The Chronicle's coverage of Occupy

The front page of the San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 13.

I couldn't help but notice that the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle today juxtaposed this lead news photo and article about yesterday's Port of Oakland shutdown with the following headline: "Blacks don't feel drawn to white-led movement."

San Francisco's paper of record was referring to Occupy Oakland, which led several marches to shut down operations at the port Dec. 12 and claimed victory after accomplishing just what protest organizers had set out to do.

The article's premise -- that Occupy is a white-led movement -- does not appear to ring true in the case of Occupy Oakland. I'm basing this statement on my 24-hour stay at the encampment that once stood at Frank Ogawa / Oscar Grant Plaza. After interviewing people living in tents there -- who represented a wide variety of racial and economic backgrounds and voiced concerns about Oakland Public Schools, gang injunctions, Native American struggles, and police brutality, among other issues -- I left with the impression that racial diversity was part of what made this particular movement unique and perhaps more politically potent than past coalitions driven by the left.

The Chronicle interviewed several African American individuals for the article who expressed that they felt a disconnect with the Occupy movement. Between in-depth interviews with Oakland residents who said they disagreed with Occupy's tactics or thought occupiers should instead be protesting violence in African American neighborhoods, the article did mention one individual who doesn't fit their narrative.

"Boots Riley, one of the more prominent Occupy Oakland organizers, is African American," reporter Joe Garofoli informs us. Someone's been paying attention.

So ... did the reporter contact Riley to ask what he thought about the idea that blacks aren't feeling drawn to Occupy?

Um, no. The Chronicle did not bother calling him, Riley informed us via text.

Riley, the organizer and hip hop artist whose voice could be heard on the megaphone at the port protest yesterday and when music by The Coup was blasting out of mobile sound systems, does have an opinion about the Chronicle's coverage.

"Joe Garofoli's article is hack journalism," he proclaimed on Twitter. He followed it up by pointing out that Garofoli failed to interview Occupy-affiliated black Oakland residents who helped move Oakland resident Gayla Newsome back into her foreclosed home. Nor did the Chronicle talk to African American protesters who opposed school closures on Nov. 19. Black youth also took over an abandoned property to create a community center in a West Oakland neighborhood, Riley pointed out, but their perspective wasn't reflected in the article, either.

It's true that some black people may be critical of Occupy. No one's perfect, and it's good for any movement to engage in self-reflection, examine whether or not certain groups are feeling alienated, and consider what can be done to be more inclusive. But with coverage like that, I wouldn't be suprised if readers felt a disconnect with the Chronicle's portrayal of Occupy.





Fair and balanced.

Posted by Guest wgjung on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

As a palliative to the stream of bogus race baiting provocateur nonsense against Rebecca and Occupy below, see the following...

Video: Port actions very diverse, supported by workers of color.

Beginning at the 30 second mark of the following video you can see Clarence Thomas, African American leader of the ILWU, talking about the diversity and importance of the port actions.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 12:59 am

take a look at the SF Occupy camp, then it's easy to see it was basically whites of a certain age. I've seen more diversity at a gun show than at the camp.

The Chron piece was fairly accurate from what I've seen. And it's ironic that Rebecca would dig up the odd token non-white to try and make a point, when she'd probably be the first to criticize the GOP or the "one percent" for being mostly white.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 7:12 am

You obviously never went to the Occupy Oakland camp if you make that assertion. The camp was largely occupied by whites, blacks and other people of color. Oakland's occupy is one of the most diverse in the country.

Know your facts before you regurgitate Beck talking points.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

It's a doomed non-white metropolis with a core of bitter, disenchated residents.

SF is an affluent white-asian city.

But nationally Occupy is overwhelmingly white (and for that matter straight, young and liberal).

IOW, not representative at all.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

Anyone who doubts the deep ethnic diversity of the Occupy movement, just watch this video of organizers all over the ethnic spectrum discussing the November and December port shut downs. The video also shows, in the protesters themselves over all, that people of color are well represented in high numbers.

And here's an article specifically addressing the issue of race and Occupy Wall Street which clearly shows deep involvement by people of color in on the East Coast as well.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

it's wall to wall unwashed white liberals.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

You are completely full of shit.

I simply put in the search term 'Occupy Wall Street Slide Show' and here are the very first slide shows that popped up.

These protests are clearly not by any stretch of the imagination 'wall to wall white people'.

Again. Take your race baiting somewhere else, you pathetic little provocateur prick.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

knows that this is just the usual white liberal suspects playing their old games and trying to make it look like something else.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 6:35 am

looks like it is time for your obsessive neurotic pursuit to get in the last word even though you can no longer hide from the fact that you are clearly wrong, and you should have looked shit up before shooting off your asinine smart ass mouth

why are almost all trolls so self delusionally stupid, that they will make themselves look completely absurd rather than give up and simply make up new bullshit...

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 7:06 am

And all your huffing puffing doesn't change that.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 10:36 am

what a powerful, logic packed response

what do you do for an encore?

mumble and hum to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner?

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

But I'm sorry you don't like the American flag.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 6:55 am

this week, by the looks of it.

While on balance I've found the Chronicle's coverage a lot less biased than, say, SFBG's. What the Chron is saying is what I'm hearing from ordinary people who are getting a little sick of all these "protests without a cause". Or rather, too many causes.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

but if progressives do it (even just responding to an article), that's "playing the race card". nice double standard.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

the article targeted other aspects of and problems with the Occupy movement.

Obviously Rebecca thought there was a cheap angle to be had there, which of course is all race-card playing ever is - playing an angle.

If SFBG really want to help non-whites, why don't they hire one?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

The Chronicle article is titled, "Blacks don't feel drawn to white-led movement." Race and Occupy is not an "angle," in this case, it's the subject of the article. It's the thing we're discussing here. The front-page story purports to explain how black people feel about Occupy, yet the reporter neglected to interview any black people who are participating in Occupy, including the prominent organizer who is mentioned by name. Does this clarify things for you? By the way, if you are going to launch personal attacks against SFBG staff, at least try to come up with something accurate.

Posted by rebecca on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

We're currently looking to hire a staff writer, so please let any qualified African-American journalists know because we'd love to hire one. They can send a resume and clips to or to me personally at

Posted by steven on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:52 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

Preferably one who buys into the victimization complex which rules the Guardian's thinking on minorities in general.

And hurry up - the Guardian needs to insult itself from charges of white elitism - and soon.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

trying to find a token black to make them appear multi-racial?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 6:21 am

Rebecca is amazing and you're completely full of it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

Funny, just like African Americans dont seem to be drawn to the SFBG payroll.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

recognize unions and they fired their only foreign-born reporter right after getting a 20 million dollar lawsuit payout.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

That's the longtime story of the SFBG. No unions either.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

They love the idea of blacks having equal rights, as long as they keep out of their back yard.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

People of color are very much a part of the Occupy WS movement. Not to recognize this is to treat us as if we are invisible. Habiba Alcindor wrote a great piece on this topic in The Nation last month~

"Issues that Occupy Wall Street has championed as a matter of principle manifest more concretely as day-to-day struggles for POCcupiers. For example, Occupiers have held aloft signs demanding the repeal of the PATRIOT Act, the effects of which Muslim and Arab POCcupiers have experienced first hand when profiled at airports. Indeed, people of color are over-represented in prisons, public housing, public education and crackdowns on undocumented immigrants."

Posted by Guest on Dec. 13, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

In Oakland, a racially and ethnically diverse city, the occupy movement is racially and ethnically diverse. It It is not just Boots Riley, but many of the former campers, organizers, etc. were/are people of color. And yes there were white people. They are part of the mix of Oakland as well.
In San Francisco, where many poor people, especially people of color have been driven out by high rents, low manufacturing jobs, and literal discrimination occupy has been more white.

Posted by Dean Tuckerman on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

one third of SF is Asian. I've seen almost no Asians involved in either city. They are too busy working hard pursuing the American dream, not whining about being left behind.

And there is little "Occupy" in places like Detroit.

Occupy is a white liberal thing. It's really that simple.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

Asians too busy working hard pursuing the American dream? Jesus Christ. This is why poverty levels in Chinatown are the highest in the City. Not only are there a decent amount of Asian folks involved, but no way you say this about Latinos or African Americans, only about the 'model minority.' Despicable.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

chooses not to play the victim but rather compete and actually out-perform whites.

Sure there are some pockets of poverty in any community, but the average salary of asians in CA exceeds that of whites. Their school grades are also better.

And of course that's why you're so sensitive about this issue. As a white liberal, you feel a need for non-whites to be failures and victims, so you can save them.

It scares the hell out of you that non-whites can succeed because it turns all your theories on their heads.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

What is despicable is that you think that blacks and latinos are "playing the victim."

And obviously you won't believe me because I'm not going to do anything to prove it but... I'm not white. Oopsy-doopsy.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

blacks and hispanics are victims. What I said is that white liberals love to portray them as victims who then need to be saved by them.

Asians and their successes prove that that is patronizing garbage. Non-whites can succeed in America, so they don't need white liberals or political correctness.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

and criticized as such by Asians fighting for equal representation

you are laughably deploying the race card in its worst form, to call out others for playing the race card

why don't you wait until you actually understand race issues, before pontificating on them like a puffed up buffoon

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

Wow. That's a new one. Maybe it's racist to stereotype blacks as being all criminals. But it's certainly not racist to cite Federal statistics showing that asians score higher marks academically, or earn higher salaries, than whites. That's simply the proven truth.

You must really hate the fact that a non-white race can out-perform whites. Where does that leave all your pandering, patronizing politically correct beliefs towards "people of color" when they are doing just fine without that?

What's a white liberal to do?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

why don't you wait until you actually understand race issues, before pontificating on them like a puffed up buffoon.


Did you mean that to be so funny?

Posted by matlock on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

which basically boil down to:

white = bad but successful
non-white = good but unsuccessful

When the reality turns out to be far more complex than that, and when there is at least one non-white race out-performing whites, the typical white liberal's brain starts hurting and overloading, and he can't handle that.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

Actually, Anon, you are far more guilty than those you criticize of engaging in the tactic that underlies all racism: racial stereotyping. You make gross overgeneralizations based on race. And yes, that is racist, whether you're applying positive attributes or negative attributes to that race. It also leads people to say demonstrably inaccurate things like Asians don't support Occupy. In fact, the Chinese Progressive Association was one of the first major San Francisco groups to formally endorse OccupySF, and many of its members have been regular fixtures there. The three Asians on the Board of Supervisors have been strong supporters of OccupySF and have spent hours there in the middle of the night to defend it. Even Mayor Ed Lee, while opposing the tactic of camping, has consistently expressed his support for the Occupy movement. In short, Anon, on this issue -- like so many you opine on without understanding the facts -- you are full of shit.

Posted by steven on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 11:40 am

If they were not, then people wouldn't understand them and laugh at them at all. The problem with stereotypes is not that they are totally false but rather that they aren't always true. So you have to be careful with them because of the exceptions. But that doesn't mean they don't show good correlations.

So if I were to guess that, say, there are far more whites than non-whites in the SF Green Party, then that would be a valid stereotype even though i'm sure there's a few non-whites in it just to provide the exceptions.

The Chronicle's observation that Occupy is "mostly a white thing" was borne out on the days I was there. Perhaps you and I just went on different days, huh?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

all the way back to the 'Passion of the Christ' shows how easy it is to completely manufacture from whole cloth, dangerous stereotypes against an entire people, which bear no relation whatsoever to what those people are really like.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

any number of stereotypical Jews.

Ditto detroit and blacks.

Stereotypes are mostly true - otherwise we wouldn't recongize them at all.

They just aren't 100% true all the time.

Example - you're a Green so I'll guess you're a white guy with a beard. Wrong?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 16, 2011 @ 4:51 pm