What It Means To Be An Oaklander

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I’ve always taken pride in coming from Oakland. But when people freak out about how I don’t like rap music or use words like “hyphy,” they make me feel like I’ve been living a lie.

First thing you should know, I am from Oakland. I’ve lived in the same house in Sequoyah Heights for fifteen years. Growing up, my mother took me to the San Francisco Symphony. And since I was never picky about the radio, my mom always had NPR on and my dad played his oldies.

Recently I was listening to a song with some friends and someone said, “this kinda sounds like E-40.” “Who is E-40?” I asked. They. Were. Appalled. “How could you not know E-40?” “You are from Oakland! Aren’t you?”

There’s not just one way to be from Oakland. I want educate myself on the history and culture of my city. But I’m not going to change who I am, just to fit someone else’s idea of who I should be.

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