Oakland, the Detroit of the West, once the very symbol of a muscular and growing California at a time when comparison to Detroit was a compliment, is on the knife edge of history. Once a symbol of growth and prosperity, then it sank to the very depths of despair. The city that gave us Rocky Road ice cream became the symbol of the failure of the counter-culture, the seething genesis of the Black Panthers and armed rebellion against white law enforcement. Over the bodies of white police officers like John Frey, Oakland traveled its own rocky road to decline, eventually dying as Atlanta, Chicago, Birmingham, and the Detroit of the Midwest died, of spontaneous blackness.
Nothing illustrates that more than the nonchalance that black gangsters and black residents have in the Detroit of the West regarding open gun violence on the streets.
More interestingly, the overwhelmingly white and homosexual readers of the overwhelmingly white and homosexual San Francisco Chronicle were treated to in many ways a predictable but also enlightening overview of Oakland's continued decline.
San Francisco Chronicle by Jill Tucker
But as he got closer, he saw the name on the banner. He saw the face on the picture.
Late the night before, his friend and classmate Olajuwon "Tutu" Clayborn had been shot and killed on the steps of his family's home, just 200 feet from the school.
The two teens had been talking and laughing in the library the Friday before. Like Thomas, Olajuwon was 17, an athlete and a member of the honor roll.
Like Thomas, he was a senior set to graduate and go to college.
And like Thomas, he was a young black man in Oakland who seemed to have beaten the odds. Instead, an apparent dispute over a girl had left him dead. The shooter, police believed, was another Castlemont student, another young black man, who had since disappeared. Thomas didn't care what had caused Olajuwon's killing. "I don't even want to know," he said. "He's not here. That's the big fact."
He added his name to the banner on the wall and another event to his crowded year-end calendar. A funeral.
Ostensibly a story by an education reporter about students, but it is really the story of Oakland and how organized blackness destroyed a city built by whites from a Royal Spanish land grant to Don Luis Maria Peralta.
Olajuwon's homicide in May was Oakland's 34th of 2013; by the first week of August, there were 23 more.
Shootings and homicides are common in the neighborhood where Olajuwon was raised by his single mother.
Olajuwon's 27-year-old brother has been shot three different times.
Olajuwon's mom sent him to school in Berkeley, away from the negative influences of his neighborhood, but still he had wavered at times. He wasn't always the best student in Berkeley, where he attended the comprehensive high school freshman and sophomore years and then Berkeley Technology Academy, a continuation school, his junior year.
Black boys in Oakland are disproportionately fatherless. They are more likely than other youth to be poor, in need of consistent health care and living in violent flatland neighborhoods with at least twice the ratio of liquor stores as their hillside peers' neighborhoods, according to the Alameda County Health Department.
Homicide is by far the leading cause of death for African American males ages 15 to 34 in Oakland, as it is nationwide.
Scott thought Olajuwon would beat those odds. He checked in with him regularly to make sure he had everything in place to get to graduation day.
Despite millions of dollars provided by white taxpayers and intervention directed specifically to black males by the Oakland School District, not much has changed.
In 2010, it became the first school district in the United States to create a department dedicated to altering the fortunes of black boys.
Through its African American Male Achievement Office, the district has created classes and programs specifically for these young men. Their aim: to help them navigate their lives in and out of school by providing teachers who understand them, mentors who can guide them, disciplinary alternatives to suspension and strategies to make good decisions.
The office's goals are ambitious: double black boys' graduation rate; eliminate the achievement gap between black males and white or Asian peers; reduce suspension and absentee rates; and cut incarceration rates in half. There are three years left in a five-year plan to get there. Success, if it comes, will cost at least $2 million per year, with most of that funding from foundations and grants.
The effort has drawn vocal support from the Obama administration, but some of its actions have spurred controversy, including the hiring of noncertified teachers and the sponsorship of a charter school populated solely by black boys.
Junious Williams of the Urban Strategies Council, an Oakland nonprofit that partnered with the district to launch the initiative in 2010, says such an approach was long overdue.
"I think the scope (of previous efforts) has not been nearly sufficient when we analyze how long we've let these problems linger," he said. "What is most significant is you now have one of the major public institutions in the community ... having courageous conversations about race."
Black youth remain their own victims despite the attention paid to them:
It had not been easy. Nothing was in East Oakland. For a young black man like Thomas, just surviving the crime and poverty that permeated his daily life was an achievement.
In this city, boys of his race are more likely to miss school; be suspended; graduate late, if at all; or be incarcerated than their white, Asian or Latino peers.
Over the past 10 years, the number of African American men killed on the streets of Oakland nearly matched the number who graduated from its high schools ready to attend a state university.
Of course, nothing can over come this. Not special academies, not tutoring, not counseling, nothing.
At least for the black people there. But there is a solution, once from across the bay, the San Francisco Solution. A solution that whites and homosexuals have been using for the last 10 years in the city by the bay. Ethnic cleansing by increased property values.
SF Examiner by Joshua Sabatini June 6, 2013
San Francisco must stop calling itself "diverse" until The City once again has a thriving population of black residents, Supervisor London Breed said Wednesday while discussing that community's 36 percent shrinkage during the last two decades.
"This City is doing something wrong when it comes to African-Americans," said the supervisor, who is [a very light skinned] black.
She, of course, blames Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter for the ethnic cleansing. Which is true, in that white tech workers went to college, did not shoot each other, and generally avoid stupid and violent behavior.
Breed said it is important to start holding companies accountable about hiring practices.
"For example, recruiting from historically African-American colleges with a regards to a lot of tech jobs that are in our city, which are mostly held by white guys," Breed said. "I have no problem with white guys. I just have a problem with the lack of diversity in the tech industry when it's booming in our city."
"We have to do more and it's not always about The City allocating resources. It's about holding companies accountable," she added.
While it is really about income and crime.
The committee also discussed data suggesting that the median income of black households in San Francisco is $30,840, whereas it exceeds $50,000 for all other racial groups. And while black residents comprise 6.3 percent of The City's population, The City's jail population of 1,541 was 56 percent black last year.
But back to Oakland. The very white, the very San Francisco liberal, the very with it Jill Tucker, decides that the problem is again white people, not blacks and their behavior.
First, the Trayvon Martin disciplinary system. No suspensions for black thugs wannbes.
New teachers like Robinson were hired to mix academics and social skills, college preparation and cultural awareness, with an emphasis on proper behavior and understanding how to survive on the streets. Their students learned to tie a tie, toured local universities, and paid for behavioral offenses with push-ups or private conversations rather than suspensions.
And then the usual appeals to slavery as the problem.
Staring at the page in front of him, 16-year-old sophomore Marcell Stargetti began to read aloud. The text was from "The Making of a Slave," a speech by early 19th century slave owner Willie Lynch.
The 301-year-old words rattled around the suddenly quiet classroom, bouncing off the walls featuring images of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa, and motivational posters promoting "hope," "positive people" and "peace."
"I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves," Lynch had written. "I guarantee every one of you that, if installed correctly, it will control the slaves for at least 300 years."
His scheme: pit slaves against each other - the light-skinned slaves against dark-skinned slaves; female versus male; old versus young.
Robinson held up his hand.
"What does Lynch mean?" he asked.
What it means, of course, is what the Panthers said, black-on-black crime is just a manifestation of The Man manipulating blacks to The Man's advantage. The fault dear Olajuwon, lies not in yourself, but in others that you are underlings.
Clearly all the talk about responsibility and discipline is for the benefit of the intrepid reporter and for her to regurgitate for her effeminate San Francisco readership.
Then we get to the reality. Someone channels their inner Huey Newton. The correlary here is that whenever rappers say cops, they mean whites, and rappers and blacks want to shoot cops, meaning whites.
Barry Williams was rarely absent from Robinson's class.
The sophomore was hard to miss - an athletic teen with an easy smile, as likely to goof around with classmates as he was to share his serious side.
One day, sitting in a circle with the other students, a setup reserved for serious talks, Barry spoke up.
"I hate white people," he said. "Does that make me a bad person?"
The usually easygoing boy let his frustration out.
"The thing I don't like about being a black male is being labeled the second they see me," he said.
When he enters a store, the owners "talk so quickly, like they're afraid of me.
" 'You ain't shit' - that's what they're basically saying."
Well, no Barry, it's not because they think you are shit, it's because they know you and your compatriots for what you are; violent, dangerous, predatory, and thieving. And that is why you are an underling. Until you realize that and change all will remain the same.
However, despite the grim news of spontaneous blackness and racism, Oakland is moving white, much like DC. Gentrification is alive and well in Oakland. Not just Temescal and Uptown where the hipsters are, but even notorious West Oakland, where whites who built beautiful Victorians were driven out in the 60s and 70s, but have returned with a vengeance, with techies spilling over from San Francisco where housing prices are out of control. It looks like despite the rantings of the radical left, $12 sandwiches may just save Otown from spontaneous blackness.