PIEing SF Mayor Brown was racis & elitist? Why or why not?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 01:49:00 -0400


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Was it racist or elitist to PIE San Francisco's black mayor Willie Brown
"on behalf of homeless people"?  Why or why not?

See related article below:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=3D/examiner/archive/1998/11/1=
7/NEWS
10662.dtl
=46WD  San Francisco Examiner - Nov. 17, 1998


BYE, BYE, MISUNDERSTOOD PIE

Rob Morse


AS SIMPLE as pie. Nothing in San Francisco is as simple as pie, even pies.

Ten days ago Mayor Brown was hit in the face with three pies by a group
claiming it was "a political act" on behalf of the homeless.

Now the three members of the so-called Biotic Baking Brigade, charged with
misdemeanors by the district attorney, have been charged with racism by the
African American community.

It's more complicated than that, of course. But basically, three white
smart-alecks can't hit a black mayor of a major city with cherry pies and
not expect to raise some hackles in the black community.

"As African Americans we have suffered humiliation enough, and here we are
with a black mayor being humiliated again," said the Rev. Cecil Williams.

Williams was one of dozens of African American community leaders and
ministers, some of whom hadn't spoken to each other for years, who appeared
before the Board of Supervisors on Monday in support of Supervisor Amos
Brown's resolution to provide more security for the mayor and the
supervisors. It passed unanimously.

"I wonder how they (the pie-throwers) would feel if they saw three or four
African Americans coming at them," said the Rev. Arnold Townsend to the
board. "I guess there would be a different response."

A spokesman for the Biotic Baking Brigade, Al Decker, said the black
community leaders were playing the race card, and it wasn't warranted.

"The Biotic Baking Brigade has pied seven people,and six of them were white
men in positions of power," said Decker. "What we did to the mayor focuses
on his policies."

By the way, Decker used to be known as "Al Baker," but dropped the alias
because he wants people to know he isn't ashamed of tossing pies as a means
of social change.

"I debated Supervisor Amos Brown on TV last week, and he raised the race
issue three times," Decker said. "It's just ridiculous."

                      *

The ministers and community leaders who spoke before the supervisors didn't
talk about race only. They also spoke of how they teach children to settle
issues by dialogue, yet pieing the most accessible of mayors is treated as
a joke. They spoke of how offended they were that the pie gang would do
this in the name of the homeless.

"When you are concerned about the homeless, you don't make grandstand plays
to get in the newspaper," said the Rev. Townsend. "You do something."

"They can send their pies to Glide Church," said the Rev. Williams. "We'll
even come pick them up."

The bottom line for the pie-throwers, though, was expressed by the
soft-spoken labor leader Leroy King: "We want some jail time."

                      *

This was a best-of-Board of Supes meeting. After the black leaders
expressed their outrage at the mayor being pied, Supervisor Mark Leno made
a presentation honoring Dame Edna.

It's tough on the faculties to go from a racial uproar about pies in the
mayor's face to a tall Australian guy in Queen Mother drag. But this is San
=46rancisco, and most people in the supes chamber survived the cognitive
G-forces.

The pie in the mayor's face may not have been funny to most in the
audience, but Dame Edna made quite a few of them laugh.

OK, it was a completely bizarre Board of Supes meeting, even by supes
standards. But the question I was left with, and I believe leads to more
serious questions, is why pie-throwing can have racial overtones.

                      *

Let me say that I am sure the people in the Biotic Baking Brigade intended
no racial insult, and did not pie Mayor Brown because he is African
American. I also completely understand why African Americans would be upset
about it.

Let us consider the image of a distinguished black mayor covered with goo.
It was not a pretty sight, even though he was wearing a warm-up jacket and
not an Italian suit.

Those of us who remember the late Stokely Carmichael also remember the
sit-ins at lunch counters in the South where white toughs poured ketchup
and mustard all over black protesters' heads.

Imagery counts.

Let us also consider some of the racial undertones and overtones one hears
in conversations about Mayor Brown. Most are not overtly racist. Most do
not use the ugly words.

People say things like, "Well, you know, he only cares about his people."

I say, who's that? The people of Pacific Heights? The developers and
lobbyists? The people of San Francisco who smile and say hello to him on
the street, even if they disapprove of his handling of Muni or the homeless
issue?

No, whatever his flaws, this is an intriguing man and a great politician.

Hit him with a pie, and the incident may make the front page of the New
York Times, as it did last week. Maybe it drew attention to the plight of
the homeless, or maybe just to the plight of Willie Brown as yet another
mayor saddled with the homeless.

But you can understand why it draws the attention of African Americans to
something else.

Nothing is as simple as pie in America. Nothing is as complex as race and
dignity.

EBD FORWARD





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Was it racist or elitist to PIE San Francisco's black mayor Willie
Brown "on behalf of homeless people"?  Why or why not?


See related article below:


http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=3D/examiner/archive/1998/11/1=
7/NEWS10662.dtl

=46WD  San Francisco Examiner - Nov. 17, 1998=20



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>BYE, BYE, MISUNDERSTOOD PIE


Rob Morse=20

</paraindent>


AS SIMPLE as pie. Nothing in San Francisco is as simple as pie, even
pies.=20


Ten days ago Mayor Brown was hit in the face with three pies by a group
claiming it was "a political act" on behalf of the homeless.


Now the three members of the so-called Biotic Baking Brigade, charged
with misdemeanors by the district attorney, have been charged with
racism by the African American community.=20


It's more complicated than that, of course. But basically, three white
smart-alecks can't hit a black mayor of a major city with cherry pies
and not expect to raise some hackles in the black community.=20


"As African Americans we have suffered humiliation enough, and here we
are with a black mayor being humiliated again," said the Rev. Cecil
Williams.=20


Williams was one of dozens of African American community leaders and
ministers, some of whom hadn't spoken to each other for years, who
appeared before the Board of Supervisors on Monday in support of
Supervisor Amos Brown's resolution to provide more security for the
mayor and the supervisors. It passed unanimously.=20


"I wonder how they (the pie-throwers) would feel if they saw three or
four African Americans coming at them," said the Rev. Arnold Townsend
to the board. "I guess there would be a different response."=20


A spokesman for the Biotic Baking Brigade, Al Decker, said the black
community leaders were playing the race card, and it wasn't warranted.



"The Biotic Baking Brigade has pied seven people,and six of them were
white men in positions of power," said Decker. "What we did to the
mayor focuses on his policies."=20


By the way, Decker used to be known as "Al Baker," but dropped the
alias because he wants people to know he isn't ashamed of tossing pies
as a means of social change.=20


"I debated Supervisor Amos Brown on TV last week, and he raised the
race issue three times," Decker said. "It's just ridiculous."=20


                      *=20


The ministers and community leaders who spoke before the supervisors
didn't talk about race only. They also spoke of how they teach children
to settle issues by dialogue, yet pieing the most accessible of mayors
is treated as a joke. They spoke of how offended they were that the pie
gang would do this in the name of the homeless.=20


"When you are concerned about the homeless, you don't make grandstand
plays to get in the newspaper," said the Rev. Townsend. "You do
something."=20


"They can send their pies to Glide Church," said the Rev. Williams.
"We'll even come pick them up."=20


The bottom line for the pie-throwers, though, was expressed by the
soft-spoken labor leader Leroy King: "We want some jail time."=20


                      *=20


This was a best-of-Board of Supes meeting. After the black leaders
expressed their outrage at the mayor being pied, Supervisor Mark Leno
made a presentation honoring Dame Edna.=20


It's tough on the faculties to go from a racial uproar about pies in
the mayor's face to a tall Australian guy in Queen Mother drag. But
this is San Francisco, and most people in the supes chamber survived
the cognitive G-forces.=20


The pie in the mayor's face may not have been funny to most in the
audience, but Dame Edna made quite a few of them laugh.=20


OK, it was a completely bizarre Board of Supes meeting, even by supes
standards. But the question I was left with, and I believe leads to
more serious questions, is why pie-throwing can have racial overtones.



                      *=20


Let me say that I am sure the people in the Biotic Baking Brigade
intended no racial insult, and did not pie Mayor Brown because he is
African American. I also completely understand why African Americans
would be upset about it.=20


Let us consider the image of a distinguished black mayor covered with
goo. It was not a pretty sight, even though he was wearing a warm-up
jacket and not an Italian suit.=20


Those of us who remember the late Stokely Carmichael also remember the
sit-ins at lunch counters in the South where white toughs poured
ketchup and mustard all over black protesters' heads.=20


Imagery counts.=20


Let us also consider some of the racial undertones and overtones one
hears in conversations about Mayor Brown. Most are not overtly racist.
Most do not use the ugly words.=20


People say things like, "Well, you know, he only cares about his
people."=20


I say, who's that? The people of Pacific Heights? The developers and
lobbyists? The people of San Francisco who smile and say hello to him
on the street, even if they disapprove of his handling of Muni or the
homeless issue?=20


No, whatever his flaws, this is an intriguing man and a great
politician.=20


Hit him with a pie, and the incident may make the front page of the New
York Times, as it did last week. Maybe it drew attention to the plight
of the homeless, or maybe just to the plight of Willie Brown as yet
another mayor saddled with the homeless.=20


But you can understand why it draws the attention of African Americans
to something else.=20


Nothing is as simple as pie in America. Nothing is as complex as race
and dignity.


EBD FORWARD=20




HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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