What it means to be from Oakland

Being from Oakland means…

  1. You grow up angry. And you’re always ready for confrontation.

You’ve seen too many fights. Too much anger blinds you.

You’re always on your feet waiting for somebody to come at you sideways.

Wanting to say…

Try me.

Try me.

Try me.

Try me..till I’m tired.

  1. You like to ride the BART to nowhere.

You sit in the same seat from Hayward to Richmond.

You slap some E-40 or Adele in that hour and a half ride.

Always sit next to the window.

Pull out your book or journal.

Wanna see your home.

Wanna see the sun shine on it.

This is where you learned to love, walk, and talk.

This is where you learned to hate, be afraid, and unforgiving.

  1. You cry on the 62 bus line on AC Transit.

Tears fall in between 23rd ave and International.

It’s cloudy and gloomy.

Only the old people that always ride the bus see you.

This is your first time crying in public since elementary school.

  1. You lose your friends to violence.

And get angry when somebody talks shit about Oakland.

You keep getting asked if “Oakland as bad as they say it is.”


and over…

and over again.

  1. You saw downtown Oakland before the bars

the coffeeshops

the bikers

the funny mustached men in denim jackets

that drink out of mason jars.

You question if this is your home at all.

  1. You like to smoke and drink in the Oakland hills on Friday nights.

Your city shines in your eyes.

And your insides warm up.

It’s one of those moments when you know you’re present.

  1. You go to Fruitvale every Saturday morning with your mom.

To go get her hair cut.

To go to the bank.

To go get her eyebrows done.

To go eat tamales y champurrado.

It’s like going to church and finding god at your home.

  1. It means to miss Oakland.


And again.

Till you’re back home.


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