By Nicole Lee, lifelong Oakland resident and the Founding Executive Director of Urban Peace Movement, an organization that builds youth leadership in Oakland to transform the culture and the conditions that lead to urban violence.

Our Progressive Movement here in the Bay Area is made up of some of the most courageous and compassionate people I have ever met.  And even yet, I believe that we are struggling to fully comprehend the depth of what’s happening right now in the Oakland Streets.

The tragic shooting of the Jacka, a Pittsburg, CA resident and one of the Bay Area’s most beloved rappers, on 94th Avenue in East Oakland came as a huge shock last Monday night – a shock from which many have not yet recovered.  

For some of my friends who knew him well, his passing means an agonizing loss of camaraderie and brotherhood.  And for the larger community it signals something deeply devastating and profoundly disheartening – something that none of us can afford to write off as “just another incident of inner-city violence.”

For many of us from Oakland and around the Bay Area, rappers hold heroic status. They are our storytellers; our Griots, our culture keepers – the people whose music we turn to when we can’t see a way forward or when the pain is too much to bear.  Jacka was this kind of rapper.  Right now many of Oakland and the Bay Area’s greatest and most deeply loved rappers are either dead or in jail – caught in the cycles of poverty, gentrification, violence, and mass incarceration that continue to plague low-income communities of color.

When something like what happened last Monday night occurs, it rocks us to our core.  Jacka’s passing, and the fact that he was killed right here in Oakland, is a huge blow to our collective sense of hope at a time when Oakland needs hope more than ever.  It is heartbreaking and disorienting on every level imaginable.

Oakland is at a crossroads.  In the past couple of years we somehow managed to make both the list of the most exciting cities to see in the world and the list of the “top 10 most dangerous cities” at the same time.  While we continue to struggle with violence and poverty, we simultaneously see the emergence of new restaurants and retail catering to a more affluent clientele and the burgeoning Tech Industry positioning to move in to our town.  There is talk of growth and opportunity.  

The question before us is – Will this opportunity benefit the existing residents of Oakland, those of us who have been holding this city down for decades?  Or, will we live in a divided Oakland where more affluent residents and people who are moving here from places like the South Bay and San Francisco get to dine at fine restaurants and enjoy the nightlife while people who live in places like Brookfield, Sobrante, Ghost Town, the Dubs, and the Lower Bottoms continue to live in neighborhoods plagued by violence and a lack of opportunity until they eventually get pushed out or decide to leave Oakland on their own?  

I wrote this piece because Jacka’s life matters so deeply to so many.  #BlackLivesMatter always and everywhere and especially here and now in Oakland, a city which by 1980 was almost 50% African American.  Black lives, Black relationships, Black families, Black communities, served as the social, cultural, political, and moral underpinning of our city for decades – the heart and soul of Oakland.

Oakland is a special place.  We are known for our willingness to struggle – for our determination, our creativity, and our tenacity.  But we have some important decisions to make as a city, about our future.  Can we create a city that works for everyone?  Or will we choose a future where certain groups benefit at the expense of others?  I hope we chose the former.  If there is any place where we can figure out how to create a city that benefits all of its residents, it’s right here in Oakland.  The future is in our hands.  #TownBizz #SilenceTheViolence #BlackLivesMatter #RIPJacka


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.

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14 Responses

  1. sandie.k

    Where is the outrage at the loss of Shaheed? He was an friend and idol to so many…he spent his life uplifting the Bay and sadly this is where he lost his life. The streets need to wake up. OPD needs to find who did this already, I demand justice NOW!!!

  2. Beulah

    As a 26 yr resident of Oakland I have observed the great divide as businesses move in to this City and they seem like they are for people who don’t really live in Oakland. Why there is so much energy to protest for violence against each other and NOT for the disparity in education makes me frustrated. Let’s protest for equal education and thus provide opportunities for our children to work at all the tech companies moving here. Our families need education jobs and then an income to enjoy the Oakland we have become

    • Shoshana

      Good point!
      Several strategies need to happen.
      Oakland HUB could be a place to create programs to outreach to young people especially to capture tech training and job creation.
      Worker cooperative training is crucial to introduce to our young people so they can ” own” their work instead of working for someone else’s profit!

  3. Shoshana

    OPD … WTF!!!

    Where’s the BPP
    BLM + BPP should train together to address terrorism against black people in Oakland.

    Back in the day BPP representing on the block, trained to settle it, educate and organize. Watch the community and hold the OPD accountable

  4. Devon

    The BLM BPP route is the exact wrong way to go. They are pro-segregationist, destructive to community building and intentionally self-disenfranchising.

    • Shoshana

      Are we talking same acrinims here?
      Black Panther Party & Black lives Matter.

  5. yup

    Black lives matter? No one is targeting anyone,it’s the way they are raised to believe that you have to die for a stupid fuckin hood or block. If whites decided it’s a great idea to rob steal and kill over colors and hoods would we be a target just because of race? No it because you make a choice Black white yellow orange what every your color you have the ability to make choices. If you decide to make bad one and get caught don’t pull that shit you know what you did,this is not the 1950s anymore no one is segregating busses or water fountains anymore be real. You have the power to make a choice so man up to it and stop making the excuse that your black. We have niggers and black people,whites and rednecks,gooks and Asians. How about instead of supporting one race why not #alllivesmatter

    RIP JACKA you kept my friend alive with your lyrics

  6. P-K4

    Populations change. I’m an AA transplant, but if the city was 50% AA back in 1980, it’s only about 26% AA now. People will move based on what’s best for themselves and their families. My wife often notes at EPA was majority AA back in the early/mid 90’s, but has only a small percentage of AAs now. Oakland in the 1920’s had very few AAs. We can lament it, but we are largely powerless against demographic shits. Surburbanization has turned to urbanization and the housing costs in our great locale will inevitably continue to rise.

  7. Jeffrey Combs

    R.I.H to the Jacka Im really going to miss my favorite rap Artist The best that ever did it

  8. Max Chanworld

    There is a troubling trend when liberal publications write about inner-city violence. “Violence” is treated as an external condition imposed upon hood-dwellers, just like gentrification and discriminatory policing (both very real external threats). When writers lament the problem of ‘violence’ in this way, it’s as if they’re shrugging and saying, “oh well, that’s just how it is in the ‘hood, and there’s nothing we can do.” But it is not an external condition, it is an act committed by a minority, no matter how small, of the people in these neighborhoods. The people of the ‘hood alone do not have the agency to stop gentrification or crooked cops, but they do have the power to turn inward and fight the gang-banging urban terrorists hiding among their ranks. The honest, hard-working majority must come together and reject the toxic elements that threaten their lives and hold them and their families back.

    Even if it’s your friends, neighbors, or kids. This is bigger than you and your network. This is about making sick neighborhoods healthy again, and stopping the slaughter of the innocents.

    Be a snitch, save a life.

  9. kevin despain

    what a sad article…. so sad a pathetic…. the author Nicole Lee mentions gentrification and then writes “can we create a city that works for everyone?” WTF are you talking about?????? Shame on you for soiling Jacka’s death with you Liberal snow job…. IF BLACK LIVES REALLY MATTERED JACKA WOULD STILL BE ALIVE TODAY… news flash: it ain’t white folks and it ain’t the cops that killed JACK

    what a joke…… shame on you


  10. sal

    its a damn shame these things happen. I understand they have no suspect at this time. i dont mean to sound racist but i believe its once again, blaxk on black crime. if it is? Can someone tell me why is it that a black man can pull a trigger on another black man that is successful as Dominic Newton? I was curious because i dont see Mexicans shooting at an successful latin figures. I dont see white people shooting at justin timberlake or Eminem. The list goes on and on. I always keep finding blacks attacking other blacks that are successful. What kind of future are you setting for your people…. Where is the black culture? Is it about jealousy, defeat or for that matter…. Death!? Dominic i believe meant “What happen to the world” what happen to us blacks in the world….. rip J.A.


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