It’s my last day in Oakland. I don’t think I can accurately express how much I love this city. These past few days in particular have reminded me of that. It is a complicated place but at its heart is this life-affirming love.
That’s why I’m nearly 100% certain that whoever shot Patrick Underwood on Friday was not from Oakland. I could be wrong. I wasn’t there, I’ve been piecing together the tiny scraps of actual information from a variety of different sources, but it is a gut feeling.
Oakland has taught me so much. About getting out of the way so people of color can live and thrive. Just shutting up and appreciating them and what they create. Just sitting in awe of what a beautiful community can look like.
Oakland has given me so much hope that while systemic racism continues to prevail, it will not always.
White people, we are starting slowly, so goddamn slowly, to wake up. It is painful and I’m not going to let us stop or get comfortable again. We are a part of a racial hierarchy that has existed since the beginning of this country. It was put in place by white men with property and supported by complicit white people from all socioeconomic statuses and white women in particular. We continue to support it to this day by where we invest our money, where we shop, what we consider to be “safe” and what we consider to be “dangerous”. We support white supremacy when we insist on “appropriate emotions” and when we refuse to call out racism within our midst. We support white supremacy when we choose to see it as “evil individuals” and fail to see it as the all-encompassing system it is.
Oakland has taught me so much. That while we white people have been sleeping, the world has not stopped working. This is why I am extremely hesitant to celebrate any progress that has been made. It is not my progress to celebrate. I have done next to nothing to help it along and have in many ways worked against it either by my silence or my actions.
I am not working for approval from white people or from people of color. I am working because fundamentally I believe every person born deserves the chance to live a full life and to die of old age.
Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.
I don’t say it enough. I can never say it enough. And I want you to check in on me again a week from now and a month from now and ten years from now and make sure I am still saying it.
I love Oakland and this is less than the least I can do to repay that love.
P.S. Continue to write and call your city council members and tell them to defund the police.
P.P.S. I will be on the road to Idaho for the next few days, so there may be a break in the blogposts. I promise I’ll return to it as soon as I can. I may be out of shelter-in-place, but I am not done writing. Not by a long shot.