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.
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