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As the critics on these comments reveal, the purpose of Gammon's article was not to shed light on Mr. Allstadt's accusation about the internet fraud----the purpose was to promote suspicion about the intentions of grassroots activist groups in the Bay Area and to endorse stereotypes about Black leaders in Oakland. The main idea of Gammon's article was an attempt to undermine the integrity of a community leader in the Bay Area and the organized activities of a volunteer-run group.
On analysis, the comments by the critics focus on the following: 1) a dislike for Diallo's personality 2) taxpayer's money and city grants and 3) a lack of impact from the organization regarding a revitalization plan for West Oakland. None of your comments really focus on the supposed main intention of why Allstadt even contacted the East Bay Express: which is to talk about the internet scam that happened to him and his accusations about who he thinks did it.
First of all, there have been many community leaders whose personalities offend, but their work is effective and encouraged by the disenfranchised members they serve. Second, there is more to the conversation about city funding than meets the eye. The volunteers of the Village Bottoms pay taxes too! And, if more research was done on the part of Gammon he would have discovered that the $250,000 grant that he assumes went personally to Diallo years ago isn't true at all---and was for the EastSide Arts Alliance Visual Element program that Diallo co-founded before he redirected his efforts on the gentrification happening in West Oakland.
For all commentators who live in West Oakland or abroad that have doubts about the real work happening here by this leader and/or group, inquire about the Village Bottoms Walking Tours---they happen on a monthly basis and are a great opportunity to get clarity about your questions and the real activities happening for this Oakland neighborhood.
The 'private' building is a community center that has been used by tons of artists in the Bay Area ran by a nonprofit---its important to get the facts straight when trying to make a point Len Raphael. The retrofit is something that will benefit the many emerging and established hip hop musicians, poets, writers, dancers, theater companies, and visual artists living and working in the Bay Area. Are you against these artists having a space to perform, collaborate, connect, and inspire their audiences? The Black New World has presented tons of respected emerging and established local and international artists some being: David Murray, Boots Riley, Kev Choice, Amiri Baraka, Kahil El Zabar of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Dwayne Wiggins, The Last Poets, Opal Palmer Adisa, Ntozake Shange, and etc. The space has also showcased a bunch of films. Anyone was welcome to participate.
The beautiful thing about Mr. Gammon's article is really how it reveals the twisted psychology of so-called progressive folks who care about West Oakland. Although Lightseeker and Friends rant and whine regarding their dislike of Mr. Diallo and attempt to rip apart the work of numerous diverse volunteers in support of an African American cultural district in the neighborhood led by this group of activist-artists----what remains clear is that 1) many of you REFUSE to broaden the conversation and instead talk about Gammon's innuendo as though they are facts 2) Lightseeker and Friends appear to be afraid of discussing real issues with the many members of the Village Bottoms community---even though they supposedly live in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, hiding behind the internet and East Bay's Express comment log is not going to inspire solutions to the schisms in the community that Lightseeker and Friends express. If Lightseeker and Friends have problems with the Village Bottoms plan, the Village Bottoms Neighborhood Association, and/or other Village Bottoms volunteers in the community---why not set up a meeting or a townhall forum to discuss the issues and work at real solutions? As intelligent people, this makes more sense than the internet therapy session happening online now. Would LuvOakland, Lightseeker, and Friends be willing to participate in something like that? Or do you all just work out your community-building over the internet?
Greetings Mr. Lightseeker,
Luckily, these comments aren't all about you, but rather the lack of education about real inclusive community-building that you have demonstrated through your inflammatory comments about Mr. Diallo and the Village Bottoms Cultural District volunteers which includes: Women, Elders, Children, Men, and Youth from all walks of life, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. I don't know of any conversation with Mr. Diallo you may have had about your racial make up, and don't really understand how it relates to the real changes already happening in the Village Bottoms due to Mr. Diallo's work and the service of others in the neighborhood and abroad. One thing many Black people in West Oakland don't understand is why people who have a problem with Black culture: its flavor, vibe, values, traditions, nuances, and history---seek to become our neighbors. West Oakland has always had a dynamic grassroots history of activism from within the Black community. Would you disagree? Mr. Diallo isn't anything new under the sun. He is simply leading the revitalization work that Black community members have been trying to make happen since the disenfranchisement of West Oakland's Black neighborhood years ago. It's important for readers to understand that many Black people in the Bay Area have documented experiences of their families struggling in West Oakland because of the red-lining, urban renewal, drugs, etc. There has always been a strong community of Black people in the Bay Area who have wanted to see West Oakland rebuilt and reflecting the cultural/historical legacy and contributions of this community. No one casts doubt when its done in the Fruitvale or Chinatown or Piedmont. And that is a good thing. People shouldn't be afraid of cultural districts because they are opportunities for people to learn, grow, and share each others culture. The unique thing about the Village Bottoms is that it has a lot of young supporters.
Silly Lightseeker, why do you assume that I am Mr. Diallo. First of all, I am a woman, not a man. In any case, why do you feel threatened by micro-businesses going through struggles in the community? I have no idea what you're talking about regarding some friedman foundation, but I do know that the people of the Village Bottoms Cultural District have brought more to that community than I have ever seen from anyone else. I've lived here for ten years and I can tell you that ALOT has changed---for the better---since Mr. Diallo and countless volunteers have arrived. Again, what have you done for the community? What are you doing for the community? The base of your argument is strange. It sounds like you're reaching for something that isn't there. If you really want Mr. Diallo to go away or want him to "edit" himself for you and your friend's comfortability, then why not engage in a conversation with him or the rest of the community that is actively there on Pine street promoting the Black cultural district to see how things between your constituency and his could work together? You sound completely anti-West Oakland community. And also, why do you live in a predominately Black neighborhood if you feel so threatened by Black people's diverse range of opinions about white people and/or white culture? Simply because a Black person states something negative about a white person doesn't mean that the Black person wants to see white folks exterminated. Why would you make such ridiculous leaps like this about an entire community of people---where you live? It all sounds surreal, Mr. Lightseeker.
Lightseeker is in the dark. Total blindness. I don't know where your anger is coming from regarding Mr. Diallo, do you know him personally? I live in West Oakland, just like you, and have never heard Marcel Diallo say the word racist that much in one conversation since I've lived here. It appears that you feel threatened by Mr. Diallo's presence as a leader who is respected by his own cultural members and many others who are not. Where is your fear coming from? Why the angry and envious tone? Why does it bother you so personally if Mr. Holliday supports this vision of a Black cultural district in a predominately Black neighborhood? Would you feel this way if a similar thing were happening in Chinatown or the Fruitvale? Again, Lightseeker lives in the neighborhood but will probably never come down to get his free cup of tea. He sees the tomatoes struggling, but instead of coming by one of the many gathering spots in the district to inquire about volunteering to water them, he waits for them to shrivel up---because Lightseeker really doesn't want to see any real, authentic, change from Black grassroots, community activists [which include Marcel Diallo and a whole host of others] in this predominately Black neighborhood. Go figure. Sounds like Lightseeker needs a flashlight. What is truly deplorable about casting judgement about community leaders and activists in this way Lightseeker, is that you prove why so much more work by them is needed. In your years of living in West Oakland, what have you done to effectively change the ills within the community? Maybe you should get some guts and do some neighborhood activism where the families of West Oakland and the young people of West Oakland can really feel you.
To Sarita, Lightseeker, Superfrank, and Ingvard...it is time that you all stop hiding behind the internet and come to talk with the community members of the Village Bottoms Cultural District and the Black New World performance venue. The city of Oakland did not give Marcel Diallo $250,000---this was given to EastSide Arts Alliance/Favianna Rodriguez/Estria Misharyo for the Visual Element program, something that mr.professional journalist himself Robert Gammons should have disclosed in the article. Sarita, Lightseeker, Superfrank, and Ingvard are having a difficult time understanding that Black people in West Oakland are fed up with criticism about how Mr. Diallo and volunteers are revitalizing the community. On one hand, you all complain about the gangs and the drugs in the community, but when somebody Black from the community deals with it and has a PLAN, you all get scared and mad because no one is asking you for permission or your opinion on what that PLAN should look like. The reality is: the Village Bottoms Cultural District is Marcel Diallo's Vision, but it is A Vision That Has Community Support. So, if you are in disagreement with the vision and you live in the bottoms or on Pine Street than you might need to go live somewhere else, because that plan is already in action. So-called Lightseeker acts like Marcel Diallo is the one who said something about "honkeys and suicide bombs". What about the private conversations you have with your friends or neighbors who talk about the "gang-bangers" and "dope dealers" in West Oakland, and the "thugs" and "crackheads" in the neighborhood---and how you can't wait till they go away? The digital divide is shrinking. More and more young Black people in Oakland will learn of how many non-Black urbanites talk about them and their communities over the Internet. When that happens then the real ugliness will get revealed.
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