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Oakland, California has a history of violence. From the Black Panther Party to the protests of Occupy Oakland, outsiders of the city have been viewing Oaklanders as anything but positive.
I have lived in Oakland for nine years. I’ve met amazing people that have lived in this city longer than I. Every time I tell someone new where I live, the only instinct they have is to make a stink face and ask something like “it’s pretty bad there, huh?” As Oakland’s sudden spokesperson, I’m left to convince them that what they’ve heard is not necessarily true.
The only things that comes to their mind when they hear “Oakland” are gangs. Guns. Thugs. Mischief. People always give the city a bad reputation, and those people end up telling more people about how bad Oakland is. Yes, Oakland does have gangs. Some of our residents do own guns. There may be thugs here, and there is definitely some kind of mischief that goes on in the streets. These properties can be found anywhere in the world, not just in Oakland. People need to look past all of these stereotypical opinions, and make an opinion for themselves.
Oakland has potential, and people don’t even bother thinking of it like that. There are some neighborhoods in this city that throw block parties to get to know the people in their community. There are schools that offer their help and support to their students. There are people who find different ways to deliver acts of kindness to their society.
Personally, I love this city. Oakland holds all of the people dearest to me. Oakland has shown me how to choose people to associate myself with. Oakland has taught me how to live with the hardships thrown at me. Oakland has prepared me for the real world of adulthood.
Every time I meet someone with a negative view of Oakland, I try and make sure that they leave our conversation with a change of an opinion. I try to tell them that in order to judge us, first get to know us. I am an advocate for Oakland, and I’m proud to be from here.