“You Not Really From the Town”: on Oakland Citizenship Some thoughts on what it really means to call Oakland home

Tumblr N4mljoFiQr1qa5idto1 1280

Recently, I was asked, “Who can legitimately say they’re from Oakland?” My answer was rather simple: the folks who were raised in The Town. That’s it and that’s all. However, there is a much more nuanced discussion to be had about what makes someone a true citizen of Oakland. What follows is a twisted pile of pride, politics, and pain that strives to tackle why Oakland means so damn much to so many of us, the impact recent changes are having on Oakland natives, and what it takes for people to become real members of this community.

I want to start by acknowledging that it is impossible to write anything definitive about a place as dynamic and diverse as Oakland. People’s upbringings and experiences vary greatly across generation, race, class, school, neighborhood, and a myriad of other factors. It’s a rather impossible feat to generate a clear cut Oakland rubric, and that’s part of what makes this place so special. So instead, I will tell you what Oakland’s heart and soul looks like from my biased perspective as an OUSD-educated white boy whose family has lived in East Oakland for three generations. You can take this with as many grains of salt as you wish.

tumblr_nk7q4rgAfA1qa5idto1_1280

STRANGERS IN OUR OWN LAND

Being from Oakland is a great source of pride for most of us, but with each passing year, many of us are increasingly feeling like strangers in our own city. This is not an isolated phenomenon. We walk down streets where we used to know everyone and feel like we’re the newbies due to the sheer volume of unfamiliar and unwelcoming faces. We nod at passersby who refuse to make eye contact. We play hip-hop at Lake Merritt and are asked to turn it off, and, more recently, cited by OPD. We cruise through working class neighborhoods that used to be home to our Black, Latino, and Southeast Asian patnas and see young pale faces walking dogs as white flight doubles back on itself, seeking to lay claim to the communities they rejected before.

For those of you not from here, this may sound fickle and minute, but it’s not. And it feels eerie as hell. It’s also not an accident. Many, including Jerry Brown, have sought for years to attract more folks with money to Oakland. That didn’t necessarily seem like a terrible idea in the early 2000s when downtown was fairly empty and new development felt necessary to infuse Oakland with new energy. But that seed of an idea has crescendoed into a wave of migration and money that is transforming the face and economics of Oakland.

Nowadays my friends and I, who grew up in these streets and were educated in these schools, can’t even afford to buy homes in many parts of East Oakland. Wherever there’s decent housing stock, there are people snapping it up for cash at exorbitant mark-ups. Some, like overseas Chinese investors, are buying, renovating and flipping houses. Others are indeed looking for a home, but many of those who are moving in don’t actually want to be a part of the neighborhood around them. Rather, they want to makeover the neighborhood in their image. They are purchasing property many of us already love so they can “learn to love it,” as one carpetbagging jaycat recently wrote at the now defunct Bold Italic.

Many of the new folks who have recently parachuted into Oakland feel like the city is this exciting secret they’ve discovered. And while some neighborhoods are being Columbused (rediscovered and reimagined for privileged folks), many of their core elements are being invisibilized in the process. For instance, recent rich white migrant Steve Kopff has become infamous for insisting that his “up and coming” Funktown neighborhood is a food desert despite the plethora of Asian and Latino markets and restaurants in the area. In his (and other’s) gentrifying vision of Oakland, expensive cafes, Bi-Rite style grocery stores, yoga studios and flowering medians are the metrics of civilization. The desire to improve communities by advocating for such changes drives up prices and displaces folks who have called that community home for ages. Remember, your intentions don’t have to be malicious for your impact to be detrimental.

regal - Copy

RACE, POWER & PRIVILEGE

And let me be clear that this isn’t all about race, but it’s definitely partly about race. Though Oakland has long been known as a chocolate city, the Oakland that native millennials grew up in was around 25-30% white, so white folks living in Oakland isn’t new. What is new is white folks re-settling areas that have been inhabited by Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islanders and other ethnic groups for generations, resulting in accelerated gentrification.

While we’re on the topic of displacement, it must be noted that the notion of being a native of Oakland (or of anywhere in this country for that matter) is inherently problematic unless you’re of Native American descent. No matter how many generations my family has lived in Oakland, I am standing on native land that was illegally and unjustly conquered by colonizers.

Some may think that Oakland’s history is irrelevant to it’s present, but the two are inextricably linked. After the land of the Ohlone people was encroached upon by Spanish missionaries, the Peralta’s, who were part of those efforts, were eventually granted control of much of the region. But after the Mexican-Civil War, Californio claims to the land were systematically disregarded by the new American government despite being recognized under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It’s worth noting that gold was discovered on January 24, 1848 and California became the domain of the US less than two weeks later.

As Oakland became increasingly settled in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, restrictive housing covenants and residential redlining legally quarantined “Negroes, Orientals, and foreign born” Oaklanders in specific neighborhoods in West Oakland and adjacent to factories in East Oakland.  Then in the 1930s, the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation graded neighborhoods A-D, with A grades being given to affluent white areas and D grades being given to any areas considered tainted by people of color and immigrants. These maps served as the blueprint for the newly created Federal Housing Association to determine who the FHA and banks would grant home loans to. Widely lauded for increasing homeownership in America, it denied home loans to most people of color and many of the white people who lived in their midst. It’s important to note that many European immigrants were initially targeted by these discriminatory regulations as well, but as the concept and definition of whiteness expanded, so did their opportunities.

While most white Oaklanders were able to buy houses, accrue wealth and pass those things on to their children, home ownership and meaningful development of any kind in communities of color was next to nil. When folks of color were able to rent and buy homes beyond the reaches of the FHA’s legalized discriminatory quarantine, many white folks began to flee Oakland as part of a larger abandonment of US cities known as “white flight”.

That white folks first fled folks of color, and are now displacing them, is material to this discussion. Black, Latino, and Asian folks have struggled to make a home in this city despite discrimination, and now that Oakland has earned cool points and is in the blast radius of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, those neighborhoods are once again in the crosshairs. What some will attribute to the inevitability of change is actually a reaffirmation of white supremacy. Like I said, there’s always been white folks in Oakland, and power and privilege in Oakland isn’t exclusively possessed by us, but when imported privileged white people decide to buy a home in a community of color, it will rightfully ruffle feathers. Especially when folks like Steve Kopff seek to remake that community in their image.

tumblr_mx5o0zfR3M1qa5idto1_1280

THE STRENGTH OF OAKLANDERS

Oakland has always been a city for tough human beings. You didn’t trek out West if you weren’t. Native folks, Spanish settlers, French trappers and traders, American and Chinese miners, Okies, Black migrants, Hells Angels, Black Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Southeast Asian refugees, Latino day laborers, Katrina survivors, OUSD graduates, activists, and victims of the War on Drugs and police brutality all affirm that toughness and resilience. All those folks had to grind to make it out here and they have left an indelible imprint on this colorful city.

The Oakland I grew up in made sure folks grew into hustlers and lovers gamed up on social justice, civic action, volunteerism, diversity, weirdness, creativity and community pride. Oakland taught us about life and death. It taught us how to overcome adversity and talk with any and every type of person we might encounter. It taught us to be street smart and navigate hairy situations. It taught us to make progress by juking the red tape and looking out for our people (however we defined that). It taught us how to fight for our lives and then get back up and hug it out. And it taught us how to be creative regardless of whether there was any money or industry backing our endeavors. That spirit is what makes Oakland glorious. As a fellow native said the other day, “Oakland is the city of the golden children.”

When you aren’t raised in a community, it’s likely that you lack its foundational values. A very specific cauldron crafted the metal we’re made of. You can’t fake the funk. And this is not a “fuck you” to anyone who isn’t from here. Many of us have welcomed amazing newcomers into our circles, but that’s because those particular folks came with open minds, respect for our culture, a willingness to practice self-awareness and to invest in community-led improvement efforts.

tumblr_msfpd2fDSI1qa5idto1_1280

A MESSAGE TO THE NEWBOOTIES

When you galavant around the city with your clones and no awareness of Oakland’s history, geopolitics or collective culture, you piss people off. But of course, your money talks, and as economies emerge to support your new money and artisanal everything, the voyeurism of yesterday becomes the “I love it here and want to stay” of tomorrow. And if you have means, you can. But that doesn’t mean you’re a part of our community.

I’m sure you didn’t ride in to town with colonial intentions, but then again, you might have without knowing it. Chances are you’ve cloaked your privilege and bigotry in the coded language of “transitioning neighborhoods” and its associated pseudo-liberal vocabulary. Not everyone, but enough muhfuckas that the fabric of this city is becoming threadbare in worth as it becomes luxurious in value. And THAT is the entire problem.

Go to San Francisco and try to find a native. Do it. SF natives are like unicorns. Most of the  people who made the ‘Sco a cultural outlier and world famous, iconoclastic city can no longer afford to live there. Why? Because we decided the defining evolutionary trait that counts in this world is the almighty dollar. While tech bros talk to angel investors about how their apps are changing the world for the better, their very presence is changing it for the worse. Too many San Franciscans are barely holding onto their soccer fields and are getting smoked out of their apartments—some by literal fires. You think that’s a coincidence?

My entire life, me and my folks have been boostering for Oakland in the face of widespread negative press and one-dimensional stereotypes, but I’m lightweight inclined to take it all back. I’ve talked so beautifully about Oakland because the world denied her glory, but now I want my home back. I love new watering holes and eateries as much as the next (wo)man (with disposable income), but I’ve learned the hard way that without the beautiful and resilient working class people who built this city, we have nothing. If the price we have to pay to have a crackin’ nightlife and a booming food scene is that we can’t enjoy it with the folks we grew up with, then fuck it. Take it all back. You can keep the packing peanuts.

tumblr_mq45masjom1qa5idto1_r1_1280

HOW TO BECOME AN OAKLAND CITIZEN

For those of you who understand all that and are willing to listen, respect, contribute, love, build community, and raise your children with everyone else’s, then thank you. We could use your ears and heart a lot more than your money and voice. Oakland natives have our fraternity of folklore and collective memories that we hold sacred, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t become a part of this story. People don’t choose where they come from, but they have much more latitude in determining how they live. The “who is really from Oakland?” debate is static compared to the much more useful conversation about what it means to be a true citizen and steward of The Town. We can’t turn back the clock, so as long as you’re here, we have a few asks.

1) Greet people on the street. Nod, smile, say good morning, tip your hat, anything to acknowledge folks in a way that you feel comfortable with. Some of us, particularly our sisters, have very real trauma around sexual harassment, so let me be clear that this is not an excuse to holler at or disrespect women in any way. It’s just a request that you not ignore and invisibilize the people with whom you share these streets and this city.  The downcast eyes looking at your phone routine is boo boo (and a great way to get robbed).

2) Get to know folks born and bred in Oakland. Learn our stories and respect the foundation we’ve laid. Remember that it was something that preceded you that drew you here.

3) Support local businesses, but not just the new shops and restaurants springing up like farm fresh organic weeds. You get extra points for patronizing family businesses that have been around for 10+ years. Remember, there was life before you arrived and it deserves your respect and support. One other important way to support The Town is by hiring Oakland residents at your place of business.

4) Don’t demonize what you don’t understand. Don’t implore people not to demonize Oakland while you yourself demonize certain neighborhoods or folks of a different race, class, age or lived experience. For example, don’t pass judgement on the youth of this city, some of whom are trying to traverse an unjust schooling system, disproportionate police harassment, unsafe streets, and a lack of economic opportunity all on top of the usual identity exploration all youth go through.

5) Get to know your neighbors. Stop to chat with and listen to folks on the block, invite them over for a BBQ, attend a community meeting, etc. Remember that you’re not just moving into a house or apartment, you’re moving into a community. That means that you have a responsibility to be open and inclusive. And that attitude will often be returned in kind.

6) Don’t be racist. Don’t cower in ignorant racist fear on neighborhood LISTSERVS and the Next Door app, and don’t call the police on neighborhood kids. If you have an issue, address it in person. Communities have successfully existed for centuries using this basic honorable principle. If you’re that scared of your neighborhood, then don’t move there. Spend time in a neighborhood before you purchase a home there. The house and the block are a package deal.

7) Send your kids to public schools, preferably the neighborhood ones. If your neighborhood school sucks, harness your privilege/expertise/commitment to support other parents who are already involved in school improvement efforts. Just remember not to use your privilege solely to access a quality education for your child and the others in the school that look like them. That doesn’t count.

8) Support the local art scene by attending concerts and art shows. Also, attend student productions at Laney College and area high schools.

9) Get to know people of different ages, cultures, races, sexual orientations, and socio-economics. When you ask people what they love most about Oakland, the majority of people say it’s the diversity. And yet that diversity is just background noise for most. It is indeed true that diversity is one of Oakland’s greatest treasures, but it should not be strictly ornamental. Embrace it, not because it’s the “right” thing to do, but because your life and community will be richer for it.

10) Stand for equity, but follow the leadership of those with a more vested interest in the issue. Don’t look down on people protesting things you don’t understand. If you purport to love this city, challenge your prejudices, humanize those who are struggling and practice solidarity with the oppressed.

A city is a living organism that needs all of its parts to work in concert to help it thrive. And sometimes that means repelling the forces that are not in alignment with the equilibrium we’re seeking to strike. It also means accepting that some change will happen and that we must learn to adapt to survive. I stand for an Oakland that is diverse, beautiful, equitable, peaceful and full of cool, crazy, brilliant, revolutionary, and affectionate people who are down to channel our creativity and resilience into finally realizing the promise of Oakland’s potential.

If you’re down to do the aforementioned things to contribute to The Town, then we can discuss your pending Oakland citizenship at our next block party. Peace.

Lukas Brekke-Miesner is a writer, activist, educator, and the voice behind 38th Notes. He lives and works in Oakland. Special thanks to Nick Garcia and Brian Brophy for the original photography. Check out Nick’s work here and Brian’s here.

  • Steve Kopff

    I think this article says more about Lukas’ unwillingness and distrust of newcomers like me. He makes a lot of assumptions about who I am without knowing me. I’ve done all the 10 action points on the list without anyone telling me to. I think the author needs to take his own advice and exercise them with newcomers.

  • swank7

    I think this article is ridiculous.

  • Leslie Nope

    This is what pisses me off : “If the price we have to pay to have a crackin’ nightlife and a booming food scene is that we can’t enjoy it with the folks we grew up with, then fuck it. Take it all back. You can keep the packing peanuts.” – – WTF – why does he get to decide. What about the jobs these new businesses create for residents so they are able to afford to stay? – Oakland affords one of the highest min wage in the state. Also his whole “Support local businesses, but not just the new shops and restaurants springing up like farm fresh organic weeds.” — STFU businesses that are shitty will not survive if they continue to be shitty. Quality/price should determine what businesses are profitable and get to play the game. P.s. I strongly prefer local businesses but I don’t want some POS on his soapbox telling me where I should eat/shop. – – – – My Oakland citizenship dues are paid in the form of picking up other people’s dog shit bags on my walks with my dog, paying for property taxes that fix our school, roads, and sidewalks (they don’t really – roads, sidewalks, and schools here are a joke!!). I pay my dues when I plant trees and organize street clean ups, I pay my dues when I vote in all local elections and get informed on the candidates, I pay my dues when I report broken fire hydrants or piles or garbage set on fire in the middle of the street.

  • happyfeelin

    As a transplant from Bklyn, living in Oakland for over 15 years now, I have to say there are some real disappointing points to this article; the author has courage in writing it but for some of the readers like myself who see it written from a liberal point of view (I’m an Independent voter), I see some things that are really concerning….for example, I think I started getting sick at ‘don’t call the cops on local kids”. I don’t think that as someone who moved to a more violent than my hometown (Ocean-Hill/Brownsville in East New York, Brooklyn) residents should not stand for open shooting gallery behavior on their streets.
    When I moved to West Oakland in 2008, as a black female, I had little problems moving in ..why? Because I’m a black woman from East NY; I wasn’t a threat and I seemed to be nod-approved by the people (black) who are judging who has moved in….My neighbors around me both got robbed (they’re not black by the way) and I couldn’t understand why they were getting broken into and I wasn’t….could burgulary be a targeted enterprise also?
    Now don’t get me wrong; I could be stuck-up like anyone else. But, I did not think anyone from Oakland was going to mess with me. And to be honest, I have a lot of friends that aren’t black from East New York…they’re white, latino and not necessarily were raised poor and have the from the hood street smarts we were raised with.
    Anyone that wants to live in Oakland clearly wants to be here because they want to believe in a vibrant community. Anyone who wants to live here should be allowed to live in Oakland. To be treated like carpetbaggers is atrocious, no matter where they moved from because they are putting investment into this city, which would look like a complete hovel and have an environmentally trainwreck ability if folks who live here didn’t come from other places.
    I was admittedly a bit irritated with the status-quo when I moved here; having heard people who are life-timers in Oakland tell e how long St. Andrews Plaza looked like a nasty sewer pond, filled with used drug needles, etc.
    I don’t think a person is a gentrifier if they are tired of junkies hanging out in St Andrews Plaza. Anywhere someone over 21 can hang out all day with nothing to do in their life but also is where a child or teen can’t be caught dead, is NOT ALRIGHT…
    Sadly, the newsflash to this article is Oakland really isn’t any different from Detroit, Chicago, Ocean-Hill/Brownsville or Compton….really, it’s not. But what’s up with how many cities can turn the mirror on itself and work with its citizenry…ALL of them, to engage and improve. I see EBALDC doing that all up and down San Pablo Avenue. And yes, the Black Panthers were started here…but as a child I recall the Black Panthers being an organization that while the white conservatives and others always afraid of black people, called it militant, was putting in speed bumps, stops signs and providing people like me (poor and black and in the hood) a summer lunch and breakfast program to provide those of us, hungry or not…and my parents both worked….an opportunity to get a public school education and have a shot of getting out of the ghetto…which I ended up doing…even though I live in West Oakland and moved there before the housing flip and surge pricing.

    I don’t have kids but feel bad for people who can’t even live in West Oakland because there apparently are so many challenges with the OUSD (I’m not saying there is but I’ve heard this from parents) that people like my neighbors had to move just so they could get their kids a proper public school education. Teacher shortages when there are higher rates of unemployed people with college degrees, makes little sense to me. What’s that strategy look like to change this narrative so that folks feel like they can send their kids to public school and can benefit from a public school education (ala Michelle and Barack Obama).
    All areas that have a disproportionately number of minorities that aren’t being provided any opportunity or options, other than the inevitable jail sentence residents of color receive from either prostitution, gang-associations or drug-dealing, which are what my mom used to call ‘the Ivy Leagues of a ghetto education’. And it was no surprise that the human trafficking going on in my hood was primarily due to its overall neglect….people put their heads in the sand like this article suggests, but just as they witness crime, they’re also afraid…since OPD apparently doesn’t come when you need them the most….
    Ala, the cycle continues….
    It’s time that we look at the true causes of no-housing (greed in development for profit not caused by the Gentrifiers who are just people that can afford a nicer/bigger house…believe me, every neighborhood has one; no strategic plans to engage communities and government designing room for these needs to serve an ENTIRE community); improvements in community designs and services (e.g. designs like integrating food into food deserts and jobs within this development); environmental and air-quality improvements (which include getting people off of the street not just the EPA stuff…allowing residents to be included, PRODUCTIVELY, to add value to the community and not just sit perched in public parks and spaces all day, looking like lint on the fabric of society..
    Steve Kopff pays taxes and from what I’ve read, all he’s saying is what I’m saying (getting human feces off the streets; putting some nutritious foods in the highly sugared and salted corner stores) but I say to him “I sense that because you’re white and I’m black; you’re male and I’m female, you’re gonna get the knife and I’ll get the rose”. I think that these folks who need a posterboy on this will point at Mr. Kopff, who I know can likely live where he chooses…seems to me, him choosing Oakland says something about his intellect and Oakland’s potential, since I think I saw the same thing he saw but I moved here in 2003, from Rockridge to West Oakland….and not the other way around, most people.
    EVERYONE should have a place at the table and so if Oakland truly wants to look different, like other cities that have changed (South Bronx is my perfect example), you have to act different, treat each other different and provide a real strategic development design to build your brand and make it a place people want to move to, stay in and provide a place…..let’s stop blaming and start claiming..ownership of this city and create it as a brand that’s more than just a place to be proud of.

  • Nic Feliciano

    hmmm. when people write pieces like these, it’s up to us (the readers) to decide if we are in fact who they are talking about.. folks/transplants/long time residents/immigrants/whatever who are bout it would never take this kind of thing personally. its silly to get defensive about this stuff and take it personally. like just keep doing the good you do and let your contribution/actions speak for itself.. and LISTEN to your neighbors or to the kids/people who grew up here, those who came before you, and take to heart their experiences and concerns. that’s not so hard is it? .smh. let’s elevate ppl! entitlement is a funny thing. its even funnier when it rears its head to counter a point not necessarily aimed at you personally…remember not every critique is about YOU. but whatever, it’s cool.

  • swank7

    great point. I didn’t feel it was about me – just did not like the generalization that someone who is not a “life long” resident somehow isn’t part of the community. My street is made up of literally a different nationality in every house – and we all help each other and look out for each other. My 87 year old Italian neighbor who depends on us to help her with household tasks. My 90 plus year old Japanese neighbor who recently died – we mowed her yard – looked out for her when she became ill. My 70 year old black neighbor who needs help bringing in her groceries…. It’s just annoying that someone thinks they can just “peg” a person by their color or job. Also the prospectors are all races…..I’ve seen houses flipped by every nationality in the last 15 years. You buy a run down house literally 15 minutes from SF – fix it up and sell it for more – that is not being done by one race or type of person. In fact it seems that the Chinese have been doing this for years in Oakland – but now it’s somehow a gentrifying white problem. Over all this article is one giant gross generalization.

  • Steve Kopff

    This article is about me personally since I was singled out and mentioned. The author does not know me or know anything about what I have or have not done on his list but assumed I did none of them since I am a new comer. We all just need to end the stereotyping and preaching and saying that one party has more right than another to live here. We all belong here- Oakland is a melting pot and a community should reflect the people that make it up, no matter how long they live here, and ALL of the members. The author thinks it should reflect only one element of the community and disregard that it is made up of diverse people and groups.

  • Nic Feliciano

    clearly my comment wasn’t intended for you, since you were named personally. thanks for the clarification.

  • Gene Keenan

    Let’s ask these local businesses that are prospering in ways they never have before (some for the first time) if they want to say “fuck it?”

  • Gene Keenan

    “If you’re down to do the aforementioned things to contribute to The Town, then we can discuss your pending Oakland citizenship at our next block party. Peace.”
    Who do I make the check out to? SMH

  • Gene Keenan

    +1. Well said.

  • happyfeelin

    If the block party is on between 24th and 28th Street on Mead Avenue, then let’s go…that block slips in and out of the status-quo…Watching folks move here to try and live successfully on one of the worse blocks in the history of Oakland is something I praise gentrifiers for. Change-Agents…is that a Gentrifier?

  • happyfeelin

    I’m am not taking it personally either so I hope that’s not me either. As I see it, rhetoric articles are really more to engage a discussion rather than attack the author and I consider this another rhetoric article because as there still remains blighted properties, people hanging out in St. Andrews Plaza and other ails in our hood, I think as someone who has cleared human waste in West Oakland to lessen its subjection on our neighborhood kids, I can say what I see as rhetoric…All I am voicing is my opinion since the author is clearly directing things at Mr. Kopff and others like him, who are my neighbors and none are attempting to design anything and impose it on anyone. My comments are general and sweeping since anyone in West Oakland Clawson can chime in here since we work TOGETHER and its not about one of us, its about ALL OF US.

  • Gene Keenan

    From: Darby Brandli (Couldn’t register on site for some reason)

    “Change has been the name of the game in Oakland for its entire history. Replacement of existing communities has gone on here since the city was named Oakland and acquired all the communities in its shadow (Lynn, Brooklyn, Clinton to name three). Oakland is the kind of city it is because it was always the epicenter of big changes and today is no different. The author cites a number of changes from Oakland’s early history of Ohlones, Spanish land grant residents. He missed the changes brought when the railroad terminus was located here, when WWII brought immigrants to work locally, when all the fruit and vegetable packing plants (related to the railroad of course) developed here, when the 1906 earthquake brought thousands over from a destroyed city, when the immigrants from southeast Asia hit our city limits beginning in the late 1970s. Change stopped with Loma Prieta and is now starting again. Like it or not, Oakland is what it is (in the moment) because it has always been a city that appealed to people on the move.

    My credentials for being an Oaklander are impeccable if we are measuring “real Oaklanders” with that yardstick. Heck my grandkids are 5th generation and attend OUSD. Every generation was born in a hospital which replaced an institution from a generation before, attended schools that replaced others, lived in neighborhoods that looked different from a previous generation. My husband and I are the most stable of all our historical generations as we have lived in our current home almost 40 years. We have been lucky on our block and are surrounded by neighbors who purchased before us (grandkids now living in some of those homes) and others who purchased to reside and stayed. Our block “looks” like the Oakland the author yearns for: all races, all ages, all economic levels. We are now seeing homes for sale because people are aging and moving on (usually to heaven). The newest neighbors are thrilled to be part of a vibrant and caring community. Steve Kopff (not a rich white migrant by the way) is one of those neighbors and everyone who has lived here for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years are thrilled that he has brought new energy to our immediate neighborhood. We are not Funktown by the way, we are Brooklyn Township.

    I am thrilled to see Oakland growing again.. Uptown and Downtown have been ghost towns since Loma Prieta. Temescal used to be a place to drive through to get to Berkeley or the freeway. Oakland used to be a place to shop and dine, a commercial and economic hub. People took the train to town before they took BART. That business are moving back and adding to the tax base is a good thing. That people from out of the area want to live here again is a good thing. It is back to the way it has always been for Oakland, a city of immigrants from elsewhere looking for opportunity and a chance to live the American Dream.”

  • Gene Keenan

    Great post.

  • Steve Kopff

    Beautifully said Darby. And I will add that Darby and her husband were the first people to greet me on moving in day to welcome me to the neighborhood. It’s a tradition that I’ve tried to carry on myself by welcoming new people and inviting them into the fold and introducing them to long-term residents. You can’t walk down my block without one of the neighbors chatting you up and that’s real community. Lukas hasn’t a clue since he’s uninterested in meeting the new comers and finding out who they are and how much he might actually have in common with them.

  • Tamsin

    Fantastic article, thank you for saying what me and my fellow born-and-raised Oaklanders are thinking all the time! I haven’t seen an article that so comprehensively captures our perspectives and our grievances that way you have here. Thanks Luke.

  • andrew park

    “I like my high hats on eight notes
    Basic, don’t double up the flow
    I ride the beat; you chase it
    Hennessey straight with the lemon squeezed to quench
    Sounds from the town, they pound with intent
    Experiment with this like it’s different ’cause it is
    They make the norm, and it’s not what I live
    I give my all and want to ball like y’all
    But I can only spit my shit, you get it?”

    I get it. Thanks Luke for stepping out and trying to reach out to newcomers.

    We get it. Oakland is big enough for all. Just trying to keep it small enough for us.

  • Meg Ruth King

    Fantastic article. “Some may think that Oakland’s history is irrelevant to it’s present” / “Peralta’s” —-> incorrect use of the possessive. Pointed out with love by an OUSD teacher.

  • Kathy Ferreira

    “We could use your ears and heart a lot more than your money and voice.” This is the most vital piece of advice for Oakland natives and newcomers alike. Thank you, Luke.

  • Kathreen Khavari

    Everyone who’s angry about this article is a transplant (yes, I made a generalization…moving on). If you weren’t born and raised here, you just won’t understand the frustration that we feel as natives who aren’t able purchase land in our home because the real estate prices are climbing at an astronomical rate. Some of the changes in Oakland are great, but when you feel like you’re being pushed out of your home, inevitably a frustration arises that transplants may struggle to comprehend.

  • jake johns

    This is just moronic self-serving drivel. Neighborhoods change and will always change no matter where you live. I’ve lived in SF, NYC, Ohio, Indiana, Maine and Utah and in every place, there are two consistencies you can count on. 1. change happens whether you want it to or not. 2. people living in areas during the time of change love to fling mud on those who they blame for said change, whether it’s the black community in Oakland decrying the influx of gentrifiers or the white mavens in the Hamptons decrying the influx of people of color. But the fact of the matter is, nothing actually stops the change itself. People need to get it out of their heads that they own the territory they live in or call home.. Cause whether you like it or not, you and everyone else on this planet, are only temporary and soon enough we all move on, by force or by death and then the next generation will take over your newly departed space and start the cycle all over again..

  • john goodwill

    This article is biased. Unfortunately it is sad that outside investors really have to create and propel a local economy here in Oakland. Oakland could have flourished by Oakland Citizens however that’s not what happened. Oakland citizens ran this place into the ground. All Oakland has been for the last 10 years is the murder capital of California. Too bad the ‘Locals’ could not create a positive ecosystem. Now that there is some positive change going on in Oakland, everyone is up in arms. Furthermore, Oakland used to be filled with Italian immigrants. They were in fact here first before African Americans and Latinos. They did not flee, they flourished and moved elsewhere.

    This article is so biased that white people leaving a neighborhood is called “flight” and is attributed to racism and if white people move to a neighborhood it’s called “privileged” or “colonization”. Can white people move homes with out being labeled?

  • john goodwill

    If this article was directed at black populations moving into a neighborhood and how White people were angry about it, this would be RACIST. However the situation is reversed so it is somehow admissible.

  • Eclectic Infidel

    If he was reaching out to newcomers, he failed miserably.

  • happyfeelin

    I’m a transplant and actually one from a city with a higher rate of poverty than Oakland and I’ve lived in the Bay Area for over 25 years.
    I agree 100%. About the frustration of not being able to afford a home, not the transplant thing because many of us come from other cities that mirror the issues now occurring in Oakland….this was Brooklyn 30 years ago…but something had better get done quick because having just gone back to NY for a funeral, the Brooklyn that’s there now is not the Brooklyn I grew up in.
    I actually think like other cities, this city should have provisions for people to be able to afford to live here, in the form of whatever is necessary through the federal government, loan programs that help bolster low-middle income families, teachers, civil servants.
    I do understand the frustration that natives who can’t purchase a home go through and to them I also know that feeling and that’s how I was able to engage. There are fortunately many people that can do this, and if there’s people you know that aren’t trying, I do know there are means to make this work (and they’re not hidden…the Marriott had something just last year and 3 people I know bought homes during that event…low-income, working families need this support).
    So maybe Oakland is like Boston and needs to have public land set-asides for natives since this seems like the same thing that created reservations.

  • pateblog

    > Blame needs to stop..Change and Engagement needs to continue.

    That says it all. Thanks for this comment.

  • Gene Keenan

    What’s happening in Oakland is happening in many cities. Some of the new residents here were displaced from other communities they were part of. So to say “you just won’t understand” is a big reach. I fully understand the frustration: We ourselves were displaced. Our friends and family in NOLA are saying the same thing. The cost of housing there has soared in the last few years all due in part because of the revival that area has experienced since Katrina.

  • locavore

    It’s funny how Steve gets called out for being the worst kind of gentrifying anti-citizen, but then when you look at the recommended 10 ways of how to be a good Oakland citizen / transplant there’s direct evidence that Steve is doing most of these. Even much-demonized line about the food dessert from an article that was published years ago was prompted by a desire to spend more money supporting local businesses. And just because he mentioned Bi-Rite as a model doesn’t mean this is the only kind of business he can and will support. Case in point, the recently opened Burmese place (Grocery Cafe) that he has mentioned repeatedly on facebook.

    Whenever someone moves into a neighborhood, they will bring their own set of desires and dreams. Unfortunately, our dreams for the place we call home don’t always line up. I dream of more trees on my street, but my neighbors across the street (40+ yrs resident, but recently retired to Texas…) do not like the idea of leaf litter. I planted a tree in front of my house, but they politely declined my offer to plant one for them. Was I colonizing the neighborhood with my yuppie white-girl dream of trees? Perhaps, but it’s also a house that I bought in a community I intend to be a part of for a good long time (11 years and counting) so my dreams should count for something as well. Frankly, the respect issue is one that cuts both ways. Yes, I need to respect the culture of the people who landed here before me, but I also need them to respect my genuine efforts to be a part of the community. And I’m not asking for respect out of some misguided sense of entitlement – I know my ability to move into this town and buy property stands on heaps of privilege going back generations. Even though my specific family history contains poverty and discrimination, I know full well that my ability to “succeed” has been substantially helped by the privilege my race confers. No, I deserve the same respect and dignity that every human deserves, and it’s in the community’s best interest to extend that respect to all newcomers. To do otherwise is to erode the community fabric even faster.

    And finally, I agree with most of these recommendations for how to be good citizens/neighbors, but I have to strongly disagree with #6. Not with the “Don’t be racist” part – I don’t claim that I always succeed, but I at least *try* not to be racist. But if that extends to not calling cops on the neighborhood kids? Sorry. When the neighborhood kids show up uninvited in my kitchen because they thought I wasn’t home? I’m calling the cops. When a group of neighborhood kids hold me at implied gunpoint to steal my backpack? I’m calling the cops. When the neighborhood kids steal the bike out of my shed while I’m watching from my window? Calling the cops. When they squeal around the corner too fast, slamming into my neighbor’s van before racing off? When they start shooting guns into the trees just for kicks? I don’t think it’s racism to call the cops when a crime has been committed or is in progress. Some people may be capable of “working it out” with neighborhood kids that are engaging in criminal activities, but I’m not one of them. Tossing out the claim of racism when someone brings in law enforcement to ENFORCE THE LAW is a stretch. And a sure way to alienate people.

  • Fitz

    This is one of the worst and most uninformed pieces of commentary on Oakland I have ever read. Seek a new line of work Lukas, this whole writing thing isn’t working out for you.

  • David Landers

    I’m so sick of bay area whiners. unless your Ohlone/Costanoan, you’re not a fucking native. you were just born here. congratulations, you accomplished being born somewhere.

    get over yourselves you boring fuckwits.

  • Juliana Fitz

    Oh so I can stop paying my property taxes then, right? Because you don’t really “need” me here? This article is just a divisive piece of bull. I love Oakland because it is so diverse and welcoming! On just our floor of our building, we have neighbors who are black, gay, asian, hispanic… and yes… shocker… white people like me too. We all get along great and feel lucky to live in Oakland. People and places change- we don’t live in Feudal society where you have to die 15 feet from where you are born. Let people CHOOSE to come here, and yes, they will bring some change, but most people come here because they are attracted to what Oakland already has to offer!

  • xkruse

    Aren’t you the dude that recommended replacing the Lucky’s with a Bi-Rite?

  • Robbie

    I take no pleasure in saying this – neither of the shit-eating or Socratic variety – but you don’t have a choice, even if (and though) you should. This is happening. Without your permission, consent, or blessing. Because this is how progress always works: with violent disregard. There are so many areas of so many regions that have gone through this process, and this one will follow suit. For years, I wondered “What will it take for Oakland to finally get on track?” And we now have our answer: San Francisco getting so god damn expensive that transplants and brunch-goers almost HAVE TO move to her. And that blows. Oakland deserved a better story. (All those other places did too.) But it ain’t getting one. This annoying, disheartening process is how Oakland will be remade – IS being remade. It’s already in the mail. I hope more pieces are kept than lost…

  • Miss Lita

    I love how all the white people are chiming on things so easily when they feel a little uncomfortable but will not speak up when people of color are being killed, profiled, jailed, and otherwise oppressed (and yes I am white & thank u if you do speak up, not talking about u). As the author states if you’re part of the solution he’s not talking about you. “You’re so vain, I bet u think this song is about you”

    Nope nope nope:
    he gets to decide cuz he’s entitled to his opinion, thank u
    And no need to explain yourself if you’re doing your part

    Steve:
    if we “all belong here” why are poor/brown/black people being pushed out?
    Answer: capitalism!
    The golden rule, whoever has the gold makes the rules…
    Fact: developers(ie people with $$) come to a neighborhood/city to “fix it up” with no regard for the people who already live there. They jack up prices & push out the people & communities that were there already. Is there no way to “fix up” a community for the people who have already lived there? Yes yes there is but it takes people committed to it & not to profits

    Swank7:
    again he’s prob not talking about u
    Ps the fact that you “barely had enough $ for down payment” already shows enough white privilege as most brown/black people don’t have access to ANY & have systematically been denied loans, better jobs etc etc

    Happyfeelin:
    It’s one thing to help out your block/community, it’s another to ale it over. My husband (who is black) is from Mead st. & proud of it. And I’ve seen firsthand the devastation brought on by by people who value $$ over people. I watched as someone preyed upon his grannies house (she had one of the last Victorians on mead st paid in full). It wasn’t just a house, it was where all the fam gathered for holidays & celebrations, it was where you could get a hot meal if you were hungry, a place to lay your head when u had nowhere to go. As she was an anchor to the family, she made her home an anchor on the block. When she passed, in swooped the cultures trying to make a quick come up. With the family in turmoil, it was sold for pennies (under $100,000!!!!) and now her big family & extended fam have scattered about farther & farther from their beloved home because they can’t afford it (even I they’re making 15/hr it ain’t gon cut it). It hurts my heart & Luke I FEEL YA, these are all things my husband has said many times over. Thanks for a great ode to old Oakland. Westward

  • http://www.jameslrichard.weebly.com James L. Richard II

    I am Oakland, and I am not the got damn “Town.”
    There is one so-called race among Homo sapiens sapiens: The Human Race.
    Oakland, under no circumstances, is a stranger in his city. Oakland is not a got damn “newbie” in God`s chosen location.
    Oakland does not “nod” at “passersby.”
    Oakland plays Funk not got damn “hip-hop.”
    Latin is a language created in what is now known as Italy. Moreover, the native people of this hemisphere are not got damn “Latino!!”
    So-called Asia is a so-called continent that is 17,21 million square miles. How, within all logic and reason, could a human be labeled “Asian” and one quantity their geographical cline?
    Jerry Brown is a 49er loving wench.
    The person who wrote this so-called article is not “educated.” He is a San Francisco spy.
    There is, and has been, no Sekret™ to the superiority of the Holy City™. Yawn…
    Cristoffa Columbo was the 49er`s name. It is not “Christopher Columbus” you idiot, and God`s city has not been, or ever will be,” re-discovered.”
    The Roman Financial Model and “money” as it is executed in the majority of the planet is not Oakland you 49er imp. Silence with your “money” bullshit.
    God`s city has always had a majority European demographic. Furthermore, “white” people (whiteness is a behavior and not a geographical cline or so-called ethnic group) is prevalent world-wide moron. Nothing has changed in the last 500 years.
    The United States of America did not come into existence until 1783. Therefore, humans who are native to this hemisphere were not, and are not, “Native American.” There was no United States of America, and these continents were not “America.” Euros gave the land that name. Moreover, humans inhabited this hemisphere for thousands of years. They, including Oakland`s African (yes), Cherokee, and Choctaw ancestors, were not “native American.”
    The so-called Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was yet another, in a long series of, Eurocentric idiocy intended to pillage the Earth. Yawn…the imbecile who wrote this article knows nothing of history. Oakland os earning his master`s in history, teaches history, and insists on evidence and fact exclusively.
    Oakland will, under no circumstances, employ the words “Negroes” or Oriental. Please…
    Oakland`s father “owned,” although Oakland does not seek “ownership” of anything, the most “expensive,” under the Eurocentric model, home on Oakland`s childhood Crocker Highlands street. Furthermore, when Oakland was born, his family “owned” a home in Piedmont and moved to Clarendon Crescent when Oakland was 2 months old.
    “Power,” under Oakland`s law, is knowledge, wisdom, understanding, logic, discipline, integrity, honor, loyalty, etc. It is not got damn money you 49er nitwit.
    Oakland is not a got damn “hustler,” and has nothing to do with San Francisco “gold.” Oakland is Silver and Black™.
    This dunce knows nothing about “Funk” and cannot even “fake” it.
    Money does not “talk,” is corrupts.
    Oakland does not go to San Francisco.
    Oakland is not this simpleton`s home. He is San Francisco. As far as his 10 points are concerned, Oakland has one for him and anyone perpetuating such inanity: Stay in San Francisco.
    I am Oakland.

  • Demetri Broxton

    Amen!!!

  • swank7

    I am speaking up when people of color are being killed. That’s why this entire piece sucks. It puts everyone into particular “buckets”.talk about profiling… Ugh

  • Richard Raya

    Thanks Lukas. Great piece, elegantly written in Oakland/Bay native lingo. We’ll keep fighting the good fight for social justice, funkiness, and love — that’s what this beautiful little patch of Earth called Oakland means to us.

  • goblue72

    Yes he is. He’s an oblivious white jackhole colonizer from SF who laid down over a million large for his mansion in a working class eastlake neighborhood, started whining about why there wasn’t a Bi-Rite nearby, and then had the temerity to bitch & moan when called on it.

  • goblue72

    $1.137 million to be precise, 2.5 years ago. Worth double that now.

    https://www.redfin.com/CA/Oakland/1218-E-21st-St-94606/home/533933

    But he’s just regular people’s after all –

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/homeandgarden/article/Couple-uncover-Oakland-Victorian-s-beautiful-6224043.php

    Funny how that real estate puff piece circle jerk makes it sound like it was some abandoned house – and not what it actually was – the headquarters of the Center for Third World Organizing (a social & racial justice organization), that I can only assume was having fundraising troubles in the wake of the Great Recession – and likely in need of a cash infusion to keep their doors open.

  • mwires

    This has to be at least the tenth article like this that I’ve read, and while I can identify with the frustrations and alienation of the author, I’m over it. What gives someone the right to decide who deserves to move here and what rules to play by once they’re here? That shit sounds like the definition of a word I hear thrown around by the hour: entitlement. Here’s what you’re actually entitled to: getting with fucking reality. The reality is that Oakland doesn’t care how long you’ve been here or how vital you feel your presence is to the community. Oakland only cares if you can get here and then afford to stay here. That’s it. I wish that there was more to it.
    For the past 15 years Oakland has been amazing to me. Now I’m just amazed at the rate of transformation. LIke most artists here, I’ll be priced out sooner than later, but until that happens I’m going to do more with my time than complain about the influx of yuppie culture. It was inevitable, and it’s the current reality of Oakland.

    ‘Heaven and earth are not humane; they regard all beings as straw dogs.’ -Tao Te Ching

  • Disqus313

    The situation is not reversed. The situation is never and has never been reversed. Racism is always directed at black populations, it has never been reversed. Please stop pretending that the situation could possibly be reversed or has ever been reversed or will ever be reversed. It is not reversed. It is the very definition and entire idea of racism. It is always the same • White anger directed at black populations = racism. It Is/Will/Was Never Reversed. Stop Lying To Yourself!

  • cz

    I am white and not from Oakland. I am from a small city in Pennsylvania and then moved to Philadelphia. From there I moved to Walnut Creek, Oakland, San Francisco and back to Oakland. Every move was made as a next chapter in my life or for personal circumstances. I moved from my hometown because of more career opportunities and social experiences. I never moved to or from a place because of color of skin of the neighborhood.

    I went to an urban, public high school. I was one of two caucasian boys on the varsity basketball team. My family took in one of my teammates who is african american for five years and raised him as our own.

    Just a little background before the rest of my post…

    Articles like this do more damage than good. Just because I am not from Oakland doesn’t mean I can’t support it. My wife lived in San Francisco for fifteen years and we, like most people, love the City. However, we are embracing Oakland more and more. We go to many restaurants in Uptown, Jack London Square and other places. And we really don’t think about “how long is this establishment here?” before making our reservations. We just want to go somewhere where the food tastes good and we have an enjoyable experience.

    We can say the same thing about other products and services. It is really as simple as that.

    Many people across the country and world come to the Bay Area for the weather, opportunities, liberal agenda among other things. We buy things, pay taxes, start businesses, raise children. But then we read an article like this that “disses” us. How is that cool and welcoming?

    I understand the frustration with rising house prices. People invest in neighborhoods. Is Brooklyn a better place than it was 20 years ago? Hell yes! However, it is almost inevitable that neighborhoods change. People are being priced out of the City. People are being priced out of Oakland and Alameda. Heck, people are priced out of Walnut Creek, Danville and Concord but there aren’t blogs about that. People just simply move to somewhere that they can afford, enjoy, and thrive and hope that they are welcomed to their new neighborhood. Blame Silicon Valley. Blame foreign investors. But if techies and families can’t afford to live in SoMA, the Mission (speaking of gentrification) and Noe Valley they are going to go elsewhere that is more affordable. And that may be San Rafael, Foster City, or gosh….maybe Oakland!

    We all want it all. We want great schools and education for our kids. We want an active and bigger police force. We want parks. And we don’t want to pay more taxes. Oakland does not have a large tax base – not a big corporate presence, no anchor retail like Nordstrom – compared to other cities. We can’t have it all. And apparently, the author wants it all only with folks who have lived here their entire lives.

    And for what it’s worth, we live across the street from our neighborhood school. Almost no one in our neighborhood – no matter what the race – send our kids to that school. Parents have one go around with their kids and want to give them the best opportunity they can. So to talk down to parents about this issue is really ignorant and disrespectful especially for someone who doesn’t have children. And my child is going to a public school

    I wonder if the author’s family would have appreciated this sentiment when they emigrated from their homeland decades or centuries ago. Like he said, we are all from somewhere else.

    Sorry, Mr. Brekke-Meisner, but there are plenty of good people of all colors who were not born in Oakland who appreciate what Oakland has to offer. We want to invest in the people, the experiences, and the businesses. But we just hope we don’t come across more anti-native “haters” like yourself. Maybe a small dose of “get over it” will help.

  • Jolie AVenia

    Change is the name of the game in the bay area. It can be sad, but it so inevitable. I’ve lived in the bay area for 20 years, and now I’m looking to get out because it’s not possible for me to look forward to owning a home and settling here for good. I got priced out of SF, I got priced out of Berkeley and Oakland, and now I am in San Leandro. Eventually the tide will work it’s way down both sides of the bay past San Jose. Why? Money, honey. Wouldn’t it be great if Zuckerberg along with google, pandora and others would just BUY Detroit? Move there home bases to that rotted city and leave our beautiful Golden Coast? Then maybe everyone else who doesn’t clock 100 grand a year can stay. Lament, enjoy your time here, and leave it to the techies. Maybe they can set up housing for people to work in their cafes and craft beer bars.

  • Blessed2015

    Look Luke, I know you fool. I went to the high school you teach at. And honestly its ass the way you’ve co-opted black culture as your own and feel like you’re the spokesman for the black community in Oakland because you grew up in Redwood Heights. Its even more ass that so many kids at Tech look up to you when you have such a limited world vision and can’t seem to see that there’s more to this green planet than Oakland. But about the article. Gentrification can’t be stopped by a post on some hipster blog, has no one else seen the irony in that? Gentrification is going to keep on trucking through the Bay Area until the tech bubble in the city bursts. And you know what? Its not a bad thing. Gentrification is the only way that kids stop getting shot outside of Mack. Gentrification is the only way that the dubs become safe at night. What would you rather do? Just put your head in the sand and pretend its all going to change and that cops and people are going to get a long real well all of a sudden? The entire movement against gentrification today is, at its core, based in fear of change and racism against white people. If you want to hate white people thats cool but don’t pretend its about something else. These neighborhoods have been dynamic for a long time. They were white until World War II, then became black, and since Mexican and South East Asian communities have been matriculating in. Look at E14. A street that used to be all Mexican now has all kinds of Asian stores and restaurants. You didn’t see people bemoaning that. So it isn’t about the neighborhoods changing, its about white people coming in. The first step is acceptance. As to your comments about homie from SF moving in to Funktown, HOW CAN YOU BE MAD? Just because things are different does not mean they’re necessarily bad. He is asking for a coffee shop and a grocery store. Just because Funktown has some hype ethnic eats does not mean that the shit isn’t littered with liquor stores that are poisoning our young people. Clearly that city does not care enough to do something to change that. So why be mad at newcomers who are? I’ve got to say I’m both disappointed and frustrated by this article and the message of stopping all change that may come to our broken ass city. You remind me of the far-right wing who think that protesting a war is anti-American. Just because you want to change an institution does not mean you do not like it, you just think it needs improvement. Don’t be the opponent of positive change when Oakland could be so much more than it is.

  • Alexandra

    I am a “unicorn”, born and raised in SF. I understand and can relate to so many of the issues you are facing as an Oakland native. But I want to make something clear. Birite may seem like a product of gentrification but that store was owned by a Palestinian immigrant since the 1960s and later taken over by his son (also born and raised in SF) in the 1990s. The son’s goal was to change his community. Whether it’s educating public elementary school students on gardening and growing their own vegetables or educating adults on how to reduce their carbon foot print simply by eating organic, local foods–Birite has the entire community in mind. Unfortunately the products are more expensive than the average corner grocery store in the Mission but this country makes a lot of $$ making bad food cheap and good food expensive. It costs a lot to get clean meats and produce. Unfortunately that makes it harder for low income families to eat well. Do wealthy tech zombies flood to Birite? Yes, because they have the means. But I hope you weren’t blaming Birite for the gentrification of the Mission. Stores like Birite are very much the “old San Francisco” where community was #1 and thinking differently was not only welcomed but encouraged.

  • OnoShobiShobi Ingleosi

    This article was really bumming me out until I read your comment. Thanks yo.

    I moved around a lot growing up. I don’t have a place that I can call home like that. People like Luke make life really hard for people like me. That doesn’t mean I, or the issue, or my opinion of the issue deserve special recognition or consideration. I just hope that he realizes not everyone has an ancestral stomping ground but everybody needs a home, even if they look or think differently.

  • oaklandboy

    I’ve lived in Oakland for 20 years, but just because I’ve lived here doesn’t mean I own it. Complain if you want – I choose to accept, adapt, and enjoy.

  • Super Amanda

    Great article. I cringe when neighborhood areas names which did not exist until post 2000 like “Old Town” are coined and dropped by transplants. I was born and raised in Piedmont city limits about a ten minute walk to the border and never fit it so I was in Oakland all the time. My father ran Teleprompter in West Oakland and later I co-founded a Black History non profit to restore Paul Robeson’s erased legacy. If you arrived pre dot com you caught the very END of the true Bay Area. It was over after the mid 80s but now it’s really dying fast. It makes me sick to see what Oakland public schools in the areas that affluent transplants shun are existing as. All those billions and tiny children are going to some of the worst schools in the country. I’m sick of the inner city tourism by new comers who will NEVER be a part of what the true Bay Area was. And truly, if you’re not born and raised in the Bay you never will be.

  • Super Amanda

    Go away transplant.

  • Super Amanda

    Major areas of poorer Berkeley are by cultural rights, Oakland. Berkeley never had a bad rep until the big housing surge made areas around College unaffordable with crippling homeless populations and scary crime. Hard to explain if you’re not from here but “Berkeleying of Oakland” is misbegotten and makes no sense culturally.

  • Steve Kopff

    NO I did not- one of the ridiculous accusations that people fabricated. A group of us took former council person Pat Kernighan on a tour of our part of the neighborhood to show her how bad the potholes were on E21st Street- which finally was fixed in the last month. The other part of the visit was to drive by a few locations on 13th Avenue that had the potential to be a location for a new grocery store and we asked for her assistance in making it happen. Get your facts straight and stop spreading gossip that your camp created

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    I echo Luke’s sentiments throughout this outstanding piece!
    Bottom line, newcomers (rich techie transplants) see nothing wrong with pushing life-long residents out because it is part of Oakland “changing.” To that I say F*** YOU! Where were you when Sears was the go-to- spot to shop for back to school clothes? Where were you when we had to drive to SF for a night out and come back by 2am to get tacos from Sinaloa? Where were you when we spent our weekends at A’s or Raiders games? Where were you when our parents would take us to Fairyland? All these rich techies wouldn’t have cared to move to Oakland if it wasn’t for their jobs in tech. None of you people gave rats ass about Oakland, or the struggles we were facing. Do you even care of the lack of decent buildings for the charter schools. Or lacks of funds for kids who go to schools in poor neighborhoods. So, no, you care about the “new Oakland, but don’t know crap about the Oakland people like myself know and loved. If the tech boomed would’ve happened in Wisconsin, people would be flooding to move out there and would praise how much they love it, and would not even bother with Oakland at ALL. And, this is the truth.

    BRAVO LUKE! this piece is on POINT!

  • Steve Kopff

    Hell yeah I bought my home and now people are buying much smaller homes in the neighborhood for close to the same price. Get used to it. I have no control over the prices people pay for their homes or what landlords choose to charge their tenants. And this neighborhood is changing and is incredibly diverse. It’s been through many changes over the decades. If you have the power to stop it then do it. For the rest of us- its just the greater overheated Bay Area market and lack of new housing being built and the idiot activists stopping construction of new developments that add to the pressure

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    People like you were attracted to Oakland because of the convenience to being close to your job. If the tech boom would’ve happened in Montana, you would’ve been attracted to what Montana has to offer.

  • Paul

    I appreciate the article, but I’m not sure what its attempt is, demonize newcomers? The author sounds like a bitter spokesperson for people in the inner city who doesn’t like change because he has the platform to say something. Although, I agree with some of what he says, like embrace your community, learn its history, etc., some of it, is just stupid. Send your kids to public school? Why? If you choose to give your child the best education you can with your dime, then that’s great. Oakland is a beautiful city with a lot of diversity and that’s why we choose to live here. A lot of us newcomers didn’t grow up privileged and had the same hard knocks that Oakland natives did but worked hard and bought homes in an area we enjoy. I don’t like yuppies that jump when they see a black guy either, but I do appreciate the new restaurants, bars, and diversity. After all, we all pay taxes, right?

  • Fitz

    This is the best comment in the entire article. +100

  • happyfeelin

    Yep. You’re right on the money with what you’re saying.
    It’s totally Sad that these stories Segway to be a racial issue; the fact of the matter is that its really about green and has less to do with minorities since poor whites are pushed out also (yep, poor people come in all demographics, sorry for the cynicism).
    I know there are a lot of people who aren’t benefiting, I know plenty of minorities that are benefitting…all I’m saying is that yes, all should benefit….And just as you share about used to be Italian immigrants before that flourished and moved….the same thing has happened in other towns….and they have a footprint to examine strategically on what will happen in 20 years (or less with the exponential growth of San Francisco)…I hate to be the killjoy here, but jumping all over anyone about this issue is pointless….the developers are here, and unless low-cost/low-income housing is within the footprint of what the city planners are doing, folks can cry as loud as they want….all the “gentrifiers” have to do is wait it out…it’s going to look quite different here in 10 years.

  • Edrianito

    Wow, this really hit close to home for me. I’m an East Oakland native that lives in Brooklyn now (took a 15 year detour in to LA on the way). I honestly feel like I try to implement many if not all of the steps listed above to try to immerse myself in my new community in Flatbush, which is being being aggressively invaded by “urban pioneers”, but as a fair skinned latino with thick framed glasses and tattoos I seem to get tossed in with the rest despite my efforts. Oakland taught me everything Mr. Brekke-Miesner mentions above to a T, and I’m proud of that. I consider myself a social chameleon who could be dropped in any neighborhood and make friends, mostly due to my progressive and diverse upbringing in The Town, but my current community doesn’t seem to be taking applications. And I get that, I honestly do, but it just makes it hard to figure out what to do. I feel like I’ve earned my stripes in my youth, but said stripes are invisible to people here so it’s almost like starting from scratch.

    I like nice restaurants, sometimes I spend the last few bucks in my bank account to enjoy a fancy cocktail and a dish that involves pork belly in some capacity, but I also frequent independent businesses. I see gentrification as an unfortunate side effect of financial hardship, evolving culture as a country and a growing population to name a few, and it sucks but I can’t help but feel like I’m part of the problem. I’ve been in my neighborhood a year and I already roll my eyes at newcomers.

    The funny part is that my jewish wife’s mother was born and raised 2 blocks from where we currently live and in 3 months my daughter will be born in this exact same neighborhood. My mother in law left in the 1960’s and after that the neighborhood gradually became a predominantly West Indies/Jamaican neighborhood with many families being 2nd generation. I try to relate, I’m Venezuelan-American and consider myself caribbean whether or not it’s accurate.I want to feel like I am part of the community, the way it felt growing up and spending summers at the rec center, riding huffy’s up and down MacArthur and chasing ice cream trucks. I want my children to have that, I want to call this place home as is, not what it will inevitably become 5 years from now when someone opens a bar/restaurant/cafe/office for the unemployed called ‘Twig & Thistle’. But how can I do this if the community won’t let me in? If I’m resented and lumped in with the rest? Am I part of the problem? This is the only place in the city we could afford a 2 bedroom in and be close the trains and a nice park. The public schools around here are as bad as OUSD, and I don’t want my daughter dropping out of high school like I did because I honestly knew I would be better off.

    My wife is resilient and strong, she was born and raised in Philly and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She smiles and talks to everyone up and down the street and they love her, but I definitely don’t get the same treatment when I do the same. Reading this was amazing and recharged my batteries to try to integrate with my new community and keep trying. It also made me miss the place I will always think of as home.

  • happyfeelin

    Thanks Robbie…I feel much better now…the movie is not a remake…its an original but the city will be a remake….The Raiders are likely to leave also unless some real revenue comes into this town….

  • happyfeelin

    I hear ya…And I’m sad to see that story you’re telling…it’s far too common and in the black community, the preying on folks without knowledge of real estate and the grandeur of dollars over legacy is far too known…didn’t take Oakland to go through that for me to know….something about the reference 40 acres and a Mule that was aligned to that back in the late 1800’s.

  • GoBlueInSF

    You’re a liar Steve – this is what you wrote in your Oakland Local editorial (removed because you stuck you foot so far down your own throat you choked on it): “We were living in a virtual food desert, and had to travel to other neighborhoods to find restaurants, shops, ATMs and supermarkets that provided the services we were looking for. ” – Yeah, except for all the Asian and Latino markets & restaurants in the area.

    And this – “I sent out a poll that reached more than 400 neighbors asking what they would like if they could choose a local grocer. The neighbors overwhelmingly were looking for a store like a BiRite, run by local owners, with reasonable prices, that offered lots of organic fruits and vegetables, locally-grown options included. Also on the wish list was an in-house bakery that offered fresh baked goods, an ATM in-store such as a Wells Fargo, and a coffee kiosk with patisserie bites.”

    You choose to highlight the Bi-Rite bit. You didn’t have to – but you did. Because that’s who you are. A guy who moves into Clinton and then founds a “beautification” nonprofit that looks to rename it something it hasn’t been called in 100 years – because that’s what gentrifiers do – they rename existing working class/poor neighborhoods as part of “rebranding” the area in order to accelerate its gentrification – for the benefit of their own property values. Would be like a bunch of straights moving into the Castro and founding a “Eureka Valley Beautification Association” – people would be pissed, and rightly so.

  • happyfeelin

    Sorry Amanda, not intending to offend you or anyone that’s from the East Bay. My apologies to you; but my point of view is mine and for clarity, the cultural reference shared (Berkeleying of Oakland) whether you agree with this reference or not, makes cultural sense to some of us, since the reference applies to a condition within a community…..no matter what caused that change within the community. Whenever a community is about to change due to something else that wasn’t as prevalent before something else emerged, its going to be something else…in Harlem, we saw it as the Manhattaning of Harlem.
    The DNA of this community has changed considerably. I’ve seen the SF Bay Area go from dot-com to post-dot com to digital to tech. As one of my friends calls them, in the late 1990’s it was Dot-Com/ then it was Dot-Bomb; then it was BD …Before Digital and then it was BT…Before Tech…Ask the people in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto about it if you don’t know the stages of transformation MANY families have be subjected to.
    Frankly, I have now been living here long enough to see a few economic downturns and know what my friends are talking about…Not everyone feels good about this, whether its Oakland or any other part of the East Bay…since people are being displaced and folks are facing this due to whatever the current economic cause is….in earlier history, the University and it’s positions changed the community around it (e.g. Vietnam War and Civil Rights era). The issue is financially based of course but there are ways to afford living here..not sure why folks aren’t succeeding in that because I really haven’t owned my house for long enough to say it’s completely out of reach everywhere….And as I see empty properties peppered all around West Oakland (STILL…empty…not repaired, sitting vacate, waiting for families), is it people that are the cause of this? Not sure about that since everyone I know is trying to narrow down who owns these properties, because even the natives would want to have an opportunity to change a blighted property into a viable home for their families.
    And as far as the Berkeley/Oakland thing…that’s a long written story at this point…been happening for years. My ex-boyfriend’s (black) family bought a little house over near Hudson Street near College Avenue (Rockridge District in Oakland) in 1968 for roughly $18,000..never sold it…do you know how much that less than 1300 sq ft house is worth now?
    So, that’s what I’m talking about….hated to use the metaphor esp if its misunderstood but no one misunderstands when a $18k house in 1968 is worth over $1MM in roughly 40 years…that’s a better investment than TD Ameritrade could even dare to suggest. And I’m proud that there are some natives who are gaining from this economic boom in housing.

  • happyfeelin

    WAVING FROM WEST OAKLAND! Exactly Endrianito….you have perfectly articulated the issue here….And it is exactly the financial hardship issue you share….It’s wonderful seeing someone in opposite sides of the world and you guys are adding to a fabric that’s really magnificent…. I’m sorry to say to some that this post is just a dialogue about a plan already in the works and while it suggests politeness to transplants, the fact of the matter is, many of us, native to Oakland or not, are quite familiar with the gentrification playbook..folks are going to become what their environment becomes especially as these communities morph and money comes in.
    That’s what I understand Mr. Kopff is saying and he’s absolutely correct…this happened in St. Louis/Philly/my home town (Brooklyn), Los Angeles, even parts of the poorest areas in the country…ask New Orleans what’s happened in the Ninth Ward post-Katrina. Its the Circle of Urban Life if you ask me….folks get pushed out to suburbs and folks move from other places to urban centers….The issue with Oakland is that the transportation systems make this very difficult…Unlike New York that has mass transit across vasts amounts of area, you can’t commute as easily due to only having BART/MUNI and AC Transit primarily, serving the poorer areas and if folks can’t commute they can’t commute cheaply to areas that aren’t centralized in the urban points in the city where poor folks need access to services. And he’s not even referencing that…what he’s sharing is that we need to bring better services to these areas for EVERYONE to have them..and maybe they should be more attractive than they are now….

    If folks want sameness and no progress, they should come by St. Andrews Plaza in West Oakland and ask them what they’re doing besides pissing people off to have the status quo, since no matter how hard the folks in the community have tried to change St. Andrews, it’s still wrought with drug use, filth and centralized poverty.

    Also, my friends own the Bogota Latin Bistro restaurant (Farid and George) over near St. John’s Place…if you don’t know it (yet) go check it out and have some good home cooking (since you’re Venezuelan-American, you hopefully will love it and since your wife’s peeps are from the area, they’ll enjoy the NY meets South American experience which all Brooklynites enjoy).

  • swank7

    Thank you – you said it perfectly

  • swank7

    wow…..”transplant”……ridiculous. Something tells me you are just an angry person. I’d like to know how you contribute to your community in any meaningful way.

  • swank7

    wow you have some serious street cred – Piedmont in the 80’s….must of been scary. You should drive to the most desolate part of Oakland where there are abandoned warehouses and go back in time to your happy place. I know in 2000 when there was almost nothing downtown what a blast it was……the bleakness was something to marvel at. You are really lucky to have experienced that as a “native”.

  • Oaktown Jim

    Agreed. Further, I am white and also born in East Oakland, in 1970. My parents promptly moved away from that neighborhood, but we shopped at Eastmont Mall for years. The year I was born, the city was 60% white. Peculiar times we live in that advocating for one’s own group is lauded UNLESS one is white. What other group earns points for deprecating their background? Other groups do better, not worse, when living amongst whites. Otherwise immigrants would not move here, and black migration within the nation to white cities would never have happened.

  • A. J.

    But there is not a “food desert” in Funktown…and if there ever was, it was before you moved here. Funktown isn’t in West Oakland, it’s in East Oakland, and to refer to a neighborhood that is vibrant as being a “desert” because it’s full of restaurants and grocery stores that don’t suit your tastes is to be blind to the community that already exists. The author isn’t saying “leave the gangs alone”…he saying don’t walk into someone’s neighborhood and ignore the culture and community there and accuse it of needing to be fixed just because there’s no Whole Foods there. Funktown has at least 3 grocery stores and about 20 restaurants, but only one of those restaurants will serve you a hamburger or scrambled eggs, and only one of those grocery stores carries Cheerios. That’s not a food desert, that is Kopff being racist, and your conflating a Vietnamese owned market with “gang-bangers” is pretty….well, let’s just say you sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Krishtine de Leon

    Thanks for writing this, Lukas. I was gentrified out of my hometown of San Francisco (a unicorn here!), by the same throngs of privileged white people that are pricing Oakland residents out of their homes. But I also am considering the impact of being a gentrifier.

    People’s reactions have more to say than the comments themselves – the “he doesn’t know me personally” or “he is being anti-white or racist” – that’s beside the point. That has more to say about the commenter and their defense mechanism of BEING A GENTRIFIER. You are not entitled to the “diversity” as a token amenity of your new neighborhood. Neighborhoods don’t “become diverse”, they become safe havens for communities of color that are otherwise not allowed to buy property in more affluent areas. The very culture of Oakland AND San Francisco that attracted newcomers are the people being left out of the equation. Racism CAN NEVER and WILL NEVER reverse – like another commenter said on this thread.

    At the basis of it all, I think there are some very upset and angry white people that will continue to feel entitled to whatever community their money can buy, that will CONTINUE to call the cops (their best fucking friends, protectors of capitalism and property) on neighborhood kids, that will CONTINUE to stay silent when there is violence against black and brown people at the hands of police. They are the reason that Oakland is losing its culture, of why any diverse community feels no solidarity with white people that claim to be allies. And there will be white people along the way, the ones that claim to be liberal and progressive but secretly think Lukas is a race-traitor or are simply unable to shut up long enough to understand that their inherited privilege is the problem.

    Even as a person of color who has recently begun to call Oakland home, to work in the community I live, to organize youth that YOU probably have called the cops on, I feel the every day micro-aggressions of white gentrifiers that remind me of SF in the worst way possible. What’s happening in Oakland IS happening everywhere, and it is a problem. But the real problem is when people don’t even WANT to have the conversation of how to INGRATIATE yourselves to the communities you buy property in. Pointing the finger at Chinese investors or an influx of SE Asian immigrants to E.14th is doing that thing again where you say #AllLivesMatter, but you really mean you still don’t give a fuck about the black ones that we ALL should be in solidarity with. And judging from the less than 2% Black population left in SF, I hate to see that happening AGAIN in my new hometown, one I will happily ride for and learn all about in a respectful way.

  • Ethan Cantil-Voorhees

    Why would this ever be a bad reason to live somewhere? “It’s close to my job and i can afford it.” is pretty much why most people live/move.

  • 1Jerry_West1

    Steve, you have made it abundantly clear since day one: in your little corner of the world, Everything is about you.

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    exactly my point… you people don’t give a shit about Oakland. It’s only attractive due to convenience. Where were you people when Oakland was #1 homicide central…

    Oh how I wish tech companies would move to Alaska; I heard people can see Russia from their backyards. I’m sure Alaska has a lot to offer, so diverse and hip *eye roll.*

  • Ethan Cantil-Voorhees

    Funny; the people willing to move to be near work are able to price you out!

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    yeah, can’t wait till their bidding war of paying 200K over asking on a home results in them getting their “homes” foreclosed on when the tech bubble bursts. I am counting down the days…or when their landlords sell for profit and they have to scramble around to move out, glory days!

  • Sheila McCracken

    I think you’ve missed the mark a little with this one. Its great that you do things for the community that you live in, and that is very much respected. However, his point in saying you can take it back if we can’t enjoy it with the folks who grew up here, is to say that we are a community. We want to enjoy these amazing things that have come to Oakland with the people that we grew up with. Yes, some have left of their own accord but a lot of others have been forced out because housing prices are insane here now. I’m an Oakland native, and I’m scared that unless I find my way in to a higher paying job I won’t be able to stay here either. That’s not really fair now is it? I’ve lived here my whole life went through the shitty education system, learned to drive on the shitty streets, and tripped and skinned my knee of the shitty sidewalks, but now that might not a reality for me or my future family, even though I would love for it to be. I respect what you’ve done for the community you live in and I hope you continue to do it, but understand that yes Oakland natives do have a lot of feelings that we are being pushed out.

  • Steve Kopff

    Using the name Funktown is incredibly insensitive to many of long time residents here. It’s a reference to the days when hookers, john, drug dealers and junkies ruled the streets and made it an unsafe environment to raise kids. My part of the greater neighborhood, which is called Clinton long before you coined the phrase Funktown, had been a virtual food dessert only a few years ago with only one restaurant and one liquor store. The areas you refer to are not part of my neighborhood. There are no grocery stores in Clinton. And there is room enough to add additional grocery stores that cater to other segments of the growing diverse segments that do make up Clinton and the greater neighborhood. There are now three restaurants in my area, all Asian cuisines that I love and patronize frequently and have helped get the word out so that they can thrive and hire local residents.

  • Super Amanda

    Haha! You don’t know anything. When you don’t fit in on the hill you don’t fit in. But you’re ignorant. I hope a Piedmonter drops a glass on your head from a second story and call you ‘a *igger” like they did me and then you might actually start to be less of a d bag transplant.

  • Super Amanda

    For starters I spit at scum like you.

  • Super Amanda

    Just go away. You’re pathetic.

  • Super Amanda

    Pathetic. Do you want a medal?

  • Steve Kopff

    For the record- I never recommended that Lucky’s be replaced with BiRite. Anyone continuing to repeat this lie faces being charged with a slander lawsuit. This greater area used to have three major grocery stores so there is room for additional stores that cater to other parts of the diverse groups that make up this area. My suggestion when I met with former council person Kernighan was to build out a new building on one of several potential sites on 13th Ave with parking underground, the grocery store and other new businesses at ground level and new apartments or units on the top floors.

  • Super Amanda

    What year did you get here? I grew up being in Berekely and Oakland almost every day in the 70s so I beg to differ. Berkeley had and still had very bad areas like 9th street and down by Oscar Krenz welding. People were getting shot often there. The house I grew up in Piedmont which was originally 30k before parents split and we left it decades ago went for 2.5 last year. 49.8% over asking price. Housing prices have been through the roof for two decades in Piedmont so in a way it’s the Piedmontification of Oakland but without the great schools and the huge colossal property taxes which pay for them. And the myth is that the protest changed the atmosphere around the University. Apart from People’s Park there was no change in community. Berkeley was radical long before the 60s and mostly a place for white scientists, communists, fellow travelers, bohemians, artists etc. Third world college chants never equalled or built multi culturalism in the true sense like they have in London. Again that’s the Michael Chabon bad novel myth. Chabonics so to speak.

  • Super Amanda

    For starters I don’t go around listing the race and ethnicity of everyone on my block expecting to be lauded like I’m doing the inspired work of Gods diversity director simply by being a decent human being. Secondly I don’t have to use the work I do and the funds I’ve raised to do it with as a cudgel to prove anything to a faceless nobody on the Internet.

  • Super Amanda

    Some valid points but you have no idea how “ghetto” Oakland was until literally about ten years ago. It was viewed with a national derision in the media and by other Californians but especially hated within the Bay by San Leandrans, Piedmonters etc. That’s why there is “Montclair” and ” Broadway Terrace” which are 100% Oakland. Liberal and Lefty Whites could always go back to their fellow traveler, “back to the land” parents’ house in Berkeley or Kensington and sigh with relief after a cautious drive through Oakland. He’s trying to remind people not to forget that and he’s concerned, rightly so, that many won’t ever get that.

  • Super Amanda

    If the big earthquake ever comes they may just do that.

  • Steve Kopff

    I love when white people call other people gentrifiers. Somehow the Starbucks coffees they drink, the trendy restaurants they go to, and the benefits they enjoy from a changing neighborhood is exempted from their being considered a gentrifier. Check yourself Amanda

  • justone

    A frequent reader and listener of debates around gentrification, urban renewal projects and my hometown of Oakland, I read Lukas Brekke-Miesner’s blog often enough. There’s plenty to agree with in his most recent piece on being from “The Town” – but frankly, the culture generated around “native” pride has a side to it that makes my skin crawl. I too am a multi-generation Oaklander. Much of my family moved from a small logging community in Butte County to Oakland in the 1940’s in response to the rising economies created by – let’s not forget – The World Wars.

    I was also very violently and physically bullied out of the public school system at the age of 11. Many of my own decisions regarding field of study, place of residence and passion have been about processing what happened to my body as a child in an undeniably social, gendered, and racial reality. Private schools were within reach of my family because they had purchased their home before 1975 (activate new discussions around tax now). If you really want to talk about neighbors, homes and local businesses – you also have to address issues around property taxes and the pivotal moment of Prop 13, which stenciled a permanent line between those who could afford to be property owners and those who could not in 1978.

    Frankly, voicing complaints about the accidents of birthplace in light of rapidly changing fabrics created by Oakland’s new home owners does not get to the core of the problem. We need to do far more than talk to our neighbors. There are legal legacies that have created this dynamic and deeply racialized fabric of home-owners and educational systems. We should be at City Hall asking for re-districting and the re-evaluation of the relationship between our education system and our residential zones. We should be asking for transparency about how property taxes (which have gone through torrential changes since the 1970’s) are actually being spent by the city when it comes to our public education system.

    Citizenship is a political state of existence.

    It’s simply not enough to demonize the outsiders and new-comers. If they are voters here, they are citizens of Oakland. The entire voting body is comprised of individuals who can positively shape the next generation of civil decisions made in the public sphere. And not all of the individuals who contribute to these choices have to be born here.

    Let’s take a few breaths and change this conversation.

  • A. J.

    Not sure exactly how you draw your lines, but here’s a map: https://www.google.com/maps/search/supermarket+near+clinton,+oakland,+ca/@37.7951785,-122.2520811,16z

    Just because an area of .5sq mile doesn’t have a lot of commercial buildings, doesn’t mean the residents don’t have access to food, and it’s an automatically bad place to live. Look at Piedmont and Alameda, two more upscale places where residents aren’t complaining that they have to travel more than a block to get to the store. Maybe not all your neighbors want to live less than 3 blocks from a grocery store.

    And I can’t comment on the origins of the name “Clinton” but the long time residents are the ones that make reference to “Funktown” along with East Lake, San Antonio, and China Hill (another name you won’t see on official maps). I have never heard anyone use the names Clinton, Cleveland Heights or Bella Vista in real life, only seen those in writing and on maps. You can have your own opinion on whether or not you like those organic neighborhood names, but don’t get up on some high horse like you are the spokesperson and historian of your little slice of East Oakland just because you live there.

  • happyfeelin

    In the words of Robert Deniro, I don’t think you’re talking to me since I never said anything about Vietnamese people. Folks that are responding and personalizing an experience that has nothing to do with what I’m referencing…. Since I don’t care nor did I say anything about Funktown and where it’s located, I’ll leave that at that.
    I live in West Oakland and what I’m saying can be said about every urban center damn near in the US….Any area that has no real fresh food, natural foods (like fruits/vegetables and nuts) OR only consists of stores that sell beer/liquor, salty snacks and Mylar bag items (e.g. not even a damn banana or apple) IS A FOOD DESERT!
    There are historian West Oaklanders that speak to this and have been speaking of it for quite some time (I moved here in 2008 but lived in Oakland a lot longer than that)…that’s why folks were pushing for City Slicker Farms to open and fast or even put a strategically located food vendor that caters to this need…. Many people making this demand were doing this when Mandela Foods opened up. Many I know that aren’t on this blog lived here at least half a century. They don’t disagree.
    As far as grocery stores…we don’t consider stores that carry old and stale/dated food “grocery” stores… Shit, I appreciate the guy with the fruit truck next to the gas station by the California Hotel…even as he sells it out of the back of his truck, it’s better than the options available which are only what I said are stores that sell liquor and salty snacks mostly.
    So get your facts straight directing responses to me because I didn’t say anything about anything needing to be FIXED, what many here are referencing is options; places that you can buy an apple/orange or banana that doesn’t look like it’s been there since the Stone Ages…but I do know a little something about gang-bangers because I have them in my family. you’d be surprised of what my neighbors are complaining about (e.g. the guy who lives in the shipping container that throws human feces over my neighbors fence on Magnolia comes to mind).
    But for all of this jumping up and down, I suggest anyone wanting true dialogue to review the development plans for Oakland and ask the people doing them what ten years from now looks like…I care but may be retired living in South America by then.

  • Steve Kopff

    Clinton is not even shown on this map nor is my home. You are showing areas to the northwest of Lake Merritt and a few liquor stores on the southeast side. I don’t think Humblebees is open for it’s two day a week 4 hour window any more either. Thank you for demonstrating my point. If you would include Clinton and my part of Clinton in particular you will see we only have two liquor stores- hardly a source of a nutritional well-balanced for any family

  • Super Amanda

    I enjoy none of those things. I make all my own coffee and we do almost all my own cooking. I’m saving up to buy a house at least in some part of California where they still don’t burn crosses and hopefully in the Bay. And I called no one a “gentrifier” I simply put that raving person on blast. But since you’ve chimed in: You deleted your news feature off of the Oakland History Facebook when few were impressed that you bought a home and remodeled it and the worst news website on the west coast did a cloying feature. I’m actually happy for you but with wealth should come modesty. That’s what was so pitiful about most of Piedmont above Dracena back in the day when it was as a GOP heavily racist enclave is that people moved their strictly to social climb and or prove how much they had. I’m not saying that’s what you come off like but people are fearful that the new nouveau riche is getting huge homes in the former ghetto and doing the same thing but under the guise of diversity.

  • A. J.

    You made reference to the author’s comments about Steve Kopff describing Funktown as a food desert. West Oakland, I agree, needs real grocery stores. I don’t think many people would argue with that. What the author of the original post was saying, is that in a different neighborhood, across Oakland, it’s unfair to the residents, local grocers, and local restaurant owners to label their neighborhood as a desert when it is full of life and activity, but just doesn’t suit your tastes. I believe that was what he was getting at & that’s what I was trying to point out.

  • happyfeelin

    Thanks for keeping this about dialogue; No matter who agrees or disagrees, everyone is entitled to their opinion and shutting down dialogue for understanding, at least for me, isn’t progressive at all…

    You are correct….all these areas, Berkeley/Oakland have both good and rough spotsI moved to the Bay Area in the late 1990’s and have been in Oakland for 13-14 years. Not much older than you as I grew up in NY in the 1960s and then came to the Bay Area in the late 1990s but did visit from time to time…..there’s tons of New York transplants in Berkeley, as you know.

    Putting culturally and socially different people in an area will require adaptation, always…and where I grew up…just for the record, was like someone said earlier, 100% Italian (actually the area was in Goodfellas near Tutti’s cab stand…not far from Pitkin Avenue in East New York).

    …I loved Berkeley because it truly is closer than Brooklyn is to any spot here and I know Oakland gets a lot of comparison but Berkeley is really more so because it has the diversity that Oakland is really now centralizing on because of the gentrification and migration of those that can’t afford San Francisco.

    And no matter what anyone says, yes I understand that there are miserably underserved areas…that’s why I do at least plug in where and when I can to try and progress things along…Like planting trees on Linden Street…important for air quality as well as the community design…we want our kids to have breathable air….the particulates in West Oakland are over the top.

    THE BEST THING ABOUT OAKLAND….The diversity here is driven by things other than race and that really makes it (ahem) better …yep, I said it…BETTER than the East Coast…though I would deny that I won’t deny the weather is 10000% better.

    To be honest, I get beat up when I say that the housing here really needs some East Coast treatment though since I walk down San Pablo Avenue between 30th and West Grand and see all of the wonderful changes coming but I’m pissed at the old man that has the 3 houses hear 27th and we have families that need a place to live. That wouldn’t be possible at this stage in NYC…folks are not gonna leave vacant/blighted property to fend while families complain about not enough low-income housing. The new paradigm in NY is the anti-house loss measures…..like NYC Housing Connect…

    All this complaining though and still nothing gets done at all…that’s why I don’t disagree with Mr. Kopff since the things he raises generate tax revenue and provides local services to feed a community….I work in a lot of research and when you hear $MM or $B in retail goes out of Oakland, it makes you wonder what can we do to keep it in this area….bringing in people, services, whether their retail or not, all answer this question…but the cost of housing is another animal all together and as long as folks want to improved their quality of life, whatever, is gonna cost money.
    That’s what pays for the decent schools we desperately need and will continue not to have because the dysfunction continues.. The taxes have been going to more police, which clearly is also needed but not so much because we have to treat everyone like criminals

  • A. J.

    The map links to an area SE of Lake Merritt, around International Blvd and 6th Ave. What are you talking about? Sun Hop Fat is a large grocery store with produce that is in the general area.

  • Super Amanda

    I wouldn’t go so far to say that he’s clueless. It seems like you genuinely care about your community but that you’re at an impasse with it in some key areas and that elements may be at an impasse with you. I lived in the East End of London, clean side of the river E2 from 2006 until recently. My husband is a Cockney. Every place you read about eg: Shoteditch, Spitalfields, Brick Lane, Hoxton , Columbia road Flower market etc was a TOILET to most of London until 2006. Just like like Notting Hill once was until the late 90s. The reason those areas have retained their coolness , diversity and people are able to fight and win against gentrification like with New Era estate is because of the huge amount of housing projects and council estates that stand among the million dollar homes. Nothing for the poor was every built to this capacity in Oakland and indeed much of the US.

  • Don Macleay

    WOW, I guess living here since before Lukas Brekke-Miesner joined us on this world, have having two sons born and raised here, one of whom is older that Lukas Brekke-Miesner, still has me needing somebody’s permission to be from Oakland. When I moved here nobody treated Oakland like a nation apart and the only thing I needed to work in the factories that are shown closed in your backdrops was skills and the ability to show up on time and do my work well. But hey, even as I get into grandfather age range, it is clear who among us will never be considered ‘elders’.

  • Super Amanda

    Such great writing. Thank you. Berkeley to me was the greatest city in its time. And while I think he may need to display a bit more modesty regarding his good fortunes, Mr. Kopff makes many good points. There are areas near and in Maxwell Park where you’re walking over a mile, over an over pass to get to the lone Subway. You can’t bring an area up without a decent place to source groceries from. I’m glad you made it out here because my mom was from Woodside and my father was from The Bronx and I have a bit on bias towards New Yorkers who have enriched the Bay Area. I think the conversation needs to be about education and employment because it’s easy for me and everyone to forget that we just got here!

  • Super Amanda

    It really is true.

  • Steve Kopff

    Actually Amanda I am plain broke. Other people make assumptions about me because I bought a big house. Renovating it costs lots of money and I actually don’t have deep pockets. The thing you don’t know about me and I don’t like to get up and brag about usually is that I am a huge supporter of local businesses and keeping business here in our own city as well as our own neighborhoods. I’d rather not drive 15 -20 minutes to wealthier communities that hire locals there if I can have something similar in my own neighborhood that hires my neighbors and gives them a chance to realize a benefit to this all. I’m a big supporter of KIVA loans and have sponsored several local minority business woman that I believe in to help them live their own dream. I’m a supporter of Hack the Hood and have worked with them to get youth off the streets and give them tech skills so they can break the cycle. I think over half of my good friends these days are non-white- not that the color of one’s skin should be a determining factor in choice of friends. I’ve been trying to help a black talented writer/director/actress get exposure by opening up my home so that she can meet and greet people in the film industry who could take her plays to the screen. And my neighbors all know me and we exchange things that we grow or raise in our own yards and look out for each other’s safety. I know there is a lot of discussion about people being displaced but one positive side effect to the rising home prices (as crazy as they are) is that I know several neighbors who were in danger of losing their homes just two years ago since they were not able to refinance their homes and now they are able to do so and lower their interest rates, allowing them to keep their homes instead of the bank foreclosing on them. Most of the people selling homes aren’t being displaced now, they are selling because they are cashing in. The renters are different story and I feel for them and want to see a lot more apartments built at all levels of price range to help take some of the pressure off the inventory. The reason home prices and rents are going up so much is inventory of each have been unusually tight. These things go in cycles, usually 7 years, so I don’t see it going on like this forever. I am a real estate junkie and love giving people advice on how they can get into the market. I’m staying in my home long-term and investing in the neighborhood and the community as I have from day one. My remodel is going to take 12-20 years so I’m going no where and see no reason to sell, even though some people accused me of trying to fix this quick and cash in. I’ve been here more than 2 1/2 years. I know I wasn’t born here but I think that at some point people just have to realize that newcomers have been incorporated into the fabric of Oakland and that, as any healthy and prosperous community does, things do and will change as new ingredients are added to the melting pot. I’m past the point of feeling I need to prove anything about my right to live here. After all- I didn’t displace anyone in buying my home and there was only one other offer on the house when it was offered for sale- the other guy was a white guy whose career it was to buy, fix up and sell Victorians for a profit. I’m staying put. I think Oakland got the better deal in me since all my immediate neighbors on the block have been more than receptive to my living here and contributing to increased safety that has come in the last few years for all of us.

  • Steve Kopff

    That is not in the Clinton neighborhood. Do you research before you spout self-righteous knowledge

  • Amy Williams

    I am an African American female who has lived in Oakland for 47 Years. Forty two of which I lived in the same house where I raised my family. I have been down with Oakland no mater what – good times and bad- and I have lost “friendships” because of my love and defense of Oakland. I could have easily moved to the suburbs with many of my friends or anywhere else I chose, but I chose and still choose to live in Oakland.Oakland is my adopted home. I get it that this does not qualify me to say that I am from Oakland, but I definitely don’t consider myself a gentrifier either. I accept and acknowledge that all things change and I applaud and welcome the changes that are happening in Oakland. I am not from Oakland but for the last five years I can truly say that I live in Oakland. I now have a quality of life that I use to have to go to San Francisco to get. And I continue to hold my head up and say that I am from Oakland even though I really am not. I realize that these changes bring another set of problems but this is an opportunity to address these problems such that everybody benefits – newcomers as well as “native residents”. If done right, Oakland can be a model city for the nation. I am most proud that I live in Oakland. I do not live in Funktown or Oaktown for that mater. I live in Oakland – get use to it cause I am not going anywhere.

  • locavore

    So one person moves to Oakland from SF and is labeled a Gentrifier while another person does the same and gets a free pass, because…? Why? If you found a more affordable spot in Oakland after getting priced out of SF, you are responding to EXACTLY the same phenomenon that is driving other people into Oakland and driving up Oakland rents. This is just pure hypocrisy. There is no such thing as a gentrifier. There are only people who make choices for their own lives. No single person is pricing anyone out of anywhere. No single person’s decision to move is responsible for the overall market rate for housing. This is not a conspiracy of white people out to get other people.

    Frankly, the solution to decades of unfair and abusive practices like redlining and other systemic social injustices is reparations. The solution is not to point and yell at people who are trying to make a new home in this city for all the various reasons that people do that. You do not know these people you demonize. You do not know what is in their hearts or how they have responded to injustice or what they have done with their privilege. I don’t think people are avoiding the conversation about how to grow community in their adopted neighborhoods. I, for one, feel quite comfortable with my level of community building with my neighbors, including many different races. What I don’t feel comfortable with is the insinuation that my willingness to call the cops on CRIMINALS when they commit CRIMES against me is somehow an aggression against all people of color and that I am somehow unable to integrate into the community. That’s utter BS. Almost every time I’ve gotten on the phone to report a crime, I’ve been joined in the effort by my Black neighbors, who agrees with me that we can’t have kids running around with guns holding people up and breaking into houses. Nobody wants that.

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    Amy… Luke was most certainly not talking about you. To the contrary, you are the very type of Oakland resident he feels is being displaced by white and rich newcomers.
    Congratulations on keeping your beautiful home a legacy, please don’t ever sell it!

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    Don… You are most certainly an Oakland resident and honorable native. Just like Luke, you also see how all of these newcomers know zero about what Oakland was about prior to the tech boom.

  • Disqus313

    Dude.
    You need to stop lying to yourself and everyone who happens to hear about what you’ve been doing. I am your “neighbor”. I am a homeowner. I have lived here in this neighborhood (at 3 different addresses) for 19 years. I am a transplant too. This article is about people like us listening more and contributing to Oakland’swell-being. And Yes it is also unapologetically proud for those that have grown up here in harder times (Not just the white ones living in multiple generation Victorian households along a designated historical district). For many it is still very hard. Please Recognize!
    I have passed your home a hundred times, before you and your boyfriend ever bought it. You are lying about what you said, what you meant, why the articles were removed, what your motivations are, etc.. etc…
    I believe you are a racist. I know how much that must burn you up, Steve. But I believe this even if it were just the comments you’ve made here on this article (listing all your ‘african-american friends’)- but it is for many more reasons than that. Because you just wont shut up with your incessant whining and trolling.

    For your consideration:
    Below is a link to a supermarket within spitting distance of your pet project (I mean “home”). Look closely at the map and you will find several others equally as close. I’ve listed a few more below.

    It would be invaluable if for once you acknowledged that you put your foot in your mouth, that you were insensitive i. your original interview and thinking, and perhaps, quite simply, you could admit that you were wrong. (!) Then perhaps people would stop using you and your name as the poster boy for all manner of offenses. AND you could finally stop trolling every community board and listserve, trying to pretend that you’re some selfless great white hope for the nieghborhood, who has been unfairly accused of ‘gentrifying-type’ sentiments and behaviors.

    P.S. Lucky Seafood is the absolute best place (dare I say it -in the whole East Bay) to get Fresh Dungeness Crab during crab season, and they sell fruits n vegetables too. (you’re welcome). Best part is, it’s just a skateboard ride from your purple monster house.
    Now that doesn’t sound like a food dessert or a liquor store, does it? So now you can proceed to blanket the fb groups and listserves with yet another recommendation of this ‘quaint asian business’ that you so firmly and passionately support.

    For the time being, YOU STILL SUCK, little steve.

    • New Saigon Market II
    950 International Blvd
    East Oakland
    Oakland, CA 94606

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/new-saigon-market-ii-oakland?

    • Supermercado Los Pericos
    • Sun Sang Supermarket
    • Thien Loa Hoa Market
    • Lucky Seafood

  • swank7

    Amanda – you are a moron. Good luck in Stockton hope you don’t get priced out.

  • Super Amanda

    Thank you for taking the time to post this. It means a great deal to me and I removed my original diatribe because as pateblog and others pointed out the blame needs to stop. I guess in modesty I mean your amazing home you and your partner put your world into. It is hard on the majority of people to look at something like that and not feel envy and incongruity for lack of a better world. The flatlands has never had show homes in the post mid century era until very recently. It really is a shock. But it is also a pleasure to see Oakland no longer the pariah of Northern California urban areas. It just occurred to me that Piedmont is no longer all that and Oakland is. It really is a very recent phenomenon. A great deal to process about this incredible area we all love. No one should be faulted for hard work. Peace.

  • Super Amanda

    Yep. Oakland needs three to four story public housing with washer, dryers and dishwashers inside and gardens just like many low incomes in the UK have. They need a stronger and easier to use social services and mental health system too.

  • Super Amanda

    I did. Cheers mate!

  • Benjamastino Giustino

    Down for the look but not down for the cause. Tech companies should have to make sure their employees don’t oversaturate a community. Techies suck as a demographic, real talk.

  • CollectivePower

    Just browsing through the comments section I’ve noticed what I notice every time a topic like this comes up: White people not able to handle being called out on their shit. People here are whining because the writer is calling out the fact that gentrification is just colonialism and racism in a new suit. I see the same reactions when Whites are called out for appropriating other cultures; Whites saying that culture (just as they’re saying with neighborhoods) constantly changes and belongs to no one, which once again perpetuates White privilege because of the notion that you get to decide how and what cultures and neighborhoods are. Because of the history of White privilege and supremacy, most Whites are not used to being challenged and questioned on their actions. Whites are used to being able to navigate the world and do what they want without having to answer or be accountable to the effect their actions have on others. But this is a new day. And People of Color are tired of having to move based on where Whites want to live. You can’t expect the red carpet to be laid out for you when you’ve come to gentrify the same neighborhoods your grandparents and great-grandparents abandoned decades ago. Sorry (not sorry), you’re going to have to deal with the fact that gentrification is an inherently racist, oppressive, and classist practice. You also need to understand that just because you can afford astronomical rent does not make you an “Oaklander”. Culture cannot be bought.

  • CollectivePower

    The fact that you’re even calling the neighborhood you live in “Clinton” says so much. NO ONE I know who grew up in that neighborhood or lives there now even calls it that. There’s no prominent city signage designating it as such, and most people who actually GREW UP in Oakland just calls the area “Funktown” (which is not at all offensive as you tried to say it was above). You’re very much the prototypical gentrifier, Steve. Like most, you move into a neighborhood and try to impose your standards and desires, and even worse, change the damn name of the neighborhood based off of what google maps calls it.

  • CollectivePower

    Sorry, but some of us will not choose to accept displacement, adapt to cultural appropriation, and enjoy gentrification.
    Some of us have backbones.

  • CollectivePower

    Actually, you’re wrong. Even though gentrification in Oakland has been going on for at least the last 10 years, kids are still getting shot up in Oakland and the Dubbs are still quite unsafe (I’m from 23rd & E. 27th St, and even with the gentrifiers present, no one in their right mind walks around the Dubbs at night). Cops and citizens are at odds more than ever, and some would argue that gentrification has actually made interactions between long-time citizens and police worse due to the income and class disparities so rampant now in heavily gentrified areas like West Oakland. The fact that you think “racism against Whites” is possible shows severe naivete and (no offense) ignorance on your part. Until you can provide large scale examples of a minority ethnic group denying opportunities to Whites based on their skin color, then your cries of anti-White racism prove invalid and quite frankly, unreal. And to your point about Asians and their businesses moving in to little resistance, you need to understand that in Oakland’s case, the increase of Asians has rarely come with the same consequences as the increase of Whites. Landlords weren’t raising rents when Asians came in, and the city didn’t start paying more attention to neighborhoods when they became more Asian. Of Oakland’s Asian population, a large number are Southeast Asian, a highly disenfranchised and marginalized segment. Low-income Asians moving in is just not the same as a White hipster whose pulling close to six figures coming on the block. It’s not at all “about White people coming in”. IT IS about White people coming in, appropriating the culture of the people they’re displacing. and laying claim to “da town” without having a full understanding of what that term means for the people who have suffered through Oakland’s tougher times. So while it would be easy to discount people’s anger at the displacement and inaccessibility that is going on in Oakland as simply “White hate”, there’s just more to it homie.

    P.S. You forgot to mention that before the neighborhoods were White, they were Native American. Remember, not everything starts with European “discovery”.

  • MChav

    Ms. Rasilla – your comments are ON POINT.

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    PREACH!
    This is the most on point comment, thank you!

  • Nope Nope nope

    The whole article comes off as preachy as does your response and THAT is what I object to. also, this whole “I’m an Oakland native, and I’m scared that unless I find my way in to a higher paying job I won’t be able to stay here either. That’s not really fair now is it?” is a load of BS. What does what I think of fairness or what you think of fairness matter? Think the world is fair?! go ask the hundreds of people currently living under Oakland bridges and ask them if they think the world is fair… its not. I am not trying to sound cold hearted – but wake up… wake UP.

  • Juliana Fitz

    Yeah I’m sure you posted that little gem from your smartphone while checking your twitter feed… all while decrying how awful these “techies” are.

  • Juliana Fitz

    I work from home actually as both a small business owner and an attorney that works with several small Oakland businesses as well as a non profit protecting artists rights. ALL of my small business clients, many of whom have been in the Oakland area for decades love seeing newcomers to the area, as most of these newcomers, myself and my husband included, love our area because of the wealth of local bars/ restaurants/ nail salons/ etc all within walking distance and choose to frequent those businesses regularly. And by “people like me” what do you mean exactly? Someone who happens to have a different opinion than yours who you attack online? Or maybe it has to do with my race? Take a long look in the mirror, your the one drawing lines here, not me. And I happen to love Montana too, spent lots of summers there as a kid 😉

  • http://www.therealsunjones.com Sun Jones

    I think for most of us Oaklanders, nobody’s saying that areas of Oakland couldn’t benefit from some infusion of people buying homes and fixing them up, cleaning up the neighborhood and making it a place were you’d like to take a stroll down the street on a sunny Oakland day, improving the local public schools, etc.

    The problem here is that most working people who hold down decent jobs, who have grown up here, and planned to stay, can’t afford to live here anymore.
    So along with gentrifacation, comes displacement. I’m offended by the assumption that everyone from West Oakland is a “gang banger” or drug dealer.
    My ongoing question on the topic is: WERE ARE WE ALL SUPPOSED TO GO? Your assertion that Oakland residents “…can buy the vacant house on the corner” is absurd, have you looked at the price tag and the amount of cash a person would need for that downpayment? Besides, most of us are not actually “low income” enough to qualify for some of the subsidized home buyer programs. That, my friend, is the issue.

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    As a white woman to even dare to say “it has to do with my race?” absolutely grotesque and despicable. Please check your white privilege at the door.

    Also, this proves my point exactly…”love our area because of the wealth of local bars/ restaurants/ nail salons/ etc all within walking distance…” You would have never chosen Oakland if the very same neighborhood only had a big ole’ Sears, abandoned buildings and low income residents. Get out of here with that BS! Again, you “love” Oakland because of the convenience and nothing else.

    I’m sure you would’ve extended your Summer vacations in Montana had your job taken you out there.

  • http://www.therealsunjones.com Sun Jones

    …And P.S.
    I’m not happy about considering a move to Antiock/Pinole/Vacaville/Stockton, etc. as the constant default answer to my question:
    Where are we all supposed to go after we can’t afford to live in Oakland anymore?

  • Steve Kopff

    Thank you Amanda. Just gave me shivers. We all just have to do our part to push the community forward and lift each other up in the process and help make opportunities for those who haven’t had them before. Yeah, the house is huge but it is something I hope to bring back for the community as a sense of pride. I’ve had many people drive by that have lived here forever, or used to, and some that even lived in the house back when it was chopped up into 27 units and they’ve shared their memories. A lot of people played in the halls and in the yard growing up and a couple of them have teared up when they stopped by and thanked me for bringing the old girl back. I’m just it’s current caretaker- it’s bigger than me or who I can ever hope to be and will outlast me for centuries if she is taken care of. I’m a slave to her right now trying to keep her up. And one day when I can’t keep up with her anymore I’ll pass the torch on to someone else. And thank you Amanda- sincerely

  • VFigone

    Yes. Thanks!

  • happyfeelin

    Firstly, I never said that everyone from West Oakland is a gang-banger…Lord, what are you reading that suggested that, since I never said that. In fact, I said I have a few in my family so I’m not adverse to anyone who feels like they have to have an association with an organized group….as long as getting the ill effects from it doesn’t cause drama in my hood, its all good.

    What I said is that there is a vacant house on the corner that still sits there…after it was even raided 3-4 years ago…still it sits; there is also a 5,000 square foot lot that is down the street from me… both are empty…been that way for years….The question you should be asking is what is happening with this property, these lots…they generate nothing more than property taxes now…and that’s based on what the owner paid for them…not necessarily the area land values today.

    I am beginning to believe that what the problem is that folks aren’t angry enough and they keep pointing at folks who are relocating because they cant afford to live in other areas….that’s the cycle of the day…San Francisco residents pushing out here because they can’t afford San Francisco.

    As a person who understands that plight, and saw it happening in the Mission District when I moved here in the late 1990’s, the conversation is still happening…where’s the outrage that I’ve been here for 25 years and this shit is still happening?

    What about the outrage for property owners to be allowed to sit on blighted properties, leave them empty and boarded up…….and these were blighted when my next door neighbors house cost $100k, affordable even for a school teacher given the right loan program.

    Look, no matter how pissed off you are, I know tons of people, long time residents included that want to purchase that house. But the issue apparently seems to be pointing at people who are moving here and not at the entities, including government elected officials and organizations that keep these properties blighted and empty. I hate to use the words “eminent domain” but that’s why some places believe in it…because if you don’t keep your shit right, someone else will!

    I understand folks’ anger and outrage and I’m offended …but Where’s all of the outrage for the systems presently in place that can help make homes more accessible to residents. There are programs right here in Oakland that can meet middle-income salaries…. that I know about first hand and have shared with others that somehow seem to allow low-income families to stay here; I bought my house; How the f*!% did I since I didn’t pay cash and I’m a working stiff just like a lot of people. I waited…and as I speak to people you know what I learned, instead of buying one property as their primary resident, folks wanted that get-rich-on-real estate nonsense and many ended up bankrupt.

    So you can be outraged all you want….but some people are turning that outrage into action and I suggest you do the same.

    And no matter how pissed off you may seem to be no matter who its directed at (which I don’t care because I’m not personalizing this and if it helps you that I’m like Mr. Kopff and a poster-child for the masses), this will continue UNTIL folks get angrier. They should be marching about this like they march about #BlackLivesMatter. But similarly there is confusion here…because just like the people marching yesterday after that fool ended up shot because he was flashing a gun at people, trying to carjack and get away from OPD, there are some behaviors that fools do that really have nothing to do with the larger issue….So, keep that outrage directed at where it should go and don’t mix up the conversation because I’m not disagreeing with you.

    It is a shame that residents are being displaced and it is a shame that the hood-wink of moving poor people that could afford to buy in areas further way was the news of the day….many of us inner-city raised folks know…THERE ARE NO TRANSIT SYSTEMS so don’t move where you can’t get out of easily or access city centers easily.

    I
    I read an article about land leases in Boston and I guess that’s now the paradigm Oakland is looking at (e.g. affordable residences built on public land) since greed seems to suggest that investors can only build expensive places to live to high income individuals.

    Frankly, the people who work in civil service jobs here make bookoo money (I’ve never seen someone driving a train in NYC that made as much as BART and AC Transit drivers) so I’m not feeling sorry for anyone.

    Direct that outrage to your elected officials who can help do something about it, and leave private citizens alone…

  • Mantha

    “As a white woman to even dare to say “it has to do with my race?” absolutely grotesque and despicable”…

    LOL, cool it. It really isn’t ‘grotesque and despicable’, you’re being dramatic. There are plenty of instances where a white person could make that comment. It doesn’t mean white privilege doesn’t exist or there isn’t a racial power structure in place. Seriously, chill out

  • happyfeelin

    True…but that’s a question for the City Council and not me dear. Not sure what district you live in, but I recommend a letter of outrage to that official.

  • Super Amanda

    I’ve had to live in Yolo county while I wait to buy in the proper EastvBay. Yes, Davis and Woodland are boring but they are much nicer than Stockton. It depends on what you are looking for though.

  • http://www.therealsunjones.com Sun Jones

    Okay, okay! I’m not pointing the finger at you personally. Welcome to our City of O, hey I always said West Oakland was benefitting from the TLC from new home-buyers (corporate real estate investors, not-so-much).
    I’m just stating a legitimate point of view that a lot of Oaklanders and long-time residents feel as we get priced out, so don’t get salty. Oakland was always a very unique place with a rich history and culture, and we are very proud of that, even as we disappear.

    If you have some knowledge to share about how to get into a house without several tens of thousands of $$$ for a downpayment, please, please, please share that info!
    It’s very near impossible not to get outbid on any property, no matter how blighted in this current atmosphere.
    The whole “fight the powers that be” thing just doesn’t apply because corporations are NOT people.

  • happyfeelin

    Nothing But Love…Shoot, as I tell my A’s fan friends…who do you think the NY Yankees recruited from to win 27 World Series championships? Reggie Jackson was an A before he was a Yank

    And I don’t think Oakland should disappear….the deluge of change that its experiencing, no matter how practical the changes, shouldn’t force anyone out…My street doesn’t feel like that because the people who owned my house before I bought it live across the street. One of my friends just shared “what are these non-profits who help homebuyers”…don’t misunderstand; I love my peeps in Non-Profit but she’s not wrong since the ones intended to keep communities whole need more respect and attention…and keeping purveyors of community/knowledge historians are part of the fabric of the community …The new paradigm needs to include natives and excessive greed should stop. I’m a believer that developers should have to include low-income houses for more than 25% of the investment they make….but that’s just me.
    Since its in between election cycles, we need to get angrier, document the anger and then playback the gag reel when politicians start drumming for votes.

  • http://www.therealsunjones.com Sun Jones

    I’m not looking to move to Yolo (or anywhere else) and drive to and from Oakland where I work everyday.
    And I’m not looking for displacement and being priced-out from where I currently live, love, have lived, grown raised my son, and where my family is. That’s what I’m NOT looking for…What I’m looking for is NOT getting displaced by these sky-high housing costs being driven by the flood of people wanting to move in. Just sayin…

  • Curtis Kimball

    Let’s talk about reparations! That would make the bay area real estate market a whole lot more interesting.

  • swank7

    So glad Amy won your approval – who the fuck are you.

  • Steve Kopff

    I’d like to see more pressure for new housing developments to have money earmarked for programs to help people get into their first home by giving them down payments or interest free loans that will be forgiven if you stay in Oakland in that house for a certain amount of years (perhaps 10). Urban Core had agreed to set aside $8M as part of their deal to build their hi-rise at 2nd Ave at E12th but that all disappeared when the City Council’s vote was over turned. I do think if we provide help and offer financial assistance to help people become homeowners everyone will benefit.

  • Steve Kopff

    Dude don’t pretend to know me. And International is not in my neighborhood as are the other places you mentioned. Even so- is your view so narrow that you think every person should have to shop at only those markets even if they don’t want to buy rotting fish or products that are geared for another group? Are you so threatened that another grocery store catering to the rest of the area would some how take away business from these stores? Most of us drive to other neighborhoods/cities for our grocery needs. Would not the neighborhood benefit from having it’s own moderate priced grocery store that hires locals rather than people drive to Berkeley or other parts of Oakland? I really don’t need to prove to you anything to you

  • Steve Kopff

    Clinton was never part of what you call Funktown. Learn your neighborhoods. https://localwiki.org/oakland/map/Clinton#zoom=16&lat=37.79515&lon=-122.23801&layers=BTT And the people who grew up in this neighborhood call it Brooklyn and are passionate about the history and the name.

  • Steve Kopff

    Amanda you rock! :)

  • Sheila McCracken

    Look, I tried to be nice about my response to you, but clearly you missed that too. I find talking to people like you is infuriating because as nice as I try to be it always get twisted in a negative way. I’ll say it again, its great what you have done for the community you live in, but take a step back and realize where other people are coming from. You don’t get to invalidate my experience because you’re angry. The thing is, your experience and your feelings are no less valid then mine, but its like “OK fuck all the people who grew up here, lived through FAR shittier times, and are fucking PROUD to be from here” that is how you come off, and quite frankly I’d like to really say FUCK YOU. Take your shitty attitude somewhere else. And as far as your I’m not trying to sound cold hearted…you fucking are. You really, really are. Also, you want me to go talk to the people live under the overpasses in Oakland and ask them how they feel, how about this, I do. I work with the homeless population every single day to help them find employment, but hey fuck me right?

  • Benjamastino Giustino

    Technology is cool but the tech workers as gentrifying force are a major part of what we are talking about (lots of inflated budgets with a very self serving purpose). As individuals, I can’t pass judgement or generalize about the individual. You are people too but as I’ve experienced it, you (as techies) rush to a neighborhood, price the locals out and the frog hop expansion continues with more like you. Look at what SF has become…

    I wish there was some over sight so that people from here can keep a claim on the land, culture and community which is deep and rich. Better yet if tech companies become a part of the community by offering jobs and training to inspired local people. A huge supply of innovation and untapped intelligence is already here.

    Of course there are flip sides to every coin but as it is, the East Bay locals appreciate you all as a trickle not as a flood.

  • Disqus313

    “Rotting fish”?
    See there you go again.
    It’s the freshest youll ever find. Direct from the fisherman. You’re relentless in your ignorance.
    International isn’t your neighborhood??
    Oh but Bella Vista is??
    No. That’s where MY gorgeous house is (and it’s nicer than yours.. haha!) but you’d selectively paint a wayward line around the city to claim every wanted thing as your neighborhood, while excluding every home or shop that did not meet your biased standards, right?

    You’ll blanket the message boards of other people’s neighborhoods with self serving posts about upscale development proposals on public land that are a supposedly “welcomed addition to (your) neighborhood” but some shops that are waaaaay closer to you, and practically in your back yard (you shithead!!) are NOT your neighborhood, huh?
    You’re a joke, Stevie Weevie. Haha!
    A white supremacist fucknut!

    I shop all over town too, from Monterey Market, to Berkeley Bowl to Oasis Market, to Yasai, to Farmer Joe’s and plenty of places in between, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna disparage the unique markets right here in my neighborhood (LIKE YOU KEEP DOING).
    Recognize, loser! There are plenty of people who travel from far away to shop right here in the shadow of your pipe dreams, just to purchase said, “rotting fish”

    You Suuuuuck!
    Read your questions back to yourself, and you will see that you are what you are accusing within.

    If you don’t want people to “know you”, then stop inserting your opinions, and, stories, and farm fresh eggs, and bougie catalog shoots, into everyone else’s fucking business and faces!

    By the way, Is there a new local business that you AREN’T THE authority on??

    STFUpppp, Steven. For Fucks Sake!
    You’ve already proven plenty to me.

  • Steve Kopff

    David Dologite we all know this is you. Be man enough to use your real name instead of hiding behind a fake name and spreading your venow

  • Disqus313

    Hah! Guess again, tiny mr. Kopff.
    It is very telling that you’ve spent the last few years pissing off and making enemies out of more people than you can keep track of.

    Such a good neighbor.

  • Nessan O Donovan

    I lived in Oaktown for a relatively short period, 2012-2013, down near West Oakland Bart station. I’m a native of Ireland and interestingly, luckily maybe, can trace my family back over 1,000 years to different battles and land grabs in Irish history. I have to say, being a minority was different. But I tell ya what, the neighbours were great. Being a country boy from Ireland it’s the norm to salute people on the sidewalk as you pass them and say ‘how’s it going?’ So that was a nice feature of W. Oakland that endeared me to the place. The launderette was funny, people hanging out talking sh*t, nice people, ships in the night for me. Sometimes it was scary though, but I would say 90% of the time it was grand. I am now living in Dublin and I proudly wear my A’s hat around Dublin town. I moved to Oakland because I didn’t want to pay the rent in Fran San Disco. Go figure. I’ll always be grateful to The Town for the welcome, the Tecate, the music, Mandela Food Co-Op, 1612 7th St Cafe, the name escapes me, but I had really great meetings in there. So thanks for O-Town for the Time. I wish your more peace and health. Nessan O’Donovan, Limerick, Ireland.

  • Nessan O Donovan

    I can’t remember the name of that coffee shop down on 7th, but that is a fun place to spend a few hours in the daytime. Characters!

  • Super Amanda

    I’m curious as to why avowed nationalists should be given any place at the table of community? It seems like a great deal of hatred and violence bubbling under the guise of “activism.” White, Black, LaRaza etc all nationalism is dangerous and (admittedly not in the 6Os but at least in this era) it is all the same SEPARATIST rhetoric. So I’m curious to know why, when allies are already pre judged as being “failures”, that there is so much vehemence when people with good intentions make honest mistakes? Aren’t missteps and ignorance on the part of those with privledge part and parcel of the learning process in building multi racial / cultural communities?

  • happyfeelin
  • happyfeelin

    And this was happening in Brooklyn, over 25 years ago. Posted for synergy and nostalgia purposes

  • Disqus313

    “Can white people move homes…?”
    Really!? This is what’s bothering you? The circumstances under which white people can have homes without being labeled…?

    I’m so sorry for your struggle.
    It really sucks to be white these days, huh?

    All of this hardship, trying to move from one home to another without, doung whatever you want, wherever you want…. and then people have the nerve to label you.

    Outrageous!

  • Jon Chingas

    I think it’s comical to see people manifesting their guilt here. As an Oakland native for 40+ years, this article is ridiculously on point. Your so-called liberal views does not make you immune to the systematic process that is erasing the rich history and culture of this city. Gentrification is not the answer, investment is; and if you don’t know the difference, you have no business criticizing this article other than to make yourself sleep easier at night and ignore the folks you have displaced. Someone noted that ” Gentrification is the only way that kids stop getting shot outside of Mack.” Well, gentrification is what got Alex Nieto shot outside a neighborhood where someone didn’t feel safe because a person of color was walking the streets at night. Gentrification is what got people’s first amendment rights taken from them when Libby Schaaf banned “night protests” for justice. I’m not saying folks come here specifically with those ends in mind, but if you are not owning your guilt and burying your head in the sand, save some article that offends you, then you don’t live in Oakland as much as you live in Denial.

  • coldaymond

    I went to high school in Oakland and am really disappointed by these
    words. So many of them are wrong, misplaced and arrogant here, “when
    imported privileged white people decide to buy a home in a community of
    color, it will rightfully ruffle feathers.” Is that necessarily the
    case? It sounds so black and white, so categorical. The Oakland I knew
    was focused on individuals.

    “When you aren’t raised in a
    community, it’s likely that you lack its foundational values.” I’m glad
    you mentioned the Native Americans here. Because you have to realize
    that on a macro level if the only people who have the foundational
    values of a place have to be raised there then by definition the only
    foundational values of this place are either theirs or those they share with their increasingly incestual ancestors. Immigration and change are
    the lifeblood of this place. The Oakland you grew up in is in the past,
    it’s changing now, it’s short-sighted and selfish to think that the
    Oakland you grew up in is the only true one.

    Lastly, to
    paraphrase “We could use your ears but not your voice.” What kind of a
    statement is that? Who are you to take the agency away from people? This
    kind of message is frankly backwards and destructive. You reach
    compromise and fraternity by hearing each other out, not by telling a
    group to sit down and shut up.

    Oakland is changing, and in order
    to ensure it grows in a healthy direction it’s going to take a lot more
    than categorical directives and arrogant men who cling to the past.

  • dfgb

    I agree with many of your points (i’m an SF native who got priced-out too), but SF is 6% black, not 2%. You want to know a city close to 2%? San Jose.

  • dfgb

    I agree with plenty of the things you said, but…

    What’s with all the SF hate? Do you think everyone from SF is some kind of racist white-gentrifier or fake-Oaklander interloper or some shit? And when you say that Oakland (you) has nothing to do with “San Francisco Gold”, how is that true? Both cities and their inhabitants are connected economically and culturally, always have been, and have always influenced each other in various ways, directly and indirectly (they’re literally right next to each other! In much of the world, the two cities would have been combined as one, long ago). The cities and their residents don’t exist in magic bubbles, separated from each other, as much as some people would like to think so. Yes they have differences, but they also have many similarities…though If you don’t want to see it, then you won’t see it.

    Some of the things you say are completely crazy though. White people are prevalent world wide? You might want to ask Africa, Latin America, Oceania, and Asia about that. Oakland has always been majority European? Funny, becuase it hasn’t been for decades (maybe you’re counting all latinos as european? In which case you’d still be wrong about the city being majority “european” in the 1980s and 1990s). And Oakland is the “Holy City/God’s City”? Yeah, and I’m the pope….haha, I want whatever it is you’re smoking.

  • CollectivePower

    LOL at you for once again being a typical gentrifier. NO ONE calls that shit Brooklyn but new residents or residents who have some type of romanticized longing for when that area was called the TOWN of Brooklyn. Again, you can live here, but DO NOT impose your standards or defunct names on the neighborhood.

  • CollectivePower

    Thank you for your comment, and for calling this Steve character out! It’s so spot on!

  • CollectivePower

    Congrats on having the privilege to be “over it”. I’m actually very over people like you who think people give a damn what you’re “over”, or what you care and don’t care about. You actually don’t get to decide what Oakland “cares about”. And your moving here 15 years ago means that you were likely the first or second wave of gentrification that ;ed us to this point now. When you’re priced out to Antioch, come back and then share your story. Until then, congrats on being one of the gentrifiers you are.

  • Whiz Ward

    THANK YOU MAN! FUNKTOWN IT IS AND FUNKTOWN IT SHOULD STAY! very pretentious to suggest a name change. Next thing you know they gonna want to stop calling Oakland “The Town” smh!

  • JakiChan

    Uhm, actually, no. The people who made SF “cool” were migrants. The hippies came in the 60s. They made SF “weird” and “cool”. They weren’t locals. That’s just a fantasy and “othering”.

  • Laura Thomas

    I grew up in this neighborhood on 7th Avenue and East 20th and we never called it Brooklyn because that disappeared before 1900. We called it the Park Boulevard business district. My father told me our neighborhood was called Clinton Park but nobody ever called it that in the 1950s and early 1960s. Every new group of folks in Oakland renames the neighborhoods

  • https://twitter.com/KeenasKitchen Ikeena Reed

    Word. As an Oakland native (and I say that with the upmost respect for Native American culture and people here long before my elders arrived 5 generations ago), I remember it never really “helping” to say I was from Oakland. Even now I sense a weird sort of “fake” smiling sort of response when I say it. It’s kind of unnerving too…hearing snide comments like “our Oakland, now…” and being made to feel like my contributions as a young person and then a young woman didn’t quite make a difference as the current “hipster” population sets noted trends and has big tech, niche business and housing (denied to folks like me) all working in thier favor. My husband and I had been looking for a place in Oakland for months and all I could think was “wtf”? I’ve never seen rents like this in Oakland and its never been this hard to qualify for a place here. 40 yrs and I feel like an outsider in my own home. Sucks, big time.

  • http://www.thechroniclesofazu.com Azucena Rasilla

    same here!
    I’ve been looking for a place for almost a year now, and 5 times that I’ve gotten “close” the landlord decided to go for a techie. Not to mention the ridiculously inflated rent prices. I’m starting to feel like an outsider too.

  • Silence Dobetter

    Disqus313, you wrote, “Racism is always directed at black populations, it has never been reversed.” And also, “the very definition and entire idea of racism…. White anger directed at black populations = racism.”

    Probably the harshest manifestation of racism is genocide. Think about it. It isn’t about being able to afford a house or get a job or home loan, it isn’t about quality entertainment that speaks to a specific demographic, it isn’t about fashion, or the gross misconceptions about urban economics and municipal policies. It is life and death.

    Disqus313, have you never heard of the Shoah, THE holocaust? And more recently, Rwanda and Darfur? Have you looked the other way when tens of thousands of Yazidis in the last year have been killed, driven out of their homes violently, men and elderly killed, and the women and girls captured and held as slaves (most are raped and tortured, sold and traded – a man can buy a Yazidi woman for as little as a few hundred dollars)? What about the Chibok girls taken by Boco Haram in Nigeria, still missing after more than a year?

    This is what I have learned about living life, about sharing the world and my life with others; I get to CHOOSE how I view myself and my life, and I how I fit into my community (whether I am an a-hole, a jack-hole, a crook or a good neighbor/citizen). This is the privilege I enjoy because I live in Oakland, in the United States in 2015, not because of my skin color. Further, I have observed that the more extreme, the more, for lack of a better term, “black and white” we see people, culture, politics, economics, resources management, et cetera, the more prone we are to conflict, violence and destruction.

    On a more personal note, I have been heckled for the color of my skin (more than once), most of the time in jest, alas not always. Is it racist if someone of another race or color ridicules me because of my skin color? Or because I’m a pasty white woman, so pale I’m practically transparent, that when two grown black women publically and caustically pointed out my melanin-lite constitution I was simply the lucky recipient of mean girl antics and not racism? What if the situation were reversed? What if I and another white woman mocked a woman of color because of her skin tone? Would that qualify? If so, why?

    Let’s clarify something. Disqus313, you’re right, there is no such thing as reverse racism, but you’re wrong if you think only black people suffer from racism or racist people. Your point of view that “white anger directed at black populations = racism” could be considered racist thinking (there are more races than black and white). However, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and take another leap instead, that maybe your world view is skewed. I suggest a newspaper and a good history book (not Howard Zinn’s).

  • Silence Dobetter

    Excellent post! You’re right, the anti-gentrification crowd should not blame a person who needs a place to live for buying a house – it’s like blaming a fish for living in a river. Or are these the kids who never got over losing King of the Hill in grade school? Even developers shouldn’t be blamed. Developers and builders build what the City’s elected officials allow them to build, plain and simple. Elections matter.

  • Disqus313

    Please.
    You’re preaching to the choir.
    Also, you’re conflating the holacaust and Dafur and Rawanda with you being “heckled” in jest, but alas not always?
    Good grief! Cry me a river!
    I don’t need your self centered lecture on genocide, racism and mere prejudice.
    You sound soooooo ignorant.
    And, you know what?? I guess when I was traveling the world and earning my advanced degrees at prestigious universities on both US coasts, all the while overcoming the limitations of my upbringing as a light-skinned multiracial man with a muslim name (who has been “heckled” and slurred countless times, and physically attacked more than a few times for the color of my skin (being too dark for some and too light for others), who grew up in a single-parent home, and foster care (on two separate occasions), lived in poverty and got used toys for christmas from the salvation army, survived domestic violence, and many other very real manifestations of our great American legacy of racism, I forgot that I should read “a newspaper or a history book”
    You can go fuck yourself, Idiot!

  • Disqus313

    Correction: “Holocaust, Darfur and Rwanda”. Your pompous shit has me so spitting mad, I misspelled.

    But you get the picture. I’m not on some, “that movie is racist” bullshit. I’m coming from real world lived, learned and highly accredited experience.
    So YOU “think about it”, fuckwad!

  • happyfeelin

    Thank you! I have admittedly been having some fun posting the Do The Right Thing/Buggin Out/Air Jordan’s scene which speaks to exactly what his happening to Mr. Kopff in my opinion (with the exception of him not wearing Air Jordan’s and a bandy of community people not stopping him on the street, rather instead ganging up on him online). It’s preposterous to keep calling him out as well, and I’m saying the same exact thing as he is…guess being a full-figured black woman from the hood has its privileges also when it comes to keeping people outta my face talking about something that’s been going on in Oakland for at least as long as I’ve lived here (and that’s now almost 13 years) and in the Bay Area since I got here (over 20)….damn shame of it is that their is still very little affordable housing on the roster that I can see…since there is so much money coming into this city without the aid of the state and the federal government needing to supplement their financial investment, there’s likely not to be much either. I read all of the media effecting several catregories of this Town and don’t ever see any real plans on this…count that with potentially losing their sports teams and that’s even more revenue lost in this city.
    All I know is these folks who are crying need to bandy together and get on whoever they think needs to be confronted because it’s certainly not the fault of private citizens who, by the the way, are taking risks in moving into areas that still are high-crime and underserved in many other ways, not just proper retail and services accessible to all who live there.

  • Todd

    You’re threatening people on the internet with a slander lawsuit… ROFL

  • Silence Dobetter

    Wow, Disqus313! Could the anger and screaming in your own head be getting in the way of you truly hearing (understanding) what other people are saying? I was not conflating my being heckled, in jest or otherwise, to anything other than your assertion that racism is a matter of white victimization of “black populations.” I shared that experience with you to point out the double standard that exists in the United States. Pointing out the Holocaust, Darfur, Rwanda, and the plight of the Yazidi was to illustrate a manifestation of racism in the extreme. These extreme cases of systematic racism are happening in the world right now – today – but not in Oakland or anywhere else in the United States. The inequities in Oakland, and elsewhere in the US, are a direct result of failed public policy and governance, not racism.

    And sincerely Disqus313, congratulations on earning advanced degrees at prestigious universities (I could not afford that kind of education and when I struggled through college the system in place for student loans was non-existent, not that I would have gone that route anyway). In fact, there is really nothing prestigious about my life at all. I had a similar upbringing as you; a single parent home on a street in Los Angeles with an active pedophile (I will spare you the sick details of what he did to me and other neighbor kids), violence in the home, which I moved out of while still in high school, not to mention other hardships faced by me and my family. I did manage to graduate high school, but barely, and for a few years really struggled with homelessness and finances. It wasn’t the easiest start in life, but far and away better than what an 18 year old Yazidi woman has today.

    I suppose I could have grown up and railed, protested and shook my hands, blamed others for my plight, but I didn’t. I kept my face forward, head down and worked hard….REALLY hard. I never had children because I could not afford them. I worked, often with a full time job and a part time job. I attended college when time and money allowed, and after years it finally paid off in my being able to build a good paying career and work history. I have never lived in my parent’s neighborhood as an adult because I could never afford it, even now.

    So here I am now, over fifty years old, and finally bought a home in Oakland. Work – a job – is why I moved to Oakland and is probably why most other “carpetbagger colonialists” do. I’ve never met a person who aspires to live in Oakland. I will be honest, if I could afford to live in Piedmont or Berkeley I would, better yet, if I could afford SF I would live there, but I can’t so I chose Oakland. Trust me though, as soon as I can retire and get the hell outta here, I’m gone. Why? Because it is too damn expensive, the politics and governance of not just Oakland, but all of California is an absolute mess, taxes are way too high, and quite frankly, the quality of life here for the price isn’t worth it. Yeah, you can call that white flight! I hope I can expect a friendlier bon voyage than the constant fuck you I get because I had the disgusting gall to purchase a home in Oakland, but after the last few years I’m realizing hope is a red herring.

    And as far as your last comment goes, it’s still early in the day, perhaps later….after a glass of wine and bubble bath. Oh gosh, wine and a bathtub….there is my white privilege oozing out again! Shame on me….naaaah, fuck dat….hooray for me!

    Disqus313, sincerely, all jokes and anger aside, I do honestly extend to you a wish for many blessings in life, for all things your heart desires, but mostly for serenity. Peace….if you can find it in your own heart.

  • Silence Dobetter

    I arrived late to the…um…party? Or shall we call it a tarring and feathering, and not your first from what I gather? I can only imagine, although I’d rather not, how horrible to find yourself in the cross-hairs of the anti-gentrification activists and the way in which your words, ideas, even dreams are patently taken out of context or misunderstood to forward a political/social/cultural agenda. Call me a Jaycat, too, to think a guy, or gal, should be able to buy a home and fix it up without being lambasted – I don’t care what neighborhood it is, or what race the buyer, or anything else that is used to narrowly define us – and divide us – as people. Hope you are keeping your dream alive…

    I’m beginning to think the best neighbors are the ones who mind their own effing business.

  • Steve Kopff

    Thank you :)

  • Steve Kopff

    I call it Clinton. My Black neighbors call it Brooklyn- they were born here in the neighborhood 70+ years ago, married in my house and now have three generations of their family living next door to me. Take your issue up with them and tell them they are calling it the wrong name because you found one better

  • Steve Kopff

    I think the people, new or old to Oakland, that embrace inclusion are the true Oaklanders. Those seeking to make new comers feel unwelcome and newcomers seeking to displace long time residents are the ones that don’t belong.

  • Steve Kopff

    Jerry I use my white privilege to help lift others up. What do you do with yours? Cut other people down.

  • Steve Kopff

    At the time I wrote the article for Oakland Local the only food options were two or three liquor stores and one restaurant (which I do frequent). I was asked to write the article by the editor of Oakland Local because I had written in on another article about a food cooperative that was patterning itself after BiRite but with moderate priced offerings. We have since had two more restaurants open which I also champion and now a coffeeshop will be opening up soon as well. Anything west of E18th really is not part of my neighborhood and you have to drive to, thereby negating the whole point of my efforts to get small local shops that people can walk to located throughout the area. Why are you so threatened to have more than one food options available to the neighborhood? DO you think that everyone should be forced to only shop at one large local supermarket? Or is this more of a selfish way to try to control your own situation by keeping the neighborhood’s amenities limited so that more people won’t move in which you probably believe will freeze home and rental prices? Or do you think that minorities don’t deserve other options? I can tell you one size does not fit all which is why a large number of us have to drive to other neighborhoods or cities to buy the things we are looking to buy which the other places you mentioned do not offer. And newsflash- straight people have been moving into the Castro and displacing gays. So what? I think we all do much better when we integrate and operate with a mindset of inclusion instead of the “you don’t belong here” mindset that small-minded people like you operate on

  • Steve Kopff

    Subpoenas have that wonderful effect of pulling the masks off of people trying to remain anonymous. Wanna play?

  • Steve Kopff

    Wonderfully said Amy. Inclusion is the answer- those not embracing inclusion on either side are the ones that I see as imposters whether new or old to Oakland. We can be a model city for the nation as you said.

  • xkruse

    Instead of removing your past article and threatening with lawsuits, clarify on what you meant, and how / if your viewpoints have evolved / changed over the last few years. Here’s your original article in case you needed a reminder of what you said:

    http://pastebin.com/s2A2uQPL

    It ain’t slander if its true buddy. You wrote the article and chose to ignore all of the other grocers and markets in the area and made a point to highlight that the area should have a Bi-Rite equivalent. Good luck with that slander suit.

  • Disqus313

    My point is this. Just because I have a different view than you (^or him^) about how racism manifests in this city, country and world, doesnt mean I need you or anyone to “suggest a newspaper or history book”. I am an educated, curious, experienced man of 45 years with a family, a home I own (and I was not raised here in Oakland either) and I do not blame or credit anyone for my fortunes nor my misfortunes. Period.
    Your rebuttal was insulting and presumptuous. But I forgive you.
    Peace.

  • unclemikey

    As someone who came here six years ago when I lost my rent control flat in SF after 15 years and couldn’t find anything remotely affordable, I see both sides of this. It’s not lost on me that every time someone black moves out of my neighborhood someone white moves in, but I also know people of many races/orientations/etc getting squeezed out of San Francisco and out of Oakland. For that matter, I doubt I could afford the town where I grew up either. It’s ultimately an economic issue but since economics breaks along racial lines it’s a racial one too.
    I can’t pretend to know the answer to it all. I love Oakland, make a point of reaching out to neighbors and trying to be part of my community.
    I will offer one observation: this evening I was walking my dog past the house of neighbors who have been here longer than me. They left their gate unlatched and one of their two aggressive pit bulls came after my much smaller dog. I was able to pull my dog’s leash and grab him, and one of the three people in the yard pulled their dog in and shut the gate. But none of them said anything: no apology, no asking if my dog was okay, they just went back to what they were doing. I was too shaken up to say anything at the time but it left me pretty angry.
    I mention this just to make the obvious but important point: Just because someone is a newcomer doesn’t mean they are an entitled asshole; and just because someone has been here a long time doesn’t mean they’re not an entitled asshole. Every human is an individual and deserves to be judged on their own merits, not based on some perceived group affiliation.

  • Steve Kopff

    I stand by everything I wrote in the article. I removed it because Susan Mernitt, editor of Oakland Local, was not standing by their guidelines that they would not allow slanderous statements be made- one of them being that I had a grand design to replace Lucky’s with a BiRite type super market. I owe YOU nor anyone else a clarification of what I meant and how my view points have evolved. If you want to know about that all you need to do is read my many comments that I’ve made here or any number of interviews that I’ve done since. No newcomer should feel they need to justify their being here or explain their viewpoints. There are no special rights and privileges for having lived in one city longer than anyone else. Any long time resident OR newcomer that doesn’t co-exists in the spirit of inclusion are the ones who do not belong.

  • Steve Kopff

    Here is my neighborhood (Clinton) clearly listed on this Yahoo map- where is Funktown listed? It’s not listed on Oaklandwiki nor any map. In fact the only references to Funktown on the internet is on the Urban Dictionary which says “Part of Oakland around Lake Merritt towards Oakland High.” That is clearly not my neighborhood.

  • Steve Kopff

    Here is my neighborhood (Clinton) clearly listed on this Yahoo map- where is Funktown listed? It’s not listed on Oaklandwiki nor any map. In fact the only references to Funktown on the internet is on the Urban Dictionary which says “Part of Oakland around Lake Merritt towards Oakland High.” That is clearly not my neighborhood.

  • xkruse

    Got it… so you had the article removed because you couldn’t take criticism of it. So why did you post the article online in the first place? Dude, if you put something out there, people are going to critique it, just like you’re critiquing what I have to say. Some of those critiques may or may not be true, just like your critique of the situation. Even though the author dropped your name in the article, you could have stayed quiet, but you chose to comment, opening yourself up to more critique. If you cant handle it, just stop.

    “No newcomer should feel they need to justify their being here or explain their viewpoints. There are no special rights and privileges for having lived in one city longer than anyone else. Any long time resident OR newcomer that doesn’t co-exists in the spirit of inclusion are the ones who do not belong.”

    I 100% agree with your statement. I also believe the author agrees with that statement as well. What the article (and the whole gentrification debate in general) tries to address is the fact that people come in with the same rhetoric that you’ve used in your previous article and throughout the comment section to try to come in and essentially change the neighborhood without being inclusive and / or being dismissive of the people or things that already exist in the neighborhood. I personally think that it is not bad that the neighborhoods are changing, as change and cycles are the natural course of everything. What I have a problem with is the “Christopher Columbus” mentality where people “discover” a new neighborhood, and then want to make the “New World” (Oakland) just like the “Old World” (SF), all while taking actions and using rhetoric that alienates and detriments the people that have been with the neighborhood for years, through way rougher times.

    All I ask is that you continue to take to heart the things the author mentioned in the article and continue to curb the “Christopher Columbus mentality”, and encourage others to do so.

  • Silence Dobetter

    Thank you for your forgiveness, Disqus313. I always thought forgiveness was for getting (not forgetting), because when we forgive someone or something we receive far more than we’ve given – we get to have peace in our own heart and mind, we get to move forward rather than be stuck in a time/place when/where we think we’ve been wronged. Forgiveness is good medicine for the soul.

    Now I will forgive you for calling me and idiot, and…um…those other ugly things.

    Great…so we are on a level ground here. Right? At least for the sake of this discussion, okay?

    Can you say that racism is a very complex and complicated condition of society, that it is not simply white anger directed a black people as you claimed? I know many black people who direct their anger at whites. In either case, that anger has not served us well…not as individuals, nor as a community.

    More importantly though, with regard to this polemic piece of BS featured on W&B, the writer takes on very serious issues – gentrification, disparity of opportunities for kids who grow up in Oakland, displacement, cultural identity, a virtual soup of hot button issues, but instead of offering any substance or real facts as to how we got here and how to address the problems, he chose to dial it down to whining about having to turn down his Hip Hop in the park. His solution? Tell all the new white people “‘da Town” to shut up.

    The irony and paradoxes illustrated in Brekke-Miesner’s essay are astounding. I find the piece a very sad commentary about Oakland, and if this is the kind of rally call that gets Oakland fired up, the City is doomed. Oh, and all those long – time residents who will be displaced, or poorly educated, or trapped in more harsher levels of poverty as time goes by will still suffer while Brekke-Miesner listens to his too-loud Hip Hop and our City elected officials placate the rest of us.

    Brekke-Miesner can cloak his whiney rants in hipster activism while he collects his paycheck, but his understanding of cause and effect, economics, public policy, and the plight of the poor and disenfranchised in Oakland is troubling, given he has a platform and an audience.

    When WE, as Oaklanders, Californians, and Americans for that matter, can and/or will stop accepting this kind of intellectual junk food as fact, or even the new Zeitgeist, will any meaningful change occur. It’s dangerous and destructive, and in its wake is left living, breathing, suffering people. Our neighbors. They deserve more from us.

    What are any of us doing?

  • Silence Dobetter

    Ethnicity is not the same as skin color. Minority populations, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the poor are not always made up of non – white people. This kind of world view – view of the US – is simply factually flawed.

    Additionally, your assertion that only white people have been able to adapt to the changing economic conditions in Oakland is also wrong. I live in an okay neighborhood, expensive as hell (overpriced), and I think my black and brown neighbors would object to your characterization of their ability to move forward and build prosperous lives for themselves and their families. Can you see how offensive this is for some of us?

    I’m seeing in Oakland a collective consciousness, masked as hipster activism or some kind of fashionable, trendy mental rebellion that is very destructive. What happened to the Bay Area that was so dynamic with free thinkers? People who had the will to discover their own truths and then work to make their own piece of the world better through love and acceptance rather than blame, shame, belittle, battle, burn, etc….. They were the true activists…they actually acted and accomplished positive change, mostly by lifting people up, not putting them down.

    Who will be our next Martin Luther King, Jr.? Who will unite us, rather divide us? Who will tell us the truth, rather than spoon feed us a bunch hyperbole crap intended to keep us looking the other way while our leaders dazzle us with shell games? Could it be you?

    Maybe, but only if you open your eyes, open your heart, and go look for the real truth that is out here. Babe, you’ve been lied to, but worse, you drank the Kool-aide.

  • Silence Dobetter

    Beautiful! I hope you are a teacher.

  • Silence Dobetter

    I think the best provision for bolstering people up is a good education and a decent job/career. Why are we wringing our hands and minds about what to do when 40% of black male high school students do not graduate high school in Oakland? What do we do when the city has to take a pass at two million dollars for low income housing from a developer because of poor City/County/State fiscal management? Get behind the movement to provide free college? I guess this why Brekke-Miesner’s essay is so absurd. He thinks things will be better if white women like me stop talking, or happier if he can listen to his Hip Hop at annoying decibles.

  • Silence Dobetter

    Have you ever heard that what you wish for another will also be delivered to you? Some call it Karma, others might say you are dancing with at three of the seven deadly sins, someone else might say your attitude is soul poison.

    Makes me so sad that too many Oaklanders truly wish misfortune for their fellow citizens. Is that the neighborhood you want to live in?

  • Silence Dobetter

    What does, “adapt to cultural appropriation” mean?

  • Silence Dobetter

    What is white privilege? Good solid examples of white privilege among your peers (people born later than….let’s say 1982)?

  • Silence Dobetter

    Who are the entitled in this case?

  • Steve Kopff

    This is the article I wrote for Oakland Local word for word that coined me forever as a gentrifier: It shares my experiences & that of my former partner moving to the Clinton neighborhood. As naïve as I was when I was baited to write this article by Oakland Local I still stand by everything I wrote. People who claim that I have tried to remake the neighborhood in my image fail to acknowledge that I polled over 500 neighbors for their opinions on what they wished to see if we could bring a second supermarket to the neighborhood. I acknowledge the diversity of the neighborhood in the first paragraph and that diversity means that a one size does not fit all, hence the need to bring in a second supermarket for an underserved market. Others have attacked me for calling the neighborhood undiscovered, yet those same people have never heard of the name Clinton, again proving my point that it is unknown. I’ve attached a map once again for those not knowing where Clinton is. The latest thing I want to say is, though I am a gentrifier, I’ve gone out of my way to lift others up in the community. Any person who can not embrace the spirit of inclusion with all the changes going on in Oakland and channels their energy into knocking others down is the one that does not belong- this goes for long standing residents as well as new comers. Here is the article I wrote:

    “As new transplants to Oakland a year ago, my partner, Joshua Stenzel, and I immediately started scouting the surrounding areas for familiar comforts, shops and services that we had gotten used to in our old neighborhood across the Bay in San Francisco. We now call the neighborhood of Clinton home, which is a mostly undiscovered, rapidly changing neighborhood to the southeast of Lake Merritt not far from Jack London Square. In Clinton diversity is the name of the game- there are Victorian mansions next to bungalows, Julia Morgan Craftsmans and homes built in every decade and the makeup of residents is just as varied.

    Back in the 1800’s Clinton and surrounding neighborhoods were all part of the “Brooklyn Township” and were later annexed by the city of Oakland. Brooklyn was a wealthy area with many Victorian mansions and well to-do residents and had a vital Redwood timber shipping route originating in the Oakland hills that ended at the coast. Brooklyn included the current day neighborhoods of Clinton, Bella Vista, Ivy Hill, Highland Park, Cleveland Heights, Highland Terrace, Merritt, Tuxedo, Lynn, San Antonio and parts of Trestle Glen.

    The first thing we noticed is that the Clinton/Brooklyn area was lacking many restaurants as well as super markets, especially offering fresh, organic and healthier options. We are living in a virtual food desert and we had to travel to other neighborhoods to find restaurants, shops, ATMs and supermarkets that provided the services we were looking for. To shop for groceries I found myself driving fifteen minutes or more to find a store that had enough variety in offerings and that didn’t break the bank.

    Within a month of moving in we had plugged into several neighborhood groups, some made up of people who had worked hard for decades to preserve and improve the neighborhood and some who were more recent to the neighborhood but working hard now to build community and make positive changes.

    Energized by meeting all the new neighbors with a similar desire to improve the neighborhood, my partner and I started a non-profit, Oakland’s Brooklyn Neighborhood Beautification Project, to raise funds to beautify the sidewalk landscape strips and public medians as a means to fight illegal dumping, graffiti and crime in the area. The funds raised go to neighbors who need financial assistance in planting their sidewalks who want to be part of the project. Where we have been short on donated funds Josh
    and I have picked up the tab.

    With the help of many neighbors we have installed a library box in a public space and filled it with books of all languages for the neighborhood children to read. We landscaped three city medians, a private sidewalk where prostitution was occurring, and several other homes. The graffiti and illegal dumping stopped in the areas where we did our beautification and now there is a much more steady flow of people taking leisurely walks, going for runs and for bike rides as the spaces feel more safe.

    We also hope to plant fruit trees and a garden along with some additional neighbors around the corner from us at an apartment building where the landlord is too cheap to make any improvements. The library box we installed is right by the building and the Latino tenants used to look at us with suspicion when we walked by with our dogs. Now their kids play in the streets and they say hello and talk with us. A community has been born.

    I started my own neighborhood email newsletter initially to try to raise donations for our non-profit but it quickly turned into a neighborhood resource newsletter in which we cover such issues as historic homes, beautifying the neighborhood, calling to attention new
    businesses in the neighborhood worth trying out, neighborhood events and trying to get basic services like restaurants, coffeeshops and a decent grocery store to move in. Within a short period of time the number of subscribers to the newsletter grew to over 100 people and continue to spread by word of mouth. People realized that they could achieve more by partnering to create a unified voice.

    I proceeded to take a poll of the neighbors on what they would like if they could choose a local grocer and got the word out through my email network as well as reaching more than four hundred people on another neighborhood email list. The neighbors overwhelmingly
    were looking for a store like a BiRite run by local owners with reasonable prices that offered lots of organic fruits and vegetables, locally grown options included. Also on the wish list was an in-house bakery that offered fresh baked goods, an ATM in store such as a Wells Fargo, and a coffee kiosk with patisserie bites.

    After reading an article in Oakland Local we came to hear about the plans of Portside Community Market, which plans to find a location in the Jack London Square area and would be relatively close to our neighborhood. In an email exchange with co-founder Tommaso Boggia, Tommaso shared,”….. It’s heartening to see that your neighbors have similar visions for what a local grocery store should look like. We also view Bi-Rite as an example, though we want to be able to provide a bit more mid-price range choices.”

    This was music to our ears as their model matched the wish list of the residents of Brooklyn. We could actually get our fruits and vegetables sourced locally and organically with healthy options for all their foods, and at a reasonable price and not have to travel far from
    our own area to get it! Tommaso has asked to meet with the neighbors in the coming month for feedback and more ideas on how they can provide the best of service when they open.

    The $1.5 Billion Brooklyn Basin Project will start sending up buildings that will ultimately create 3,100 new housing units in 2015 and will develop the waterfront from Oak Street south of Jack London Square to 9th Avenue, which is the edge of Brooklyn. Our neighborhood is hoping to have the search for the future store location to move a little further south to accommodate all these additional families that will be moving into the area. The Portside Community Market team is still looking for the perfect site for their location
    and will hopefully weigh this into their decision. The residents of all the neighborhoods making up Brooklyn would jump at the chance to have Portside Market serve the community.”

  • CollectivePower

    Look up the definition for “adapt”, and then look up the definition of “cultural appropriation”, and then you’ll have your answer.

  • Silence Dobetter

    Whose culture is being appropriated? And by whom?

  • MrSwingGuitar

    Okay, I’m one of those native San Franciscans, who moved to the East Bay while a teenager. I’ve lived on the same block in Oakland (right at the old Brooklyn border) for 35 years. I saved for years to afford the down payment on a trashed duplex that I fixed up with my own hands for the next few years. I love that folks in my neighborhood greet each other on the street and seem to really want to know each other. On the other hand, so many folks who live here don’t seem to care at all about the neighborhood. Folks who roll down their car windows and dump all their trash on the street, folks who come home at 3am with their car stereos blasting full volume, prostitution on residential streets, drug dealing around kids, guns going off at all hours, these are things that I wouldn’t be sad to see depart. In a capitalist economy, poor folks are gonna get the shaft every time. There’s nothing inherently racist about that except for the inequity in hiring and education. How about if we address those more effectively instead of blaming those seeking decent housing for themselves? As a white guy, it always amused me when people didn’t want to come to my neighborhood because they were afraid. Well, economics apparently finally has been conquering those fears. On my block people speak about ten languages. If it turns into just another block of English only white people, I will certainly mourn. Don’t move here if you don’t want to actually belong, but don’t try to stop people moving here because they don’t fit the profile of what you think Oakland ought to look like.

  • Steve Kopff

    Bravo! Inclusion is the answer

  • Steve Kopff

    Azucena- you really don’t get it do you? There are no time requirements to be an Oakland resident and there are special rights and privileges that come along with living here longer. You have no idea what the newcomers know about Oakland or their desire, willingness or actions to be part of the existing community. Anyone who does not embrace others in the community, whether long term or new residents, are the ones that aren’t true Oaklanders and have no idea what true community is. Embrace inclusion and finally realize what community is about.

  • davidr222@sbcglobal.net

    A beautiful piece. Thanks. For what it’s worth, I find the lack of acknowledgement on the street to be strange and disturbing. I try to escape to Mexico as much as I can because eye contact and greetings are normal there. But I can say that the neighborhood I moved to in East Oakland a couple of years ago has a lot more of a human touch than the other Oakland neighborhoods I’ve lived in. People say hi and stop to chat. We share food and gardening space and help with home repairs. Anyway, thanks again for the great read!

  • Bri.

    A house can’t stand without foundation even though you bury it!