Wow, that comment section goes hard! Which is excellent, because that was the entire point. If we do recall, the title of the article was “An Article…That Won’t Make You Feel Good About Yourself.” (« link if you have no idea what I’m talking about right now.) There was basically a disclaimer in the title, so it’s not like I didn’t 100% warn you that I was going to talk some shit.
As was expected, there was a lot whining about people’s middle class (and white? Who knows, it’s the Internet) privilege, but it was shocking to me that people took an article that was written about the effects of disproportionate economic prosperity on poor people and hijacked it as a platform for complaining about how their overwhelming privilege is failing them. Sure, I know I’m not capable of erasing white privilege from the conversation in one fell swoop, but I realize that the myopia and selfishness that most people carry in their hearts cannot be softened with an appeal from the less prosperous.
On the one hand, there is a difference between migration and gentrification. Obviously, parts of Oakland have changed rapidly within a short time span. The rocketing rent prices and shellacked new Uptown are evidence of this, but mostly gentrification is about people coming from out of town and paying above market rent prices that in turn effect the rent prices of the whole neighborhood. They bring a culture of separateness and the elitism that money in an otherwise poor neighborhood affords.
In no way am I trying to say that Oakland is an exclusively poor city. That’s ridiculous. However, I haven’t really seen how gentrification has affected the upper class neighborhoods around here, such as Montclair, so their concerns were left out of the article. Sorry, Montclair, if you feel overlooked.
I also am in no way decrying prosperity in Oakland. These kinds of accusations are just ignorant. In a previous post I illuminated that I think it’s great when locals open up their own businesses, hire local women and people of color, and in turn give back to the community. That’s perfect. That’s ideal. I certainly hope that local Oaklanders are at least benefiting financially in some way from the gentrification and not merely kicked out of their homes, which is something that is happening.
Oh, and, yeah, I said that about the cops! I fucking said it. I get that if you’re from some podunk town or another city where you actually trusted the cops to help you out, you might not realize that the cops perpetuate institutionalized racism and other forms of oppression. Which is why I told you: so you know that the cops are fucking pigs.
Sure, I took some extreme viewpoints in that article, but, fuck it, this was our chance to say something against gentrification. The Bold Italic is a very popular San Francisco based blog that has been touting Oakland for a minute. So let’s be honest: for every article you see lauding the hip eateries of Oakland and the low rent prices, how many articles do you see from local people informing newcomers of the damage they do to their city? Never? Because it feels like never. and writing that article for the Bold Italic was an amazing opportunity to share an often unheard and obviously very unpopular opinion. It was supposed to make people feel uncomfortable. It was supposed to spark awkward dialog. It was supposed to offer a different perspective on a contentious topic, and if you’re sick of hearing about gentrification, then why are you taking time out of you day to read the article and comment on it? That’s illogical.
As for all those ad hominem attacks (look that up if you don’t know what it means), siderailing a conversation about social issues in Oakland because I’ve lived all over the Bay Area throughout my life and trying to delegitimize my contributions to the conversation because I haven’t been geographically isolated to Oakland forever is cute, but, sorry guys, that’s not how it works. Say something intelligent about the points illustrated in the article, and then we can start talking.
Thanks again to Bold Italic, to Oakland Local and to everyone who read the article, thought about it, and had something to say. Sure, I disagree with a lot of you, and a lot of you disagree with me, but this shit had to be said, and it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Let’s have a dialog, and while it might get sloppy and mean, it’s worth having.
tl/dr: I get it, you don’t give a fuck about poor people.
(Oh, and whoever said they’ll call the cops if they see me by their house – what’s your addy? I’m coming!!)