Oakland first friday by blocker 1510, http://www.flickr.com/photos/55684814@N03/8442508916/
At the First Friday, an Oakland youth tragically shot and killed another Oakland youth. Both youth were African American. The Oakland Tribune titled one of its columns “Shooting Bad PR for Oakland Art Murmur.”
PR for Oakland Art Murmur was part of the PR for the "New Oakland." Had such PR been bad for the youth? Especially since Oakland was likely their home before Oakland Art Murmur. Did the men feel like intruders or “blight” in their own home?
It seems that PR for the "New Oakland" has meant making the city look more white and less black. The declining African American population means Oakland officials hailed its “changing demographics” and “new diversity.” New housing developers did not use African American models in their advertisements. It is easy to forget that downtown Oakland was once an African American center; on Friday and Saturday nights, it now looked like a new playground mainly for young whites.
As the title of the article reminds us, because both the Art Murmur shooter and his victim were African Americans from Oakland, the shooting truly undermined PR for the "New Oakland." Obviously, it did not improve the youth's lives.
For years, PR for the "New Oakland" portrayed a city with an insecurity or inferiority complex. City leaders talked about Oakland’s “potential” and making it a “first class city”—as if their inferiority complex motivated the City to desperately try to impress others. Officials are impressed with the appearance of “gentrification,” not what it means to the Oakland natives who were considered “blight.”
Some even claim this PR for the "New Oakland" was necessary to attract new businesses to Oakland. But does this counter common sense? Businesses succeed when they satisfy the needs of their community. Businesses build up a community by providing needed services. So how has Oakland’s African American community benefited from the new businesses that make them feel like “blight” or second-class citizens in their own home? To make matters worse, many of these new businesses market to people from out of Oakland and hire people from outside Oakland. These new employees compete for housing and drive up housing costs. Thus, the unemployment rate of African American youth remain high.
"New Oakland" PR reminds me of the man who buys a car he can’t afford just to impress others and make himself feel better. But no matter how he justifies it, he simply can’t afford the car. At some point, he needs to accept that reality and live within his means. Except many Oakland officials seem not ready to accept that reality. Though that man would just look pathetic, they look schizophrenic. It’s the same self-delusion that city leaders entertain passionate debates about “doggy play parks” while the FBI consistently ranks Oakland on its list of the five most dangerous cities. This is not “diversity,” it’s psychotic.
It’s the same psychosis that the title in a mainstream newspaper reduced the tragedy of the youth’s murder to "bad PR."
Editor's Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. For guidelines, see: http://oaklandlocal.com/tos