Quan: Not As Many Blacks In Oakland As You Might Think

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan

OAKLAND//2014 MAYORAL RACE | Was it a quote taken out of context or a mayor speaking too freely? A short Q&A in the National Journal is making considerable waves Tuesday after Oakland Mayor Jean Quan commented about the perception by some the city’s population is 50 percent black.

“One challenge is to let people know what the new Oakland looks like. [People think] that more than 50 percent of Oakland residents are black. Well, no, we’re pretty evenly divided between blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians,” Quan said when asked about her biggest challenge as mayor. “We’re compared to Stockton, but our finances are the best they’ve been in a decade. Of course, I still have neighborhoods where for now two generations, maybe three generations, we’ve had very high levels of violence.”

Quan’s comments are factually correct. The city’s population is 38.7 percent Caucasian, 30.5 percent black, 25.4 percent Latino and 18.9 percent Asian, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. However, the quote is also being viewed as insensitive and somewhat coded language used by some upper middle class Oaklanders and white suburbanites living in neighboring Alameda County cities.

Quan’s re-election next year will not be easy. University professor Joe Tuman and Port of Oakland Commissioner Bryan Parker have already announced their candidacy. Parker, whom Quan appointed to the Port commission, last year, has already trumped the incumbent’s campaign war chest in the past reporting quarter. Tuman, who ran in the 2010 race with race, has shown an ability, in the past, to raise competitive financial support.