When I left Los Angeles to move to the San Francisco Bay Area over ten years ago, I was ready for a change. I knew I couldn't leave California, because for me, it doesn't get much better than the Golden State - *flashing a peace sign* - so I packed it up and moved North. I moved on up the coast.
The first few years I was here, I complained a lot. So much in fact that I got tired of hearing the SoCal-is- better-than-NorCal words coming out of my own mouth. "It's true that there is no place like home," I finally acknowledged when I had enough of my own whining. "But you need to at least give it a chance." And so I did.
|Partial view of Lake Merritt|
My friend Kiratiana is here visiting the Bay Area this week and we spent the day together yesterday. During a lovely and relaxed lunch on Oakland's Lake Merritt and in between convos about Paris, tech start-ups and social media, Kira asked me what I love about the Bay so much. The East Bay to be exact. And so I told her.
Brown is beautiful (no matter the shade of your skin), Brown girls rock and yes, it is definitely okay to celebrate yourself; and that even though it seems natural for cultural groups to band together to celebrate their heritage, I buy in to the sharing and togetherness model. And that's what Oakland is all about. #oneloveandallthat
And while I'm not going to pretend that Oakland's crime stats are something to brag about, there is way more to this Cultural Stew than crime. In fact, Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country and the second most diverse city in Alameda County. #score According to the 2010 United States Census, Oakland is 25.9% White, 27.3% African-American, 0.3% Native American, 16.7% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander, 0.3% some other race, and 3.6% were of two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos (of any race) make up 25.4% of the total population. #wepa [Source] Oh, and don't let me forget: Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is the first Asian American woman mayor of a major US city. Love, love, love. #culturalstew
Talking to Kira yesterday got me thinking: To be able to celebrate your cultural heritage alongside people from a different cultural background who show genuine interest and acceptance and without any criticism or hate is quite unique and not to be taken lightly. I have always loved being unique. And I will always love Oakland.