Whatever Happened To Militant Radicalism in Oakland, California?

Everybody talks about the Black Panthers, but nobody owns a gun. Everybody whispers, “Lovelle Mixon,” but nobody flips off the cops when they drive down our streets. Everybody idolizes Felix Mitchell, but nobody avoids these new, clean streets. People seem to have an idea of Oakland in their mind, filled with criminals and drug dealers and violence, but the grittiness and the reality of that Oakland has been edited out in favor of a city that in memories has become more beautiful but less itself. It’s easy to wear t-shirts with catchy slogans; it’s hard to admit that our city has become tepid in the name of peace. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it’s more that this city is becoming so fucking white. The cultural shift is tangible in moments when new comers fret about gun violence, but no one is bothering to shoot the new comers because gun violence in Oakland isn’t really about territorialism against people who aren’t from here or don’t know anybody; gun violence is about the people who are from here, who have been here forever, and who are fighting with everyone else who is from here and has been here forever. Although, logically it doesn’t make sense, mostly because there are fewer and fewer of us who are from here, and we have fewer and fewer enemies within our city limits because everyone is leaving and going somewhere else. The out of towners seems to fear that for some reason this means that the violence will soon be shifted towards them, but what they have failed to incorporate into their calculations of violence versus property value is that the economic factors that push people like us to violence have little to do with class warfare and more to do with our own poverty, and the cultural and emotional ramifications that seem to come with the assignation of self loathing that always comes with being lesser than. We fight each other. We don’t fight you. But you revel in images of Huey P. Newton and Patti Hearst. We revel in images of ourselves as we are. We might not be looking at anything particularly pretty, but we’re doing the best we can. You? You come from a cultural paucity that has nothing better to do than co-opt something that it has nothing to do with, something with which it has no history. You have no identity other than the ones that you have stolen from the people you are trying desperately to erase. You are a spiritually impoverished people that have compensated for that with material wealth. We are all constantly at odds with each other because with a formula like this, no one is allowed to be happy.