Letters for September 24 

Readers sound off on Art & Soul, Black August, Jesse and Dream, AT&T, Oakland's swimming program, water use, and the presidential election.

The Soul of Oakland, Event Preview, 8/27

Art & Sold

Glad that people like the Art & Soul festival, but as a newcomer to the neighborhood, I think the festival could use some improvement.

Why are ten blocks at the heart of downtown Oakland completely closed to pedestrians for three days — the entire Labor Day weekend? No one monitoring the fenced-off area seems to even know where the borders are, or which businesses are still accessible to the public, or by what route. Although my local coffee shop was open, they had fewer customers than usual on a Saturday morning, probably because no one could find them.

How is charging people $10 for access to the main thoroughfares of their own neighborhood for a period of three days good for this community? Outdoor concerts can be one of the joys of urban living, and any public event will involve inconveniences as well as benefits — but some of the usual benefits seem to be missing from this festival. Why aren't there any free concerts? Not even one?

In my experiences living in other cities, usually when an event takes up blocks and blocks of public space, it's free to the public. Sometimes there might be special seating set aside for purchase, or a series might be interspersed with occasional fund-raising performances, but I've never encountered a festival held in a public space that provided community members with absolutely zero access for days at a time unless they paid a fee. Surely with a little creative planning, Oakland could open the festival up a bit more, and organize it in a way that keeps the neighborhood walkable and local businesses outside the venue perimeters accessible.

Jordan Flash, Oakland

"Martyrs, Martyrs Everywhere," Apprehension, 8/27

Remembering Jesse and Dream

I was surprised to see you quoted some of what I said from the site I blog on. I did not go to the funeral because it stressed me out thinking about it. His older brother Jesse, Mike "Dream" R.I.P., and a few others had a very tight-knit circle. When Jesse died, part of me did that day. When Dream was murdered there went another, so as hard as I tried to get ready, had my clothes picked out, I found myself texting another cousin, "I can't do it." Just thought I would offer a little more insight. I am older so I look at things different, but I am hip-hop; my entertainment company was started because of Jesse and Dream.

T'anne Brooks, Oakland

White Supremacy Lives On

With a crippling system of white supremacy being the mode of operation in this country, what else can we expect? This article clearly speaks to us through that lens ... create fear about anything that challenges the status quo. Yes, the Black Panthers did just that, many political prisoners that suffer daily challenged the injustice of the time.

History tells you Jim Crow and education that was separate but not equal was their motivation to sacrifice their lives to demand freedom and justice.

I wonder if you wrote an article on George Washington/Presidents Day or even Veterans Day would you be so glib as to suggest that revolutionaries are simply murderers?

I attended Black August the day after a young pregnant woman was murdered in the streets of Oakland. The celebration of self-determination and healing for our community was especially important on that day. We gather for a reason, many more should attend. None but ourselves will free our minds.

Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Oakland

The Black Liberation Struggle

It is sad to see that the East Bay Express would publish something so irresponsible and lacking in integrity and commitment to upholding the standards of professionalism and ethics in journalism. Ms. Anneli Rufus' article, "Martyrs, Martyrs Everywhere," was grossly distorted and seemingly ill-intentioned. A responsible journalist would have checked the content of their article for accuracy and possibly done background research for context. It appears that Ms. Rufus felt she was suitably qualified to write about a topic she has no apparent background knowledge of or particular connection to. Unfortunately her lack of proper judgment has reflected poorly on the East Bay Express and has undoubtedly tarnished its credibility.


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