This 4-minute episode of TalkOakland follows two street photographers in Oakland as they discuss the art of street photography and the changes they've experienced from gentrification. Allen is a transplant to the Bay Area. He’s from the Central Valley. He moved to the Bay Area nine years ago. And Nai is a native to the Bay Area, currently living in Richmond.
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.
The homeless crisis in Oakland is worsening exponentially. And according to statistics, 68% of this population is Black. The City of Oakland is in an effort to create a wealthier and white Oakland. In order to achieve this, city officials are illegally evicting homeless encampments. These evictions mirror the displacement of Ohlone people years ago. These traumatic evictions occuring today in the city of Oakland force some of the unhoused community into Tuff Sheds. The Tuff Chefs are essentially concentration camps. They violate human rights. Meanwhile, government buildings are locked at night instead of housing the homeless. And pubic bathrooms are also made inaccessible at night. In all, the City of Oakland is strategically displacing its Black community to facilitate gentrification.
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.
Gaby Moreno recently visited Fantastic Negrito at Blackball Universe in Oakland. Since moving to Los Angeles from her native Gautemala, Gaby won a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist. Her music has strong Black Roots influences. Fantastic Negrito later touched on this.
Fantastic Negrito: Every time I tour overseas to different countries, I notice one thing: they're playing Black music. So it's weird. And I get to another country, and it's still Black music with a different language. So what I learned was that as Black people - our history in terms of slavery and what we've gone through - our music is all over the world. I don't think people even know it. It's everywhere.
Despite my overarching hatred of white privilege, I recently fell in love with a white person. Their name is Elliot. When I worked at Bicycle Coffee, they came in twice a week to order coffee for their job. I was attracted to them, but I initially chose to distance myself energetically. They were patient. Four month later, we spoke in length for the first time. Many conversations followed. This was one of them:
Kim: What are feelings that have come to the surface for you that you didn’t foresee so far?
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. Luckily, the owners are incredibly supportive of my talents. And instead of cutting my hours or terminating me altogether, their response was to shift my position to avoid as much customer interaction as possible. I appreciate them dearly for that. Without that job, this project would not be possible. But even with that said, I'd like to highlight how laughable these customer complaints were:
The team at Blackball Universe and I have made significant strides in communicating the feelings evoked in Negrito's sessions. I salute them for trusting me with this project. Because at the end of the day, there isn't any playbook for how to create social media pieces with substance filmed by one person. But I'm writing one. And here it is:
The art of storytelling is laborious. I don't mind giving you the game because I'm 100% sure you don't have what it takes to put in the work.
Kim: Describe the vibe on Broadway throughout the day?
Dre: For me, it's cool sometimes - but it's a lot of hatin'. Niggas be sidetalkin', jaw jacking' - just running they mouth. They hate on me because of the way I carry myself. I don't never think I'm better than nobody. But with me, I just mind my business. My patnas come through and I fuck with them. But for the majority, I don't fuck with nobody down here. You just gotta be by yourself down here. It's a lot you can get caught up in. If you don't have a strong mind, you'll get caught up in the drama they got going on. I don't do drugs. But the people that do hate on me because they see me making money. But a lot of people are just hustlin' sometimes just to make money for their drug habits. But that's not what I do.
Kim: How is Fantastic Negrito's new album addressing the current social climate in Oakland?
Tomas: In our first album, we talked about the ways in which Oakland is changing - and how that's kind of a microcosm of what's going on all across the US in urban areas. Those areas are getting flooded with people who are changing the landscape. And Fantastic Negrito still wants to talk about that - but I think there are other angles and perspectives that we want to explore.