Lovica Callisti 
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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

I wish the author and subsequent commenters would just be honest about what they really mean. "Newcomer" = white person. It doesn't matter whether that white person was born and raised in Oakland, or moved here yesterday. The coded language is a misguided attempt to camouflage a race issue as something else. Let's just get it all out in the open, people.

I suppose I am one of these so-called "newcomers" because I am white. And I've only lived in Oakland for a decade. So let me tell you what this "newcomer" thinks about your assessment: I have never once called in a noise complaint; I call the police only when I hear gun shots, witness an actual crime, or have had my house broken into; I use nextdoor to connect with neighbors and have never reported a black person acting suspicious in any case other than the one who was standing uninvited in my kitchen after climbing through the window; I moved here because it was the only place in the Bay Area I wanted to live - and it was the combination of attitude/vibe, affordability, weather, size that appealed to me. I have never lived in San Francisco and never wanted to.

I am one of those horrid tech people that theoretically don't exist in Oakland - according to the commentaries on recent Uber articles, tech companies moving to Oakland couldn't possibly be providing jobs for people like me who already live here, so they'll just attract more newcomers (i.e. white people) to come in and destroy Oakland. Oh, and while we're talking about destroying Oakland, I would say that yes I am hell bent on remaking Oakland, and have been since I moved here. That takes the form of: patronizing pretty much every new restaurant that opens within a 10 mile radius of Lake Merritt; voting for leaders that are pragmatic and results-oriented; voting in favor of parcel taxes and other funding initiatives for schools and other neighborhood improvements; paying the city for permits so that I can improve my home; picking up trash; attending street fairs and First Friday and other cultural events; visiting the parks AND ACTUALLY PAYING for parking to support them; shopping Oakland first whenever possible. I want this city to thrive. I know some people think a thriving Oakland means there will be no more room or resources for the poorest among us. I fervently hope this isn't true, and believe that it's possible to improve Oakland for everyone, not just the wealthy.

Thank you East Bay Express for presuming to speak for me (because I know you and all the other anti-gentrification ranters are talking about me and my ilk when you talk about newcomers) and then insulting me repeatedly. Funny, I don't remember anyone complaining about us newcomers back when I actually WAS a new Oaklander.

Posted by Lovica Callisti on 10/14/2015 at 4:16 PM

Re: “Oakland Named the Most Diverse City in America

Diversity means: variety; a range of different things. So in fact, settler colonialism does increase diversity. Just because you want diversity to be code for something else doesn't make it true. Diversity means just what it says: variety. That means the smaller the percentage of the dominant group, the more diversity you have, whether that group is white, black, or any other. If you want to argue that more segregation is better, that's fine. But don't try to claim that less black means less diverse. By definition, that is not true.

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Posted by Lovica Callisti on 03/18/2015 at 12:37 AM

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