The Oakland Photo Project Issue 1.

Uptown Oakland

Multicultural, blue-collar, and growing

Oakland California affectionately known as “The Town” counterposed by San Francisco or “The City”  just across the water. Oakland has played a central role in the development and distinct cultural character of the San Francisco Bay Area. A largely industrialized town, with shipping and packaging industries as well as a diversified economy and a rich history of social activism and community organizing. Recent years have seen growth in small business markets, local artists, and Tech companies.

According to the 2010 census Oakland has a population by percentage 25.9% white, residents, 27.3 African American, 16.7% Asian and 25.4% Latino residents. 

Downtown Oakland

Oakland seems to get a bad reputation often dubbed “dangerous” by many people. 

However, Oakland like most any Major City demands your attention, common sense, and respect. 

If you go looking for trouble you may very well find it. 

So be aware of your surroundings and be cognizant of where you are wandering. If you start wandering and find your gut telling you something is wrong, it is a sign that it is probably time to go back the way you came.

Downtown Oakland

Downtown/Lake Merritt

Downtown Oakland has seen a revitalization, development of small businesses & restaurants along with urban parks being cleaned up and developed. Housing development initiatives from the late 90’s and early 2000’s sought to revitalize the downtown sector of the city by creating an environment people actively wanted to live and work in. 

City planners had for years hoped to launch Jack London Square as a thriving hub of food, office spaces and breweries lining the estuary between Oakland and Alameda. Initially, these efforts did not pan out particularly well. However, with the influx of young professionals, artists, and students after the housing development and revitalization have succeeded where previous planning had failed.

African American food runs deep in Oakland, great food can be found matching nearly any price point or preference. From Southern Comfort, Ethiopian, West African, etc. The list is long and extensive. 

Downtown Oakland/ Lake Merit Area are also directly bordering Chinatown. Oakland has a strong Asian American presence, many of the old timers can be observed doing Tai Chi in local parks. Asian style food restaurants are plentiful & delicious. 

The Fruitvale is a distinctly Latino neighborhood. Stretch of Oakland business and suburbs running along International Boulevard, to the East blending into East Oakland and the Alameda island to the South. 

What strikes me about the Fruitvale is the abundance of GREAT LATINO FOOD at AFFORDABLE PRICES. Taco trucks lining International Boulevard, various Central American family restaurants, and markets. Pupusas, tacos, Mexican style food from Northern Mexico, to more traditional Aztec dishes, and Oaxacan food are all there if you wander enough and are willing to try something new. 

I know people who have been physically assaulted, and who have been robbed here at night so best to keep your head on a swivel, maybe bring a friend and don’t be out in the area at night. 

Clínica De La Raza, Fruitvale.

A Legacy of Community Organizing

Clínica De La Raza, opened its doors to patients in 1971.

Providing free medical, dental and vision services to the community. 
La Clínica located in the Fruitvale neighborhood has grown over the years to include multiple clinic locations throughout the East Bay. Services provided have grown as well, hosting a wide range of mental health, community education, school-based health center, wellness center, mobile dental unit and family optical services.

In 2016 La Clínica celebrated 45 years of community dedication and healing. A model of how community engagement and mobilization can grow into tangible and lasting change.

Oakland’s most dynamic political and social contributions were made by the Black Panther Party. The Party also known as the African American revolutionary party or the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense which was founded in Oakland California in 1966. The movement was a continuation of the civil rights struggle we read about in textbooks, championing the struggles of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.  

The party’s purpose was to patrol African American communities in order to protect residents from acts of police brutality. At the time it was perfectly legal to carry loaded weapons in California as long as they were not concealed. The Panthers would converge on police activity in their neighborhoods in order to both observe and intimidate police. The spirit of the Black Panther organization, however, was not to use violence but rather to challenge racist systems of power. It worked.

The Black Panthers created programs to educate and feed their communities, they set up community education centers, health clinics, food banks. They actively worked to challenge police force frameworks which repressed the civil rights of the community. The 10 point plan sought to gain social rights of self-determination still denied to them. 

A legacy of social engagement and movement carried forward by organizations such as Black Lives Matter. 

Oakland is actually the seventh largest city in California. Charting in at an impressive 54 square miles. San Francisco, by comparison, is only 7 square miles.

Oakland also has more Artists per Capita than arguably any other city in the United States.

Oakland residents speak 125+ different languages and dialects.

In Closing

It would be disingenuous of me to tell you that I am some kind of expert in regards to all things Oakland or East Bay. I grew up in the South Bay, during the 90’s and 2000’s here in the Bay Area. Oakland felt very far away from us here in the San Jose area. I did not begin to experience and understand all that Oakland has to offer until I moved to San Francisco. My experiences across the bay have exposed me to a great community of people and a youthful vibe which has been cultivated and is growing strong to this day.  I recommend to everyone who visits San Francisco from anywhere in the world to take the time to both experience what Oakland and Berkley California have to offer. 

Thanks for reading, when you are in the Bay Area be sure to check out Oakland.

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City Of Oakland Census data available at:

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My name is Christian and welcome to a Sequia Talks.

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