“It’s small but it’s mighty like I said, it’s the people and the culture and the vibe of the Revolutionary ness that is in Oakland. It’s just innate. It’s something in the that makes people very active activists in some way, shape or form. “
What is your full name and age?
My name is Femi Marie Andrades, I am 46 years old.
What neighborhood of Oakland are you from or would you say you associate with growing up?
All over East Oakland. Me and my father moved around a lot. He was a single parent, so I’ve lived on 69th, 73rd, 78. I lived as a brand new park, um, pretty much everywhere in Oakland where we could afford to live. Um, being that he was a construction worker and I was a latchkey kid, so, but I associate myself with, um, Arthur and 70, 78. It’s where I spend my high school years.
What was it like growing up in this neighborhood or in East Oakland?
Lotta energy. One of these houses next to where I used to live used to be called the red fence and that’s where they would sell drugs at. So when I would go to school, I had to cross the street so I could go to school so the drug dealers wouldn’t bother me. But also walking from here to Castlemont, which is not that far. A lot of men would like honk their cars, you know, I was a teenage girl. It was a little dangerous, kind of scary. My Dad was very protective of me. It’s was not as dangerous as it, it as ii is, so much so now. A lot of killing a lot of drug dealing, a lot of poverty, drug addicts. Thank God I had music. That was the thing that saved me from being out in the streets, music and sports.
Do you have any fond memories you want to share?
I have one fond memory of when the Loma Prieta earthquake happened and I had to walk down MacArthur and there was no lights, all the lights that went out. So I had to walk from my high school back home and people were just looting. It was just chaotic and crazy. But, I just remember that it was a scary time where people were just insane, you know, it felt like the world was ending, but for some reason I didn’t feel afraid. I knew that even though it was the hood, it was my hood and I knew the people. So it wasn’t like nothing really was going to happen to me. But I dunno, fond memories. Going to Fiori music store, getting my first red music piano book, taking opera lessons and I was like, I don’t want opera lessons. I want to sing like Whitney Houston. And my opera teacher she tried to sing like Whitney Houston. Those were fond memories. She was terrible, she was not good at the soulfulness, but she did teach me a lot of good stuff though.
When did your family come to Oakland?
I will say that my dad was from New York and Puerto Rican, came to Oakland probably in the 60s, 70s. That’s where he met my mother at a friend of theirs funeral. And this was a party, they had a casket and they were partying around the person body or whatever, but that’s where he met my mom. So that was 1972 that they met each other and when I was born.
What does it mean to you to be an Oakland native?
It’s a sense of pride, there’s no place like it. It’s very culturally diverse and very revolutionary at the same time. You can come here and enjoy nature in the hood at the same time. It’s the people that make Oakland beautiful, just their hustle and their mentality. Sometimes it can be kind of country but it’s not and I just appreciate that revolutionary hustle and drive. That’s what makes Oakland very beautiful, and viable real estate. If you look around, that’s why people are buying up stuff, you know, cause everything’s so close. You can get to San Francisco, you can get to Berkeley, it’s centrally located, the weathers always beautiful and culture, lots of culture.
I think you just kind of answered my next two questions. The next question is, what makes Oakland special comparison to other cities of size and stature? So if you want to add a little bit more to that.
It’s small but it’s mighty like I said, it’s the people and the culture and the vibe of the Revolutionary ness that is in Oakland. It’s just innate. It’s something in the that makes people very active activists in some way, shape or form.
Why do you think people are so eager to move here?
We have prime real estate, but no one’s putting money into it. And so if you got a little bit of money, you can really make a beautiful home here. It doesn’t take that much. There’s property, lots of property, lots of buildings. Some of them are ran down. I don’t know why, maybe the people who are the owners are holding out until a new train station or new, something comes along and then they’re gonna sell it for $1 million and then it’ll be like the next condo in the most oddest place. Oakland is tent cities and condos. And that’s deep, just that existing side by side. It’s prime real estate. It’s a beautiful place, great weather, great people. It’s a sexy town, beautiful place.
What do you wish people knew about Oakland before they came here? Or what would you tell new neighbors are kind of the guidelines to be a good Oaklander.
Respect the history, don’t come in here thinking that you just discovered this place. People have been here, generations have been here. Ask the people what they want in their neighborhood to make it beautiful, don’t just come in and be like, I just want to do this and forget everything else. Respect those who’ve been here before you and get their input on what they want and build around that.
What do you not like about the current changes occurring?
The lack of respect for the people who’ve been here, who were here, when no one wanted to come, When downtown Oakland had literally tumbleweeds rolling down the street after seven o’clock when the people went home from work. know, worked in downtown. Just respect. You have to respect those who have been here before you. No more beer gardens. We got enough. Thank you. Thank you for your beer garden. This is not Seattle. We need other things like community centers and grocery stores in the hood, how about that build that, those would help out a lot.
What do you like about the new changes occurring in Oakland?
There’s a more venues, it’s getting recognized as a foodie place, I think is kind of cool and that people are coming and making artisinal things. I like the food network, so that’s makes me proud that there’s restaurants like Miss Ollie’s that are getting recognized, and other places. There’s more activity in downtown and more festivals. When I was a kid there would be things in the park, like music in the park and then somehow that went away and now its kind of coming back. Different cultural activities and art on the buildings. I love that, other cities like Philadelphia and New York have that. I think that’s cool. It’s giving artists a chance to actually shine that are from here, which is important because we are part of the culture. We know what the vibe is like, so to be able to express that in an artistic manner I think really beautiful. To continue to expand but not lose its character and some of it’s gritty edge. I like that part, for Oakland to continue to grow and be a beacon for people to come, but also a beacon for those who are already here and like beautifying it for those who’ve put their money in taxes and bought houses here and things like that. To keep it weird and funky. Oakland’s funky.