March 31, 2014

Diversity Central: Oakland

Oakland, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, has long led America toward its racially diverse future, with at least four major ethnic groups. From the Oakland Tribune:
Report: African-Americans compose 28 percent of Oakland's population, 62 percent of police stops 
By Matthew Artz 
Oakland Tribune
... The report did not include data on the percentage of crime suspects described to police as African-Americans. Separate Oakland police records show that from 2007 through 2011, about 70 percent of those arrested were African-American. Last year, police said 90 percent of robbery suspects were described as African-American. 
Sam Walker, an emeritus professor in the criminal justice department at the University of Nebraska Omaha, who has reviewed stop-and-frisk police tactics in New York City, said Oakland police stops were far more likely to result in arrests or the confiscation of a weapon. 
In New York City, there was little evidence of criminal activity to justify the police stops, he said. "In Oakland, it's a very different picture." 
Franklin Zimring, a criminologist and professor at Berkeley Law School, pointed to the data showing that 14 percent of police stops involving African-Americans resulted in felony arrests, compared to 7 percent for Latinos, 6 percent of Asians and 5 percent of whites. 
"In terms of conventional mathematics, that is the opposite of racial profiling," he said. 
While traffic issues were the most common reason people were stopped by police, African-Americans were far more likely to be stopped on the basis of "probable cause" or "reasonable suspicion" than members of other racial groups. 
African-Americans stopped by police were searched 42 percent of the time, compared to 27 percent for Latinos and 17 percent for whites and Asians. Yet, those searches resulted in the recovery of contraband 27 percent of the time for African-Americans and Latinos, 28 percent of the time for whites and 25 percent of the time for Asians.

The question I have is why does Oakland have a distinctive "flavor," combining black criminality with political radicalism? I see it all the time in the news: if there's going to be a black political riot over some bit of news somewhere in the country, it's most likely to be in Oakland (with L.A. the second most likely).

This combination goes back at least to the Black Panthers in the 1960s. By the way, The Planet of the Apes movies have always been Black Power allegories, and the fine 2011 reboot of the series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is pretty clearly inspired by the once famous history of Bay Area black radicalism.

But maybe this combination of a culture of political radicalism and masculinity goes back even further before blacks arrived in large numbers for WWII military factory work: after all, the entertainment district in Oakland is named Jack London Square. And then there's the phenomenon of Raider Nation, the Oakland Raiders' obtrusively non-genteel fan base.

One vague theory I have is that the weather is so nice in Oakland (much better than in foggy San Francisco) that bad behavior is a long term strategy to prevent complete gentrification.
       

44 comments:

EnjoyingTheDecline said...

The question is which is to be Mau-Mauer and which is to catch flak, that's all.

Anonymous said...

Probably has something to do with being a black city, surrounded and literally looked down on by nice white neighborhoods in the hills. Add the rubbing off of Berkeley's radicalism and it's not hard to imagine why.

Where's your post about Leland Yee?

Anonymous said...

"""One vague theory I have is that the weather is so nice in Oakland (much better than in foggy San Francisco) that bad behavior is a long term strategy to prevent complete gentrification."""


Right, CA's warm climate in general is conducive to demonstrations, riots, etc. Nobody's thinking of holding a demonstration or attempting to riot during a wintry blustery blizzard, are they now?

But that is a bit grim and cynical. In Oakland a Spike Lee wannabe could well afford to explicitly state what can only be genteelly intimated back east: "Hey, ya'll crackers: Keep the---out of our urban crib or we'll make sure the city goes up in smoke. And don't be building no more Starbucks, Whole Foods, Aviaries or all that white folks stuff cause we don't want it down here!'

Yup, the milder all year round climate sure does help a demonstration, especially during the wintertime.

educationrealist said...

Oakland, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, has long led America toward its racially diverse future, with at least four major ethnic groups

No. Oakland was for a long time the "black" city in Northern California. This disappearance of blacks in the Bay Area is pretty shocking. Oakland lost 25% of its black population in just 10 years.

So Oakland's "distinctive flavor" is based on its being the "black" Northern California city. It's losing out to Asians, who vote more religiously than Hispanics.

Anonymous said...

The Jewish mafia used to control the Longshoremen in Oakland and levied an effective tax on all of the goods which moved through the Oakland docks.

"Levied." Huh.

That's ironic.

Bert said...

If that's their strategy, then it's not working. Chinese businessmen are buying up property in Oakland left and right, with the quit overt purpose of kicking the current residents out.

And who can blame them?

Anonymous said...

Oakland is also the original (ahem) stomping grounds of Sonny Barger and his notorious chapter of the Hell's Angels. Even the white guys in Oakland have always been thugs.

manton said...

Couple of possibilities.

SF is 47 sq mi, hemmed in on three sides by water and very hilly. Not a great place of industry though the flats in SOMA down through the Mission/Potrero and Bayview/Hunter’s Point always had some. But the balance of SF’s economy has always been services, and particularly financial. Banking dominated from the Gold Rush on. Or else it was a town full of millionaires who made money elsewhere and then built on Nob Hill/Pac Heights to show off (not unlike today).

WW2 killed the last vestige the SF blue collar economy. The post war boom had nowhere to grown in SF. The port, which initially made the city, was too small and too inconvenient by rail. So all that moved across the bay, where it still is. SF gentrified even further while Oakland, which started out rather bucolic, got more and more blue collar. It simply had more room and more sunshine and so it got more factories. Plus, it was more easily connected by rail to the rest of the country so it made more sense to locate there.

By the standards of, say, Texas, Oakland seems like a little island, but when compared to SF, the dirt gap was huge. And, since it was never fashionable, it was always relatively cheap. Only the Hills, Rockridge and Piedmont have ever been fashionable. That are around the Claremont Hotel has always been nice but that’s it. SF society to this day looks down on East Bay money.

As long ago as 1906, this snobbery was there. The mayor of SF at the time of the earthquake, Eugene Schmitz, when asked why Oakland was unharmed, is reported to have said “There are some things even the earth won’t swallow.”

Oswald Spengler said...

Let us recite the Crystal Methodist credo: "Diversity is our strength and our redeemer."

"Redemptor noster et vires nostrae diversum"

Jerry Brown said...

Don't forget the Hells Angels got their start in Oakland is a mess.

That's why San Fran can afford to be so liberal - almost all their blacks are across a cold bay.

Anonymous said...

Before Al Davis took his team to LA and it became associated with LA gangs, Raider games were attended by white, middle class and blue collar working class people. I know. I was one of them.

Remember when actor James Garner walked the Raider sidelines at home games in Oakland? By the time they returned from LA, it was Ice Cube walking the sidelines.

Just wanted to clear that up, although that said, while the crowd at the O.Co for Raider games looks mean and crazy, it's not much different from the people who attend other NFL games.

Certainly the suburban fan base for the team includes a mixtures of colors and SESes.

Anonymous said...

The Jewish mafia used to control the Longshoremen in Oakland and levied an effective tax on all of the goods which moved through the Oakland docks.

The Australian Communist Harry Bridges (union chief) was their front man?

MetooBrutus said...

Oakland also has a large population of detribalized urban American Indians who were given a bus voucher to leave the reservations in the 1950's. They don't get any of the California Indian casino money and have usually adopted a Bay Area leftist radicalism.

Anonymous said...

OT: Right Sector guys are holed up in a hotel in Kiev. Ukrainian government forces have surrounded the hotel and are demanding that the Right Sector disarms. Shots have been fired.

anony-mouse said...

I have always been amazed that Oakland has a 'Jack London Square' given the author's racial views (also he hated Oakland).

Gertrude Stein also came from Oakland (from childhood), not SF amazingly enough (she also hated Oakland).

Of course London was much prettier.

Senescent said...

I’d say it has more to do with the Pacific Northwest’s tradition of labor radicalism - the same way the only part of the country where anarchism is an active political force is from Oakland up through Eugene and Portland to Seattle (notice the latter’s role as the site of the 1999 WTO protests, and the recent election of an avowed socialist not even of the “sewer-“ type)

Which in turn I’d peg to two things - the settlement of America from east to west following climate patterns and thus lines of longitude all the way back to European source populations meant that many settlers of the area were of Scando-Germanic stock, often refugees from the failed left-popular revolutions of the 19th century. (Notice how Minneapolis and Milwaukee is where the “sewer socialists” thrived, and how the rural north/“midwest” was historically home to agrarian radicalism - the birthplace of the Grange and Free Silver movements and the Farmer-Labor, Free Soil, and Republican parties).

Second and kind of following from the first, given the region’s economic history as a base for resource extraction for transport by sea, control of the chokepoint of the docks offered a big base of power for labor radicals. The ILWU, which covers West Coast dockworkers, is the most prominent American union that never gave up on revolutionary leftism - it was formed in a strike along the entire West Coast (which escalated to a general strike in the SF bay) in 1934, and has since to to this very day used the threat of same to drive of purge attempts, protect its prerogatives, and lend support to other leftist movements.

(This is why organized crime control of East Coast docks was tacitly accepted by the powers that be - it filled that power vacuum with a force that established machines could at least work with. The promise of a West Coast port city with a decidedly anti-union sensibility also had a lot to do with Los Angeles’ rise to prominence post-WWII.)

manton said...

Richmond is really the "black" city in NorCal, even more than Oakland. It's just smaller, but it's much more pure ghetto. Oakland has a lot of natural advantages and still a great deal of lovely architecture and housing stock. It's probably inevitable that it will gentrify, certainly all the area around Lake Merritt, and much of downtown and possible even the west waterfront. The flats along 880 will probably always suck, though.

Steve Sailer said...

"The promise of a West Coast port city with a decidedly anti-union sensibility also had a lot to do with Los Angeles’ rise to prominence post-WWII."

Fascinating. Los Angeles has fairly bourgeois roots (successful Midwesterners) and lacks the chokepoint of a natural harbor.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Speaking of Oakland, I haven't seen a comment from pat/Albertosaurus in a while. I hope he's OK.

Anonymous said...

I blame Too $hort

Chubby Ape said...

Anonymous said...
OT: Right Sector guys are holed up in a hotel in Kiev. Ukrainian government forces have surrounded the hotel and are demanding that the Right Sector disarms. Shots have been fired.


Funny thing is this is actually a bit on-topic. The Right Sector leader in Ukraine killed recently in a gunfight with cops was a big fan of Raiders sports gear. The journalists even tweeted that they could identify the body of Aleksandr Muzychko because of it: "Definitely him ... A fat bloated dead guy in Raider's gear (his gear of choice)."

"Murderous Ukrainian ultra-nationalist dead – after 2 decades of violent thuggery"

manton said...

LA and Oakland are both man-made ports. SF and San Diego are two of the best harbors in the entire world. But neither is really ideal for rail traffic so they never took off. SD also was taken over the by Navy very early and private enterprise never developed.

LA/Long Beach was created out of nothing by civil engineers. There was a small port at San Pedro from Spanish times but it was not good. It took the gigantic series of breakwaters built in the 1930s that made the port. The rest was done by landfill (e.g., Terminal Island.)

Yes, part of the motivation was money, part was also the mighty SP Railroad which wanted an easily accessible container port right on the rail line, which could not be done in either SF or SD.

manton said...

Well, that comment was horribly garbled.

What I meant to say was, yes, the union issue was important. SF was, after redevelopment following the earthquake, a heavily unionized town. In fact, labor radicalism is one of the forgotten roots of Bay Area leftism. They had a real hard core of Marxist pipe-beaters. Harry Bridges being the most famous and a genuine Communist.

LA, by contrast, was the “open shop” town and kept that way by the business interests and its mouthpiece, the LA Times, led by the Chandler family. So, yes, a big reason why the SP Railroad and others wanted to build up the Port of LA was to get away from NorCal unions.

Anonymous said...

This was my first introduction to Oakland culture.

Anonymous said...

"Of course London was much prettier."

The city or the guy?

Eric said...

Yes, part of the motivation was money, part was also the mighty SP Railroad which wanted an easily accessible container port right on the rail line, which could not be done in either SF or SD.

Containers were a 1960s development.

Engineer Dad said...

I find it refreshing to listen to an astute, dark, Asian Indian woman describing her loathing and fear of west and south Berkeley's dysfunctional inhabitants while recalling the leftist smear that whites discriminate based on skin color. Both she and I know people are rational and judge based on behavior. Her family had probably spent centuries in India avoiding giving the game away to the helpless classes as a way to prevent future civilization's collapse.

Skin cancer risk may have driven evolution of black skin
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225193412.htm

Shel Silverstein modified to fit the narrative

And God said, "People, this world is rough and if
Africans gonna make it, they gotta be tough
and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that skin and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die. And it's
that skin that helped to make you strong."

Antioco Dascalon said...

It's not much of a secret. The Bay Area is the capital of leftist radicalism and Oakland is the blackest part of the area. Ergo, black leftist radicalism.
The main reason is that the blacks of Oakland are surrounded by white guilt which enables all sorts of disfunction. I used to live there for years.

Svigor said...

By the way, The Planet of the Apes movies have always been Black Power allegories

Then they're politically-incorrect ones. Black power as villainy? They've always seemed more like civil rights role-swapping to me; apes as unreconstructed whites, with YT protagonist getting to see what it's like with the shoe on the other foot. With the unintended consequence being the YT audience gets to think about how bad black rule would be. Well, the first one, anyway. Subsequent ones delved into the apes' slave history.

Anonymous said...

My fond memory of Oakland is that during my first week in California 15 years ago, I pulled into a cheap motel in the middle of a long drive. Two guys saw me check in and broke into my room, pointed a gun at me and took my wallet. Since they were 250 lbs each, the gun seemed overkill.


Anonymous said...

A number of people have already mentioned it. Oakland became the big commercial cargo port with all the longshoremen manually loading trains (and later trucks) that could go directly to where-ever without having to go around the Bay, unlike San Francisco. Longshoreman was a good job for blacks back in the day before containerization. But after you didn't need so many longshoremen...

I've heard the Alameda County Sheriffs department had a lot of experience putting down labor troubles on the waterfront, say in the 30s. I read a description once of how later in the late 60s they finally put an end to the troubles around Berkeley, after the Berkeley city council or somebody finally gave up the fight. They walked down the street line abreast firing shotguns loaded with rock salt.

Anonymous said...

As late as the year 1955, the number murders committed in Oakland was zero. A bit of a statistical anomaly, as the years before and after were somewhat higher. Oakland was a delightful, peaceful, and safe city, with an excellent city government. There was always diversity, but until the 1960's, it was dominated by whites.

Anonymous said...

"Speaking of Oakland, I haven't seen a comment from pat/Albertosaurus in a while. I hope he's OK."
________________________________

Read a very recent comment from him (just a few days ago) on Jayman's blog.

Anonymous said...

Yup.

I always thought that Pierre Boule, (author of Planet of the Apes), was on to something. The book is far, far deeper and more inspired than most people give it credit for.
I believe that the novel was written in the early '60s - at a time before massive, uncontrolled third world immigration really took hold in the west. I believe that the moral behind 'Planet of the Apes' is NOT crude racialist stereotyping and mockery, but the fact that Pierre Boule, a visionary, could see exactly where the west was headed by pursuing its beyond crazy policies, ideology and dogma. Basically, the moral behind 'Planet of the Apes' is to express the sheer incredulity at the apparent impossibility of an advanced culture being beaten into slavery and submission by a much more primitive culture, through the advanced cultures' own stupidity, cowardice and naivety.
I repeat, it's almost like Boule was divinely inspired by the gift of prophecy, and the scenario he predicted way back in 1960, will actually come to pass, perhaps a century after his prophecy.

Anonymous said...

Jack London was a socialist, perhaps these days he would be described as a 'Bennite'.
But, typically for those times, (the 1900s), he was unabashedly racially prejudiced.
Strangely enough, Jack London participated or observed an Australian 'black-birding' raid on an aboriginal settlement.

manton said...

Re: containers, I should have said "freight," sorry.

Yes, part of the point of containers was to do away with the need for longshoremen. The longshoremen's union headed by Harry Bridges was the most radical and militant on the West Coast and a major source of labor, political and economic trouble.

josh said...

This is Carly Schwarz reporting from Black Voices...

Mr. Anon said...

There used to be a little ghetto on the south peninsula - East Palo Alto, right across the tracks from the tweedy, posh city that is home to Stanford University. Is it still black, I wonder, or have they all been driven out by people willing to pay top dollar for houses in such a cherry location? Anyone know?

Anthony said...

Mr. Anon - EPA is now a mix of Mexican with tech types who couldn't afford to buy in Sunnyvale during the boom. There are a few blacks left, but driving up University Ave. from the Dumbarton Bridge, almost everyone I see before 101 is Mexican.

Anthony said...

The Raiders still have white working-class fans - they were recently running fan trains out to Tracy and Stockton to bring in their fans in an environment where they could drink beer and not have to drive home.

Bay Areans divide their football loyalties by class: working class (and working-class wannabes) are Raider Fans, while middle-class are 49er fans.

Anonymous said...

Well, if Oakland keeps losing blacks it will have less crime than Houston and Dallas Tx which are losing less blacks or in the case of Houston gaining them among more Mexicans and Central Americans.

Anthony said...

Interestingly enough, crime in Oakland really is segregated.

The number of whites murdered in Oakland is almost always in the single digits each year; if you're white, stay away from the drug trade and don't marry linux filesystem developers, you're pretty safe.

Car theft has become a Vietnamese specialty - they steal the cars and run the chop shops. The neighborhood I own a house in used to have a chop shop, and stolen cars would turn up near my house fairly regularly. But cars were almost never stolen *from* that neighborhood. It was the somewhat nicer neighborhoods that had the highest car-theft rates: lots of nicer cars near, but not in, the places where a chop shop could hide.

Anonymous said...

Re East Palo Alto, it's still there. Seems to have quieted down a bit, maybe. So has Richmond.

All these towns now use those audio gunshot location systems, I think. It seems to have helped a good bit with the more out of hand stuff.

Anonymous said...

Port of Oakland:

"...first major port on the Pacific Coast of the United States to build terminals for container ships...

...fifth busiest container port in the United States..."



Also, "During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Oakland's black plurality reached its peak at approximately 47% of the overall population."