The Debt Oakland Owes McClymonds and How We Can Start Paying it Off

Where we put out money is a statement of our priorities.  And no community in the East Bay has paid a higher cost of progress than West Oakland.  While the region and State’s commerce flows over and through it, from the Port, to BART, to the highways that connect the suburbs with jobs.  West Oakland has been left largely with the by-products of progress and not the benefits, 38 Hazmat sites near Mack, air that smells funny from all the industry and trucks going to the port, asthma rates to match, and all the other historical markers of racism and redlining.  Please demand that OUSD prioritize fixing Mack, and pay part of the debt West Oakland is owed.

Big business, Oakland proper, and the suburbs have reaped benefits while the West has paid the cost and still does.  Even before COVID, Mack was already closed due to ground contaminants, if you recall.

This has very tangible effects on the lives of the Black folks in West Oakland, who can expect to live 15 years less than a White person born in the Hills.  And the jewel that has grown out of the toxic pavement is McClymond’s High School.  A jewel that we should invest in and your voice can make that happen by filling out the OUSD survey.

Mack is the Black Community’s high school.  And if you are Black it is one of your best chances for success in OUSD.  And while many look to the state titles in sports, I am talking about academic success.  For the last several years, if you are Black in OUSD, Mack consistently has some of the highest college eligibility rates. 

Mack, the school with lead in pipes.  Remember that.  The school we closed early this year because of ground contaminants.  The school where students and community designed an amazing library space, that none of those kids ever enjoyed, because it took 4 years plus to build.  Mack where justice is always deferred and still we rise.

It’s time we put our money where our mouth is.  And invest in the communities that have been exploited.  We have to repair the damage that has been done, and recognize the need for restitution.  While “we” may not have built the freeways and mass transit, that bisect West Oakland, and fractured and pollute the community.  We do benefit.

While we didn’t build the port or drive the trucks through, we do benefit, from taxes and cheaper goods.

While we didn’t leave the dozens of HAZMAT sites, we benefited and still benefit from heavy industry operating next to housing.

And While we didn’t write the redlining laws, suppress votes, or many of the other formal systems of White Supremacy, in you are White you benefitted.  You got subsidized housing, a subsidized and captive workforce, and political power outsized to numbers, all that and more contributed to the current situation, where the average White Household has 10 times the wealth of the average Black household.  As my colleague Leo Fuchs recently stated in a powerful sermon, “we may not be guilty but we are responsible.”

If folks want to prove that Black Lives Matter, let’s invest in them.  Take the survey, put Mack first, and let your school board member know how you feel at their upcoming community meeting, below.  Thank you


June. 22nd District 1/4. Community Engagement    London and Yee 


2. June 23rd District  2/3.  Community Engagement.  Hinton and Eng

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