GROWING UP IN EAST OAKLAND

I DON’T FEEL SAFE AT HOME BUT I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT MY ACTUAL HOUSE, I’M TALKING ABOUT MY HOME TOWN OF OAKLAND, CA. OAKLAND IS KNOWN FOR ITS HIGH CRIME AND MURDER RATES. RESIDENTS ARE FREQUENTLY SEEING VIOLENCE IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOODS AND IT’S BECOMING PART OF THEIR DAILY LIVES. WITH VIOLENCE INCREASING MY DESIRE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE TO HANG OUT BECOMES LOWER EACH DAY. THE TIMES THAT I DO GO OUT I RUN INTO GUYS THAT TRY TO “HOLLA” WITH RUDE COMMENTS SUCH AS “HEY LIL MAMA CAN I GET YO NUMBER” THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY NAMES THROWN MY WAY, IT’S CRAZY. CAT CALLS ARE ALL I HEAR THE ENTIRE TIME I’M OUT. WHEN ALL I WANT TO DO IS GO TO THE BURRITO TRUCK. THIS IS ONE OF THE MANY THINGS THAT SHOULDN’T BE NORMAL OR ACCEPTED IN MY CITY. BEING RASIED IN OAKLAND DOESN’T MAKE TRAVELING AROUND OAKLAND EASIER. OAKLAND NATIVES SHOULDN’T HAVE TO LOOK BACK EVERY FIVE STEPS JUST TO WALK A BLOCK. AS A YOUNG WOMAN, I FEAR OF GETTING SHOT EVEN THOUGH I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CRIME IN MY COMMUNITY. I JUST DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO HEAR ON THE NEWS THAT A YOUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN NAMED SHELBY WILLIAMS SHOT AND KILLED ON 98TH AND INTERNATIONAL AT 3 O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON WALKING BACK TO HER HOME. AS I BECOME OLDER, WALKING DOWN THE STREETS OF OAKLAND WITH MY MOM I’VE NOTICED MORE THAN WHAT I HAD IN PREVIOUS YEARS. WHEN I WAS YOUNGER I WAS ABLE TO WALK DOWN THE STREET AND WAVE TO THE PEOPLE MY MOM KNEW WITHOUT ANY WORRIES. NOW I WONDER IF IT WAS JUST BECAUSE I WAS YOUNG AND DIDN’T KNOW THE TROUBLES THAT WERE REALLY HAPPENING IN OAKLAND. THAT’S WHY NOW I’VE BECOME MORE PROTECTIVE OF THE ONES THAT I CARE FOR. I JUST WISH OAKLAND COULD BE THE TOWN IT USE TO BE WHEN I WAS GROWING UP.0

 

FOR YOUTH RADIO I’M SHELBY WILLIAMS

YOU CAN LISTEN TO THIS COMMENTARY AND MORE AT WWW.YOUTHRADIO.ORG

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