by Eddie R. Dillard
In Oakland the leadership has diminished to a toss of the coin to seek who should be adorned with the mantle of mayor. Sad to say that none of the potential Black mayoral candidates are espousing real, meaningful solutions to the wide array of issues that address the quality of life for Black citizens of Oakland.
They say homelessness is a state and national issue and cannot be effectively addressed at the local level. They say the rise in gun related homicides reflect national gun policies. They say that income inequalities reflect decades of old institutional rules, regulations, ordinances, covenants and laws which have been designed to protect the rights and privileges of a select segment of the population. Hogwash, poppy cock, bull crap.
The fact is that none of the mayoral candidates wants to offend the special money interests that are funding their campaigns. Campaign donations restrict them from speaking out on the ills that impact Black lives. They go from forum to forum and shift their positions not based on moral or ethical beliefs but based on who is in the audience to expose their inconsistencies.
Unfortunately, these wannabe leaders are not tackling the underlying phenomena that have elevated the lack of hope and the despair in the Black and Brown neighborhoods of Oakland. The recent census shows details of the 30 percent reduction of Black residents in Oakland who have been economically forced to move to other cities such as Stockton, Pittsburg, Antioch, Vallejo and Sacramento.
The fact is that none of the mayoral candidates wants to offend the special money interests that are funding their campaigns.
Black Oakland residents, now 25 percent of the population, are exposed to the great disparities in our society, including the inability to access adequate medical services and the large proportion of the Black population that’s NITL (not in the laborforce). This is based on the shifting demands in the marketplace, including COVID-19 restrictions, inadequate workforce training and systematic racism.
Black institutions such as Black churches, Black sororities and fraternities, and Black Media have failed to adjust to the technology information age and are left with increasingly dwindling Black participation. Black churches have lost in some cases 40 percent of their revenue base and Black media have similarly lost over 40 percent of their readership as Blacks have flocked to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for news and social content.
What we need is a restoration of community and family values. We need real Black leadership to guide us through the changing demographic and consequential mindset in our used-to-be Black neighborhoods. We need to teach young people to respect life, respect law and order, respect themselves and respect other people and their property.
We need to stay in our neighborhoods and make things better rather than moving to other communities seeking better schools, cheaper housing and less crime. We need Black leaders who will speak truth to power and confront systemic racism and real American inequality right now along with opportunities to improve the Black quality of life.
Which one of the six Blacks running for mayor of Oakland would be willing, able and capable to accept this leadership challenge? Heads I win and tails you lose.
Eddie R. Dillard is a freelance writer whose work has been published in the Oakland Tribune, the SF Bay View, the Oakland Post, the Globe newspaper and the UC Daily Californian. He can be reached at email@example.com.