I was inspired to create TalkOakland after facing racial discrimination. At the time, I was a server at Aunt Mary's - a popular cafe in the rapidly gentrifying Temescal area of Oakland.
One of my co-workers, Darcy, wore a confederate flag to work.
When I complained to my manager, Amanda "Starla" Garvey, she placated me. She told me that he wore it because it was "vintage." When I continued to speak out against other racism, I was eventually fired.
But ultimately, I channeled that anger into creating TalkOakland - an ongoing magazine that aims to capture an authentic depiction of Oakland through the lens of a Black native.
Throughout American history, and continuing today, white people are still afforded more while people of color exist to get less. White people distance themselves from this reality. They’re addicted to the high of their whiteness - being able to pursue their goals without accountability.
This year was phenomenal. And my hope is that 2018 will continue in that direction. In addition to producing videos for some of Oakland's rawest talent, I also work full-time as a barista. I work seven days a week - at least 12 hours per day. That's what it takes. Because unfortunately, a lot of my clients can't afford to pay my full rate. So to supplement that, I have to maintain a steady income outside of videography. In all, it wears on me. And yesterday, I was almost fired from my job at as a barista because of numerous customer complaints about my lack of customer service.
In the aftermath of a BART police officer killing a young Black man outside West Oakland BART station, the public transportation agency is scaling up its violent engagement towards low-income residents of Oakland by using $2.7 million to fund a new fare enforcement regime to require “proof-of-payment” and hand out fines.
Photography by Johnny Galvan