My Oakland; A Student Reflects on a Changing City

A guest post by Oakland student Jeremiah Vaughn, one of Oakland’s Energy Converters

I live in Oakland but I don’t.

Let me explain

See I’m from the old Oakland

where everyone knew everyone

and the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” actually showed.

I’m from old Oakland

where if you got in trouble at school

the whole block was gonna talk to you.

I’m from old Oakland

where during the summertime

kids played football in the street

and spent almost everyday at the pool and the park

at least until the streetlights came on.

This isn’t Oakland anymore.

This is new Oakland

where it’s not safe for kids to play outside anymore.

This Oakland is plagued by drugs,guns,and violence.

This Oakland has kids younger than me carrying a twenty two

like it’s a toy.

This Oakland has kids that are twelve and thirteen in juvenile hall

for twenty-five years for selling drugs.

This Oakland

makes me scared to raise children where I grew up.

This isn’t Oakland anymore

it’s a war zone

that many are struggling to get out of

but not many make it out.

It’s not all bad

there are some who push for the restoration of our amazing city

but are constantly pushed 5 steps back after taking two steps forward.

To be honest I don’t know what this new place is

it seems so foreign

it’s hard to recognize the same people I used to run with.

Yes people change

but it shouldn’t be to the point to where they’re unrecognizable.

Oakland is hurting

crying out for help

but many push the call to the back of their minds

and push through their day

fearing that they’re going to be the only one that wants change

and if they pursue it, they’ll be shunned,pushed away, and exiled

from the very place they call home.

East, West, North

it doesn’t matter which part u live in and what set you claim

push your pride to the side for Oakland as a whole

if we don’t care about OUR city

then all that will happen is the same thing that’s already started.

Gentrification will spread

like a fight around a high school

and I refuse to be pushed out of my city by someone who isn’t Oaklandish.

This is our Oakland let’s bring it back.

What do you think?

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