Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Riot in 2008? Are You Kidding?

If you thought the election of a black president would erase America's racial tensions, you didn't have to wait long to test your theory. Here is the Tribune article and the Chronicle article. I'm sick of explaining to people in the Bay Area that Oakland isn't one big continuous riot or gang war. Now, it's going to be more difficult to make that claim. Oakland has long been preoccupied with the elusive Dellums. The BART shooting that sparked the riot wasn't the mayor's fault, but he now has a golden opportunity to lead in a crisis. Time to show us what you're made of, Ron.

I've been planning to put up an Oakland blog since I moved here in June of 2008. It's a great city that isn't nearly living up to its potential, and as a new immigrant to it, I'd like to do my part to make it better. I hoped my inaugural post would be positive, but there's no time like the present.

A problem that Oakland faces, like many American cities, is that people behave as if we're all not residents of the same city. We don't behave as if we are in charge of it. Whether or not you realize it, we are. The worst manifestation of this is the urge to smash cars and businesses in our own neighborhoods when there's been a tragedy. If someone is breaking into cars in your neighborhood, the solution isn't to join in with him!Where's the sense of community and ownership and responsibility? This is our city.

Which is exactly why it's a huge problem that thrillseekers were coming in from outside Oakland:

"'I feel like the night is going great,' said Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco, one of the demonstrators. 'I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back...[she] had little sympathy for the owner of Creative African Braids. 'She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life.'"

That's great Nia! I'm glad you're coming into Oakland to incite the destruction of black-owned businesses in my city! The next time there's a tragedy in San Francisco, can we come over and set your car on fire?

There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the BART shooting, and justice will be done. The proceeding will no doubt be tainted by this event. As the Tribune reported: "The protesters were 'calling attention to something that is a systematic problem, which won't go away with an apology,' said a 29-year-old who identified himself only as B. Rex. He was arrested and taken by police in a squad car soon after." Guess what B. Rex? It won't go away by setting your own city on fire either.

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