California has long been known as a bastion of liberalism and inclusivity, but for those who lived through the gestation period preceding the birth of widespread gentrification, it’s never been more than a sun-kissed version of the segregated south.
Perception is not always reality and for all the tech-guru acolytes who flocked to the Bay Area before the dot-com bubble burst, the progressive aura that many residents thought accompanied them never seemed to follow.
The demographic shifts made Bay Area neighborhoods less-integrated and more insulated than ever before.
When Silicon Valley sends people into the east bay, they are not sending their best. They’re wearing Uggs. They’re drinking wine. They’re racists. And some, I assume, are good people.
As well-meaning as some of these Bay Area transplants may be, the effects of their integration into mixed-race communities have been detrimental to brown people who already lived there.
Technology based companies are still behind the national average with respect to workplace integration.
Using Facebook as an example, black and Latino people overwhelmingly serve as the backbone to the company’s social media dominance.
Both groups use the platform at over a 70 percent clip.
However, according to its annual diversity report, Facebook has a workforce that is only four percent black and five percent Latino.
The hypocrisy of companies profiting off the people it refuses to employ while simultaneously reducing Bay Area renters to tent-city residents is deplorable behavior.
Because the idea of Silicon Valley is so far from the rural dirt-road racists that many people think of when divisions arise, people rarely connect the dots.
In 2017, the Kapor Center conducted a survey to uncover why tech workers voluntarily leave their jobs.
The most frequent reason for leaving, above recruitment from other companies, was “unfairness or mistreatment”. Underrepresented men of color were the group most likely to leave due to unfairness with 40 percent citing that reason.
More surprisingly, 78 percent of employees said they experienced some form of “unfair behavior or treatment”.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which collects data because Title VII the Civil Rights act requires private employers with more than 100 employees to submit confidential reports, there was a 13 percent decline in the number of black women who even entered the tech workforce from 2007 to 2015.
Over the same time, the number of Hispanic women declined slightly at the professional and managerial level, however, they had the worst leadership representation in the industry.
Segregated workplaces inevitably lead to dwindling diversity numbers in social settings and living spaces.
As gentrification continues to overtake inner-city Bay Area neighborhoods, hate crimes and calls to police for existing while black continue to increase as well.
The doctrine of profit over people seems to be a pervasive tech-based philosophy in the Bay Area.
The average tech-job salary is roughly $110,000 compared to the average non-tech salary of $88,000.
According to the Urban Displacement Project, between 2000 and 2010 the percentage of Black residents in Oakland dropped from 35 percent to 28 percent.
Berkeley and Richmond have also seen large decreases in their Black populations.
Many saw the tech-driven intrusion into east bay neighborhoods as a necessary trade-off to support an industry that was ultimately, but not realistically, tasked with solving the world’s problems through technology and innovation.
It’s easy to forget that your cellphone was made in a sweatshop when the dungeon is halfway around the world.
However, turning a blind eye to the way gentrification has overrun vulnerable neighborhoods is impossible when colonies of displaced people living in vacant lots serve as constant reminders.
Instead of offering the prospect of free-energy or conflict-free circuitry, area residents are at the mercy of unscrupulous interlopers who frequently pawn off our information to the highest bidder.
Many feel the immediate infusion of much-needed cash into forgotten neighborhoods can only be seen as a bonus, but this erases the experience of specifically low-income residents.
A report by the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley found a significant share of low-income people of all races not only left their county of origin but the region altogether.
At this pace, the incremental steps that were made toward integration following the great migration and civil rights will all have to be re-traced.