CHINAKA HODGE

“I think we could easily have a Major Motion Picture lot out at the port of Oakland or in West Oakland, in the hangars there. I think we could easily do it at the former Naval Hospital out at golf links. I think we could easily do it. Studios are changing. I think we could easily have that system here.”

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What’s your name and age?

My name: Chinaka (or Chi-nay-kay) Aziza Hicks Lololi Hodge. My age is 35. I’ll be 35 on my next birthday in a few weeks.

What neighborhood of Oakland are you from or do you say you associate with home?

Wow. I associate with all neighborhoods in Oakland and I’m in West Oakland, uh, we’re at the house in which I grew up. Um, my Dad’s house is right here between 16th and 18th on Myrtle and we’ve lived here since the mid-nineties, early nineties, but before that he lived off like 55th in Ignacio in the Deep East and my Mom lived on East 17th street on Fruitvale. Um, so I really identify as East Oakland and Jingle Town specifically as well. Um, we lived off, uh, with friends right off Seminary for a while. My parents had a spot. My Stepdad had a spot off 66 and Outlook for a long time. Um, I grew up in a church and we lived on the property of the church for a while at uh, 89th and Holly, um, I have a sister right now who lives at 98th and Edes and we have family there, my Mom is off Keller in the Sequoyah Hills – she lived there from the mid nineties forward – I went to schools up there as well. When I came back from college and I got my first apartment I lived in North Oakland. Um, and then I moved to Jack London, um, I think that’s everywhere. I think that’s everywhere in Oakland a person can live! I’ve never lived in like Bushrod for real — Oh, that’s not true, I went to a school that my parents started in Bushrod and there was a house there that pretty much was home too. Temescal’s my favorite spot. And then, like, Shady 80s, lived there for a minute. I never really had punters in the 70s, but you know, that’s a slim margin.

Yes. I got you. Yeah.

All over. I got the north, got the east, got the west with me. You guys can finish the rest.

Exactly. Shoutout to Fab.

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When did your family come to Oakland and what was the reason?

That’s a great question.

Oh, my family? That’s a broad, broad question. Let’s just say my parents?

Yeah, I mean parents, but yeah. Go in.

So my Dad is originally from Arkansas and my Mother’s originally from, well, she was born in New York City and then grew up right outside of Chicago and my Stepdad’s from Cleveland and they all met in Chicago at Northwestern. And my Mother and my Stepfather are both engineers and they worked for IBM. And my dad is a, was a lawyer, and got into school at Golden Gate. And so, my Mom and my Dad moved out here for Golden Gate. My Stepdad and his Wife at the time moved out here as well for IBM. And, yeah, they were all just young Black professionals in Oakland in the 80s, trying to, I guess, raise conscious-minded African-centered young people. So that’s why they came here for, you know, tech opportunity and for law opportunity and to build strong communal roots. So it’s funny when people ask like, why my parents came here cause my parents came here to help start an industry that’s drawing people here now. And there’s a lot of disrespect towards like “Techies” in general and a true erasure of the legacy of Black Technologists here in the Bay Area. Who’ve been here since the very start of it, who came here because they were interested in innovation and interested in making sure that Black people had a stake in it. You know, our future. Our true tech future. So, yeah my folks are from all over. And when they moved here, they lived in the city. All of them actually lived in the city. And then they moved to Ivy Hill-China Hill area. When my parents brought me home from Alta Bates in Berkeley, they took me to China Hill. So like everywhere – Lake Merritt -everywhere. I lived in every, every part and my folks have also lived in every part. My Mom has definitely established like roots in the hills – not roots in the hills – but her home was in the hills and my dad has established roots in West Oakland. My dad’s been married a few times. His second wife is from New Jersey, so we have family here from New Jersey. And then my dad’s third wife is from the Raleigh, Durham, DC, North Carolina area. So we’ve got family here from there as well. So we have a lot of Southerners here in our family, like extended cousins who are from Louisiana and Texas. A lot of folks from the Midwest, from Illinois, from, Indiana and Kentucky. You know, kind of, we’re kind of from all over. It’s massive here in the Bay.

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Worldwide. Internationally known, locally respected.

Exactly. I’ve been everywhere for real.

What does it mean to you to be an Oakland native?

To be from Oakland and to be an Oakland native is to know heartbreak and then use it for benefit. I don’t know. I feel like everybody from here, even the kindest people – the people who like really, I think, exemplify Town spirit, the people who won the Soul of Oakland Awards, the people who I think could keep Oakland nightlife going – are the people who, you know, watched the Warriors lose, who watched the A’s lose. You know, consistently we were told that Oakland was the most dangerous place to live and we wouldn’t make it past 24. That was the message to us all of the time in our youth. That we were tied neck and neck with East St Louis for most dangerous city in the World, for ‘Murder Capital’ of the world, that we were “more likely to die of…” and then you can fill in the blank. And I think the people who are still here, you know, we’re true testament to the fact that we do not die. You know, Oakland legends live on and on and even if we exit our humanly bodies, like, Oakland legends live forever. I think that’s evidenced in Mike “Dream” and I think that’s evidenced in, you know, Victor McElhaney for example. I think that to be from Oakland is to know that if you’re rooted here then you exist on all planes forever here. And even if you have to move away from here that you have a responsibility to the soil, I think that’s what “Loyal to the Soil” is really about. It’s like, we invest in a land. We talk about Oakland as a land. I know Cleveland says that too, but, like, you look back at our sacred, holy Oakland texts and we say “With a handful of Broccoli I’m finna go to the land”. And I feel like, you know, we’re connected to the soil, we’re connected to the sky. I think if you’re from Oakland, just physically, you can look out at the Bay, you can look at a mountain. If you face all four directions – north, south, east, west – you really gonna see like big sky and you know, factories, mountains, people. I think you can take it all in if you spin in a circle in Downtown Oakland. You can truly see the world. And I think that’s why we have East 14th, which is also known as International. I think being from Oakland means being all things at once. Being, like, classy and ratchet. I feel like my Asian American folks in Oakland, like, don’t nobody else on the planet sound like them. I feel like the same thing is true for, like, my Raza upon us here. Like there’s a shorthand that we have. There’s an urban lexicon that really, the whole Bay Area has, but it’s specific to each part and if you’re from Oakland, like, you could chop it with somebody from Oakland and have a full conversation that other people couldn’t understand and that’s really special. The way that language and Creolization has happened with our specific blend of diversity makes for, like — to be from Oakland is to sound special and to think, like, uniquely. You could see someone is from Oakland in their cars. Like I can tell when my Uber driver is from Oakland by the way they dip on the streets, like, it’s to be from Oakland is to be…acorn -and- tree.
Damn, I feel like you’ve been cheating on the test because you went right into the next question, which is: Why Oakland is such a special place in comparison to other cities of similar history and statures? We could say Cleveland, St Louis, you know, other spots.

There was that series where they were asking what “The Blackest city in America” was. And Pendarvis Harshaw wrote a really beautiful essay about, like, how Oakland is clearly the blackest and his theory was that we take everything black and make it blacker. (Laughing) I feel like that’s really accurate. (Laughing) Um, I won’t use that as my answer but it’s worth referencing. I think Oakland is special because we do have a fluency like – no knocking on any other city – my friends from Atlanta, my friends from Chicago, they’re like – and forgive the paraphrase – “Oakland niggas is the only niggas who eat Sushi for real”, you know? Like, I’ve heard like young, brown, hood men from Oakland use the term transgender and cisgender fluidly without stumbling over it in a way that their counterparts in other cities have yet to catch up. I think like to be from Oakland is to assume a level of like spiritual, gender and religious fluidity and a little bit of, like “Bruh, you gonna do you. I’m leaving my hands off”. I like to say my pronouns are she/her/bruh and I feel like like Oakland is one of the few places where we, by default, have a gender neutral pronoun that everybody has always used. Like, “Bruh!” (Laughing) And it’s a really productive word because it can be used as a pronoun, it can be used as an interjection, it can be used as an interrogatory. Like, I feel like Oakland is special because, you know, we innovate in a particular way. I think Oakland is special because we were the terminus for the Pullman Porter’s line. So, for a lot of people, like when you talk about travel and getting to the edge of possibility for coming from the Deep South or the Midwest, you’re talking about either ending up in the Fillmore or ending up on Seventh Street and Seventh Street was, you know, the Jazz center of the West Coast. I think Oakland was, you know, even at its founding – it’s a topographically very beautiful place – there’s a reason the original Oakland founders in the 1840s wanted to be here. Strategically you can see more. It’s sacred land for the Ohlone people and the Muwekma people because it’s Highland and Lowland. So I think to be from Oakland is really to be able to see out from all perspectives. And I think we are expected to have not just agency, not just fluency, but real connection with the Panther legacy. We’re expected to have fluency with the Tech legacy. We’re expected to communicate with each other with love and more or less without homophobia. Especially newer and younger Oakland. So I think we’re different than other cities because we focus on, you know, we’re part of the same barrier. Namaste. The light in me respects the light in your bubble and that permeates even into our interactions on the street corners of course. And I think also that Oakland is hustle and it’s still broke here. There’s two Oaklands, you know. It’s still hood as fuck for so many people. Oakland Crack Era – Oakland people talk about it like it’s gone – it’s not. There’s just three or four Oaklands living out alongside it. And I think Oakland is special because there are brothers and sisters who transcend that. They hit all five planes of Oakland in any given day. And I don’t see that in the same way in other cities. I see like, in Atlanta, a prismatic blackness that we don’t get to necessarily see here. I see in Chicago a different kind of Midwest Hustle that we don’t duplicate here. I see in Miami – like True Miami, not Miami Beach – like, a grit. And they have way more police officers on the ground in that county or in those counties than we do here so I think there’s a different kind of relationship to law enforcement there. But yeah, every city’s different and I’ve been blessed to travel all over. I’ve seen, like, bits of each city that remind me of Oakland – Detroit, Downtown Detroit feels like Oakland in the 90s. I feel like New Orleans and Frenchmen feels like how Oakland ‘spirit’ feels that happens every night in New Orleans. I feel like, um, DC and the Habesha community there is really mirrored in the Habesha community here in this kind of Sister City vibe and the same thing can be said for Minneapolis. So, like, I think there’s parts of Oakland that, you know, you see all over the world but those parts exist only in amalgam here.

 What would you say is the overall guiding value set of the community of Oakland?

The overall guiding value set? Check people but don’t snitch. I think that’s more or less what people call community policing. Love repeatedly and openly until you get burned and then love again which is basically, you know, mindfulness practice of forgiveness. Um, I’m trying to just think of, like, values I’ve heard in songs (Laughing) That last one feels very Kehlani to me. I think an Oakland value is, respect what has come before. I think we’re really good about naming our culture and our culture keepers. I was at one of the Warriors events the other day and Draymond Green was there but people were super juiced that Gary Payton was there. You know what I mean? And I think that, you know, there’s a sense of legacy. I also think that there’s a sense of honor that Oakland seeks to uphold, like a morality. Like, don’t embarrass us out in the world. And I think there are some people that are from Oakland that we don’t tout as loudly, you know, and there’s some people that exemplify in Oakland spirit that we do. So for example, Tupac, we mention all of the time but Jason Kidd doesn’t get mentioned as much and I think that people, like, when he gets brought up, people say: “Oh, but yeah, what about the domestic abuse?”.You know what I mean? And I think that those are some Oakland values that are built in that, like, we want everybody who is facing outwards to do us really proud. And I think there’s always a conversation about who we want to talk about. So like I feel like G-Eazy comes under that question – and he’s not from Oakland – and like: “Are you really from Oakland?” is the kinds of questions we ask all the time. So I think there’s a veracity and you know, an authenticity. You know, it happens all the time, especially out in the world: I say I’m from the Bay Area. People say “I’m from the Bay Area too!” I say “I’m from Oakland.” They say “I’m from Oakland!” I say, where in Oakland are you from? And they’ll be like…so we’re not in Oakland. I won’t do this on anybody city I don’t wanna fuck with nobody, but you know what I mean? Like the Haystack gets shouted out or Piedmont gets shouted out or San Lorenzo or San Leandro. And I think, you know, there’s a bit of Oakland-ness like, you know, there’s a -tree- on my street sign, the street sign is green! You know, like, there’s a very like –Oakland is Oakland and I think we’re constantly trying to hearken back to who remembers what and who is the most Oakland and I don’t see that the same in every city. Someone from another city was like “Why do Oakland people insist on putting Oakland on their shirts? Like, are y’all confused about where you’re from?” And I’m like, “You know, New York City put the N.Y on the hat but Oaklanders, you know, we’ll make sure it says Bay Area before you walk out the house. There will be a BART ticket or a tree silhouette or a, you know, an Angela Davis Afro.” Like Damian is going to put O on his shirt. Like we want everyone to know that like at all times We are Us. And I think that comes from feeling like we’re constantly put to the side from San Francisco or from L.A. And so I think like out in the world, we want everyone to know we are our own, we are our own greatness.

It’s pretty much like Puerto Ricans, how they couldn’t wear the flag or they couldn’t bear the flag for forever and ever. And everybody you know, ask the Fantuzzi brothers, rocks a flag every day – cause this is where we’re from and because you shitted on this place that we love so much for such a long time.

I was looking at my Instagram just before you came over and I was on Lemon Anderson’s page. He’s a writer for ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ and they just had an episode in Puerto Rico and it’s him and Anthony and one other really notable Puerto Rican – somebody from Terror Squad I think – anyway, he’s got -hella- Puerto Rican flags all through this shit and like all the comments section is like Fat Joe lyrics and Big Pun lyrics and I feel like, you know, if you understand that about Puerto Rican culture in New York City, then you can understand like the equivalent on the West Coast and that’s Oakland for sure.

Just a side note real quick: my litmus test for people when they’re like: “Oh yeah, yeah, you know, I’m from Oakland.” Or “I live here, you know, I’ve been here for a while.” and then they’re like “Oh, where you live at?” I’m like: “Funk Town.” and if they don’t know where Funk Town is, I’m like, “Get the fuck outta here, bruh”

For me, I’m like: “What neighborhood are you from?” And they told me like “West Oakland.” I’m like “If you’re really from West Oakland, you don’t really say it like that.” You know if you’re really from the West you shout out your street names or the neighborhoods. I’m like “Okay. You from Bottoms? Acorns?”. You know what I’m saying? And we get -real- specific and, you know, I think part of that is healthy and part of that is really unhealthy. And I remember the unhealthy aspects of it too. So I try and be, you know, respectful of Oakland. But I think I understand, like, patriotism only through civic pride. You know, like, I’m never really going to be the one that’s waving an American flag, but there’s not a structural difference from waving an Oakland flag which, you know, all the time, every, every day. I understand our Oakland politics and politicians are far from perfect. You know what I mean? And I don’t feel like I’m repping them when I rep my city, which is funny. And I feel like I’m repping 45 Who Shall not be Named whenever I wave an American flag so I feel like, I dunno, Oakland is my country.

People’s Republic of Oakland.

Yeah. Democratic Republic of Oakland (Laughing).

 (Laughing) Right. There we go.

Or like, you know, Wellness Republic of Oakland, Mindful Republic of Oakland?

The Mindfulness Republic of Oakland?

People’s Mindful Republic of Oakland! No, that’s not even it. It would have to be like First Peoples – we wouldn’t call it Oakland, like, you know what I mean? It probably wouldn’t be on the flag either. It would probably be on something like less rectangular, you know, something that represents, like, a female spiritual energy. So maybe like a loose Georgia O’Keeffe-esque shape, you know? Not Georgia O’Keeffe. Maybe more like Juana Alicia. But not Juana Alicia, like, maybe more specific to Oakland. Favi Rodriguez!

(Laughing). Yeah, I’ve been trying to nail down Favi for an interview, but that’s another story.

I think it would just be butterflies. Butterflies everywhere. That is it, you know – Yes! The Favianna Rodriguez Republic of Oakland!

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I’ll take it. All right, so, speaking of the land that we’re at: Why does everybody want to come here now?

I think everybody wants to come to Oakland because they’ve been told Oakland is cool. Because the Warriors are winning. Because there’s opportunities and healthcare and tech. Because it’s close to San Francisco and for a while the rent was cheaper. Because there’s a cultural sensibility to being from what was once read as, like I said, the ‘hardest city in America’, the ‘murder capital of the world’. And there’s a cultural cool if you say you’re from Oakland. You get to be read as a survivor whether or not you actually survived it and I think that’s what a lot of the vitriol comes from when people who are from here are being displaced while others are talking about how cool it is to be here. I used to say out in the world when I traveled that I was from Oakland and people would say, “I’m so sorry.” And now when I say I’m from Oakland, people say “Oh, how cool. That’s so amazing. What’s it like? I saw it in x movie or y movie.” So I think all people are coming to Oakland cause it’s been in popular culture more than ever and it’s also not just the big name films. I noticed a while back that it’s peppered in as like punchlines and jokes and “Come visit Oakland!” in the background in like shots in half hour comedy shows on TV. So I think that there’s a bit of subliminal messaging going on with Oakland. And my conspiracy theories around developers and whether or not they seeded that: there have always been 10,000 new homes to fill since Jerry Brown’s plan. And I think Mayor Libby Schaaf has pushed it even further that, you know, development has been a huge part of Oakland’s growth. And a huge part of the business plan that Oakland’s push forward for the last, you know, now going on 20 years. So people are coming because we advertised to them and told them to come. And that’s just what it is. We advertise in Portland, we advertise in Seattle. That’s part of what draws people here. People aren’t just showing up here because it’s not pointed. I think people stay because you can’t help but to feel the joy that is Oakland when you’re here. I mean, people stay because it’s a beautiful place to live and people leave, by and large right now, because they can’t afford to stay. I don’t think a lot of people leaving Oakland have a choice or true choice, I think. I left Oakland cause I can’t afford to be an artist here and I come back here all the time cause I can’t afford not to be an artist here. A small answer.

That was a good one.  Alright, this was the question I was really excited to ask you is: What are the guidelines to being a good neighbor for all these people? For all the people coming to Oakland now, what are the guidelines to being a good neighbor or a good Oaklander to people who have been here? 
One: Talk to your neighbors. Like, say hello as you’re moving in. If you’re gonna move here, even as you’re looking at the house, like say “What’s up?” to people and if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them, investigate why, in your heart, you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them. Most of the people in Oakland are friendly by nature in my experience. There’s a lot of people here who are second generation or third generation displacements from the American south. We’re hospitable as fuck in Oakland. I think we’re most likely to share the J, most likely to say “Have a seat on our couch.” I think as an Oaklander I’m really off-put when people move to my block and they don’t acknowledge me. And especially if your neighbors speak to you, speak back. I would say another guideline is to find a meaningful work and pour into it in Oakland. Like, regardless of what your day-to-day career is, find some way to engage Oakland’s youth, Oakland’s Education system, Oakland’s Health and Safety, Oakland’s Agriculture community. Find some way to pour into the city and give into it as opposed to observe and experience the nightlife or experience Oakland culture. Participate in Oakland culture by adding resource first. Then I would say, Three: Like, learn your history. Know who was in your house before. Know who was on the block. What really irks me is people who, like, come in and want to solve community problems without any sense of who’s already working on the issue and how the problems came to be or how long, you know, without any real assessment, without any real evaluation. Just moving forward. And I feel like Nextdoor is a really unsafe space for a lot of people from Oakland because it’s kind of a person-to-person frenzy of, you know, ill-researched ill-contextualized responses to deep-seated historical norms in West Oakland, specifically, and Oakland at-large. So, I would say know the history. Oakland historians are thorough and there are so many opportunities at AAMLO: African American Museum and Library of Oakland. I think there’s the Black Panther Tours, I think there’s Queer and Gender Nonconforming Tours of Oakland. There are ways to understand this city. There’s Arts Tours of Oakland, there’s Red Bike & Green. I just feel like there’s so many ways to understand who came before and how to be a good Oaklander through historical excavation. I think it’s something that’s key. I think, uh, have fun like an Oaklander does. I think, you know, there’s something to be said for a Hyphy song going on and throwing back to the old dances. I think there’s something to be said for the younger music that comes on and everybody — like, Hiero Day I think is a -beautiful- day. I think everybody should go to Hiero Day in Oakland or Malcolm X Jazz and Arts festival or Life is Living. And I say everybody because I really do mean that everything is for everybody. But I mean, like, when you go to those festivals, if you’re not from here make sure that those spaces are spaces that stay safe for the people that are. And I think you can do that by, you know, not domineering but experiencing the culture. I like to say all the time: When you go to Paris, you don’t want to paint over the Eiffel Tower. You don’t want to, like, stop eating croissants. You don’t want people not to speak French. You’re going to Paris for the experience. So don’t write over it. And it’s the same thing here. You would never tag the Mona Lisa. Why would you go over a Vogue piece, you know, with weak letters, you know what I mean? Like, I understand you’re new to the city and you’re writing, you know, 1113 letter long tags but, like, who used to hit that corner up before and why didn’t they have the time to put up as long of a tag? I think there’s a lot of, you know, just – there’s some disrespect. I was out in front of – on Mandela Parkway, it’s perfect – and I was out in front of my friend from Berkeley High’s cafe, Kilowatt, and there was a white woman who pulled up in a late model Buick, so it was already extra, it was already a sight to see. And there was another O.G who was in, like, a Sebring and they basically both needed the same parking spot and she went -BAD- on him. She was honking the horn and yelling. There were hella other spots on the street but she just decided she wanted to park right in front and he was also trying to pull into this spot. And she pulled into the spot hella quick, she jumped out the car, she banged on his car, and then she bolted into the cafe and the gangsta got out of the car just, like, perplexed, like, ‘Where am I?’ He kept saying over to himself, like, “What?” He kept looking around like ‘I felt like I was on Cypress, but clearly I’m on Mandela I felt like ,you know what I’m saying, this was my block and I’m from lower bottoms but clearly like we in her world’.He was like ‘Generally, before she came back out the coffee shop, I would have her car on blocks or I’d have the car gone cause of how she treated me. But, like, I’m just gonna leave it alone cause I’m confused.’ And he drove off. And I feel that all the time, like, lady, you ain’t even safe here. Like, you don’t even know what’s about to happen to you. And if you did it would be much better. It’d be a much better experience for all of us. So I think just knowing your history. I think, um, critique. The careful critique is what moves Oakland forward. And I think there’s always something to be said for an outside perspective that is respectful of what’s come before that has an opportunity to optimize. I think that’s what Oakland is. That’s why we’re better, because we have folks from Laos and Campuchia and El Salvador that all bring their perspective here and add to this pot. So my favorite is, you know, people who are from all over who really do add something to it. Regardless of race. That’s what I think Oakland is about. So I think if you have critique or respectful change that is actually useful then bring that. But I think that my last little guideline is like, don’t paste yourself over our shit. Be with us.

What’s breaking your heart most about Oakland right now?

That I can’t afford to live here. I can’t afford to buy a house out right here. That my friends can’t either. That all my favorite cultural institutions are consistently either in survival mode or legacy mode and not able to push forward. That Oakland is becoming a theory or a memory as opposed to an actual experience. Um, that the Golden State Warriors are down in these finals right now. Especially because they’re about to leave and the Raiders are about to leave and there’s just a sense of like: Yup, as much as we win, if you’re really from Oakland you’re prepared to lose.

Shoutout out to the Raiders fans who already knew it early.

Well, yeah, you know what I’m saying? Shout out to the Raiders fans who went up and down the 5 all these years. Whichever direction you did it. Like, shout out to y’all because I don’t really even deal with teams specifically in the NFL for personal reasons but, yeah, it’s hard, you know. Shout out to everyone who, like, survived the Davis’s and how they bled our city, you know. Oakland’s all of it. It’s all of it and I think we are winners and losers, you know?
So onto the winning. What is making your heart explode with joy about the town?

Man, this sunny day, I’m about to hit this Temescal Street Festival. I think Guapdad 3000 is making me really excited about the town, Daveed Diggs is making me really excited about the town, Ryan Cooglers is making me really excited about the town, Kehlani and her baby are making me really excited about the town. Um, Zendaya. I mean, like, I think just the fact that Oakland culture is massive worldwide and on everybody’s coffee table, everybody’s phone is fantastic. I think the fact that there’s just so much art coming out of Oakland right now, there’s so much. Oakland School for the Arts is amazing. Like, every kid I know here is both playing Fortnite and making beats. I’m really proud of Oakland’s film and music scene here. I’m really proud of, uh, the thought and movement work that’s going on here. I mean, I’m not going to say where, but I know Alicia Garza is just a couple blocks away, you know. That makes me feel safe that, like, the people who are really safeguarding our joy and our potential to shift, to morph are here. You know Boots is a phone call away. And Draymond Green, you know, in the vicinity. And Dame Lillard! How could we not — can we just take a moment? Just the visual, virtual parade for Dame Lillard. Just the 50 piece, just cause?
Man, look, I’ve been joking about it but I might just become a Portland fan next year. Might become a Blazers fan.

It might happen. It might happen. I mean, you know, San Francisco isn’t my city so I got options now. I got options now. I might just become a Dame Lillard fan. Um, I’m excited about Layshia Clarendon! Do you know who Layshia Clarendon is? Layshia Clarendon is a WNBA All-star. She just won Gold at the Women’s FIFA World Cup with the women’s team in US women’s basketball and she starts for the Connecticut Sun and she lives in Oakland as well. So, I mean, I’m excited about how we have, in fact all over the world all kinds of people! Famous ass celebrities is like supposed to be from other places that also live here. You know what I mean? Like, we talked about last night’s concert: Chappelle was there, Common was there, you know what I mean? Oakland is a place where the world’s thought leaders gather to be safe. And it’s always been the case. Like you go to LA to perform and you come to LA for respite. So I love, I love it. I love the Lake right now, the Lake is popping. I love fact that we’re going to get a new mayor. There’s opportunity.

Speaking of mayors: can we get a Michael Tubbs in Oakland?

I mean, we can’t get a Michael Tubbs. You know who I want to run for Oakland mayor? DNas. I want Leon Sykes to be my mayor. I feel like Leon really exemplifies what Oakland is about. He’s a father. He has consistently worked with our youth at McClymonds and, like, expanding both the minds and the physical presence of our youth on swim teams. He’s a union organizer and has been front-and-center with the Union rallies at City Hall for as long as I can remember. He’s a nightlife organizer who does a radio show. Like, if he speaked Spanish it’s like Ding! Grade-A Class Act candidate! That’s who I want for mayor. Or Chaney for all the same reasons. Or Lukas Brekke-Miesner whose family has been in Oakland and rooted in it for a very long time who has worked with Oakland Youth First and Kids First for as long as I can remember, who helps document Oakland artists through 38th Notes, who is a father and an educator and you know, like, I want somebody I want our next mayor of Oakland to be somebody who really exemplifies our values. I mean, Jackie. I just feel like there are so many people who are like — Tajai! I think Tajai would be a fantastic mayor. Fantastic mayor. I think Fred Blackwell would be an outstanding mayor. Fred Blackwell, man, city manager ran The San Francisco Foundation. I don’t think he wants that job, but I think it would be great at that job. I don’t want to be mayor. I want to be, like, True Arts Commissioner. I would love to be a studiohead with a studio based in Oakland.

H31A6304
So that’s where I wanna end this. Ryan lives here now. I mean, Ryan’s been here. You know, him and his wife have a house here now. Boots has been here, Boots has been going here. You’re here constantly in and out. I forgot the name of the gentleman that wrote the ‘There, There’ book just recently. I mean there’s a wellspring of Bay Area literary and studio talent. Film and Writing is just starting to explode out of this city. What are the possibilities? Where can it go? Where would you like to see it go?

I think we could easily have a Major Motion Picture lot out at the port of Oakland or in West Oakland, in the hangars there. I think we could easily do it at the former Naval Hospital out at golf links. I think we could easily do it. Studios are changing. I think we could easily have that system here. Um, I think Pixar already exists as a studio here and, I mean, we’re already ahead. People act like that doesn’t exist. I mean, Lucasfilms is here, um, Industrial Light & Magic, like, Apple. Like, we already have that system here. So I think it’s really about understanding that we’re no longer carrying actual film reels into anybody’s office and that, you know, content creation and culture creation can happen from truly anywhere. I’d love to see it begin with some writers rooms, like, shows just written here. We’d be able to create some capital around that just because the show was written here. It doesn’t even mean we have to produce it here, it would be great. I think Boots has a show coming that might happen here. That’s just an inkling. I would love to see a show like Insecure but set in Oakland and I think that, you know, it begins with just having — I think that television is a great way to create that system. I think you can do a one-off movie and people pick up and you can create a crew that’s here for 30 days or 60 days or 90 days and the film’s in the can but I think we need a TV show that really shoots here in order to make, like, careers and long-term industry here. Five seasons of a show would really change the game and I think that’s what we saw with Tyler Perry creating a studio system in Atlanta. He’s making sure his films are made there and also that there were TBS shows that came out of his his program. It’s everybody in the industry, you know: Hair and Makeup and Grips, there’s Electrical and, you know, like, you get a whole lot when you have a TV crew here. You get a whole lot of industry. So that’s what I’m working on. I think if we can get an hour long series that’s set here, writes here, shoots here, then still photographers would have work and audio recorders would have work. I think it’s a really easy fix and I think there’s people from LA who would love the Oakland lifestyle. I think we’re very close to it. And I think it’s inevitable actually, that the more and more that the studio system changes in LA, the more and more shoots in Toronto and Atlanta and New Orleans and Chicago, all places that are commonplace. I think Oakland needs a tax credit. I think we have to make some incentives there for filmmaking to really happen here and I think we need a more powerful Oakland film commission. But it’s inevitable. It’s inevitable. I mean, there’s too much of the tech hub and too much the artist hub – which is what the film industry is becoming – for us to not to be leaders of it. So I think it’s coming. The way I can say it is: right now I noticed that there is not just camraderie but real brotherhood and sisterhood between the folks who are powerful culture makers from Oakland. It’s already happening. We’re already talking to each other. We’re already in cahoots. I’m hopeful about what’s happening next without spilling nobody’s beans on that.
 

That’s cool. Anything else?

That’s it.

Alright.

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