“I wish people knew that Oakland was actually more of a community. It was more of a unity kind of thing back in the day. You don’t see much of that anymore. What I would tell my new neighbors just to do their best to stay as close knit as possible.”
What is your name and age?
My full name is David Johnson Junior. I’m 27 years old.
What neighborhood of Oakland are you from or would you say that you associate home with?
I’m from the north side of it.
What was it like growing up in your neighborhood?
Growing up in this neighborhood, everybody was family, basically. A lot of outside activities, a lot of bike riding, basketball, playing in the streets, staying out late. Definitely passed street lights. I was Babysat by a lot of my neighbors. We were like one big family over here.
What did the community look like at that time?
The community was mostly colored people, mostly black folks at that time, growing up in the 90s.
When did your family come to Oakland and why?
My family are Oakland natives. You know, of course everyone originated from the south, but my grandparents, my great grandparents were here long before me, so honestly, I don’t actually know the reason why, but yeah, we’ve been here all my life.
What does it mean to you to be an Oakland native?
Being an Oakland native means everything to me. It’s all that I know. I know that Oakland has a rich city and there’s a lot of culture here. I learned a lot of things here. So Oakland is a big part of my background.
How do you feel like it’s helped develop people’s personally?
Because here you get the good, you get the bad, you get the ugly, you get the important, you get the not important. So I take all of that and I’ve balled it up into my little life perspective, yeah, that’s how I live.
What do you wish people knew about Oakland before they move here? Or what would you tell people are your guidelines of being a good Oakland neighbor?
I wish people knew that Oakland was actually more of a community. It was more of a unity kind of thing back in the day. You don’t see much of that anymore. What I would tell my new neighbors just to do their best to stay as close knit as possible and definitely to a certain extent you have to mind your business and handle your business. Look out for yourself and your loved ones at this day at time. I wish people knew more of the Oakland history as far as like how a music originated from here. And a lot of jazz playing people are from Oakland. I wish that people knew about the music and the culture.
What do you not like about the current changes that are going on in Oakland right now?
The things that I disagree with at this time are like the prices, the things that we have to pay for and versus the jobs. So we got this thing called rent control, that’s not really happening. We paying $2,000-$2,500 for 900 square feet and then the jobs in our neighborhood aren’t paying anywhere near that even though they’re raising up minimum wages still we can’t afford it. I definitely wished that the jobs paid more so I don’t agree with what’s going on.
What do you like about in the new changes that are going on right now and like new resources that are coming in now?
You touched right on it with the resources. We have a lot of resources, we have a lot more things for the children and the people who are coming up. People in the neighborhood. It’s a lot more extracurricular activities and boys and girls clubs and it’s a lot of after school programs and before a lot of daycare and things went on to help the folks out. But once again they’re forcing us out. So it’s kind of, it’s a good and a bad thing. We can’t even survive here to actually, you know, benefit from what’s going on in the changes.
What are your hopes for Oakland moving forward?
My hopes for Oakland moving forward. Most importantly is it’s the rent control. I would like to see that under control because it’s forcing our natives out. I would like for that to change. I would like to see more black folks in the neighborhood like we did. Like it was when I was growing up. I’d like to see more schools opening. I like to see less of the schools being divided into charter schools and things like that. Those are the things that I really disagree with in Oakland.
Do you have any specific memories or anything that you want to share that you feel like really stand out as like something that was like a very Oakland moment then?
That’s my car club culture kind of thing. We only ride like this in Oakland. So the choices that people make to put into their cars and rims and the paint. That’s the, so Oakland for me right there.
You want to talk about that a little bit more about what that culture is like?
Yeah, that culture is like an extended brotherhood. It started in East Oakland to be exact in the 90s not the 1990s in the 90s, the 900 blocks of Oakland, about 1979 to 80. That’s when the car culture started. Long before my time. You know, everybody comes together, meet and greets and they share their ideas based off of their cars. You know, everyone’s an artist in their own way and they put it on their cars with the rims and the paint, the music, the style, the year of the car that they choose to make and model. That’s the, so Oakland, a lot of people don’t get that, you know, they think that we gather and cause problems. Of course, we are a little noisy, but you know, it’s all recreational fun. It’s a brotherhood. I’d like to see more of that.