school, only his short story "To Build a Fire" and "The Call of the Wild" are still widely taught in school. London remains one of the world's most popular authors and is better regarded abroad than here in America, where most of his works were purged from the academic canon in the 1950s due to his ardent socialism, rather than his racism. And it bears mentioning that Haley's biography is perhaps the worst and most biased of the half-dozen or so biographies of London published in the last 20 years.

Posted by Chris Million on 09/20/2017 at 5:28 PM

Re: “One of Oakland's Most Historic Figures Was Also Horribly Racist

"This article has clearly had ZERO fact checking" - quotes from the man's writing aren't fact enough for you, Bruce?

Posted by Cygna on 09/20/2017 at 3:54 PM

Re: “The Albany Cross Resurrects Memories of the KKK

At the end of the day, there is plenty of historical evidence that yes, here in the Bay Area, racism has always been alive and well. The best reflection of systemic racism is evidenced by the 20th century pattern of housing linked to race. The banks, realtors and ultimately the cops insured that people of color could not and did not occupy housing in places they were not "supposed" to be. As African Americans migrating from the south came to Oakland and Richmond to escape terrorism, segregation and Jim Crow rules, they were not welcomed everywhere. The City of East Palo Alto was created by the relocation of the African American community from the Fillmore District of SF by Redevelopment projects. Blacks were systematically excluded from getting loans or purchasing homes anywhere else in SF or in any city down the peninsula. East Palo Alto was only fruit orchards at the time and it was decided that this was the spot. Cities like Albany and San Leandro were notorious for harassing people of color by escorting youth of color back to their own cities and closing down most housing opportunities. In the early 60's, my own parents were denied the purchase of a home in the Bayview neighborhood of San Leandro, despite having cash for the purchase. The owner, who had previously agreed to the sale, informed my Dad that the neighbors had pooled their money and overpaid for the house when they learned that a Black family was moving in. In the 1990's, a new Police officer who happened to be Black, was detained by his own department with drawn weapons while jogging under the Bart tracks in Albany in the middle of the day. The daytime patrol had not met the new Black guy because he worked nights.They later divulged that they responded to a citizen complaint that a Black man was seen running under the BART track.That was enough for cops to pull guns and throw their own fellow officer to the ground. There is an area in the Hayward hills affectionately known as "Hangmans Hill".I will leave it to you to guess what kind of community activities occurred here. The Bay Area is no way exempt from American history and facts like who Justin Herman really was and what he did need to come to light.

Posted by Gary Patton on 09/20/2017 at 2:18 PM

Re: “The Albany Cross Resurrects Memories of the KKK

Cross burnings are symbols of the KKK and hate. Illuminated crosses are not. We have an illuminated cross at the top of Mt Davidson in San Francisco and at the top of the Hollywood tunnel in Los Angeles. They are not symbols of hate. Trying to link an illuminated Easter Cross to the KKK is a kind of anti-Christian bigotry.

Posted by perpetua carthage on 09/20/2017 at 1:22 PM

Re: “The East Bay Still Has Some Very Visible Reminders of Our History of Racism

Did you know that as late as the early 70's there were active Klan chapters in Castro Valley? They were shutdown as fast as they were found too.

What exactly is EBX up to here? This type of reporting is SO erroneous as to fall into the category once called "yellow" journalism as practiced by Hearst "news" organization at the time of the Spanish American war ("Remember The Maine!")

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 09/20/2017 at 11:05 AM

Re: “One of Oakland's Most Historic Figures Was Also Horribly Racist

What in the name of whatever deity you follow is going on at EBX?!?!?

This article has clearly had ZERO fact checking and strongly reminds me a story reported at FOX news!

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 09/20/2017 at 10:57 AM

Re: “The Albany Cross Resurrects Memories of the KKK

1. The Albany Lions Club is suing the City of Albany itself and in addition several council members and staff.
2. The entire City Council unanimously declared the cross' presence on public land "inappropriate."
3. The cross does not "technically reside on a small patch of land granted to the Lions Club." The land is wholly owned by the City - the Lions have only an easement for access to maintain the cross. Easements only apply when another entity owns the property, otherwise an easement would be unnecessary.
4. The electrical wires were attached to a eucalyptus tree not simply run through them.
5. The 2010 Census data list Albany as 49.3% White(non-Hispanic) and 3.3% Black.
Comment: The Lions lawsuit states that the cross is "implicitly communicating traditional messages associated with the religious holidays and memorial of certain national events." It is a blind spot that the Lions are unable to recognize and acknowledge that the implied message of a large illuminated cross on public land is perceived very differently, and painfully, by many members of the community for many different reasons.
A. Neil, Albany resident

Posted by ANeil on 09/20/2017 at 10:54 AM

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