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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Seven Days

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

East Bay Express- you are one of the biggest contributors to the conflict going on right now by stirring things up with bad information. First off you reported on the drummers being unfairly targeted by newcomers for playing at Lake Merritt. What you neglected to mention is that the park hours are from sunrise to sunset. And you have done it again by reporting that a black church was being targeted by newcomers for being too loud. Again, you failed to do your due diligence. Had you done so you would have found out that the person making the complaint is an 11 year resident who made the complaint since the choir started practicing past the 9PM curfew as late as 2 am in the morning beginning in 2014. Please stop targeting new comers. http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article…

Posted by Steve Kopff on 10/16/2015 at 9:08 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

I also have repeatedly heard that the person in Oakland who oversees planning and building (Rachel Flynn) said something about Oakland not having an affordable housing problem? Does anyone know what she said and how it was framed and I'd question her on that statement because she's someone who needs to be reviewed closely for any remotely made statement around this.

Stop harassing people not in planning and building and take a closer look af who runs your city and approves plans, discuses futures and has access to those that can progressively change things.

Posted by Carol Wyatt on 10/16/2015 at 7:22 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Thank you all for understanding for those thar are in agreement. I appreciate your insights and hope we can continue a dialogue. To make matters interesting I attended our West Oakland Neighbkrs meeting and a developer/property management firm that plans to build in our community was there. They showed up and shared their plans and goals. They answered questions and cared about input from the community. Things like impact on our environment emotionally. They answered questions about affordable housing and how this discussion needs to start at the political levels because even the funding of these projects needs to be at the beginning of the discussion because how affordable housing is built requires state ans public funds. Redevelopment is Gov Brown's area so we should ask him, the Mayor and the council about that. We should consider how banks play a role because developers can't get funding and house poor homeowners that have blighted homes that could be rehabbed and provide housing needs to be reviewed. These are solutions to things bec housing isn't built quickly enough and this could beautify communities, re-engage the owners of the properties and provide safe and accessible housing in already established communities.

Intellect and action is what we need here. A focus on those who make the rules and laws and a discussion with those who finance is in tall order here.

Less beatings towards people who just bought homes. Frankly I appreciate those willing to pay property taxes to improve our Communities.

Posted by Carol Wyatt on 10/16/2015 at 6:51 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Wow! It's like Carol Wyatt channeled many of my thoughts and concerns. And in a more eloquent way. Thank you. I'm like, what she said. 😉

Posted by Katrina Verzosa on 10/16/2015 at 6:35 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

This reminds me of another time when black people couldn't worship openly: Slavery. Ah the joys of the new "enlightened" class of gentrifiers...taking us right back to 1855 one bible study at a time! " Hush up now, with the jesus talk, don't want the gentry to call the overseer on us!"

The entitlement of people like this is appalling, its bad enough you are completely oblivious to the dynamics of a neighborhood you chose to move into - you also must force everyone around you to conform to your idea of community. If you want to live in isolated silence - go live in a little box of a condo or out to Walnut Creek. Just turn up your beloved Sonos system or put on your Bose headphones and continue your never ending narcissistic, self-enveloped navel gazing life where EVERYTHING has to be a reflection of or relatable to you - or otherwise invisible and silent.

Posted by Ralph Purvis on 10/15/2015 at 10:37 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Thank you, Carol, for the wonderful response. It's so good to see such thoughtfulness on an issue that is fraught with negative feelings and fear on all sides.

I just re-read the article and realized that my response to it was very much colored by some of the comment thread and a lot of the previous conversations that have occurred over some of the articles and issues cited. I think I owe Mr. Gammon an apology for latching onto a few statements and becoming immediately defensive. On a second read, I found the article a lot more balanced and nuanced than I had given it credit for.

Probably the biggest pet peeve I have, which is part of why I was not able to read the article with a more open mind, is use of the term "gentrifier." There's no denying that gentrification exists and is happening in a lot of Oakland. Many people who have moved into Oakland over the past decade or two have been part of an overall trend toward gentrification. However, I would argue that most of these newcomers are not relocating here with an eye toward "gentrifying" the city or neighborhood. They might welcome new businesses that cater to their interests, but their goal is not to push longtime residents out. Most people are somewhat selfish in terms of their decision making process (e.g. they want to move here because it makes financial sense for them) but not malicious (e.g. they want to live here because it will screw other people over). Labeling these people who might have selfish intent as "gentrifier" seems to impute maliciousness to the simple, necessary act of making a decision about where to live. If indeed there is such a thing as gentrifier, can we reserve that label for people who are actively working to push people out? (People buying up distressed properties and kicking out the tenants, landlords evicting people so they can raise rents, etc.) Rather than aiming all your hatred at people who are essentially just innocent beneficiaries of a force beyond their control, why take people to task who actually have the wherewithal to do something about it. As Mr. Gammon said, the big failure has been our city officials, who have not acted quickly or effectively enough to deal with the housing crisis.

To those who are disturbed by the neighbors who have been acting on racist assumptions over Nextdoor and/or calling in complaints about cultural traditions they don't understand or appreciate, I ask you to consider this:

1. It's quite possible/probable that the people engaged in this unneighborly behavior are not, in fact, all newcomers. In some of these cases the people have been new to the area, but in the case of Nextdoor I don't think it's primarily newcomers. Nextdoor has just given a much more public outlet for attitudes that have likely been there for decades. I'm not saying newcomers to the city are faultless, but please realize they're not the sole source of all evil. In some cases, they might even bring positive influences. Each individual has a unique story that informs their perspective, and if you can give newcomers the benefit of the doubt they might be better able to extend the same for you.

2. When you call someone "gentrifier" you are using an epithet that is designed to shut down meaningful conversation (or inflame conflict). By all means, call people out for their bigotry and intolerance; call people out for insensitivity. But stop conflating symptom with cause, and stop pretending that an individual putting down roots and investing in Oakland is a direct attack on your ability to live in this town. If you truly want the newcomers, who may be moving here as part of an overall gentrification trend, to be respectful of the community and the history that came before them, perhaps you could find a more respectful name for them. New Oaklanders, transplants, Oakland converts. Leading the conversation with accusations about their intent to displace you is not the way to engender comity.

Posted by Lovica Callisti on 10/15/2015 at 4:12 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Steve, would you just please arrange something so I can meet some of your haters? I really don't understand why they have singled YOU out (though by now you shouldn't even give a sh** about that), since what they don't realize is the issues that change is NOT coming to Oakland unless the developers are forced to include it in a plan, is imminently engaged...oh, and I apologize for using the word imminent because while I pass still uninhabitable property along the San Pablo Avenue corridor, I'm reminded by a colleague that there are impasses going on here...Seems that everyone is bandying on this game...the poor black senior who owns property but refuses to either fix it or renovate it so that other residents can inhabit the property because he's not economically in position to do so; the homeowner who is receiving fines and other levies because there appears to be some viable game to try and force people out of their property (e.g. you can't afford to fix it so it can earn you some income and you have a city government that appears not to even be engaging in the discussion so that each party can help the other). The abundant number of churches (to quote my brother there are more churches in West Oakland than Chinese restaurants in NY....and if you don'r know that's a heckava lot of churches). The housing issue in Oakland wont be cured until ALL THE PARTIES....property owners who need support in updating and allowing their properties to not face code violations; city departments that have a true and truthful mission of identifying affordable living spaces within the city demographics. Considering this is what one needs to recognize because as someone who lives outside of these discussions but knows a lot of people who are either in pain from the outcomes (or will be in pain when their rent practically doubles in increases down the line), you will continue to have hateful people coming for Steve and others who as I KNOW just want to see clean, decent and affordable things for those who need and want to see our retailers have more respectful and attractive shopping facilities and provisions. I am not shopping at the market on 26th and San Pablo Avenue because I don't trust the cleanliness...doesn't make me a gentrifier or a racist/bigot....makes me a pretty sane individual because the conditions of that store aren't on their surface, compatible with a community that needs and should have healthier options. When this displaced rage being shared towards people who want EVERYONE to have access to fresh and clean foods, water, environments, is displaced....all that does is keeps folks arguing and not focusing that conversation towards the folks who need to hear it and think you are okay with a lofty answer. Accountability in responses should be the name of the game...Mayor, when ARE WE GOING TO SEE SOME AFFORDABLE HOUSING MIXED IN WITH SOME OF THIS NEW DEVELOPMENT? How come the City of Emeryville and Berkeley have these provisions within their housing charters? The rage should be towards those who are the decision makers long-term in this city....stop hating on Steve because all he did was move here and ask WTF is the fruit stand and a place to buy a Tribune newspaper that doesn't have a faint smell of rat feces. He would be wrong if he was wrong...the problem is, HE AIN'T WRONG...direct your rage to those who are gaming YOU by talking lofty about secret sauce, when the sauce is too expensive for you to even taste to know what's in it.

Posted by Carol Wyatt on 10/15/2015 at 2:45 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

"Two dogs fight for a bone, and a third runs away with it." That third dog is foreign investors (white, black, asian, hispanic, whatever) that don't care at all about Oakland's residents and who only care about increasing their property values. That dog needs a leash. Focusing on and promoting racial tension is a distraction to everyone who really wants Oakland to thrive.

Robert Gammon, you are pouring fuel on the fire here knowing that conflict is good for the news business. This is a selfish move and I wish you would stop.

Posted by Will Roscoe on 10/15/2015 at 2:35 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Post Script....Anyone speaking of forcing anyone out is also a bigot....just because someone moves here doesn't make them a bigot....BUT...when you start talking nonsense of moving people out (due to their race or their orientation or even their economic status), that brings the question up in reverse...you can still be a bigot if you are not of economic status...in fact your ignorance is typically even worse because you're not even educated enough to inquire to yourself about it...too busy using tactics to blame others for your own inadequacies....YES, I'LL HAVE COFFEE WITH YOU TOO!

Posted by Carol Wyatt on 10/15/2015 at 2:22 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Racism consists of ideologies and practices that seek to justify, or cause, the unequal distribution of privileges or rights among different racial groups. Most folks have no idea they're even doing this, as they seek to find the perfect home, job or environment that they've become accustomed to in their day-to-day lives and bar any change or alteration whatsoever.

What's interesting is that as a black, West Oakland resident that grew up in a racially progressive city (Brooklyn) and at a time where first and second generations of immigrants also acclimated to the environment (1970's), getting accustomed to living around other people was not something unfamiliar to each of us. I grew up with Italian, Irish, Hispanic, Latinos, Asian and all around the world cultural variances...knowing and learning the differences from Pacific Islanders to Mainlanders.....it was something that when you grew up in the city I grew up in, was an imperative and it was a sign of respect and decent courtesy....Live Thy Neighbor but also understand them culturally because different cultures respect different things. Just like belonging to different faiths or no faith, you respected other people for what they believed and believed in....even if you didn't agree with what that was.

Racism is a pariah on our community that is 1000 times worse than even poverty because poverty is a state of existence brought on by one's means, which can change....racism typically doesn't change and spreads like a virus among people who see similarities and its brought on by fear of being....whatever....just fear one had that someone not like them will do whatever that sick mind thinks will happen...It's rooted in paranoia and hate and more people have it than we all think, based on these stories and conversations that have been ever increasing.

The poor black kids who grew up here in Oakland and put up with the long-time neglect, that not only includes the public officials over these many decades not putting ANY THOUGHT into the communities that it collects property taxes from and with campaign promises, wins elections on the backs of.

The dirt, crime and disenfranchisement was here long before any of you showed; many residents who are poor and minority are likely just as afraid of you as you are of them, since what they're experiencing is land-grabs, displacement of services...the sucking-dry of the resources that they have come to rely on and live by, because they weren't born into the privilege that has gotten many who are in the position to move here, receive.

This isn't just cultural...the removal of any and all resources is like a faucet that is essentially turned off....No Section 8 vouchers mean no subsidy to pay lower rent when you have to raise a family.....relocating minorities to communities without public transportation, etc., is just another ploy to disenfranchise a community,

Actually, responsible individuals like myself that aren't racist are also scared of these bigots but in my case, I hope they continue to out and identify themselves because (I don't know about most of you) I need to know who they are. If I could, I'd brand them like Brad Pitt's character in Inglorious Bastards.

Oakland's demographics in its flatlands really span the network of piss poor to tech millionaire. Unlike in the past, these Richie Richers don't seem to be inhabiting the hills like they've done in the past, where essentially you could acknowledge them by their wealth. And ergo, we have a problem because you can't really tell then who has money just by looking at them. Here's a quick study guide..... it is likely that many of the long-term residents that are minorities in Oakland, aren't in the latter group as much as one might think. But, since they're not judging you by how much money you have but are still trying to use Dr. King's 'content of your character' measure rule, its clear that many of these people's characters are warped and bigoted as well.

Have you ever lived in a place that didn't resemble you or your family socio-economically and the folks there appear to be the exact opposite of what you are ?

If you can't answer this question NO and now live in Oakland, perhaps you also should catch that Seinfeld episode where George did the opposite and do the exact opposite of what you're used to doing, especially when it comes to engagement with people of other races, cultures, religions and orientations....because anyone not doing that is scarily close to looking and seeming to be a bigot and racist.

Any person, place or thing that speaks to sameness or common denominator and embraces that sameness (and this pretty much falls only in areas of religion like a church, synagogue or mosque) that has too much of the same thing is not considered diverse. And that's like eating the same white bread sandwich at every meal, every day of the week.

One of the only ways I can think of to cure is to apply inclusive methods to balance it and make it accessible for everyone and for anyone who wants to change to apply this. It's fine to tell your neighbors that you're new and you aren't used to environments but don't treat them like the enemy or criminals. Each person who does that needs to recognize the signs of racism and that type of behavior can be cultivated as bigotry,

Since Mr. Cobb is a respected and well-known journalist in this town (and most long-time residents of many racial make-ups know this), making sure you 'get it" is really the thing you should strive for.

Why not try coming out of YOUR respective comfort zone and living among and around people who really may not be openly sharing how they feel about you, but realize it is racist and bigoted to do that so they keep their mouths shut and smile or don't make eye contact at all.

Since young white males aren't being disproportionately stopped in their cars and/or frisked, I think it is fair to say that what a lot of the new white people don't know is that black folks can be very uncomfortable with you too...since you're the ones moving to Oakland in droves, albeit innocently looking for lifestyles and cheaper houses to purchase and rental units to live in, they fear that they won't be able to inhabit the cities they grew up in and knew most if not all of their lives....

I bought in West Oakland because I knew when I moved here that just like Brooklyn in the 1980s, Oakland would eventually become the mirror (eg. San Francisco is to Manhattan as Brooklyn is to Oakland). But, in my home town, bigotry may exist but not to these levels....This is shameful and ridiculous and anyone who doesn't have at least one minority friend in each race that lives here needs to take a serious look at themselves. Its 2015....even with a black POTUS, I have no idea what you're afraid of...and believe me, I'm scared of you for all these reasons, and more.

Frankly, I really don't think the people using http://Nextdoor.com meant to sound like the KKK connection reporting people to the police but guess what? You don't need white hoods to be considered part of the section (seriously? You're using http://Nextdoor.com as a means to try and bandy your breathren and report innocent minorities because you don't understand the behaviors of people and that behavior consists of someone trying to jumpstart/ignite a dead battery? Seriously? Just because they're black you're buggin out?

if this is you then congratulations....

YES, YOU ARE OFFICIALLY A BIGOT!

As I just put on http://Nextdoor.com this morning, it appears that bigots don't even know that they're bigots...

Wow! As my mom would say, This is shameful to the umph degree.

I would like to offer anyone who doesn't 'get it' an opportunity to sit down over a cup of tea or coffee...IN WEST OAKLAND and walk around to discuss the community. We can sit in St. Andrews Plaza, visit the new City Slicker Farms area park and just really get you more comfortable in living near, in and around an area wrought with beauty but challenges most who haven't lived around anyone that pretty much doesn't look like them or has at least as much money as they do.

Let me know.

Posted by Carol Wyatt on 10/15/2015 at 1:44 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Libby Schaaf is ridiculed for good reason: "secret sauce" is a lame expression for dealing with the complex reality that is Oakland.

"Secret" on the other hand is a perfect word for Schaaf's administration which has offered no plans for dealing with Oakland's real problems taking care of our most deprived citizens. Those are not the people who participate in the art or culture scene or who dine at expensive, trendy restaurants.

They are people who are subject to violence on a daily basis, whether from their neighbors or the police, whose children don't do well in school and whose needs for family support are not recognized in any meaningful way by city hall.

Oakland has no plans or other programmatic approaches to improving public safety, for providing the ten or fifteen thousand jobs required for adequate employment for the now-unemployed or -underemployed, for dealing with the downsides of gentrification or for providing affordable housing for those who are being displaced.

"Secret sauce" indeed.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 10/15/2015 at 11:17 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

How do you plan on forcing us out Cynthia? You're obviously a very hate filled person. I honestly feel bad for you.

People like Cynthia are examples of how the hyperbole and rhetoric in Oakland has gotten out of control. You know how you avoid so called "displacement" in Oakland? Encourage your city council members to provide incentives for real estate development. We don't have enough housing inventory in the city, that is why the existing supply is being stretched and rents are going up. If you want to be mad at somebody, be mad at your elected officials for not doing their part to add to housing inventory in Oakland. In addition to that Cynthia, maybe learn a little bit about real estate and economics and leave your hatred at the door. The things you say and your hateful attitude makes you just as bad of a neighbor as those that you seem to hate so much.

Posted by Jack Fitz on 10/15/2015 at 9:11 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Cynthia Cornelius sums it all up for me.

I read an assumption that all gentrifiers are white. What a loose term - is it the land buyer, the builder, the regulator, the new home buyer, the new renter? All of the above?

If they "display" white privilege then they will be "forced" to return to where they came from.

Exactly how will they be forced to go back to where they came from? Who will force them?

That is on the edge of a threat of violence. A new kind of welcome mat to use in Oakland when people you don't like (or behave in a way you don't like) come to town.

Posted by Michael Good on 10/15/2015 at 8:12 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

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Posted by Lonnie Lee on 10/15/2015 at 7:20 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Please patron the arts. SHOW UP, bring your neighbors/friends/co-workers to the Plan Downtown Oakland charrettes next week! Make some noise, be heard loud and clear. Tell the City of Oakland how important cultural arts and social diversity is to the fabric and identity of our city. Be firm, be committed to creating policies that protect affordable housing, rent control, cultural art institutions and art businesses, youth advocacy institutions, libraries, churches, job training programs amidst managed limits on development. Read details here:
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Posted by Lonnie Lee on 10/15/2015 at 7:10 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Thank you for this article. If the gentrifiers do not stop their blatant and arrogant display of white privilege and entitlement, they will be forced to return to SF OR WHEREVER THEY CAME FROM! #wewillnotberanoutofoakland

Posted by Cynthia Cornelius on 10/15/2015 at 5:27 AM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

I would like to point out that the only folks engaging in "race baiting" and who are actually, playing the so called, "race card" also appear to be anti, anti-gentrification...as someone who is more likely anti-gentrification then anti, anti-gentrification, I would like to say that white people moving to Oakland is not the "issue," despite what new Oakland commenters on this thread are charging. Victim much? White people moving to Oakland is the symptom of the problem. It may seem like a small nuance to the newcomers reading this thread but there is actually a huge difference between an issue and its symptom. And I'm sorry, I know no one likes being singled out as symptom... Real Oaklanders know, color may matter but the color that matters the most, especially in the new Oakland is green...so please can we all now just get along and figure out where all these new people... White, Purple or otherwise are supposed to go and where we are going to put the current Oaklanders, whatever their color, that want to stay...and find a spot for another Wholefoods close to Steve's place.

Posted by Chanty Nok on 10/14/2015 at 6:25 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Michael Good: It is hypocritical to complain about Jihan McDonald's syntax and credibility while misquoting her. If you're going to allegedly repeat what someone says or writes using quotation marks, which you twice do, the text contained between those marks needs to actually contain something the person said or wrote.

Posted by Tommy Katz on 10/14/2015 at 5:42 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Jihan McDonald comments make it seem as if McDonald is a little mixed up between "Cause and Effect."

McDonald states the the gentrifiers " are white precisely because they are able to access an unequitable amount of the resources available to everybody, because politicians prioritize their success....."

Magic! Now we know how they became white!

Notwithstanding the syntax, the writer gets to it - "we don't like the white people coming to town because they bring unfairly obtained resources and power."

Thank you for making my point better than I could. Painting all of these terrible gentrifiers with a broad brush of bad intent and ill gotten gains. "We don't want their dirty money in this town and we know their money is dirty because they are white........"

It is not terribly credible for the current members of the community to express pride in the cultural and ethnic diversity and progressiveness of the community with this type of attitude of no change and no one is welcome unless they pass the skin test. We are all individuals and this type of typecasting of each one of the people that move to town reeks of bigotry.

Posted by Michael Good on 10/14/2015 at 5:16 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

Moby Dick, Jihan is right. Your response is degrading. I'm white, moved here 21 years ago, but I know my history.

Posted by Ann Barnett on 10/14/2015 at 5:12 PM

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