24 November, 2010

Ode 2 Da Biggity "O"

I practically wear my "Oaklandness" on my heart and my sleeve. No bones about it. Even a couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed on my tandem skydive by the staff who asked me in the interview where I was from. Without thinking, I immediately responded, "Oakland." Nevermind the fact that I've been living on the West side of the Bay during the past 5 years. (Menlo Park, South San Fran, and Colma) I make an effort to visit my parents who are buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland on a weekly basis. I used to get my hair cut in the Rockridge area until my agent sent me elsewhere. I attend at least one Raider game during the football season no matter how poorly they been playing this past 7 years. I've supported my high school alumni association bearing the city's name. Even during the World Series run, my SF Giants gear was in silver and black.

Five years ago, I attended a pool party located in Hillsborough. The artistic director of the theater company I was associated with at that time invited me to his house out there. It was crashed by local Hillsborough teens who simply showed up in their swimming gear and mingled. One of the young ladies mingled with me at the hot tub. She was impressed that I was an actor working with one of the theater companies in San Francisco, and then she asked me where I was originally from. Conversation went like this:
HER: So where are you originally from?
ME: Oakland
HER: Um, which Oakland????
ME: Uh, how many Oaklands have you heard of?
HER: You don't mean that Oakland?
ME: I guess so. I'm from that Oakland.
She promptly got up from the tub and left. I then proceeded to tell the hosts which group of folks didn't belong to the actual party. They were eventually asked to leave, but less than an hour after they left, the police came by because of "suspicious characters were reported to have attended the event."

Yes, I'm from that Oakland. Oakland, California. Recently crowned #5 as the most dangerous city in the U.S. We have the Oakland Athletics, an NBA team who aren't ballsy enough to say that they play here, and of course the prodigal sports franchise, The Oakland Raiders. If L.A. is considered to be the West Coast hip hop capital, then Oakland comes a close 2nd. Original home to the Black Panthers, and in the wake of the Oscar Grant justice scandal, a much needed resurgence of the Panthers could (hopefully) come under way in Oakland.

It's ironic that I was recently added to the Yelp Elite group representing Oakland considering how long I've been living in the Daly City area. Yet it seems there is really no voice coming from Oakland on behalf of Oakland. I read and saw what other people on Yelp and Facebook are saying about Oakland, and their observations are either one-dimensionally inaccurate or it was coming from a P.O.V. of a non-Oakland native.

People often ask me why not return to Oakland if I have such a high regard for it. If I still consider it "home," why not "return home?" For one, I don't need to sleep there on a regular basis to still call Oakland "home." I'm there almost every week. I dine there. I spend time with my friends who are still there. My parents and grandparents are rested there. Even if I were to fulfill my home ownership goals within 5 years, (Home in Hawaii, Singapore, Vancouver, and SF) Oakland would still be considered home to me. No matter who I choose to marry, I will make sure SHE not only steps foot in Oakland, but will get a feel of what Oakland is about. The same goes for my children in the future. So the question is, how can I return to Oakland when in reality, Oakland never left?

No comments:

Post a Comment