February 19 Gentrification Backlash


“The magic of what makes this place so special is the juxtaposition of rich and poor, commercial and residential, the unorthodox and the conformist.”

Today my First was to be mistaken for a white girl and read the riot act (well, sort of). Welcome to the NEW Oakland, where white folks roam freely. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Starbucks, Whole Foods and cyclists are cool. Some current residents just aren’t adjusting very well. Tonight at The District, a downtown nightclub, I got a heavy whiff of racism directed toward me because…what? I am light-skinned, I have freckles, I smile, I was with a twerking girl who was actually white? I  am not quite sure.

I don’t know what ya’ll are doing in Oakland, but it didn’t used to be like this and it doesn’t have to be like this now. My Oakland is a melting pot. My Oakland accepts all people. My Oakland rolls with it. I’m not going to let one ignoramus who was probably drunk and probably feeling isolated because he was like 7 feet tall and didn’t have anybody up there to talk to, turn me off to the new things that Oakland is all about these days.

I love that this city is coming back. Oakland used to be live! I loved my teen, 20-something and 30-something years in the biggity-biggity-O. Things went downhill for a little bit but it makes me happy and proud to see my city resuscitated. New people are bringing new money and new ideas, this is true. There is no hiding the fact that there is some misdirected anger lurking as well. Don’t throw up all over me, dude. Whatever is bugging you, I didn’t do it. I’m out here trying to have a good time, just like you. And I bet if I was a MAN, you wouldn’t have spoken to ME that way, brother. I wish you love.


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