Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 30, 2020

Uncomfortably numb

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

So we’ve been seeing Trump stickers being put up in Alameda.  (And please don’t even try to claim that the Trump brand is now not completely aligned with white supremacy)  Black Lives Matter signs being defaced.  White Lives Matter signs being placed on light poles.  But now, we have racist vandals hitting cars in the the East End with “All Lives Matter” tags and keying the vehicles of a Black family.  From a response by Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft:

This morning several families in an East End neighborhood, including an African-American family, discovered that their cars had been vandalized overnight with spray painted racist messages. The African-American family’s car was also keyed and the tires were gouged. But, the story doesn’t end with these cowardly, racist acts. Almost immediately, neighbors, passersby, and others who read about the incident on social media, showed up to offer support, warm wishes, and elbow grease. Individuals, including John Knox White, Alameda Vice Mayor, helped clean the spray paint from the cars while others wrote and drew chalk messages of support on the sidewalk. Councilmember Jim Oddie and Assistant City Manager Gerry Beaudin were also present. The African-American neighbors told me that they cried when they opened their front door this morning and saw their car, and were reduced to tears again when they saw the crowd that gathered to show their support.

Hate and intolerance have no place in our city, or any city, and will not be tolerated in Alameda. Alameda Police Department is investigating this incident. And, as demonstrated by our community’s response today, those who engage in cowardly, racist acts are greatly outnumbered.

Black Lives Matter

There’s a Go Fund Me for the families if you’re interested in donating.

But look, these racist feelings and beliefs didn’t crop up overnight in Alameda.  We should be neither shocked nor surprised that this has happened.  After all, only — was it last year? time is a hole right now — we were dealing with racist and anti-semitic graffiti.  In the year 2017 a noose (A NOOSE) was found at Alameda High School.

At the City Council special meeting the other week, police dispatchers spoke about the number of calls they received that were racial in nature. From Alameda.  Callers from Alameda.

We keep not wanting to talk about these issues of racial animus because we’re so scared of making people uncomfortable.  But when we say “people” we really mean “white people” because being uncomfortable is a near daily sensation for BIPOC.

So let’s talk about why it is that in the year 2020 — and, listen, this cannot all be blamed on a Donald Trump presidency — we have people deliberately dismissing the message of Black Lives Matter by graffiti-ing cars with “All Lives Matter.”  It’s because as many signs as we put up that says “Everyone Belongs Here” it’s not a statement that everyone believes in practice.  We keep recycling the same conversations in a vacuum whenever an issue rises to the level of outrage, but then the outrage dies and we conveniently forget again.  And when folks try to bring it up, to address the issues in less fraught times when lessons learned can be digested without heightened emotions, we’re nest fouling.

So let’s talk about why it is that All Lives Matter was written on East End cars.  Let’s talk about those swastikas being scattered in our schools.  Let’s talk about the noose at Alameda High.  Let’s talk about the windows being smashed at the local mosque and synagogue. Let’s talk about what happened in 1991 and the ensuing public response which included a whole lot of correspondence from community members seemingly endorsing or excusing the racist language used by police officers.   Let’s talk about the widespread use of “Oakland” as a pejorative and dog whistle.   Let’s put it all out there on the table and do better and expect better from our neighbors and community members.  Let’s have these uncomfortable conversations so that BIPOC can stop being uncomfortable simply because they exist in these spaces that have been built and protected for and by white people.

13 Comments »

  1. Thank you to John Knox White, Jim Oddie and Mr. Beaudin for helping clean up this ugly incident, and sorry to the targets of it. It’s an embarrassment to the community, and their readiness to roll up their sleeves is good to see.

    I agree with the whole list of local incidents and usages that should be on the table for discussion and would add at least one more fairly recent one:

    A 2018 10+ paragraph public letter (otherwise known as a mere “unfortunate” “choice of words”) in the Alameda Sun. In it, the president of the Alameda Democratic Club called on the City Council to protect American and Alameda values against a “wave” of investors from China, the kind who chant broken English in the halls of the Legislature and, it was suggested, lack “human decency”.

    Lies and stereotypes are one place where it begins.

    https://alamedasun.com/sites/default/files/print-editions/page_06_012518_oped.pdf (“Open Letter” to City by Dem. Club Co-President)

    Comment by MP — June 30, 2020 @ 9:38 am

    • Were we reading the same article? You’re distorting what’s actually said in the article to play “gotcha.” The lobbyists and realtors were taking advantage of immigrants to use them as human shields to blunt the criticisms of renters during the rent control debates, and the author called them out on it. Contexts matter.

      Comment by JRB — June 30, 2020 @ 10:02 am

      • Referring to Asian investors as a “wave” is a distinctly racist metaphor. No way to sugar coat that.

        Comment by dave — June 30, 2020 @ 10:16 am

        • I’ll agree that “wave” was a poor choice of word here, given everything that lead up to the Chinese Exclusion Act. That said, it is well known that one of the largest drivers of rent increase of the past 10 years has been the large influx of oversea buyers moving their assets from volatile markets into American real estate, reducing available housing supply for local buyers while demand continued to drive up. This sort of topic becomes very easy to veer into xenophobia territory so I don’t trust some of the posters here to honestly engage in a complex socioeconomic issue without more “gotcha” moments, but the economic data is all there for those who want to read.

          https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/18/foreigners-snap-up-record-number-of-us-homes.html

          https://calmatters.org/housing/2018/03/data-dig-are-foreign-investors-driving-up-real-estate-in-your-california-neighborhood/

          https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/08/23/homes-sale-chinese-investors-purchasing-fewer-u-s-houses/1960142001/

          https://www.pasadenastarnews.com/2019/10/06/with-chinese-buying-trend-slowing-san-gabriel-valley-left-with-some-vacant-houses/

          Comment by JRB — June 30, 2020 @ 10:39 am

        • The slur uttered by Ms Dolphin (and she said/wrote it more than once) was regarding rents and their supposed/alleged increases by owners of Asian descent. The three articles you posted deal with purchases rather than rents, and more than once the unreliability of data is noted.

          *NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER* is cited in either of those three articles about foreign ownership affecting rent levels.

          There’s a good reason for that: rents are determined by supply & demand, not by the nationality, location or ethnicity of the property owner. An apartment in question will have the same rent regardless of whether the former Demo Club president approves of the owner’s heritage.

          And go back and read the Sun letter again. It doesn’t say what you think it does, it says exactly what MP says, and it says it more than once, such as in next-to-last paragraph.

          Defending such a nasty slur is a very curious position to take. Why do you?

          Comment by dave — June 30, 2020 @ 5:23 pm

        • Did Ms. Dolphin drive out the members of Asian (Chinese) heritage from the City of Alameda Democratic Club? It seems to be a predominantly white privileged club.

          Comment by Maria — June 30, 2020 @ 11:17 pm

        • No, she did not and would not have done that. The issue we are taking here has to do with the letter, which identified her as then-current president of the City Democratic Club in the byline, that was published in the Alameda Sun.

          Comment by MP — July 1, 2020 @ 6:25 am

        • “Wave” of Chinese investors and the grammatically incorrect quotation definitely had a “yellow peril” vibe to it. Anti-Asian prejudices are one of the easiest to ignore and sweep under the rug.

          Comment by Lauren Do — July 1, 2020 @ 9:11 am

      • JRB, a good quality of yours is loyalty. It doesn’t have to be turned up to 11 all the time, though.

        Comment by MP — June 30, 2020 @ 10:20 am

  2. Controversial street names with racist ties, like Calhoun Street and Haight Avenue, need to change. But imagine my surprise to see so many Alamedans on NextDoor clinging on to those names, with no regards whatsoever for minorities who have issues with the racist connotations behind those names. Alameda is a beautiful and peaceful town, but there are definitely pockets of racism here. I think living on an island amidst a sea of change does that to people – there’s a very strong desire to protect this image of “Mayberry by the Bay” while watching the rest of the Bay Area grow and change – protect Article 26, prevent any new development, keep “those people from Oakland” out, don’t change APD, don’t change history, don’t protest for “Black Lives Matter” here.

    But I never thought Haight School would be renamed, but Alameda did that. We just have to keep persisting.

    Comment by JRB — June 30, 2020 @ 9:54 am

  3. Dave – are you seriously saying that purchases have nothing to do with rent? You make purchases to become a landlord…

    Comment by Jason — June 30, 2020 @ 11:52 pm

    • I’m seriously suggesting that an owner’s ethnicity has nothing to do with rents increasing or decreasing. I’m seriously suggesting that the three articles you posted contain zero evidence of foreign ownership affecting rents differently from domestic.

      I’m also seriously suggesting that your defense of Ms Dolphin’s nasty slur is a very bad look for you.

      Comment by dave — July 1, 2020 @ 8:40 am

  4. The first BLM lawn sign I had– from like 5 years ago, was it really?– was torn up almost immediately. I got a replacement for that one, which I still have and am using. But the tearing up really got to me at the time in the pit of the stomach. How much worse to be threatened with physical mayhem every single day.

    Comment by Kevis — July 2, 2020 @ 7:59 pm


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