Are Blacks being taken for granted in city employment? What does NAACP say?
City of San Antonio hiring of African Americans lag significantly behind neighboring Austin, Texas – Austin has 500,000 less people but has at least 4,000 more Black employees. How can the #7 ranked San Antonio hire far less Black people with 30,000 more to choose from than the City of Austin? Looking at the visible absence of Black people on the City of San Antonio Tricentenial staff is appalling. The staff is led by Assistant City Manager Carlos Contreas. Why did the new leader notice the absence of African Americans on the city staff would be problematic?? The frontlines of the 300 year celebration team alienates Black participation in all levels of decision making. This is the new discussion of the African American community and churches in San Antonio.
The 300 years committee talks about showcasing the culture of San Antonio. It appears leadership by the City Manager is absent of the diversity and inclusion the city boast is in place. The hiring rates pulled through open records request support a major disparity in hiring African Americans. Community leaders are asking questions about city contracts for their African American businesses as well as hiring practices.
Noted political scientist and author Andrew Hacker says, ““We have a black middle class…[but] [i]t exists at the sufferance of white America. We decide how many of you will be allowed into which positions, and how many of you is too many. And we pick Cosby; we pick Powell. We do that and we are very careful about the numbers.”
This appears to be the playbook used by the top public tax payer supported agencies in San Antonio to include the Northeast ISD, North Side ISD, and the City of San Antonio. Many of these local public entities believe they have the cover of Affirmative Action laws and other federal regulations to freely impose strict limits on the employment and promotion of African-Americans.
The City of San Antonio on the Boards and Commissions website have an Affirmative Action Committee but now its’ charter and use is under scrutiny. While municipalities are generally not bound by certain federal regulations regarding placement goals due to affirmative action plans being voluntary, affirmative action is a tool to prevent discrimination. It is not to be used to discriminate. The following shows proof that the City of San Antonio appears to use affirmative action placement goals to discriminate against African-American applicants and employees.
Neighboring Austin and twin city San Diego have near identical racial/ethnic populations as San Antonio. Their municipal employment data reflects fair and equitable treatment of African-American employees but this not clearly apparent in San Antonio. San Diego and Austin have twice the commitment to hire Black people as does San Antonio. CoSA talks a great non-discrimination and equity game but there appears to be no evidence of it in practice. What is apparent is evidence of City of San Antonio being ever so “careful about the numbers”.
According to the City of San Antonio’s Affirmative Action Advisory Committee website, the City states “The City of San Antonio is committed to efforts of ensuring non-discrimination in the recruitment, hiring and promoting of employees. All employees are held accountable for ensuring equal opportunity in the consideration of all employment decisions. The City’s Affirmative Action Plan is a voluntary plan, which is continuously updated as new U.S. Census data is released. This voluntary Affirmative Action Plan reaffirms our efforts of employing a workforce that is reflective of our community and facilitates goal-oriented initiatives that focus on areas of the workforce in which minorities and women have been historically employed at a rate less than their availability in the labor market.”
According to the US Census American Community Survey 2012-2016 Estimate, San Antonio’s black population is now 8%. The graphics show City of San Antonio exerting little effort to maintain a hard ceiling on African-American employment which remains at 7%. While Austin, Texas and San Diego, California should be commended for hiring many more Blacks than their population percentage. Why San Antonio has violated these employment practices and most importantly violated the spirit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a question for the Mayor and City Council to answer. Should the Mayor or Council present this problem as a new goal of City Manager Sheryl Sculley to fix? The essence of affirmative action is opportunity. Placement goals are not to be treated as a ceiling or a floor for the employment of particular groups.
San Antonio Civil Rights attorney Tess House says, "each person who feels unlawful discrimination has occurred in their employment with the City may qualify for legal redress. The City should exercise due diligence in addressing these concerns voiced by citizens and taxpayers alike. Our San Antonio economy depends on our citizens being able to have access to gainful employment without restraint. Considering that San Antonio prides itself in being a welcoming community of all cultures, why has San Antonio failed to provide equal opportunity for African Americans to be employed with the City? By neglecting to provide increased opportunities for African Americans in positions of influence with the City, the City becomes complicit in engaging in discrimination against its own people. The City is stronger when all citizens have an equal opportunity to prosper."
Austin committed to the real work of helping African Americans obtain employment with the City nearly a decade ago. Their positive results and efforts are why African Americans in Austin have more opportunity than in San Antonio. The City of San Antonio has no efforts in place to hire, and place Blacks on a succession plan to be future department leaders.
There are other San Antonio area local public entities who are subject to 41 C.F.R. § 60-2.14(c) or other federal regulations which strictly prohibit using placement quotas to discriminate against African-Americans. Some entities employ what some refer to as the “illusion of inclusion” when they hire a very limited number of African-Americans into executive positions to give the rank-and-file black employees the notion that if they work hard, they too can rise through the ranks and become an executive. This practice is also referred to as “crabs in a barrel”.
Ironically, while the City of San Antonio boast of having 200,000 to 300,000 participants in the largest MLK March in the United States, the very rights Rev Martin Luther King Jr. fought for are not being embraced by the City Managers. Even more ironically, the City of San Antonio will be hosting more Black people and conferences than ever before thanks to former Mayor Ivy Taylor. The sad reality is while the city recruited to show off the city, the real trends do not support Black leaders and people being supported. Even the 300 Commission has failed to identify stories that reflect any African Americans except for those assigned to guard the commission.
Also a source of pain is the 2018 NAACP Convention was fully prepared to boycott San Antonio and Texas behind SB6 …legislation which had nothing to do with African-Americans regardless of which side of this issue people favor. Unfortunately, when it comes to African-American employment issues in San Antonio, there doesn’t appear to be any loud NAACP voices. While the local branch is party planning, Blacks who are applying to work for the city have less than an 8 percent chance of gaining employment. Just as bad, Black employees are not receiving promotions at the same rate of their White peers.
The lack of effort of our City Manager Sheryl Sculley and her Human Resources staff have to be confronted to remove workplace discrimination against African-Americans in San Antonio. Perhaps a lawsuit against the City must be done to gain the full attention on the issue.
Hopefully City Council members will see the picture of who the city values as reflective in the 300 Commission staff as one example. This lack of oversight of African American inclusion is a major symptom of failed leadership at every level. The Assistant City Manager has failed in the Mayor’s Equity and Fairness drive.
Who will act to change the underperforming City of San Antonio in hiring and promoting African Americans in San Antonio, Texas is the guessing game.