“Respect us. Don’t act like we came here, because I was born and raised here, so I feel I like have privileges to be here long as I pay my taxes, pay my insurance, pay my rent. I’m good to be here.”
Your name and age.
Annette Miller. 52.
What neighborhood of Oakland are you from or would you say you associate with home?
This is considered to be West Oakland. Off the Google map it say Ghost Town.
What was it like growing up on your street or neighborhood here?
I went to Durant. That was the school that I used to be around the corner. It closed down and then we went to Clawson and then Clawson close down. Then I went to schools deep down in West Oakland, like Lowell middle school, Cole elementary and McClymonds high school. I actually graduated from McClymonds high school, so I’m an alumni from there. All of our friends was close knit. A lot of our neighbors was close knit, all the neighbors had kids and family and we all knew each other. Those were some fun memories. I liked that our alumni picnic McClymonds, alumni picnic. Is the last Saturday in September. We’re old folks and old friends that you might not seen since high school. Come there for this one day and we all kick in and eat barbecue and have fun. So that’s my most excited thing about Oakland. That Oakland was a friendly place, a connected place, a place you could feel like was home.
Now it’s a lot of folks moved out, a lot of family members passed away, a lot of folks sold they homes. We have a few generation folks that still stay here that call this place home. And I like that they didn’t move out or sell out.
What did this neighborhood look like growing up, demographically?
Predominately all African American. Not saying it’s what most folks call right now Gentrification. I call it like you say, opportunities for folks to have places to stay. But I don’t want you to have to evict a person in order to raise the rent in order for a different nationality to be here. The neighborhoods has become more diverse, that’s what I’ll say.
When did your family come to Oakland? And do you know what the reasons?
No, I don’t think I will ask that of my grandmother now, but my grandmother came from Georgia. Columbus, Georgia. I have an auntie that still stay there. I know my grandmother came out here with three of her kids. She had six. She came out here with three and left three back in Georgia. My mom didn’t come here until she was like 13. She was one at a three that was left in Georgia. And no, I never did ask why they came here, but they bought this house in the late fifties. She might’ve left with one kid because two of my uncles, one of my uncles and one of my aunties is born in Indio, California. So yeah, maybe she came out here with one kid and then had two more in California. (Laughing) Okay. That’s what I think I know. You think, you know your grandparents and them, so yeah.
What does it mean to you to be an Oakland native? Born and raised?
I wished I had on the shirt that I had on yesterday because it was saying born and raised in West Oakland and that would’ve been a nice shirt to have on today. Cause then you wouldn’t really know I respect and love living in West Oakland. I don’t think I want to go nowhere. I don’t want to drive nowhere. I don’t want to be in traffic for two or three hours to go nowhere. I think that I would rather stay here. Like you just see me riding on that scooter. I just left work, I can ride the scooter down 10 blocks, I can come back. So I love West Oakland. Speaker 3: 05:19 MMM.
What is it that you think makes Oakland special in comparison to other cities of similar size and stature and history?
Culture wise, art wise, um, musician wise, we have a lot of cultural places to go to like the museum, the African American Museum, the lake. We used to have the festival at the lake, there used to be a lot of things that brought folks to Oakland to be comfortable and feel respected here. But nowadays we got corporations and I don’t know what pushed out, I guess maybe robberies, killings or whatever, pushed out a lot of our businesses. But businesses are starting to come back, you know, Jack London Square is a big part of the rising demographic of Oakland. They trying to make it look more like San Francisco.
Why do you feel like so many new people are moving over now?
Our rent was cheap at first, but now you know, a lot of folks came in, developers and property owners, people just randomly coming in and buying up a lot of properly and dislocating folks, pushing them out. That’s why Oakland has a lot of homelessness now because most of the people that stayed here in Oakland are the people that’s out on the streets. Somebody bought they property and they got evicted or they just couldn’t afford the rent, the high price of rent. So that’s the reason that they’re homeless now. How do we allow Deutscher bank, a bank in Germany has nothing to do with the United States own 90,000 properties in California and able to foreclose on those 90,000 people. And the majority of those folks either sold their homes and moved out of California, moved back south, or even move to Antioch or Pittsburg, somewhere and they travel all the way back to Oakland every day. I don’t even think it’s fair to see this many folks on the streets without housing and there’s a lot of space around here for housing. It’s a lot of buildings around here that ain’t even fixed up. That can be fixed up and these folks could be off the streets.
What do you wish people knew about Oakland before they came here? Or what would you tell your new people are the guidelines to be good neighbors?
Respect us. Don’t act like we came here, because I was born and raised here, so I feel like have privileges to be here long as I pay my taxes, pay my insurance, pay my rent. I’m good to be here. But for a person to come in here and just actually like walk down the street, don’t speak, um, let their dog crap all in front of your yard, don’t pick it up. It’s like disrespectful. But as an Oakland person I just want to have the respect of my neighbors and my community. I know it’s diverse.
( Young asian women rides by on a bike and yells Annette, smiling)
See that right there! I’m with my community. I’m willing to go out there and make sure I’m known. Make sure people know me, to let folks know I ain’t going nowhere. No matter what you see or how this block has changed, I just go out and just let my neighbors know, hey, I live here and me and my peoples, we going to stay here and we’re not moving. No ma’am. Theres some people in some of these houses where people moved in and people moved out, you know flipped em. But I got some neighborhoods that’s been here for four or five, maybe six years at the most, but they all know me and I appreciate that they know me. I just want folks to know that folks who live here in Oakland actually want to stay in Oakland. They don’t want to be displaced by a large corporations or banks that’s not even located in California where you can’t even talk to these banks. And like I said, Donald Trump is in trouble. I just watched the news before me and you had this conversation, Donald Trump in trouble behind this bank (Deutscher bank). I just want folks to know if you come here and live in West Oakland, the folks that you see here is born, bred and want to stay here. Cause that’s the reason they here. You know, they ain’t trying to get dislocated. You know what I mean? The people you see here want to live here.
What do you not like about the current changes are occurring right now and in Oakland?
That a lot of people bought up most of the houses, like they bought up 5 and 10 or 50 or 60 homes from Oakland to Berkeley. And they dislocated a lot of people and now they’re homeless and these people only rented their kind. They’re renting to their own kind and they having problems with they own peoples. And that’s kind of like strange to me that you can be an owner of a place and still have problems with your own kind and respectfully meaning like you’re not just dislocating just African Americans. You putting white folks out too. So I don’t know what that’s all about. But I’m thankful that I don’t have to deal with none of that no more. I don’t have to be a part of that economic part or where I’m going to be put out of my house because of a landlord owning it and wanting me out.
Are there things in Oakland that are changing that you also like?
Yes. I see that there’s not enough housing, but there’s going be some a hundred percent low income properties coming up on 40th and San Pablo, another one on 17th and Martin Luther King. Just around here, locally there, there’s three. There’s a veteran building going up on Martin Luther King also. So that’s a positive for me. But that’s still not enough because I’ve done some studying and there’s like 3000 people out on the streets right now and they only building shelter for 1200. And that’s still not enough and it’s still not going to cover most of the people that’s out there on the streets. I like that the city has been given out small grants for small business owners giving them the opportunity to open up businesses. I see work is good, but not all the folks have the jobs and can’t get the jobs because they’re still basing hiring on have you ever committed a crime or stuff like that? And so some of the young folks around here who has committed those crimes haven’t cleared up their record well enough to where they can get a job just right off the top. Oakland’s working on a department of violence prevention. I believe that that department would, would help solve some of the problems between the community and the policing because the department of violence prevention is going to have a chief or they’re looking for a chief now. And that chief will be the person that will in between, a family member who has lost a kid or somebody who lost their kid in Oakland or lost a family member. The chief will be the person that’d be in between who can actually speak up for the person. A lot of folks in Oakland don’t like talking to the police. So the chief would have nothing to do with the police, but would be able to mediate between the police and the family members of people who have lost their kids to police violence. So I think those are the positive things is going on now in Oakland. There’s a lot of roads, getting redone I actually just found out that from 14th street on San Pablo all the way to 40th, it’s going to be revamped like East 14th. So there’s a lot of things is going on through out Oakland that you could feel comfortable about. And then there’s a lot of it things that you can hate about Oakland, about all the murders and all the people getting killed. Like right now we have, I think, nine homicides since the beginning of the year. And you know, that’s crazy.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the community of Oakland moving forward?
That we could be a diverse community, that all people know each other and can work together as it should. It’s a community. That’s my biggest aspiration that nobody’s trying to shut people out to live here or move people out just to want to be here in Oakland. There’s a lot of techy people come over from San Francisco to live here and then go to San Francisco for work. And it’s cheaper to live in Oakland then to live in San Francisco.