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The Invisible City: Entering Oakland

Posted on Mar 11, 2007
James Harris

A memorial in front of a church on Oakland Ave. honors the city’s murder victims. The sign reads: “In memory of all who have died violent deaths in Oakland.”

By James Harris

(Page 2)

“If you ain’t been to the ghetto, don’t ever come to the ghetto.  You wouldn’t understand the ghetto.” Naughty by Nature, circa 1991.

Living in Oakland is like living inside “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  It is a city that reflects both poverty and prosperity. Walking through the North Oakland Safeway on College Avenue, I see couples and families shopping for organic products in a Disney-like scene. However, in West Oakland—about 10 minutes away—Grand Grocery is deserted.  There is only the brave Afghan clerk in the dark and dirty store who scrutinizes each of his occasional customers. 

Talking to residents around Grand Grocery, I discovered that many of them have lived in or near the neighborhood for most of their lives. Many have never left Oakland or even crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, which is less than 12 miles away. For as long as Oakland has had a problem with violence, the mayhem has come from East and West Oakland.  Residents know where to go and where not to go. It’s like a game of musical chairs. If you want to live, just make sure you have a safe seat when the music stops playing and the lights go out.

As long as blood doesn’t spill on the safe streets and the violence stays where it is supposed to, Oakland residents, much as those in St. Louis or Camden,  have proved again and again that they can live with the terror. With people being killed this brutally and this fast, it’s the only available coping mechanism.  If you can’t change it, you got to stand it, I suppose.


Square, Site wide
The Mayor’s Raw Deal

For those who don’t know, Oakland had a celebrity mayor in former California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose so-called 10K Plan was great for business but not for the murder rate.  There are about 10 new developments in Oakland, yet no new developments in the areas that need it most. There are more than 100 vacant acres in the city’s poorest communities. Brown held true to his promise to bring 10,000 residents to the downtown area (the 10K plan is still in the works), but he failed to illuminate the problem of crime and genocide.  His ironic reward came in November, when he was elected California’s attorney general—the top cop.

What happens in Oakland now is, by and large, up to Mayor Ron Dellums, a Democratic fixture in the U.S. House of Representatives for 27 years who has now instilled hope in the more than 8,000 Oakland citizens who signed a petition pleading with him to run for mayor. Since taking office, Dellums swore that he will work tirelessly to turn Oakland into a model city. “If we can do it in Oakland, then the word is: ‘They did it in Oakland,’ ” said Dellums in an interview with Oakland Magazine.

Dellums’ ideas are grandiose, to say the least. He is calling for a decrease in crime, a new focus on quality education, ecological integrity, continued business development and a multimillion-dollar increase in the city budget. So far Dellums has put in place some 81 task forces around the city and has been determined in his effort to involve youths in the political process.  Dellums also urged drug dealers and gang leaders at his Hyphy-Soul Showcase event to “come to the table on equal terms” and talk to him.  Dellums cried out to the audience, “The senseless violence must stop!”

For those 8,000 Oakland citizens who signed the petition to get Dellums to run for mayor, he is a lot like Robert F. Kennedy, for he embodies the hopes of a broken people and he has the political know-how to turn Oakland around. The major criticism of Dellums is that he has yet to say how he will accomplish any of this, or what, exactly, he would do with an increased budget.  But neither did RFK say exactly how he would take the hopes and dreams of millions and turn them into a presidential legacy. 

There is no blueprint. There is no mayor who has solved these problems before. Oakland achieved modest success in reducing crime in the mid-1990s, but no mayor has ever systematically and successfully addressed the problems that plague black people in inner cities.

Ghost Town

The problems of Oakland, and other cities suffering from the failure or departure of industry, are paralleled in hip-hop, which has become plagued by violence rooted in a lack of tradition.  The original form of hip-hop means nothing to artists aiming only to make a dollar; just as Oakland as the home of revolution in the 1960s means nothing to the children trying to survive on inner-city streets.

Hip-hop artist Nas recently released a magnificent album that discusses the “murder” of hip-hop in its original state: an energetic voice for young blacks. No violence. No killing. No hate. Just music. The song “Carry on Tradition” crescendos:

I feel it’s a problem we gotta resolve
Hip-Hop been dead, we the reason it died
Wasn’t Sylvia’s fault or ‘cause MC’s skills are lost
It’s  ‘cause we can’t see ourselves as a boss
Deep rooted through slavery, self hatred
The Jewish stick together, friends in high places
We on some low level shit
We don’t want brothas to ever win, see everybody got a label
Everybody’s a rapper but few flow fatal
It’s fucked up it all started from two turntables

First and foremost, black people must take ownership of this problem, but a sense of humanity obliges us all.  If black children are dying in inner cities across the nation because they lack values, then why don’t the politicians who govern these districts pour every available resource into correcting the problem? More important, why aren’t neighborhoods banding together to discuss these issues? Why are there not more block parties and block socials sponsored by cities plagued by violence and lack of communication? These are the questions that Mayor Dellums is asking, the questions of a man who is trying to breathe life into a ghost town. 

I will continue to report from Oakland, following the trials of the city and the progress of the mayor.  I will speak to residents and tell you their stories, and endeavor to bring you the best and worst.

If you read this in accord, I hope you will join the struggle.

But if you read this and are not compelled to act, and act daily, remember that silence is compliance.

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By Stan C, November 4, 2007 at 1:07 am Link to this comment
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Your words were haunting yet true. I grew up in a Oakland suburb during the 80’s and 90’s and knew as a white man/boy, never to venture into Oakland, unless I had too.

In my humble opinion, from an outsider looking in, every other race, “in some form or another”, police their own. Fathers, Brothers, Cousins, Uncles, Moms, Aunts, etc. enforce family laws for future generations. I remember stealing some candy as a kid on my block and was draged back down to the store and humiliated by my own family. It was a huge deal, I disgraced the family, and my race.

I also had “goals and milestones” to meet during my childhood. Education was not a hope, it was shoved down my throat, I had no choice. We were poor but my father said you will graduate or I’ll kill you. I’m sure he was exagerating about killing me, but I wasn’t about to take the chance.

I don’t know the inside plight of an Oakland young black man, and why they kill each other.  But I think the solution is from inside the Black community. Waiting for a solution from the city or county governments, outside cities, George Bush, etc. is just foolish thinking, it will never come.

Good Luck and I was moved by your words.

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By Kim Fogel, May 9, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
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One other comment from Kim:  I think the idea that it will take trillions of years to stop the murder of kids is a hoax.  We could at least protect their safety to and from school.  An earlier generation of black students were also in danger from murderous crowds of racists.  So the national guard took charge and made it clear these children were going to school, were going to get their educations, and were going to be safe.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Also, another impression I got from that conversation I overheard on BART:  I think ANYTHING we do is better than nothing.  I got the impression they assumed nobody cared.  You don’t need an advanced degree in cultural sensitivity to imagine how they must feel.  How long do we expect people to hold their tempers?

I find it very encouraging that people are writing about this.  Good work.

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By Chauncey, May 9, 2007 at 4:38 am Link to this comment
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the situation in oakland is very unfortunate. but don’t label it “genocide,” for it obviously isn’t. frivolous grievances that conclude with the deaths of heavily-armed, wayward young men aren’t tantamount to “genocide” in any sense the term has ever been used.

the reasons why most whites and blacks don’t really care or seem to care about black-on-black killings are 1) because they happen so frequently and 2) because it’s hard to identify the sympathetic victim in such murders. these killings are frivolous and retaliatory, and it’s not easy to feel sorry for the dead drug dealer who killed some kid earlier in the week, or the dead kid who killed some other kid a month ago. of course, no one in their right minds, save for the victim’s families, would openly say that these dead black kids “had it coming.” but it’s hard not to think it.

unless blacks themselves take control of their murder problem, no one will care, because society tends to feel for “true” victims (e.g., victimized children), not violent young men who kill.

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By Kim Fogel, May 1, 2007 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment
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I am so glad people are writing about this.  I’ve been distressed ever since I overheard four grief-stricken and shell shocked teenagers on BART discussing who had died.  They sounded like little old men.  One of them learned he had lost his best friend.  The sound of the news sinking in was the worst sound I’ve ever heard. 

I’m ready to scream at local and national NPR.  They go on and on about the trauma at Virginia State, even in Bagdad, but (you know what I mean). 

I have health problems, family commitments, and my own political struggle - they want to tear down the warm water pool that has been a lifeline for chronic pain patients like me.  But I hear you.  Let’s all bug NPR and local shows like Forum for the next month or so.

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By lena, April 5, 2007 at 1:17 am Link to this comment
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i have grown up in oakland and fully understand what you are saying. the sound of gunshots are as normal as a baby’s cry, and every time i do notice it i feel a silent urgency as if i should be do something but what can i do if i see nothing- what can i tell the police- i can only wait for the news to come the next day and for the next one and the next one. and the really sad thing about it is that i know kids my age that have guns and it’s normal. they’re kids that have hope, hope that they felt no one really had in them especially from the people they needed most, they have hope that they can be as happy as any other kid in america even if it’s just materialistic, because when you think about it its all connected. angry kids aren’t just angry they’re sad and they show it through violence. they’re trying to fit in this environment and this is what they’ve become and we’ve become oakland. after all these years and all the murders that has happened it seems that no one knows what to do. so the the people of oakland are going to continue to have hope and show it with the same violence that happen on these streets every year.

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By joneden, March 18, 2007 at 11:19 am Link to this comment
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Delano says it is “values, values, values.”  Does he mean the value of being a young black male without an education or an in tact family, the value of being black and having people cross the street to avoid you, and the value of a pound of crack vs the value of a life time of work at a fast food joint.

Connecting the dots: From human behaviors to ecosystem collapse

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By delano, March 14, 2007 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment
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values, values, values

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By David Macaray, March 14, 2007 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment
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Frustrating and depressing as this story was—-and it was a truly grim and tragic account—-we will colonize Mars and cure cancer before we figure out how to “fix” black-on-black youth violence. 

Indeed, if it ever does get “fixed,” it will be by some weird entropy or a series of fortuitious accidents, and not by any sociological or programmatic remedy.  That ain’t going to happen. 

And if I hear one more person repeat the truism that we need to “educate” the urban poor, I’m going to run into the street, screaming.

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By AD, March 14, 2007 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
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Mr. Harris.
You are writing about a problem that has historically pestered many inner cities as you point out.  This is not new, it is rather the lingering ripple of many historical factors within our capitalistic country.  There must be a “lower class” in the system and sometimes, that class knows it is the lowest and knows that they cannot emerge from it.  That creates a group of people who seek fast power, gratification and fast money, in ways different from the “common scheme”. 

Fast gratification, a result of being pushed economically and politically oppressed, inevitably causes pressure and trauma on children.  For example, a mother who is a crack addict and has to sell her body to pay for her drugs.  May end up giving birth to a family of five children who will grow up in neglect, a significant source of mental health trauma for a young child. The children’s neglect leads to mal-nutrition at critical stages of development.  Add to that a community that is isolated from main stream and you have a recipe for disaster. 
I am willing to bet, that the majority of the residents of the named neighborhoods have one if not more severe mental health afflictions. 
Yes, mental health.  The taboo of all taboo.  Is it an excuse for what they do? No.  Rather, it is a point of understanding that will lead to better approaches to address the issues. 
Begin to show that you care for the person that is acting, not their actions, and provide them with the ADEQUATE and necessary resources (you will not be surprised as to how inadequate the resources are just go to the local welfare office or school)... it is like the Walter Reed Hospital… how many veterans have suffered form the years of neglect?
And why do blacks, and universally humans, play a blind eye to it?  Simple, how proud are you of saying that your brother is a drug dealer or that your mother is a crack hore or an alcoholic… not too proud, right?  It is the same thing here.  We don’t want to be involved just as we don’t want to be involved with those family members.  THEY MADE THEIR DECISSION AND I DONT NEED THEIR STRESS. AND IF I DO GET INVOLVED… IT IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE THEM.
Hence, this is a bigger problem than what the individuals in Oakland can do or should directly do.  In a sense, that is the reason why you don’t have the block parties… they did not work.
Despite the inappropriateness or ineptness of the individual’s ability to eradicate the cancer, they can act through their elected officials and force them to care for the individuals before they start addressing their actions.
-May the lives of the fallen not be invane.

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By Gloria Picchetti, March 14, 2007 at 7:19 am Link to this comment
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Oh grow up Mr Harris! Why would we, the citizens of the United States of America, take the time and money to end crime, poverty, and bad racial relations in Oakland CA?
We need to create zillions of dollars in debt, kill and maim Iraqi citizens, and our own overburdend military, so George Bush can be the The War Time President, the deliverer of democracy, and the reincarnation of Cesar, Napoleon, and Hitler all in one.
Had we the opportunity to solve the problems in Oakland Ca my choice would be following the economic principals that Henry George spoke of in Progress and Poverty. You can find out about him at The newest version of Progress and Poverty written by Bob Drake is available on the site. The original was written in 1871 and is a bit wordy in words we no longer use!

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By davidg, March 13, 2007 at 11:53 am Link to this comment
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I write this from Oakland, as I have many times before.
I grew up here, am white, and feel a deep pain for the Town’s current plight. We live in a city divided.

The opportunities for the the young are few, and for those 50% that dont graduate from Oakland public high schools, they are non exisistent. I wonder why it has come to shooting at the only thing these kids know: their brothers in arms. The gang movement isnt as strong as it once was. Neither is crack. But people keep finding reasons to kill.

Maybe Dellums has an answer. Finally a mayor who understands what is means to walk down the ‘flatland’ streets. But it is going to take more than just one motivated man.

How about a Oakland Police force that doesnt regularly use violence and curruption to take their piece of the street pie? And creating a city that truely shares resources, instead of letting rich whites and poor blacks pretend like the other group doesnt exist?

Oakland is a dynamic, diverse, and creative place. Home of hip-hop and revolution, culture and fine dining. There is hope, but the killing has got to stop.

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By Geronimo, March 12, 2007 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment
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What’s this, the very city that forty years ago gave birth to the Black Panthers is now the center of mass-murder in which both the victim and the assailant are African Americans   And the rest of us don’t get it, except in our imagination.  What could we do?  Well to start we might face up to our individual roles in turning Oakland into a no-man’s land where every week, another young black gets mowed-down.  Some of us will say, “Yes, but my parents arrived here after slavery had been abolished so why blame me?”  Except slavery wasn’t abolished.  It’s alive in our ghettos in the guise of black homicide.  And we’re all complicit until we do something about it.  What can we do?  We can change the world, that’s what, and it starts with our pressuring Congress to cut off all funding for the Iraq war, then to impeach President George Bush, after which he’s to be sent to the International Court of Criminal Justce, there to be tried for his crimes against humanity, whereupon empire collapses.  And then?  It’ll be up to us.

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By Pat Penske, March 12, 2007 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment
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first, in response about east palo alto comment;  back in the day stanford didn’t allow alcohol to be sold within “x” miles of campus and that6 line was the creek “whiskey gulch”. walking in that creek it always trip[ped me out….millions of dollar homes on one side and east palo alto on the other. so it’s not the freeway…but stanford and their law on alcohol sales.
now, love the title of the article. i move to the east bay in 91 and a girlfriend drove me thropugh oakland, “entering oakland” i laughed outloud and she didn’t get what i was seeing; i point out how evry other city has welcome to, enjoy beatiful, or at least all the badge thing like kiwanis, v.f.a., boy scout troop, or high school chazmps…blah. BUT NOT OAKLAND! entering oakland; they should hasve a kid like at baseball game replacing the dighits for p[opulatioon liker they change the price of gas.  and why not have a little neon hand in to step motion hitting a car door lock; entering= hand up, oakland= hand on door lock. it nerver occured to her but she was like “damn, that’s f’ed up”
i kinda miss that sign cause oakland seems worse, except for whitey/yuppie areas, and yes i’m pinkish but you’d call me white.
it seems we passsed the legalization iof the lotto on tghe fact that ca. public schools, remember? the pie chart they showed? schoolsz would get almost 45% of that pie. i see the lotto lately is 351 million, not to mention keno and scratchers…yeah now look at our schools.
i don’t know how to change what people do…but if you could change their m,ind it might show in 5-10 years, face it change equals tiome.

had to write in a huerry so for all grammatical and spelling errors i would like to thank ca. pub. edu. 35 kids in evry class and not rteporting the resty(which would be il;leagle for classroom size.
my email is tge website

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By Margaret Currey, March 12, 2007 at 11:38 am Link to this comment
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I lived in Oakland for 20/25 years, and the reason Oakland is in the condition it is in is the people who came to Oakland to work in the ship yards and for the war effort, were for the most part uneducated, and uneducated parents do not usually produce children who go to college, not because the children are not smart, they have no guidance as how to apply for college, and the schools have a social order or class order and those who are poor the schools pay less attention to.

The schools that do send children to college are the most part, private because the value of these kids or how the value of these kids is preceived is due to the fact that teachers put a certain value on kids.  As a poor white child in the school system your value is judged on the fact is your parents well off in the community.

Also the school or lack of school for the post war parents comes into play, they were wanted for the war effort but then they became a burdon in the eyes of our elected officials.  Since most elected officials are while and well off they look at the problem from their point of view.

The reason for Oakland, Detroit, etc. is the legacy of slavery.

Putting down the black people happened during slavery but also after slavery ended, the put downs continued some of it very mean some of it was needing “a dog to kick” this is human nature to have a scapegoat.

When you continue to put down people even though they don’t deserve it some people may be able to rise above the situation but many cannot, and those who cannot fall into drugs.  Also the reason some of these people do not have jobs is the color line.

I have met people from Texas (black men) who have told me to increase their childrens chances of getting a job they have intentionally tried to mate with while woman to lighten up the race.  Now you have people who say things like Barack Obama is not black enough but when you create half caste children you create a new set of puts downs.

I could go on and on but I hope people get the message, it all starts in kindegarten.

Margaret from Vancouver, Washington

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By George, March 12, 2007 at 11:10 am Link to this comment
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I suggest reading ‘the tipping point’ by malcom gladwell. It may illuminate some of the situation and even inroads towards solutions.
Also, don’t completely go off the deep end there, it’s a mistake. While the article is fantastic, and even quotes Nas, it retains the same problem as Nas - the period when Blacks wouldn’t kill blacks is referenced as ‘ok’, while blacks killing blacks is somehow wrong. Once the lyrics and the writing is simply about not killing each other, the idea isn’t seen as whole. I hope we get there.

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By Seenitall, March 12, 2007 at 10:30 am Link to this comment
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When are we (Black folks, my folks) gonna realize that this is a capitalist nation and that as long as we continue to struggle with that notion and that reality, we are FOREVER going to be at the bottom of the barrel.  I work in an industry that has allowed me to travel all of the US and I have seen just about all of these poor ‘Chocolate’ cities that are cited as the top murder cities in the US.  I should tell you that I work in the cell phone industry and the only thing that black folks love more than music and clothes is cell phones.  I have seen idiot after idiot in the ghetto willing to drop $500 or more on a freaking cell phone while at the same time unwilling to invest in a savings bond or CD certificate that will actually have REAL value after time.  Whether poor people are Black, Asian, Hispanic or anything else, they all have one thing in common, they have no concept or real understanding of a dollar and therefore, have no clue how to navigate through this CAPITALISTIC society. The antithesis of these ‘poor’ people are the people that I deal with on a daily basis that are my customers.  These are small business owners that are willing to take a chance and lay it all on the line and open up a business and chase the ‘dream’ in this CAPITALISTIC society we call America.  Most of these people that are my customers barely speak a lick of English, but they all understand that no one is gonna give them a break, they have to make their own breaks.  Hard work and nose to the grind stone is not just it’s only reward, but in this society it also significantly increases your chances of making money.  There can only be a few Michael Jordans, JAY-Z’s (punk ass sellout, and not for the reasons you think I mean), Tiger Woods, etc, etc….  While the bulk of the Black population chases the almost impossible dream that these people are living and have lived, the people that realize too late that there is not that much room at the top, end up as cautionary tales that never get told to the right person(s).  Wake up Black folks and realize that we can all be dragged down (shot down) by a few ‘bad apples’ that want to hoard all the money, or we can begin that slow arduous climb up the ladder and build shoulder upon shoulder of each generation until we are no longer at the bottom.  Each person is responsible for themselves, and if they take care of themselves, we can build something real and lasting that can be passed on.

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By jeffo, March 12, 2007 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

wow, james. that’s a chilling article. well-written and scary as hell. keep at it.

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By FrostedFlakes, March 11, 2007 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Seems like we could use a little more rebuilding in the cities of America as opposed to Iraq. And let’s not forget to thank the N.R.A. for the proliferation of weapons in neighborhoods that aren’t even capable of maintaining any sense of autonomy.

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By Christopher Scheer, March 11, 2007 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
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Awesome article, James. Liked the reflective tone—we’ve all heard the stats or seen glimpses of the reality, to no effect, but I really liked hearing your personal reflections as a black man trying to make sense of it.

Compare the reports about the deaths in Oakland with the wall-to-wall coverage by the S.F. Chronicle about the beatings of the Yale singing group…. in the media’s defense, however, when they do try harder they are ignored. I remember in the late ‘90s the S.F. Examiner made a principled decision to do a full feature profiling every single human slain in San Francisco. They stuck to it for several years but eventually got further and further behind, in the face of the general public’s lack of interest in stories about young black men with long criminal records killed in a part of the city they would never dare venture—it might as well have been a shantytown in Calcutta. By the time I got a job at that same paper, I was startled by my fellow editors’ cynicism about the project: They joked that every profile read exactly the same, “He was just getting his life turned around when he was tragically gunned down…”

And can you blame some people for being skeptical or uncompassionate? One bad young man has single-handedly terrorized a whole city block where my son’s mother lives in Berkeley for at least 3 years now. He has been charged with several drug-related shootings and uses kids as young as nine or ten to hide his “baggies” when the cops are around. If he was shot and killed in a turf war you can bet nobody on that block but his helpless grandmother would be mourning.

I grew up in East Oakland below 580 and definitely tiptoed around that “invisible world” as a white kid with no place in it. At night I’d watch from my bed the “ghetto bird” police helicopters circle the neighborhood with their search beams. In the morning, I was driven a half hour to school because the neighborhood ones were a dangerous disgrace. I never wandered beyond my block on bus or bike for fear of the kind of random assaults like the one at the 7/11 you mentioned. Even still, I got beat up several times by groups of strangers for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (with the wrong color.)

One point you make is especially important, I think: The isolation of these neighborhoods is devastating. Hemmed in by freeways and industrial wastelands, but most of all fear of a world they think has no room for them, children in the poorest ghettos practically NEVER leave. They don’t see nature even though we live surrounded by it; unless their school takes them, they never see the Marin Headlands or go out on the Bay, much less get to the Sierras or Big Sur. They don’t see other cities, other ways of life, other paths. They reach 18 never having walked on the Cal or Stanford campuses just a few miles a way. “College student” is an abstraction like “Buddhist monk” or “Russian cosmonaut.”

For many of them, it seems the only time they venture in to the middle-class “white” world is to roar through in muscle cars with the mufflers off, rims flashing, as if to say “Look at me! I’m alive!” I think that’s the #1 reason 15-year-olds shoot each other for no real reason: To announce, in a twisted, furious way, that they are somebody, that they exist.

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By mite, March 11, 2007 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i wrote a comment but was prevented from sending it. Censorship at its best!

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By martin weiss, March 11, 2007 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment
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It’s important that black people are made to understand that they are not the lowest, but the original, the best.
Go to the National Geographic website and see: all people come from black people—Africans are the gene pool for all the rest of us.
A hundred thousand years ago, all our ancestors were black people living in Africa.
The only reason our skin turned white was we moved away from the equator for enough generations that our bodies needed to absorb more sunlight to generate more vitamin D, so our bones would be strong enough, so we turned pale to let more sunlight in.
Why did we leave Africa?
We couldn’t cope when the weather changed, we followed the grass-eating animals to the steppes of Central Asia. Then we split into two—some going east to China and India and others west, to the Ukraine, France, Scandinavia and the British Isles, all over the course of thirty thousand years.
Those of us who went to China form the progenitors of almost all Native Americans.
Those of us who went west became Scotch, Irish, English.
We all came from Africa 100,000 years ago.
All the greatness of humanity came from Africa.

I sometimes wonder if white folks try to keep black folks down because they perceive a threat from a people who are superior to them in many ways.
I know, that’s a racist stereotype, like thinking all Indians are wise and compassionate.
But look at the innate superiority of black athletes. Doesn’t it make one wonder who is truly inferior?
All I know is we were all once black, way back in our generations. So, be humble, black people, because you are meant to be great. Do not harm each other—that is the way of ignorant whites—that problems are ever solved by killing people.
There was a time in human history when there were no slaves, no kings, and no war, with great art and technology.
Show ‘em how its done.

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By John Howard, March 11, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
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Finally someone talks about a problem that we all seem to be ignoring!  What’s going on in Iraq is important, but if we can’t police our own streets and make our own communities safe, then what does success or failure in a far away country really mean?  I’m glad TruthDig hasn’t forgetten about the domestic stories that matter.

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By Severyn Bruyn, March 11, 2007 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
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I am writing a play right now about this problem. Keep up the good writing.

Severyn Bruyn

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By mite, March 11, 2007 at 11:25 am Link to this comment
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Mr James Harris:
Who controls the Press-Media, and all avenues of this country’s society? Banks, Corporations, and Education,Judiciary System are controlled by ‘America’s Secret Establishment’ by Antony C. Sutton. Available on the Internet:

In this book he explains the ‘Hegelian’ system that produced the society all of us in this country live with. He explores this system how these powerful ‘Blue Bloods’ use their money-positions to create a system were we (peasants) are controlled and conditioned to survive only by submitting to their ‘State’ control.

Basic ‘Hegelian’ uses dialectric process to bring about society in which the ‘State’ is absolute, i.e. All Powerful. It destroys our assumption-way of thinking- as the individual is superior to the State- the State grants freedom ‘Only’ through complete obedience.

“Conflict”- ‘WAR’ is their weapon. “Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars”

Search; U.N. Agenda 21!

If one creates conflict-war-hatred one creates ‘Fear and Terror.’ This works either on foreign or domestic soil. And these individuals make ‘Trillions of Dollars’ from it.

Search: ‘War Is A Racket’

The Press-Media, a joke! One-hundred years ago if not less there were hundreds of Press-media outlets controlled by individuals or families. But after WW II, and the creation of Spook Agencies, and Congressional Treason, We-The-People lost control of our First Amendment Rights.

Another good book that outlines some issues of race,gentics and these individual ideas is:

‘George Bush’ The Unauthorized Biography by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin- available also on the internet.

Yes Mr. Harris not only do they create these environments of murder and death for the Black Man but also the White Man. You see they want to kill off the peasant off all race’s that feel or unworthy in their ways.

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By joneden, March 11, 2007 at 8:28 am Link to this comment
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Young black men are working out their legacy of slavery by killing one another while the rest of us stay as far away from these pits as possible.

Palo Alto and E Palo Alto is another story of a highway and contrasts. On one side of highway 101, a young man’s normal expectancy is graduate school and on the other it is early death and/or prison.

It is all about opportunity isn’t, and all the crap about free will is just sand in the eyes of people getting screwed by this increasingly fascist society.

Thank for this article. These cities are sores on our collective soul and will not be well until they are cured.


Connecting the dots: From human behaviors to Ecosystem Collapse

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By DeanOR, March 11, 2007 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
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When I lived in Detroit, we became known as the Murder Capital. We had over 700 murders in a year. A million people, both white and black, left the city if they had the means to do so.
This makes me sad for Oakland, but I detect some hope there, some resilience in the community. Violent crime, drugs, and race all enter into the picture, but I think the economy is key. We have to end this Bush Republican spiral of an ever-widening gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us, and between the poor and the rest of us. And we can not solve our problems while pouring our national treasure into war. We can not treat an entire class of people as junk that is no longer needed, which is what we do.

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By Bert, March 11, 2007 at 3:38 am Link to this comment
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My question would be, what answers have the citizens of Oakland, and moreover, the state of California, tabled in the way of solutions to the violence problem? If there’s a problem, then there should be an emergency meeting of the Oakland city council to seek solutions to resolving it, and send forth the aldermen or whatever to seek those answers. Is there anything like a Neighborhood Watch program in effect,
is there an illegal immigration problem in Oakland, problems with corrupt law enforcement,
what type of issues/problems have the citizens brought forward, what’s REALLY going on, here? Nothing happens in a vacuum, so discerning the cause and effect behind it is key to resolving their problems, such as they might be. Poverty+drugs+firearms=trouble. Chances are, that’s at least part of what’s going on, here, so addressing those concepts in open debate in their council meeting will likely help start paving a path toward a solution. If the citizens are unwilling to stand up and be part of the solution, then, by definition, they’re part of the problem. All that evil needs to prevail is for good men to stand by, and do nothing.

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