“Make it big, small changes are not what the next generation needs.” Those were the words of Regina Davis, West Oakland resident, parent and affordable housing developer, when addressing a packed room discussing the history of segregation in Oakland and solutions. Another prominent theme was the need for us to get beyond “stinkin thinking” and the “mental shifts” we need to make to really move forward.
And as I left I heard a parent activist talking about how she wished that all the parents knew this information. How it makes sense of our current situation, and the amnesia around how we got here, and who is, was, and should be responsible. Without this history, it is easy to forget the roll that law played and plays in segregation. Don’t believe me, check your deed.
Second Class Citizens by Law
The history lesson on segregation and its continuing effects was deep , and I encourage folks to pick up the book, the Color of Law. Our current disparities are not coincidental or the result of an accident of history—they come from state action, a conspiracy against Black folks. But even deeper than the presentation, were the questions from the audience.
So let me actually get to the questions. You can see the slides we used here. It’s deep the relationship between redlining, asthma, environmental stress, and school performance.
And you can also see the changing demographics, and difficult trends in West Oakland, amongst other slides.
Zillow’s analysis shows that African Americans could afford just five percent of the region’s home listings in 2017 – the lowest percentage in the entire country, the data showed, compared to 42 percent for all homebuyers in San Francisco and Oakland.
And gentrification was one of those continuing questions popping up.
Beyond Problems to Solutions
We also heard some real solutions; like using district land for foster care housing, actually asking families what they want, changing enrollment preferences, rezoning neighborhoods, and increased access to transportation, not to mention changing our mental state around these issues—a situation where we have become so desensitized to segregation that we don’t even see it as wrong or worth addressing. And when it is addressed it often puts White interests at the gravitational center and Blacks in the orbit.
But what we heard from the audience was deep; questions about access, gentrification, integration and what we mean, and more. The most asked questions were about how we can open up access to higher performing schools to underserved families who cant wait.
The idea behind The State of Black Education (SoBEO) series was that the community needed to write their own stories together.
So here are the questions, we got, I would love for some of you to provide your answers. And potentially happy to publish them. And please join us at future events, join our Facebook group, or share your story and be part of the solution. It was a great night of family and we look forward to more.
The Questions in Order of Ranking by the Audience
Can you add more seats to some of the high performing school now. Some of us don’t have time to wait
6 • 10 May, 5:12pm
How does the rapid white gentrification of West Oakland impact this discussion? What can we do to support the black community?
3 • 10 May, 5:09pm
What’s the history of Piedmont’s founding?
2 • 10 May, 5:06pm
How do we fight textbooks? As a community what’s the place to apply pressure when it comes to correcting our badly maligned history curriculum and national myth
2 • 10 May, 5:28pm
West Oakland is being “de facto desegregated” by gentrification. What current governmental policies are contributing to displacement? What are the alternatives?
2 • 10 May, 5:50pm
Is class mobility (driven by access to quality education) our vision for liberation? If not, what do you actually want for our people?
2 • 10 May, 5:55pm
How can you give more seats to Black & brown families to high performing school on the other side of 580. Some of us are running out of time.. Choice vs Access
1 • 10 May, 4:15pm
Would like to learn more about how we can increase quality educational opportunities in Oakland for African American and Latino students.
1 • 10 May, 4:19pm
To find out the impact that redlining has on our educational system and what we can do to change the outcomes for our Black and Brown children.
1 • 10 May, 4:23pm
This notion seems silly but it’s been suggested that because black students were, in some sense, more successful during segregation, that we should return. Rsp?
1 • 10 May, 5:35pm
We also need participation of city officials, loan officers, mortgage brokers, major banks and state lawyers working together to reverse these policies.
1 • 10 May, 5:58pm
I find this concept of diverse by design schools or integration nefarious. What gets left out is the fact that this solution is white centered – not cool
1 • 10 May, 6:06pm
Has OUSD looked at Berkeley’s model of desegregation? Why or why not would that work in Oakland?
1 • 10 May, 6:07pm
It doesn’t sound like the black panelists want integrated schools, they just want better schools. True?
0 • 10 May, 4:15pm
Always looking to learn new things.
0 • 10 May, 5:52pm
In West and east Oakland, people are buying homes (7-900 k) that are zoned to low performing schools w/ no intention of attending these schools. Implications?
0 • 10 May, 5:53pm
What are the role of parents in ensuring that their child is receiving a quality education?
0 • 10 May, 5:53pm
What does the partial success of the Moving to Opportunity program tell us about desegregation?
0 • 10 May, 5:57pm
The Schools should reflect what is best for the students needs whether it be the neighborhood school or a school out of the neighborhood.
0 • 10 May, 5:58pm
Do you think rezoning will help desegregate our schools?
0 • 10 May, 6:01pm
Is there data on Black home ownership in East & West Oakland incomparision to renting homes?
0 • 10 May, 6:03pm
What is Alameda county’s BOE role with OUSD and how or do they work together to change the face of education granting more access for kids of color.
0 • 10 May, 6:04pm
What examples do we have nationally of school desegregation influencing residential segregation?
0 • 10 May, 6:04pm
We must create solutions that decenters whiteness
0 • 10 May, 6:05pm
why isn’t there a priority on having quality for black and brown students in Oakland when black and brown students are the majority?
0 • 10 May, 6:12pm
Yes, James. Decenter narratives that bind our survival to whiteness