Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 29, 2014

Round and around and around and around we go

Filed under: Alameda, Measure A — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Short post for today, mostly because I’m pretty sad and disenchanted right now.   I imagine I’ll get over it by tomorrow, but still…

In my everlasting optimism, I thought that folks in Alameda would be able to grasp the concept of what I call the “Fact of Life theme song concept.”   As in you take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and there you have the facts of life.   It was interesting to see how quickly the discussion yesterday devolved and how exactly what Ta-Nehisi Coates challenged us all to do was summarily dismissed.   That policies that may have been handed down at a federal level, but were enacted at a local level should be discussed nationally, but that we should never examine ourselves in our own communities because we are somehow beyond reproach.

It was especially of interest to me, as a non white person, to be told what is racist and what is not.  It was interesting to see folks take umbrage at the fact that even having the conversation of what Alameda was and how it got there (see Chip Johnson piece) was to be called a “racist.”  It was interesting to be told that bringing up race in context of Measure A was somehow “race baiting.”   It was interesting to have my agenda questioned because I have an opinion that was somehow in opposition to what some people felt about the same topic.   It was interesting to be told that because my opinions are different that I don’t care about the quality of life of Alamedans.   It was interesting that I was “apologizing” for Chip Johnson even though my only reference was to muse on how new residents may not have understood the racial context that Chip Johnson was referring to.   It’s interesting that someone concluded that I must be trying to gain “points” with political powers that be and that I am some sort of “mouthpiece” for those powers that be because that person disagreed with my opinion.   It’s interesting that someone posted yearbook photos of a track team from the 50s as though the existence of Blacks in 1950 Alameda is indicative of something other than the fact that Black people existed in Alameda in the 1950s.   It’s interesting that some folks were so interested in talking about everything including whether I intended to sell my home when the market rebounded except for whether or not race relations may have played a role in the passage of Measure A.

Instead of asking why or discussing why some people may perceive Measure A as exclusionary toward people of color and low-income families folks will talk about everything else, and that, I think, speaks volumes.   Some folks would rather dwell on how offended they are because in some roundabout way they perceived that they are being called racists because they think Measure A is a good thing.

Until we are ready to discuss why people feel as though Measure A was exclusionary and get to the root of those accusations as well as understand that making a judgment about a certain law is not making a judgment about someone’s moral character then this conversation will always remain in this unproductive and ugly cycle.

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48 Comments

  1. they perceived that they are being called racists because they think Measure A is a good thing

    ===========================================

    Having been labeled a racist on this very blog (it was several years ago) for thinking Measure A is a good thing, yeah, I guess I’m a little sensitive.

    I love living here. I love the magic of a low key pace of life so near one of the world’s foremost cities. I love it so much I spent a ton of money to settle here. If I had wanted a condo in Emeryville or SOMA, or a tract house in a cul-de-sac in Walnut Creek, I’d have bought there. But I bought in Alameda for Alameda. I find efforts to overturn the very charm which brought me here bothersome, and when served with a moralizing finger wag, downright offensive.

    My own family is a multi-ethnic one. I have personally witnessed my nephews called the N-word. Racism offends me as deeply as it does you. Talk about it, it’s a serious and worthy topic. But don’t be surprised when people get offended by moral superiority and grasping at very inflammatory straws. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,as S. Freud said, and this cigar is just a homeowner who wants to preserve his quality of life.

    Comment by dave — May 29, 2014 @ 6:35 am

  2. Keep on keepin’ on Lauren!

    Comment by John Knox White — May 29, 2014 @ 6:56 am

  3. There was a lot written here yesterday that was shameful and I was amazed at the personal level of the attacks and I expressed how quickly it went downhill. I also was ashamed of the people who allowed certain phrases to be introduced in to the conversation and did not push back at the language- in a way- they were proving the very thing that they said was not happening. “It doesn’t happen (didn’t happen) and when it does- I just look away and pretend it didn’t”.
    I have always respected that this blog does not censor people and always lets everyone have their say no matter what it is but yesterday- I was ashamed of some of the voices on this blog that I have grown to respect even if I did not always agree with them.
    In sort of a back handed way- you did achieve some of the point- by even introducing the topic- you proved that the issue still exists – just in much more veiled ways.

    Comment by librarycat — May 29, 2014 @ 7:08 am

  4. Dave, I think your quality of life can be preserved and neighborhoods protected through better zoning codes, it doesn’t have to be through measure A. , however developing the base and the North side of Alameda is very hard using measure A. I have always hoped that this city could get to that point. Until then we have measure A.

    Comment by John P. — May 29, 2014 @ 7:15 am

  5. 4

    Measure A (which, by the way, makes no mention of ethnicity, as the prior redline codes do) has succeeded in large part because it is part of city charter rather than a simple ordinance. An ordinance can be overturned by three council votes, and the ease with which three votes can be bought is worrisome.

    You are correct that it does complicate development of new areas, but that can be easily solved with a new charter amendment, Measure A 2.0 if you will. The new measure I propose would open up the base and the waterfront to mixed use development while keeping the terms of the original Measure intact for the rest of the city. Importantly, it would have the strength of a charter amendment as opposed to a simple ordinance. That I would support, and I believe the preservationist community would as well. The Suncal initiative was an attempt to overturn it citywide, which was one of if not THE primary reason that vote went down in flames.

    Comment by dave — May 29, 2014 @ 7:26 am

  6. Lauren, thank you for your courage to wade into obviously a very sensistive subject for some. And as JKW says — keep on keepin on!

    Comment by Karen Bey — May 29, 2014 @ 7:31 am

  7. Lauren, it is people with a paucity of ideas that go for the personal attack, instead of sticking with the merits of the issue being discussed. I note that this is happening all over the blogs – particularly when people can remain anonymous while hurling invective at anybody who differs with them. When I have mentioned that some opine without reference to the facts, I get accused of incivility, but the kind of attacks that go to one’s family, choice of relationships, home, background, or any other non-merit factor are what are “beyond the pale”. You provide a valuable forum; filled with information. Do not despair; think of the many who are ready to accept positive ideas and discuss thorny issues in a civil manner; they far outnumber the trolls.

    Comment by Kate Quick — May 29, 2014 @ 8:03 am

  8. You should know by now that Measure A is THE number one, hot button, issue for Alamedans who care about this place. Raise the issue, you will hear the response.

    Comment by vigi — May 29, 2014 @ 9:53 am

  9. Interesting defense of the behavior – The person who dares to mention the issue deserves to be attacked on all levels for mentioning it.
    “you should know better”-

    Comment by libraryct — May 29, 2014 @ 10:02 am

  10. the response is starting to change, Dave and I don’t agree on many things but I would go along with his response to me on post#5. We can be the old folks who “yell get off my lawn” or we can sit down with our neighbors and discuss issues.

    Comment by John P. — May 29, 2014 @ 10:22 am

  11. Any discussion of social justice issues in Alameda, particularly any honest look at the city’s history of excluding people causes an eruption of anger. I often wonder what it is that is supposed to define us as Americans if it isn’t a desire to make sure the benefits of our prosperity and democracy extend as far as possible — true national security. And that is something we have a duty to pursue in Alameda as well.

    You must realize Lauren, that as a blogger you have created a platform for pulling these issues into the open and that causes people fear because they perceive you have a certain amount of power. They’re right. All newspapers, media outlets, commentators whom the public goes to for news and information have both power and public responsibility. You must use, as you have, with wisdom and judiciousness, to promote dialogue. The digital universe is wondrous in many ways, but it doesn’t seem to support the ability to listen anymore. Face to face discussions would probably lower the tension you feel here.

    I only wish, sadly, that this dialogue could be brought out into the public forum somehow, on a city level, where we could discuss the past honestly without fear or defensiveness and use it to build a better future in this town. You can’t heal a thing if the wounds of the past aren’t dealt with.

    Comment by Laura Thomas — May 29, 2014 @ 11:09 am

  12. Not every response is an attack, librarycat. Please remove the chip from your shoulder.

    Comment by vigi — May 29, 2014 @ 11:11 am

  13. So Vigi- what were you trying to say then? no chip, honest question- you did not push back against the rhetoric itself (some dog whistle like and some very specific like the use of the term race-baiting” and your contribution to this conversation was ” you should have known” which implies that the attacks were justified because the victim should have known better? If an issue is raised and the person is attacked on every level for even asking the question and the only defense of the attack is ” you should have known” by a person of your caliber – That is a pretty big door to open.
    If the intent of your post was different – than what was that intent? I want to presume that you do not condone those kinds of attacks.
    Laura, Kate and others have made very good points today about the attacks, their nature. This isn’t an attack- it is straight up question.

    Comment by librarycat — May 29, 2014 @ 11:31 am

  14. Notice that everybody who agrees with Do’s opinions are ‘contributors to the conversation’ and anybody who does not agree with her view is a ‘race bating’, ‘attacker’, personal attacker’, ‘incivil’, ‘shameful’ racist.

    Frankly I doubt chip Johnson understands the racial context that Chip Johnson was referring to.

    Comment by Jack — May 29, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

  15. Other interesting stuff from Chip that Oakland doesn’t want to talk about:

    http://www.sfgate.com/file/762/762-2013%20Victim%20and%20Suspect%20Race3.pdf

    Comment by Jack — May 29, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

  16. Quotes from yesterday:

    “Lauren, I wanted to thank you for yesterday’s post, and now today’s as well. The Atlantic article was sobering in its thoroughness, as were your quotes about the redlining of Alameda.”

    “ Your reiteration here of why it is relevant using the article is excellent.”

    “Reading the letters to the editor from the time, Johnson’s assertions are not at all out of line, but of course some voted because of loss of victorians, some because of Harbor Bay development (and the back room political shenanigans that nearly lead to triple the housing out there), and some because of the earlier south shore fill-and-develop.”

    “Not saying the racist agenda was not in someway served by the vote, but I don’t believe that the majority of voters were motivated by bigotry in this case. The harm done to local character by unfettered building was massive and the scars are still present today. “

    “yes, racism has existed and continues to exist in Alameda.”

    “And no, I am not indifferent to the Coats article, not remotely. Like most people, I read it and I think how tragic and terrible how country’s racial history has been.”

    “It IS a very worthy piece, one very much worth discussing, and contains a lot of information that many people just aren’t aware of, especially the Federal sponsorship of redlining.”
    ——————————
    Interpretation: “…exactly what Ta-Nehisi Coates challenged us all to do was summarily dismissed.”

    Huh?

    BTW, once again, my daily dose of Blogging Bayport mysteriously failed to appear in my inbox today. Does anybody else have this problem? What causes it? Anybody have any ideas?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 29, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  17. Perhaps it would be a good idea if everyone screaming ” you- NO you!” went back and re-visited all of yesterday’s comments- I just did and can really see why Lauren is so discouraged- there was a lot of assuming of other people motives going on and defensive posturing and typing from a crouched position. Taking a look at what you thought heard said and what was really said is always a good thing.

    Comment by librarycat — May 29, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

  18. Hyperbole, thy name is librarycat. (BTW, you should check out the archives to get an idea of what real mudslinging looks like. We’ve all become much more civilized in recent years. You should also know that people who use pseudonyms are much more likely to be dissed around here. Something about respect for those with the courage to identify themselves.)

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 29, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

  19. Just for you Denise- my name is Donalda- my moniker has been librarycat for 20+ years and a whole lot of people know who I am – I am not a secret.
    Do you feel more comfortable with my opinions now- glad that I could help. Actually don’t care how it used to be – care about how it is now.
    Not real sure why suggesting that everyone take a step back is offensive but ..to each their own.

    Comment by librarycat — May 29, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

  20. …”typing from a crouched position.” Don’t cats usually spring from a crouched position?

    I hate to have to be Captain Obvious, but “you should know better…” means: LDo seemed perturbed that, instead of responding to the Atlantic article she brought up, once Measure A was mentioned, Measure A got all the attention. DUH!!! If you have really been here for 20 years, you too should know better.

    Comment by vigi — May 29, 2014 @ 1:14 pm

  21. Update: Russo told us today at the meeting that Chip-on-his-shoulder Johnson is originally from Ohio, & came here from Michigan in the 1980s. [Way to go, Ohio]. So no wonder Chip doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    Comment by vigi — May 29, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

  22. ok- curious- I did not say that I have been here 20 years (although I have been here longer) _ i said that my moniker has been librarycat for 20 years (my business name also) . so if I was not born and raised here- my guestions and opinions are less valid? I asked a straight up question as to your intent with the remark, overlooked your personal attack about my emotional state . I was polite and I complimented you on being a person of high caliber and then..you did not do me the same courtesy. Actually this little bit of dialog mirrors rather clearly the entire nature of the debate that has been playing out about this issue in the last few days.

    I actually thought “typing from a crouched position” was an apt metaphor for what was going on and a sort of funny way of putting it – guess that you disagree. But you are correct- calling yourself “captain obvious” is so much more clever.

    Comment by librarycat — May 29, 2014 @ 1:38 pm

  23. 19. Thanks. I know exactly who you are now. I even found your website: http://www.donaldalibrary.prl.ab.ca/

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 29, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

  24. Helluva little psychological shit fight you all got going on here.

    Carry on.

    Comment by Anonomous on the Internet — May 29, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

  25. Denise- that is a really good try but I am not part of the Alberta library system. However, my name does have it’s origins in Scottish/ Canadian history but the moniker comes from a famous painting and my days in the publishing industry.

    Comment by librarycat — May 29, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

  26. 24. No. We’re done, but congratulations! You get the triple crown for profanity, cowardice AND poor spelling.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 29, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

  27. In the past when Lauren revisited incidents such as the racist exchanges on police computers and subsequently reprinted letters to the editor of similarly outrageous nature, people attacked her for being fixated on the negative past, as if it had no bearing on the present.

    So on Tuesday when she continued to discuss the Coates piece and wrote ” It’s about bringing to the forefront all of the good and the bad about America’s history and historical dealings and not think that somehow everything has been squared up simply because slavery was abolished and now everyone gets to use the same bathroom. “, I was very pleased with that connection.

    I was less pleased that she trotted out the flawed piece by Chip Johnson with it’s Measure A theme in the same context as the great Coates piece. I had to re-read Johnson’s piece several times just now to make sure what I think. First time through it felt as awful as the day I first spotted it in the paper, gratuitous, opportunistic and riddled with “clunky” technical errors, which were not horrendous heresies, but with such a convoluted issue as Measure A the errors were certainly unwelcome. A columnist by definition is posing as having authority of opinion, and so there is a responsibility to get it right or not bother. Johnson should not have bothered and similarly I wish Lauren hadn’t invoked his piece. Or I would have been less perturbed if there had been more effort to distance the piece for it’s flaws than giving it a pass as merely “clunky”.

    I’ve now re-read the piece until it is mush and has lost the original abrasive impact. It’s just words. I’ve been a long time critic of Measure A who has no trouble accepting that it’s support encompassed a racist element. But when I read “The move (*to side step Measure A) signals changing attitudes in a city that for years operated more like a fortress than a city with free access to and from.”, I was offended by the obvious shallow grasp of details and lack of real knowledge about what makes the place tick. I felt he may have been probing under rocks for column ideas one day and in a phone call to our City Manger hit on the “fortress” quote which inspired him on his misguided idea for meeting deadline.

    I was equally annoyed yesterday when I discovered Robert Sullwold, who had done a thorough critique of the original Johnson column, was still flogging it, in his convoluted examination of the current status of Measure A. It was sort of a pox on both your houses moment.

    I recently had a load of gravel delivered by an African American guy who commented on driving black in Alameda, being profiled. He was philosophical and admitted things are better but the past he was invoking is more recent than 1973. In March we got a late night ride from Fruitvale BART with an African cabbie who was seriously paranoid of getting a ticket.

    Recently on this blog commenters have decried the “Killing Field” that is Oakland and how they lie a mere “ten feet” away. The fortress mentality is more current and runs deeper than aging citizens who cast original votes to pass Measure A , with at least xenophobic fears in their heart if not outright racism. Yet it is dubious endeavor to persist in framing Measure A as primarily exclusionary, even considering the social context of it’s passage.

    on the topic of Johnson in the context of Oakland I found these discussions interesting:

    http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/03/23/18581176.php?show_comments=1
    http://www.ebcitizen.com/2013/11/chronicle-columnist-thinks-city-hall.html

    Comment by MI — May 29, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

  28. Lauren, you have so many strikes against you I’ve lost count.

    #1. your a woman, #2 your a minority, #3 you weren’t born in Alameda,#4 you live in The West End, #5 you live in Bay Port,#6 you take on the gentry, #7 you want to talk about racism,#8 your a liberal,#9 oh never mind.

    Comment by John P. — May 29, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

  29. 27

    Mark:

    The first day the Coates piece was referenced there was pretty calm and civil discussion about it, for the most part:

    https://laurendo.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/is-that-a-threat/

    But the next day, she got up on a very high horse and let loose. She cited the Johnson piece, which characterizes the citizenry as a bunch of racist yahoos, and elevates the “raise the drawbridge” tinhorns to a status they’ve never had. That tactic has never made it past the barroom yakking phase but Johnson implies it is zeitgeist. It was a hack column, one that would embarrass a decent writer.

    She then got both moralistic and vague at the same time. She never actually said “Measure A supporters are racist” but the undercurrent was very obvious. The implication that her views are enlightened and pure and above the views of those who disagree with her was pretty strong too. On a good day our blogmistress’s work has a messianic streak (she is “progressive about development” the rest of us are “stuck in a time warp”) but yesterday she was practically canonizing herself while condemning others. An accusation of racism is very serious and should not be made lightly, as I recall you have some personal experience with, Mark. An unfair accusation like that is damned serious, as you know. While she didn’t explicitly accuse anyone, it was mighty clear in her tone.

    Wiki defines trolling as:

    In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4]

    That’s what she did, whether she meant to or not. It was red meat to the pro-Measure A crowd with a dash of invective in the marinade. No one should be surprised that people were offended, that piece was tailor-made to do just that. Maybe she took a little more heat than was warranted, but really, it should not have surprised her.

    Today’s hangdog sadness that not everyone kissed her ass & asked for more was self indulgent and even a little sad.

    It could have been an interesting discussion. I suspect damn few people knew the very explicit block by block nature of federally sponsored redlining, for example. It would have been interesting, as indeed it was in round 1. The wheels came off in round 2 but it was her own doing, not her nemeses’. Her dish-out-to-take-it ratio is way out of whack.

    Comment by dave — May 29, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

  30. Lauren, I appreciate you bringing up the Coates article and redlining in Alameda and elsewhere. I am not a fan of the Johnson column, for the same reasons as MI. I do remember attending meetings about historic preservation, and being shocked that some of the people also attending were interested in keeping people from the other side of the bridge out. And at being mortified when some people thought, because I am interested in preservation, I identified with those people.
    Although I agree with others who think that the sponsors putting Measure A on the ballot were motivated mostly by anger at too rapid development and by a desire to preserve our built environment, sadly, I realize that racism also played a part in passing it. I was surprised when later efforts to preserve the Alameda Theater and bring it into the 21st century with the additions it needed to compete, were opposed, with some of the same anti-Oakland sentiments and the modern euphemism for race “crime”.

    There is an underlying current of history that influences decisions that we make. Some issues have lots of baggage from the redlining past, such as one high school or two, allocating resources fairly east and west in primary schools, what to build on Alameda Point. It is good to have these discussions out in the open and I am glad Lauren makes it possible.
    And it isn’t that long ago, maybe in the 90’s, that neighbors received a note under their windshield wiper saying they should park in front of their own house, and calling them “brown” or something like that. Sad, sad.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — May 29, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

  31. On a more positive note– this spring there was a fundraiser at the Alameda Theatre to bring back Park League baseball (now to be called T-shirt league), and it was very well attended, by East and West. What a warm atmosphere!

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — May 29, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

  32. dave, I think I would apply “troll” more to commenters who search for blogs to drop bombastic comments, but for those who feel Lauren is trolling for controversy, we can exercise the option not to take the bait. Jack Mingo said he was avoiding reading comments.

    As for her opener ” In my everlasting optimism, I thought that folks in Alameda would be able to grasp the concept of what I call the “Fact of Life theme song concept.” , I think I’m a little suspicious of disingenuous, or at a minimum feel condescended to, but I’m not perfect and neither are you.

    Coincidentally, my wife and I finally got to see Brian Copeland’s ten year old work Not Genuine Black Man. The title is from a piece of anonymous hate mail from another black person which he received while doing radio. He described his fan mail as being “half from old ladies and half hate mail from wing nuts”. The piece is not solely focused on what characteristics constitutes blackness among black males as I had thought. His point is that black skin is enough. The play i s really an autobiographical piece about his being one of the first black families to live in San Leandro, in about 1970, where they experienced housing discrimination. A real black comedy.

    The run at Berkeley Rep has been extended until the end of June, but the last two weeks are already sold out. Copeland has performed the piece here in Alameda at Altarena. From his description of San Leandro being 99.99% white and posting a police officer at the border of Oakland who profiled any black persons who crossed the line, San Leandro sounds like it was at least as bad at Alameda ever was, and in 1970 may have been worse.

    Comment by MI — May 30, 2014 @ 9:07 am

  33. being conscious of the concept “micro aggression” can be very helpful. I don’t recall it being referred to in the Coates piece, but even though it was coined in 1970 it’s been embraced in popular usage more in the last decade. Another level of awareness. I imagine this would make people who like to rail against political correctness shit themselves.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/22/us/as-diversity-increases-slights-get-subtler-but-still-sting.html?_r=0
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microaggression

    Comment by MI — May 30, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  34. I think it’s a bit ingenuous to label LD as a “troll” “sowing discord in her “next day after Coates” post regardless how Wiki defines the “Troll” meaning. Your statement ‘…whether she meant to or not.’ essentially immunizes her from trollism because of her ignorance of and single-issue interpretation of Alameda history….that being a history of caustic white racism towards non-whites disregarding any factors that run counter to her post theme. Trolls know they are sowing discord. I think she honestly believes in her one-interpretation theme and thought after the supportive Coates’ comments that bashing Alamedans over Measure A would carry the day. She really doesn’t understand Alameda history.

    She continually boasts that she is ‘a person of color’ and therefor self-inoculates herself from any bias whatsoever and has free rein to wax eloquently about why whites won’t own up to racism. Admit Measure A was meant to be exclusionary, discuss your sins with the community she implies and agree with what Chip proclaims, perform whatever Coates’ reparations are required to make non-whites whole and we’ll get out of this ugly and unproductive cycle.

    She states that the comments that do not support her race based interpretation of Measure A on the Chip Johnson post speak ‘volumes’. One can only interpret her use of the word ‘volumes’ is proof that in her mind the commenters she speaks of are the ‘trolls’ and they are the disruptors of normal on-topic discussion.

    Comment by Jack — May 31, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

  35. 34. “One can only interpret her use of the word ‘volumes’ is proof that in her mind the commenters she speaks of are the ‘trolls’ and they are the disruptors of normal on-topic discussion.” Like.

    “whatever Coates reparations are required to make non-whites whole”. that’s the really loaded question that will drive people crazy and I think much of the point of the article being written was to invoke that difficult conversation about the uneven playing field having an historic foundation in post emancipation era, not just in slavery itself. I was familiar with almost all the anecdotes like the destruction of the black middle class enclave in Tulsa which helped guarantee efforts by blacks to improve their own lot would fail, but I didn’t know about the reparations controversy in Israel.

    In Brian Copeland’s opening monologue he runs down all the things which may or may not make him a “genuine black man”. He says “I don’t believe in reparations for slavery, but I will cash the check!” The movement in Israel to refuse reparations was a revelation and a lot to think about.

    I’m not inclined to give my resume for why I’m not a genuine racist because I know my heart is tainted, but on the other hand I’m committed to trying to tap as much empathy as possible when it comes to closing rifts. Even if my flailing actions in that regard are crude or contradictory, I’m trying to hold to that compass heading. I think Lauren is guided by the same star.

    (a little foot note: there is no way an opportunistic sleaze bag gets away with disingenuously trying to imply others of us are racists because of where our houses are located. Not without being confronted about it, preferably in a well lit public setting.)

    Comment by MI — June 1, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  36. 35 I was referring to the “next day” after the ‘Coates’ post, the Chip Johnson article LD reported on and dave spoke to in #29 above. Your comment is about Coates’ call for reparations, which under dave’s (wiki’s) loose definition makes Coates an Atlantic troll since his article is all over the internet and is meant to incite.

    An article which I personally don’t put much stock in since he (Coates) changes his mind about reparations every four years or so. Four years ago he was against reparations notwithstanding the Atlantic piece. Of course it was impossible for Coates to address the depth of historical factors concerning slavery in the Americas so he cherry picks those factors that make a big headline and sells a lot of copies.

    Comment by Jack — June 1, 2014 @ 11:57 am

  37. yeah Jack, my 35 was two fold, acknowledging your sentence about the commenters being trolls as probably accurate and then making further comment on Coates, not related to 34.

    on 36.- From the current Atlantic Magazine perspective sales were probably a consideration, but if they lost money they would not have survived so long. If you consider their pedigree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Atlantic) this topic is right in their wheelhouse. Aside from it’s founder, Francis Henry Underwood it’s “sponsors were a group of prominent writers of national reputation, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Greenleaf Whittier and James Russell Lowell, who served as its first editor.” ****

    I”m not aware of Coates record with regard to his position changes, but he could be against reparations and still have written the article because the whole point was really an academic exercise about just daring to approach the subject seriously. In the run up to the article’s publication I heard him talk on TV about the entire editorial discussion at the Atlantic and what approach the article should take, but the details have evaporated from my brain. The article may have incited you, but this discussion inspires me.

    It’s been Conyer’s point too with HR 40: “Many of the most pressing issues, which have heretofore not been broached on any broad scale, would be addressed. Issues such as the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery, whether an apology is owed, whether compensation is warranted and, if so, in what form and who should eligible would also be delved into.” It’s not about advocating pro or con, it’s about advocating that the subject warrants a discussion even for a con position to have any real authority.

    At least half the “main stream media” can be considered trolls as they fish for ratings with salacious fodder, and that’s before in your face examples like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and MSNBC. The subject of reparations should do more than incite ire.

    ****Frederick Law Olmsted also belongs on the list of original Atlantic sponsors. From his Wiki page: “Interested in the slave economy, he was commissioned by the New York Daily Times (now The New York Times) to embark on an extensive research journey through the American South and Texas from 1852 to 1857. His dispatches to the Times were collected into three volumes (A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1856),A Journey Through Texas (1857), A Journey in the Back Country in the Winter of 1853-4 (1860)) which remain vivid first-person social documents of the pre-war South.” I’ve read excerpts from those writings in Olmsted’s biography by Witold Rybczynski where Olmsted discusses how paid labor in the North was more cost effective than slavery, do to a number of factors. There is plenty of precedent for discussing the economic impacts of slavery from a number of perspectives.

    Comment by MI — June 2, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

  38. There’s nothing academic about the Coates piece. Citing Conyer’s expanding views on addressing pressing issues of lingering effects of slavery in the US is like citing Russo’s views on expanding development into every nook and cranny of this Island. The Atlantic much like the New Yorker Magazine and Harpers, all of which I used to subscribe to, have become IMO agents of the downfall. Olmsted’s dispatch musings which you cited are indeed worth reading but modern historians are likely to be more accurate.

    Comment by Jack — June 2, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

  39. I was invited to address a meeting of the Native Sons of the Golden West last night regarding efforts to save the Isabelle Clark Memorial (“Dumb Friends”) bench in Jackson Park. This is a group of men born in California interested in historical preservation, most of them born in Alameda. I think some of you would be surprised at the conversation at my table from the “old white guys”. Stereotypes are not just the pitfall of the old guard, the most progressive progressive is just as apt to fall into that trap.

    These men had opinions all over the political map. Some were even in favor of altering Prop 13, imagine! Of course, as my co-presenter Jim Manning pointed out, any organization that can count Chief Justice Earl Warren, Richard Nixon, and Gov. “Pat” Brown as members must be broad minded.

    We did not discuss Measure A (if only I’d had time!) but we did talk about how, as kids, some of them were forbidden to go west of Grand Avenue. This reminded me of when my husband and I came to Alameda and were advised not to buy or rent west of Grand Avenue. Was this a racist warning? In part, no doubt since that’s where most people of color in those days could afford to live, where others wouldn’t buy. However, the presence of the Naval Air Station seemed to be the main concern based on their recollections. Moms did not want their kids exposed to the “fleet’s in” drinking and whoring that went with the territory. It was war time, remember? They also recalled how much fun they had taking the bus into Oakland which, in those days, was where the ladies went to shop in full regalia: hat, gloves and all. Oakland in 1940 was a very different place than it is today. As was Bay Farm Island (the group was split on whether it should be called that or Harbor Bay) which, they recall, was where teen couples drove to make out away from prying eyes!

    I guess I’ll be accused of “down-playing” the race aspect, but that’s not my intention. What I mean to emphasize is that you have to look at the whole picture in understanding what may or may not be driving public opinion, especially if you are talking about a past you were not privy to. There were both liberals and conservatives then as there are today. There were as many kinds of saints and sinners as there are now (possibly more saints), and people did right or wrong as their conscience dictated, just as they do now. Let’s not make the mistake of profiling our ancestors either.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 3, 2014 @ 10:59 am

  40. Denise, I don’t have a major problem with your comment, other than to say those people of color couldn’t have lived anywhere else in Alameda at that time whether they had money or not. I’m “privy” to what happened because I was here growing up in the West End. These fellows may have felt that the base was a main concern, but that is not what I feel was the main concern. I understand that this is history, I also believe we have changed as a nation. So I’m not saying this city was a bad city, it was just a city like any other at that time.

    Comment by John P. — June 3, 2014 @ 11:22 am

  41. I did not say that was their opinion, John. They were never asked point blank. This was just my unscientific opinion based on the nature of their comments regarding that end of town. Race became a bigger factor after WWII when there were more people of color wanting to move here and who could afford to buy homes. Some of these guys were near 90 years old.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 3, 2014 @ 11:56 am

  42. 39
    Since Grand Avenue is in Oakland it’s no wonder they never rented west of it. That’s a newb faux pas, thinking there’s a Grand Avenue in Alameda.

    Comment by Jack — June 3, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

  43. 42. I put that in there just for you, Jack. I know how you like to feel superior 😉

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 3, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

  44. Since I live on Grand “Avenue” [Street], I have noticed the frequency of this faux pas increasing over time. The Alameda Sun has been making this error for years, every time it prints a map of the 4th of July parade route; or the address of the Mormon church. Now even the WW of the East End (DS) is doing it.

    Vigi is a card-carrying member of the Native Daughters of the Golden West. You must come & address us some time.

    Comment by vigi — June 3, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

  45. I suspect it’s the width of the street and the name “Grand” that makes people assume it’s an avenue. Just call it “Grand” and everybody’s good. Any city with a Park Avenue that’s mostly residential parallel to a Park Street that’s mostly commercial has to assume that people are going to get confused.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 4, 2014 @ 9:37 am

  46. 45. You’re female? That’s kind of surprising. I never guessed. As for my being wicked, you have no idea.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — June 4, 2014 @ 9:46 am

  47. 46. In general (except for things like the Park Avenue anomaly), streets in Alameda run north- south and avenues run east-west.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — June 4, 2014 @ 4:38 pm


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