“Everybody wants to move back because of tech, because of the culture, because it’s convenient, people don’t move here because they love it. People want to move here because they want to be in Oakland and they want to be close to San Francisco.”
What is your name and age?
Chaney Turner, just turned 39.
Which neighborhood of Oakland would you say you are from?
I am from East Oakland, Deep East Oakland.
What does it mean to you to be an Oakland native and Oakland resident?
Prideful, having pride in my city. I love and am in love, definitely love Oakland with a deep passion. I think being a native and still being here, we just have a more responsibility to try to uphold the culture of Oakland. Yeah, being a native and residing here, you know, definitely keeping the culture, the integrity and inclusiveness that makes Oakland unique.
What do you think is unique and makes Oakland different from other cities?
I think what makes Oakland really different from other cities is that this is a place of movement. You know, the birthplace of black panthers, Oakland is a city of change. And I think that the changes that we make in Oakland, affect the rest of the country and people kind of take that lead, I think that the changes that we make in Oakland affect the rest of the country and people kind of take that lead and look to us when it comes to movements, and in organizing and so Oakland is a place of resistance and I think that is what makes it unique because we just don’t let anything pass easily.
Do you have any like particular moments growing up that stand out to you as a very Oakland moment that you might want to share or something like that?
Wow, that’s a good question. I think that there’s a lot, from the festivals that we have like, you know, life is living, to the artists that we have, you know, Oakland is very versatile. For a lot of us Oakland is all we know, I don’t have a immigrant family or anything like that. And so I feel that we just built the culture pretty much out of what we had. I love the diversity of Oakland. It’s more diverse than any other place, one of the most diverse cities I feel in the country and the diversity that we have here contributes, you know to that uniqueness. I have friends of every ethnicity and culture and so I’ve been able to learn about other cultures just by living in Oakland, you know the foods that we have and everything. I feel all of it contributes to making Oakland unique.
How many generations has your family been here?
So my grandparents came here from Texas in the early fifties. And they actually, when they came here like most black folks who came here from the south, from Texas, Louisiana, moved to Alameda. So you had a large amount of black people who migrated from the south that moved to Alameda and stayed in the projects and worked on the naval base. So my grandfather worked at the Naval Air Station, they started off in Alameda and our church, they were the founding members of our church. Our church started in Alameda too. And then as people were able to purchase properties, people moved to East and West Oakland. And so a lot of families who came here lived in Alameda and eventually moved to either East or West Oakland. And all of the majority of my family, my aunts, uncle, my brother, I’m the only one who didn’t go to Castlemont, so I’m the only one who didn’t go to Castlemont over here in East Oakland.
Where’d you go?
Yeah, at that time we living by the lake. So I was at Oakland high or actually, no, we were still in East Oakland, I was at Oakland High, by that time Oakland schools was just terrible and I took myself out and ended up going to Berkeley and graduated from there. But the majority of all the other schools that I went to have always been OUSD and I went to a lot of schools. ( Laughing)
What do you think is the reason everyone wants to move to Oakland now?
Well, one tech, you have people, I mean you have so many different companies that have, moved to Oakland. People lived here and then you had white flight. Like as when my family and other people started, you know, moving and settling in East Oakland. Castlemont used to be, It was shaped, it used to be a castle. It was a built in the form of a castle. And if you go back and look at the archives was all white folks who went to Castlemont. People left and moved to the suburbs, as with most cities like Oakland, Detroit, and when people move, you know, the jobs leave. My entire blocks where I just took you to that was one of the biggest crack blocks in East Oakland. One of the major cities major drug dealers lived on that block in East Oakland and all of this was effected by the so called war on drugs and Reaganomics. And so we’re here today, right? Everybody wants to move back because of tech, because of the culture, because it’s convenient, people don’t move here because they love it. People want to move here because they want to be in Oakland and they want to be close to San Francisco and close to, all of this is changing, We’re close to the airport. You know, if you look at Hegenberger and 73rd and, and all of that, it’s becoming a city of tourism, but also where people could just like, come set up shop and I feel leave without contributing anything to the city, whether it’s monetary, or volunteering you know, or just to the culture. Oakland is cool, it will always be cool and I think people just want to say that they live here now without really appreciating the city and appreciating all that it has to offer because everybody wants to change everything.
What would you ask of your new neighbors to be respectful and contributive to the city you love so much?
I’m not against people moving here at all. Like, people should be able to live wherever they want. But when I go other places, you know, I always enter as a visitor. You just like how we were talking and you said ” I’ve been here 20 some odd years, but I’d never claim I’m from Oakland, that I’m from the Delta”. But the work that you’ve done here in that span of time, right, has contributed to the city, to other people’s personal growth, you and leaving a mark. It’s just about really being in community, right? And not looking at people like they don’t belong here because of what you think the city should look like. A lot of people who have either been longtime residents or natives get treated differently.You know, I’m sure you probably feel like an outsider sometimes going into certain spaces in Oakland that we’ve always gone into. the other day I was out and I just heard like all these conversations people were just coming here like they don’t know anything about the city, but they want to be so involved in it. Well, if you don’t know, find out, it’s not that hard. Like it really isn’t that hard. We have over a thousand organizations out here doing work, find one, you know, find one. If you just moved here, join something and find out how you can help other people stay here. It’s really simple.
What are your hopes for Oakland moving forward?
My hopes for Oakland is that we can find some way to make it affordable for people. Oakland is very depressing right now. Just seeing all the displacement, you know, we need better leaders, honest leaders. Change is inevitable, but we can also create change without excluding in displacing people. we can hold big businesses, tech companies and also cannabis companies accountable when they’re coming into communities and having them contribute instead of extract everything. We need better leadership, but because we need a better police department. we need a better infrastructure. We need to get rid of Libby Schaaf, basically. We need to get rid of people like her and people who think like her. Who just want to sell the city and lie to our faces. I’m just tired of it. Like I said, change is change is going to happen. That’s fine. businesses are going to come, but the businesses need to come in as visitors. Residents and people need to find out how they could work and given like 10% or some like whack ass shit or trying to like meet your quota, by having tokens that’s not helping the city. We have way too much of that right now from a city level. You know, some of these new people that have voted in are tokens, some of these businesses that we have out here are you using the faces of Black, Brown, and Queer folks as tokens to make people feel comfortable and normalize gentrification. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is we need better leadership or else everything that we’re trying to do to keep the culture of Oakland. I don’t really see how we’ll be able to stay. And I don’t even know if I would want to stay at this shit continues, you know?