Man listen. There is an article in the Chronicle today
about Oakland and murders. It had me livid, inspired,
depressed AND heated all at once. You can read it here.
In the last five years, 557 people were slain on the city’s streets, making Oakland the state’s second-most murderous city, behind Compton.
Most victims are young, black men who are dying in forgotten neighborhoods of East and West Oakland.
A handful of their killers, speaking from prison, describe an environment where violence is so woven into the culture that murder has become a symbol of manhood.
The inmates say the only difference between these neighborhoods and prison is the absence of walls. The same hierarchies apply – the meanest rise to the top. It’s a survival skill that ensures ownership of drug corners, a sense of self-worth, female attention and protection from attack.
See. Here is the context.
Yesterday, I was speaking to Birkhold about how difficult it is to
write fiction. My problem is that I am attempting to write about
real things I have seen AND I am cautious, perhaps, too cautious
about perpetuating sterotypes about Black people, specifically,
Black teenage mommas.
His response was gone head and write about it, because if you do,
and your readers feel you,
THEN YOU CAN take them to another place. And I had nothing
to say to that. He was right.
So this morning. I woke up energized. And started on my stories.
Then this article comes up. And it had me and never really quite let go.
I must have spoke to 5 people today about it, including my father.
Now, if a resonable person reads this article, it serves as evidence that
East Oakland just needs to be bombed a la Philadelphia “MOVE” and
because there is no redeeming it.
And the comments (all 486 of them), which I normally enjoy reading as a
sort of journalism anthropology experiment, I couldn’t bring myself to read
I can’t take what those folks have to say on this topic. They have no
“skin in the game” so what room do they have to talk?
The more I thought about it the more I realized why the article about
why it was egregious.
The article offers NO historical context for why East Oakland, and Philly,
Detroit, D.C., Newark, Pittsburgh and most of the RUST BELT
have evolved to be the way that they are.
For example, there are NO MORE factory jobs in East Oakland. Cats who
had factory jobs now operate in the underground economy.
Second welfare to workfare was egregious WITHOUT an educational component.
You and I both know that education is what gives people options in this country.
Straight up and down.
And if you disagree with me, then why was it ILLEGAL to teach
an enslaved African’s to read. Right? Right.
Thirdly, prisons are the new steel mills. White rural counties LOBBY to get jails
built in their counties because of the jobs that they create.
Fourth, if a Black child encounters a babysitter for a teacher in two years,
in either first, second or third grade, they will likely NEVER recover.
Those years are so precious that the harm done academically takes and act
of congress to recover from.
Oh. And on the bus home tonight I witnessed an E.S.O dude
going back on forth with two women. The women were obviously a couple
and he disprected one of them and THEY WERE not having it.
Street dude + lesbian couple + BUS = BAD combo.
And I am thinking to myself, please don’t provoke her.
I can feel the situation escalate. He starts talking another DUDE about
BROADS that mess with OTHER BROADS and all I am thinking is
NOTHING good will come of this.
Just then, a cat walks back and says,
“Yo, I hear yall, and I just want you to know that my daughter here
seen 3 murders and she is only 5. She is five.”
He pointed at the ladies and said, ” You have your point” and points to him
saying “He has his point, but it ain’t nothing worth getting smoked over“.
Things were smoothed over between the two parties.
And the gentleman took his daughter and sat down.
At that very moment I thought to myself. This is what the article missed.
The perspective of someone who has their “skin in the game”.
What was the last article you read that had you livid?
How did you respond?
When was the last time you had to deescalate a situation?
Why so much violence? ( For the record, I get violence, I understand it
I had to in order to survive. I am asking YOU, why so much?)