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THE GRIOTS OF OAKLAND VOICES FROM THE AFRICAN AMERICAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

COMPILED AND EDITED BY

ANGEL A ZUSMAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY

MI ZHOU


ADVANCED PRAISE FOR

THE GRIOTS OF OAKLAND “Hope and pride ring through in the voices of the young men who have shared their stories with us through this beautiful book. The Griots of Oakland showcases the resiliency of our young African American men living in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation. The determination of these young men to succeed against all odds, even when the path is unclear and unsafe, is an act of faith, a demonstration of the power of hope. The Alameda County Faith Advisory Council is inspired by this collection and energized by the spirits that echo from the pages of this book.”

Pastor Raymond Lankford, Director Alameda County Faith Advisory Council

“The Griots of Oakland tells the story of Oakland’s contemporary vibe — one of surprising hope and optimism from its unsung future leaders. Oral history and storytelling reaches back to the beginning of time, and in this case shows our capacity as humans to overcome temporary environments while always looking to the promise of opportunity that the future holds.”

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Alex Briscoe, Director Alameda County Health Care Services Agency

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“One of the most important obligations of a diverse democracy such as ours is that of listening to and hearing the diverse voices of all of the people in order to figure out what is right and the right thing to do. For far too long, the images and voices of African American men have been distorted and muted through the lenses and microphones of the mass media. Efforts such as The Griots of Oakland are critically important to the listening and hearing that form the foundation for understanding, concern, and care that lead to the actions necessary for us to improve the life outcomes of African American boys and men. The Griots displays the pain, the power and the promise of young African American men that should make us act.”

Junious Williams, Chief Executive Officer Urban Strategies Council


“It is important for us to tell our stories as we have lived them — without commentary from censoring and judging forces. It’s extremely important for young people, especially young black men and women who are disproportionately incarcerated in the United States, to tell their stories so that others can learn from them, be inspired by them, and be uplifted by them. If we don’t tell our stories then we stand the chance that someone else will.”

Ericka Huggins, Member of the Black Panther Party from 1967-1981 Director of the Black Panther Party’s Oakland Community School Professor of Sociology for the Peralta Community College District

“Finally! A vivid, complex and affirming portrayal of our African American young men and boys. The Griots of Oakland ruptures the distorted dark negative images of black young men and opens the mic for their own voices to shine! Any reader will be moved by their beauty and their brilliance!

“Bravo and congratulations to Alameda County’s Center for Healthy Schools and Communities, Story For All, the Oakland Unified School District Office of African American Male Achievement, and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland on the completion of this two-year endeavor. The Griots of Oakland is a great example of our community’s ability to collaborate and share compelling insights regarding Oakland’s African American youth that inspire hope and pride and address the critical issue of equity.” Rob Bonta Assemblymember District 18

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Shawn Ginwright, Ph.D Associate Professor of Education & Africana Studies San Francisco State University

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“ It is not often that a project can so accurately capture the voices of a traditionally voiceless people with such creative authenticity. This project has provided us, the readers, with insight, reason and purpose to continue the fight for systematic equity while demanding communal change.”

Jamaal Kizziee, MS, MFTI School Based Behavioral Health Consultant Center for Healthy Schools and Communities

“ Our beautiful black boys cease to be invisible with this honest portrayal of their humanity. What a gift they’ve given to Oakland. This should be required reading for all educators, law enforcement and service providers.”

Hon. Linda Handy, Trustee, Area 3 Peralta Community Colleges

“As the Director of the Alameda County EMS Corps, a program that prepares young men

for careers in Emergency Medical Services, I appreciate the knowledge, wisdom and creative expression that The Griots of Oakland represents. This project offers you insight into the thinking of today’s generation of young black men striving to create a better life for themselves. It’s a book that should be read by anyone interested in empowering the lives of young black men.”

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Michael Gibson, Program Director EMS Corp.

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“ When people engage in thinking and feeling their way through the tangled web of social injustice, it becomes crystal clear that we need new narratives about those who consistently fall into the category of ‘other.’ Certainly, the false perceptions about black males run rampant throughout our society – this must change. We must connect the dots among the


kinds of stories that are available to us in this book, The Griots of Oakland. It must be circulated widely so that we can truly see, respect and admire the strength and courage that more accurately informs us of who our black brothers are. We can use these powerful stories as building blocks to reshape a cultural narrative that has been unjust and inhuman for far too long. Thank you for this project and let us welcome the continuation of the powerful griot tradition as part of our contemporary world that is in need of love, truth and justice.”

Shakti Butler, Ph.D., President and Founder World Trust Educational Services

“ I am proud to be a part of Alameda County’s feature on the story of African American young

men and boys in Oakland. This is an inspiring project and it showcases the determination of our community’s youth and a willfulness to succeed, even if that path is not apparent.”

Nate Miley, Alameda County Supervisor, Fourth District

whose members have made important contributions to the Bay Area in the fields of education, arts, commerce and technology. Through the power of oral history and storytelling, The Griots of Oakland showcases the pride and talents of African American young men and boys who, despite all odds, are finding their voices and developing into leaders of the future. Congratulations to the young men featured in this inspiring book, to Alameda County’s Health Care Services Agency and to the Office of African American Male Achievement for their leadership and dedication to the community.”

Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor, Fifth District

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

“Alameda County is rich in the culture and traditions of the African American community,

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Story For All Oakland, California

www.storyforall.org info@storyforall.org ISBN (softcover) 978-0-9887631 -0-4 ISBN (hardcover) 978-0-9887631-1-1 ISBN (e-book) 978-0-9887631- 2-8

Text and cover design by Cheryl Crawford www.cherylcrawforddesign.com Copyright © 2013 The Center for Healthy Schools and Communities

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

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Printed in the United States of America The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences — Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48–1992.


The Center for Healthy Schools and Communities envisions a country where all youth graduate from high school healthy and ready for college and career. The Center is dedicated to fostering the academic success, health and well-being of youth by building universal access to high quality supports and opportunities in schools and neighborhoods. We value empowering families and youth, growing the capacity of communities to eect change and building strategic partnerships that link health and education institutions to achieve equity.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Story For All is a non-proďŹ t organization dedicated to educating, empowering and healing people and communities through the sharing of stories. Learn more at www.storyforall.org

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DEDIC ATION The Griots of Oakland memorializes the commitment of the Center for Healthy Schools and Communities to equity in health, education, and economic opportunity for all. This book captures untold stories of inspiration and hope and in so doing shatters the stereotypes that plague and trap young African American men. Through the journey of their stories, the reader experiences the beauty and power of these young men and gains insight into the magnitude of their strength and contribution to ensuring the present and future health of our communities.

It is from this place of appreciation that we dedicate this book to the men who lent their voices to this project and to you the reader for your attention.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Tracey Schear, Director Center for Healthy Schools and Communities

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THE GRIOTS OF OAKLAND VOICES FROM THE AFRICAN AMERICAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT FOREWORD ixv

INTRODUCTION xvii

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y 1

MY LIFE 49

BEING AFRICAN AMERICAN 85

COMMUNIT Y 107

WISDOM 141

REFLECTIONS 175


“When I read great literature, great drama, speeches or sermons, I feel that the human mind has not achieved anything greater than the ability to share feelings and thoughts through language.” JAMES EARL JoNES

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” GEoRGE WASHINGToN CARvER


FOREWORD My name is Chris Chatmon and I am the Executive Director for African American Male Achievement in Oakland’s Unified School District. As an educator and father of three African American male children in the Oakland Unified School District, my mission is to identify and increase educational, economic, social and leadership opportunities for African American males in Oakland, California and improve their life outcomes.

Our work began as a call to action. Four years ago, the former Superintendent, Tony Smith, together with Oakland Unified School District’s Board of Education, embarked on a mission to create a full-service community school district. Steadfast in the belief that schools should be at the center of neighborhood and community life, they committed to provide a thoughtful continuum of services and support for the development of healthy children in partnership with residents and community organizations. This vision intends to help every family in Oakland thrive.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

To make real progress on this universal goal, however, these education leaders had to confront a brutal fact; past initiatives and reforms had done little to transform the experiences, access, or educational attainment of African American male students. Accordingly, the superintendent and School Board took the unprecedented action of creating an Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA). This demonstrated, to our city and the nation, our commitment to increase positive outcomes for the group historically underserved in our system — black boys.

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The mission of AAMA is to stop the epidemic failure of African American male students in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) by creating systems, structures and a school culture that guarantees success for all AAM students in the OUSD. Through data we have identified entry points into our schools and systems to increase equity, improve cultural competency and implement practices that support African American male students. We believe all African American male students are extraordinary and deserve a school system


that meets their unique and dynamic needs. The work of our office was initialized and led by a team of volunteers and staff who started courageous conversations at all levels of the system. Their conversations identified both promising practices and obstacles to African American male achievement. These findings informed our office’s strategy and actions.

“Umi said shine your light on the world,” says artist Dante Terrell Smith, a.k.a. Mos Def. Yasiin Bey, in his rhyme about how his mother told him to shine his light said, “Don’t be afraid to feel strong and powerful about your black maleness.”

Being black and being male is a powerful position, so much so, that it can be intimidating to others. Those who feel intimidated have historically found ways to oppress African Americans. The external perceptions about African American male students in our society are overwhelmingly negative. The toxic images that local and national media portray of African American males affects their perceptions of themselves, their own abilities and their future.

It is important for our youth to tell their stories and equally important for others to hear them. Part of our African American cultural lineage is storytelling in order to preserve our oral history. We have fought hard to maintain our communication style by sharing our stories with each other.

Oral history through songs and stories has kept us connected across generations. At AAMA we wanted to uncover these precious stories from young African American males across Oakland to invigorate a sense of pride and continue our oral tradition. There is history and there is our story. We need to move from “Tel-lie-vision” to

THEMES AND FINDINGS FOREWARD

It is our charge to surface voices and stories that have been buried so we can paint a panorama of stories that have been a mystery to most.

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“tell-my-vision.” Most often, the rich history of Oakland does not come from the voices of African American males. One of our strategies within AAMA has been to lift up the voices and experiences of our African American male students to highlight the beauty and brilliance they exude and deserve. By increasing public recognition of the framing used to discuss the successes and challenges facing African American males, we hope to eliminate that framing and increase the positive images and experiences of African American males in the public sphere.

The civil rights issue of today is education and AAMA is making a difference. As a result of AAMA’s efforts, there is a language and a platform for hosting conversations about different approaches to systemic change. The partnership with Story For All and Alameda County Health Care Services Center for Healthy Schools and Communities Agency has allowed us to bring our expertise together to capture the stories of our young men and expand our impact.

A special thanks to Angela Zusman, Story For All’s Executive Director, for directing this project and getting the voices and stories of our Oakland youth documented in this book and a video exhibition in perpetuity.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Chris Chatmon, Executive Director African American Male Achievement Oakland Unified School District

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INTRODUCTION THE STORY OF THE AFRIC AN AMERIC AN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

“Why do you care? Why do you care about our stories?”

Such was the prescient question asked of me by one of the young men we now know as The Griots of Oakland.

Why do stories matter? It was a question much like this one that started us off on this journey. It was 20011 and I was in a meeting with staff members from the Center for Healthy Schools and Communities, an arm of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. As part of their equity initiative, they were looking for innovative ways to support and shed light on the experiences of African American male youth throughout Alameda County. Knowing about the great work being done through Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement, they brought our organizations together and provided funding for the project.

I remember our first meeting. So much passion and care for these youth, so much enthusiasm about uplifting their voices. Yet it wasn’t just about uplifting voices – we wanted to ensure these voices would be heard. After all, listening to stories is just as transformative as telling them. So, we aimed to create a team of story gatherers, young men who would not only collect stories but also become a living repository for their culture. Griots.

SEAN JOHNSON

C ASEY BRICENO

JARVIS HENRY

NEQUWAN TAYLOR

ERIC NOBLES II


THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

In West Africa, a griot is one of the most revered people in the community. Filled with conďŹ dence, treated with the utmost respect, the griot is the holder of the history and legacy of a family, community, or tribe. In Oakland, we need griots. We need youth who are conďŹ dent in themselves, able to speak their truth, ask great questions, and listen to others. We need safe places where youth can speak truthfully about their lives, where they can feel understood and supported. We need to celebrate their achievements and their wisdom while learning how best to support them through their challenges. In the presence of a griot, we are humbled, curious, and open-minded. We are ready to learn.

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Learning Sessions, KDOL TV Studios April - September, 2012 Oakland, CA


Over the course of two years, we recruited and trained a group of young men in the arts of active listening, oral history and videography. Meeting every Friday afternoon, the youth conducted research, crafted questions and learned to setup, use and breakdown their recording equipment. Finally, they conducted oral history interviews with over 100 youth between the ages of 6 – 24.

Interview Sessions, Oakland Technical High School October 19, 2012 Oakland, CA

Interview Sessions, Downtown Oakland November 2, 2012 Oakland, CA

THEMES AND FINDINGS INTRODUCTION

Our goal was to speak with a diverse group of young men, from all corners of Oakland, so we set up our cameras at the bus stop at Eastmont Mall; a busy street corner in downtown Oakland; during a football game at Oakland Tech; and during after-school activities at

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Edna Brewer Middle School, Parker Elementary School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School and Youth Uprising.

We were ambitious. After all, we were aiming to change the discourse about how African American men are perceived. The media is saturated with imagery of African American men, but we wanted to learn what is true for these young men, to uncover and create a showcase for their wisdom, sincerity, hope, joy, and diversity. Sure enough, these young men blew us away. They spoke with generosity and fearlessness. They were polite, articulate and curious. While aware of the stereotypes and perceptions of African American men, they were able to transcend them. What is perception? How do you perceive yourself? Other African Americans? As W.E.B. Du Bois stated:

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others…. One ever feels his twoness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

This binary experience of self was one of the most interesting results of the project. It had an impact on everything, from the questions we asked to the way this book was organized. In many ways, throughout this project, assumptions were discarded as both of these visions were seen to be true. This book is about African American men in Oakland, but on a deeper level, it is about perception itself.

xx

The young men in this book perceive with great clarity. Bluntly and with precision they expose the systemic factors that stack the deck against them. Check out the statistic on page 95. What happens to these beautiful young men as years in this system grind them down? Besides removing prejudice, there is much work to do in order to create lasting equity. We need many more people of all ages, races, colors and creeds, working together, dedicated to this goal.


This book in your hands was made to be read, pondered upon, used and re-used. For ease of use, some quotes have been omitted, others lightly edited. Word-for-word transcripts, available in the e-book version, tell a nuanced version of each young man’s story, so we hope you’ll check it out. 100% of the revenue from this book in all its versions will be used solely to perpetuate racial equity oral history programming in Alameda County for youth in the K-12 system.

shown above

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Portion of The Griots of Oakland exhibit at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland

THEMES AND FINDINGS INTRODUCTION

The release of this book coincides with the opening of a major exhibition at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland. In this exhibition, community members can watch the interviews and experience the voices and images of the youth in a visceral way. Viewers will be able to add their impressions and answers to the interview questions, creating a living repository for these important stories. Videos of the oral history interviews will also be viewable online at www.healthyschoolsandcommunities.org/griot

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We hope this project will inspire other African American young men to share their experiences and for their communities to open their minds and truly listen to them. We hope other communities will engage in similar projects. We hope this book will become a dog-eared tool for educators, students, policy makers and people who are ready to move beyond prejudice. Most of all, we hope that the youth represented in this book will feel respected and perhaps even see themselves in a new way. This is already true for our interview team. As they’ve told us, some of the effects of this project include becoming more responsible; finding a career path; overcoming shyness and gaining social skills; having their minds opened to their community, their peers and even themselves. Such is the power of story.

If I live over here, and you over there, and we never talk – we might naturally come to believe that we are so different. There is no reason for me to go “over there” at all. Stories are bridges. When we are able to speak our truth, and hear each other, we find points of understanding, connection and respect. You are no longer so far away from me, so foreign. In fact, we are in many ways, the same. And now that we know it, we care. This was my answer that day in the classroom: “Because I care. I don’t know much about what your life is really like. There are a lot of assumptions about African American men. I want to know who you are. I care about you. I cared about you even before I ever met you. Your story is important, and I want it to be heard.” He smiled. He seemed to understand.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Let the stories flow.

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Angela Zusman, Project Director, African American Oral History Project

Founder and Executive Director, Story For All


THEMES AND FINDINGS INTRODUCTION

The African American Oral History Project Team Downtown Oakland November 2, 2012

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THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

#


THEMES AND FINDINGS CHAPTER ONE

IDENTITY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

WHAT ARE THE FIRST THREE WORDS THAT COME TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT AFRIC AN AMERIC AN MEN IN OAKL AND? WHAT ARE THE FIRST THREE WORDS THAT COME TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT YOURSELF? IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD IT BE? WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH?

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL, AND WHY?

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT? DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE IN 10 YEARS.


WILD

HELP

GHETTO

PRIDE

MISUNDERSTOOD

GOOD

DISAPPOINTED

FREEDOM VIOLENCE

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland?

Hardworking

SHOOTING

SHIT

STEREOTYPICAL

SMART RESPECTABLE

POWERFUL

SPORTS

STRUGGLE

KILLING

Independent

MONEY

RECKLESS

Challenged

DRUGS

DEATH

HUSTLE

CRASH

JAIL, JAIL, and more JAIL.

MARGINALIZED NEGATIVITY

FUN

CRAZY


BEAUTIFUL

SPECTACULAR

YOUTH

ATHLETIC

DRIVEN

POWER UNITY

TALENTED

SUCCESS

M O TIVATE D

MANIPUL ATIVE

DEDICATED

FREEDOM

humble

CALM SMART LOYAL

PROTECTIVE OUTSPOKEN

SPECTACULAR

CURIOUS

awesome

WISDOM

HARDWORKING

HOPEFUL

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself?

INSANE

FUNNY

happy

STRONG


THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland?

4


STRONG

DETERMINATION

REAL

INTEGRIT Y

MISUNDERSTOOD

CRAZY

HUSTLE HELP

VIOLENCE

STEREOT YPIC AL

BASKETBALL

JAIL

GUNS

JAIL

AND MORE JAIL POWERFUL

DETERMINED

SPORTS

NEGATIVIT Y FUN

FREEDOM

YOUTH

JUSTICE

MOTIVATION

AFRIC A

OUTREACH SLEEP

SHIT

EQUALIT Y UNIT Y

POWER

KILLING

PRIDE

STRUGGLE

SHOOTING

INVENTIONS MARGINALIZED

CHALLENGED

HARDWORKING INDEPENDENT

DRUGS

TALENTED

UNDERESTIMATED SMART

SUCCESS

INDIVIDUAL

POWER

DRUGS

WORKING HARD

DEATH

MONEY

DISAPPOINTED

STRUGGLE

BASKETBALL DROPOUTS

“ I don’t think anybody

really understands the extent of the pressure and the assumptions, misconceptions, that these African Americans go through.”

— Mario McGrew

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

PRIDEFUL

5


“Well, on the positive side, I

think of where I’m at right now, Youth Uprising–Black-African American Uprising. You know, just looking out for each other. I see the brotherly love, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper.’ You know, those kind quotes. But on the negative side it’s more, like, it’s corrupt. We don’t know who we are no more. We disloyal to ourselves. We, I don’t know, it’s cutthroat, that’s all I can really say. We cutthroat. It’s like poverty. I guess it destroying us.”

—Kaulana Caldwell


THE BL ACK PANTHERS

DANGEROUS

STEREOT YPED

AFRIC AN AMERIC AN

ATHLETIC

BL ACK PEOPLE

STRONG

THAT THEY’RE GOOD HELP

PEOPLE IN NEED HAPPINESS POSITIVE

POWERFUL

RESPECTABLE RELIABLE

FEARED

STRONG FUN

KIND

SMART

INTELLIGENT RESPECTFUL PEACE LOVE

HONOR

GOOD GRADES

T YPIC AL

TOUGH

HYPHY

ACHIEVING SOMETHING THUGS GUNS

GHETTO FAMILY

WE JUST STICK TOGETHER POTENTIAL LOST

MOTIVATED OUTTA CONTROL BL ACK

STRUGGLE POWER

KILLING SCHOOL

FAST LIFE

Motivated. I feel like we way more motivated, just because of the struggle most of us went through. Kinda seem like they trying to be extinct. We losing too many of ‘em. Need to be careful out here. Pretty much. A little disappointed. (Q: Why do you say that?) Because, like, we all have so much potential. We’re not living up to it, you know. These niggas is wild, reckless and violent.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

ENDANGERED

7


THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself?

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STRONG

PRIDEFUL

MANIPUL ATIVE

PROTECTIVE

CONCEITED

WISE

DRIVEN

C AUTIOUS OF WHAT I D0

GOOD-LOOKING

HUMBLE

C ALM

DEDIC ATED

COLLECT

COOL

CURIOUS

SELF-WILLED

INTELLIGENCE

HIGHLY INTELLIGENT

HEALTHY

APPEARANCE

OUTGOING

COURAGEOUS

HARDWORKING

INSANE

ACHIEVING

NICE

STRIVE

CREATIVE

FUN

ENERGETIC

BL ACK

ATHLETIC

EXTRAORDINARY

PHYSIC AL

ARTIST

SPECTACUL AR

HOPEFUL

DETERMINED

STUDENT

AWESOME

BEAUTIFUL FUNNY

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

TRUST WORTHY

— Aquan Markee

SELFISH

TALENTED

OUTSPOKEN

y’know. My motto is, If it ain’t loyal, it ain’t nothing.”

FOCUSED

REAL

LOYAL

“ Well, first and foremost–loyalty,

YOUNG

9


TALENTED

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself?

SMART CREATIVE “I’m talented. I’m smart and creative.”

— Akeem Brown


11

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y


ME, MYSELF, AND I…

HAPPY

BL ACK

TALENTED

ATHLETIC

TALENTED

COOL

NERVOUS NOSY

BRAVE

HANDSOME

GOOD GRADES

PL AY

FAMILY

FUN

SMART

OPTIMISTIC

TALENTED ATHLETIC

AWESOME

CREATIVE LOYALT Y

AMBITION

MOTIVATED

DETERMINED

SEXY

SELF-OPINIONATED

POSITIVE SMART

WISE

ACTIVE

PRETT Y

FUN

RESPECTFUL

SPORTS

HANDSOME NICE

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

FUNNY

NFL

EDUC ATION

12

HOPING

INTELLIGENT FAST

HUMBLE

INDEPENDENT GIFTED

HARDWORKER

I KNOW HOW TO DO A BACK FLIP

DO GOOD THINGS FOR MY BROTHERS

AND MY SISTER


THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

I am very trustworthy. It’s kinda ironic. I, Mario McGrew, am very trustworthy. It’s hard to earn that trust. A lot of things that I’ve been through, a lot of friends who have, for a long time, been called family. None of them kept it real with me as somebody should have. The man I call my brother, I grew up with this man 17 of the 18 years of my life. You really see true colors in a lot of different situations. When I was young, I made a lot of decisions I shouldn’t have made and that made me who I am today. I perform in something I shouldn’t have done when I was younger. Me and a group of friends decided to go into somebody’s place and take something of theirs. I did this because, I was like, I felt comfortable in these situations. It was not the right thing to do but I wouldn’t have gotten any consequences. It did not turn out to be the way, because the police were involved, although I wasn’t in the picture. I learned that friends and family definitely are not going to be there when you need them to be. So trust is hard to earn by me. On the other hand I am somebody that you can trust in, you can tell anything. I feel, like I can relate to a lot of things. I’m a very heartfelt person that everybody confides their trust in.

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THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

#14


APPEARANCE SHORT TALL

GROW MY BEARD FASTER CHANGE MY TEETH

CLEAR UP MY SKIN AND

SHOW THE WORLD MY SMILE

“ My hair. (Q: Your hair,

you don’t like your hair?) Nope, cause it’s curly and nappy.” — Damaria Sims

PERSONALIT Y/BEHAVIOR

Not to get angry at people if it was like, a mistake… like if they do something really, really bad to you, you’d have to tell a teacher… or, something like that. (Q: Okay, so you would change that about yourself ?) Yeah, because I don’t really tell the teacher that much. (Q: You don’t? Why not?) Because people call me snitches sometimes. (Q: That doesn’t mean you’re a snitch, that just means you tell them ‘cause it’s tough.) I know. To be a leader and not a follower.

I would be more supportive to myself, so that I can be more supportive to others.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

ANGRY

15


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

“ Probably be my anger. Growing up I have been

taught to deal with my problems by any means necessary. You take out whatever your parents give you and I grew up being an angry person. I was being totally and completely angry at anything that happened, at anything that would go on that I couldn’t control –I get immediately angry. I snap on the person next to me. It’s really me being angry, but at times I pent it up and I boiled inside and snapped on somebody I love. It wasn’t healthy for me. I changed that now. I got back into boxing. I can change that now. It was a really bad habit.”

— Kendel Edwards


THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

ANGER 17


RUN AWAY FROM OPPORTUNITIES

I would change the fact that I run away from a lot of opportunities. I feel like whenever I’m given an opportunity, I don’t embrace it, and it has held me back for so long. And I can honestly say that I am in the process of that change, because this year is my senior year. I have been a part of more programs than four of my high school years. So that process is definitely in effect. ACCEPTING/PROUD OF MYSELF

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

“I would just like to be more accepting

18

of myself and my situation. I’m like constantly trying to better myself, and you know, make myself better. And, I think it’s really important to just be okay with where you’re at, who you are, you know? I mean not to say like, you know, don’t do good things and don’t learn things and better yourself, but don’t, feel, or try not to feel obsessed to be like, oh I’m not good enough. That’s what I would change.” — Benjamin Neomo Horgan


I think it’d be how negative I can be toward myself sometimes. I’m the reason that I don’t finish, or don’t do some of the things that I can do. I put myself down. I’m my biggest – nobody is more tough on myself than me. I’m the one bringing myself down. TRY HARDER/WORK HARDER

TALKING BACK

BE MORE OPEN

STOP LYING

MOTIVATED/FOCUSED BE LESS OF A PL AYER

LEARN TO SAY NO TO FRIENDS

BEING MEAN VIOLENT

Be on myself more. Y’know, to stay more focused, to not drift off, honestly.

Stop being late to school. (Q: Why are you late?) I do not go to sleep at night, can’t go to sleep at night. It’s like the TV possess me or something, I don’t know, just can’t go to sleep.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

I can be a little mean at times... in the morning. If I could just be happy in the morning when I wake up – that would be nice.

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“I actually wouldn’t change nothing because I like being myself, and I wouldn’t change nothing. I just like being me.”

— Kamran Stephens


SKILLS/ABILITIES/TALENTS

If I could change one thing about myself, then it would be to have superpowers. (Q: What super powers would you have?) I don’t know, I would have a lot. (Q: If you could have one?) Super speed. FASTER

MY LIFE

THROW FARTHER

BEING ADDICTED TO MY VIDEO GAMES

READ BETTER

I WISH I HAD A POOL TABLE

NOTHING

I WISH I KNEW THE THINGS I KNOW NOW A LITTLE BIT EARLIER

I can’t really answer that question ‘cause what I’m not makes me what I am. I wouldn’t change one thing. (Q: And what are you?) I’m an individual who sees the bigger picture in anything. What I got to fight for? I’m going to be hurt after. I see the bigger picture in everything.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

The violence that I used to do a long time ago. If I can change it, it’ll be the good thing. (Q: And what did you learn from your mistakes?) I learned that doing things that you’re not supposed to do. Because people that are around you can point the fingers at you and you become a victim.

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What is your greatest strength?


PERSONALIT Y/BEHAVIOR

My energy, my mindset. I’m calm. I don’t get out of my wits. I can keep calm in any situation. And I’m a smart dude. My personality. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but there’s always somebody who’s going to like it, whether you like it or not. My greatest strength is to work hard.

Courage. I don’t fear nothing. I’m not letting nothing stop me, can’t nothing stop me. I’m going through every obstacle with smiles and happiness. Chill and relax, ain’t nothing gonna hold me back. My greatest strength is my ability to know what I want.

Just having the power to make people laugh —optimistic.

My patience. I think I’m a very patient person, it helps me get through a lot of situations where I feel like I don’t know how to get past it and time is always of the essence. I’m good at having fun.

Personality (Q: Why?) Because my personality shows the fundamentals of myself. (Q: How would you describe your personality?) Kind of like the things that describe myself. Funny, awesome, fantastic. I’m a big thinker – I think deeply about things. I’m not ignorant.

My determination to get stuff done and to make sure I have everything done on time, and to focus on school.

My greatest strength would be to work hard.

Family. They support me.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

My greatest strength is to engage in things, ‘cause once I get engaged I feel like I’m in there and I feel like that’s what I’m good at.

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What is your greatest strength?

CALM COURAGEOUS PATIENT AND


25

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y


Patience. (Q: You have a lot of patience? Do do you remember a situation where your patience was tested and you passed?) Actually it was a couple of weeks ago in class, and an argument had broke out, and I was involved in this argument, and my patience allowed me not to get up and fight him. Everybody was trying to tell me, get up and fight him, get up and fight him, and I was like, I’m not about to fight him – no point in it.

My greatest strength is my muscles. Eating good food like broccoli, because my mom, every time she cooks something, it has vegetables. And every time she says, if you don’t eat that then you can’t eat what’s on that other, that sweet stuff. So I eat that on that plate before I eat this on this plate.

My mindset would be my greatest strength.

I won’t let nobody tell me what I can’t do. I kinda go against the grain. You tell me I can’t do it and it makes me feel like, oh well since you said I can’t do it, I’m gonna do it. And even if I’m wrong, a lotta’ the time, I’ll, still, try to do it. So, that’s my greatest strength.

My greatest strength is knowing that I’m black. (Q: And how is that a strength?) ‘Cause, I know for a fact that if I graduate high school, blacks are most likely to be accepted at any black university. SKILLS/ABILITIES/TALENTS

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Probably my creativity, my imagination. (Q: Are you an artist, dancer?) Yeah, I paint, I draw, I like to sculpt, yeah, that’s my stuff.

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My art. Visual artist.

My greatest strength is knowing how to talk to people and knowing how to communicate, and not just on a “brother-to-brother” basis.


“I think my greatest strength is that

I kept a level head despite everything that was going around me. I think, part of that too is that I was fortunate to have good people around me, such as my father, my coaches, my family and the people around my school as well.” — Erick Jackson


LEARNING

BASKETBALL

LIFTING WEIGHTS

I WORK WELL WITH PEOPLE

BASEBALL

EATING RIGHT

— Yeheshua Salam

SCIENCE

KICKBALL MATH

“ Knowledge.”

BACK FLIPS

MY SPEED

I’M SMART AND I’M GOOD AT READING

My greatest strength is when I run laps. (Q: How many laps do you do?) Sometimes he makes us do six, but last year we did twelve. Mr. Roberto. And it’s fun. (Q: You like running. How do you feel when you run?) Excited. (Q: Excited? Why?) I feel excited because all the wind is flowing through my body and stuff when I run.

My greatest strengths are sports, math and English.

My greatest strength has to be science. I like studying molecules and animals and seeing more about the earth, and geology and biology.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Science. (Q: Science? What kinda science?) Life science.

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Football

Football, my brain, and my brain. I can play football very good.


“My greatest strength has to

be science. I like studying molecules and animals and seeing more about the earth, and geology and biology.”

— Christen Taylor


THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Who is your role model and why?

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DAD

My dad, really, ‘cause he’s just a good man and he does – he takes care of his business and me... makes sure I’m right.

My role model is my father because he created the African American Male Achievement Program. And he is – he’s just someone to look up to.

My role model would be my father. I look up to him all the time. He’s the one that teaches me how to be a man. My role model is my dad because when I grow up I want to be exactly like him. Be... well, successful, I mean well successful, wealthy, and just do what he gotta do.

My sister and my dad. Because my sister, she did good in school and then she finished. Then she went to college. Then she – and now she has a job. (Q: Do you know what college she went to?) No. And then my dad because, because, he made it through. Like, because he plays football and he teaches. He played football when he was younger and he teaches me how to play football.

My dad is my role model because he pays attention to me a lot, and he pays attention to his kids, and he wants us to go to college and be successful and he wants us to put him in a safer place when he gets older.

THEMES AND FINDING IDENTIT Y

I think my dad is, because he didn’t go to college, except he’s a really strong person. He’ll get everything done for me and my brothers.

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My dad because he helps us with our homework a lot.

My dad because he’s always been there, and he was a good father, you know.

My pops, because he done been through my footstep – I mean he done already did it all before.

My role model would be my father, because despite all of the negitivity – despite all that he was, all the challenges that we faced, he always put me and my sister, my younger sister, all of our sisters – he put us before himself and he always – he always took care of us, despite whatever happened. He just, he always stayed strong.

My role model is my dad, because maybe I can have dreams like him and keep my hopes up.

My dad because he always takes care of me and even my mom. My dad tell me, anything that’s going on, just tell me, don’t ever, ever just keep it inside of you. Because if you keep it inside you, then something’s wrong. Or tell me if your mom and your baby sister don’t have any more food in your refrigerator, that we almost eat it all. Just tell me that, so I will buy you some more food. He always gave me money to go to the store. He always came to my birthday party, when I had one. He always come to me and my friend's sleepover so we can go somewhere and have fun. My father, because he keeps me going. He teaches me how to be a man and the steps that I should take.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

My dad and my brother because they’re always telling me to do my best.

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MOM

Mom, mom. Mom and this artist, Hayao Miyazaki – incredible storyteller. Anyway, yeah, mom. I have to say it’s my mom.

I’d say my mom because she raised me by herself, without my dad and all that.


My role model is my mom, my grandma, because they’re always helping me and showing me which way to go, instead of being a bad person. They’re always showing me what to do and that’s really good.

My mother, because she is the closest person to me right now. I admire her because my mother takes care of me and feeds me. PARENTS

Definitely my parents because they’re strong, hardworking and independent. They’ve always supported me through everything and I really value that. SIBLING

My brother. (Q: Why your brother?) ‘Cause sometimes he do good and sometimes he do bad.

My big brother, it’s because he don’t take no for an answer, he keeps going, like, succeeding at what he tries to do.

ATHLETES

My role model? My role model has to be Chris Paul, man. He conducts hisself so well, on the court and off the court, you know what I’m saying?

Monta Ellis. (Q: Monta Ellis is my boy! But why? He’s inspired you to be a basketball player?) Yeah. Well, yeah, and my favorite number is eight because of him, so, well now his number is eleven, but it’s still always eight to me. Nick McFadden.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

I will probably say that my role model is Michael Jordan. Dude followed his dream. He did what he wanted to do with his life and didn’t let anybody stop him from doing what he wanted to do in his life. And that is what I want to do. And I don’t want nobody in my ear constantly telling me that’s not smart. “Be smart about your decision.” Now I don’t want to hear that.

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“My role model is my brother. Because

he goes to school every day. And he has changed his posture and behavior a lot and he has grown since he was eight and has just grown a lot.”

— Yeheshua Salam

UNCLE

My Uncle Yancy. He taught me everything I know, damn near, about cars, you know what I’m saying? That’s why I’m going to college right now, to be a mechanic, you feel me? So, I’d have to say my uncle.

My uncle. (Q: Your uncle?) Yeah. (Q: Why?) ‘Cause he’s not like all the other people you see out here on the streets and stuff.

That’d have to be my uncle. And because, I don’t know, I just could tell my uncle anything and everything. He wouldn’t get mad.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

COUSIN

34

My role model, to be exact, is my big cousin. He’s only one year older than me. His name is Anayis. He’s my role model because he inspires me to get out and get active and he shows me how to play basketball, football – he just shows me a lot of great things. That I can just get out and get active and don’t care about what anybody thinks. My cousin, because he went to college and got a degree.


EVERYONE

My role model would be... I wanna say everyone, because I feel they motivate me either from what they don’t have or do have. If you don’t have anything, I feel like I would want to help. And that gives me the motivation to be able to achieve what I need.

I have multiple role models. Everyone who’s in my life, and brings positivity into my life, is a role model. I’ve grown and become the man that I am because of the people that surround me, my friends, even people the same age. I feel like I got a gift, or I see what I should take from the individuals that are around. If it’s something that I see, like okay, I need to be that, I mimic it, and I’ll copy it, and I’ve taken a little bit from everybody that I’ve been around. And that’s how I grew up to be how I am. So I’d say everybody who’s around me and that’s positive is a role model. NO ONE

Don’t have a role model.

My role model is, uh, I don’t have a role model. My role model would be… I don’t have one.

My role model… my role model – he’s not even here no more. His name was Raymond Lamont Justice. He got gunned down in 2010 walking home from his school, Oakland High. He was just an overall stand-up guy. He was 17 when he passed and he was just – he was just the coolest. Everybody loved him. Everybody wanted to be around him. He rapped. He was just the coolest. My role model, whew, that’s a hard one. My role model is every kid that’s trying to make something out of themselves.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

FRIEND OR PEER

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TEACHERS

My role models are my teachers because they’re driven and they really excel in what they do. Brother Jahi. (Q: Brother Jahi? Why?) Because he always makes the right decision and he always knows what he’s doing before it happens. ARTISTS

I guess one of my role models is Masashi Kishimoto and Michael Dante DiMartino. They are writers of two animes that I really like, that I’m basing a lot of my stories I’m going to write – and animes and stuff in the future. MUSICIANS

I would wanna say Bob Marley, he is one of ‘em. And it’s like, because he is one of the people that – like, his music helped me relax more.

Wiz Khalifa… yes, I would call him as a role model to me. (Q: Why?) Why? Because, it’s not always about what he talks about, y’know he likes – like he said, he might do a lot of weed, but weed is not his first priority. Y’know what I’m saying? It’s music. So, that tells me right there his – even though he raps about it a lot, that’s not his number one priority. His family, y’know, he’s about to become a dad, so a true man to his words. His loyalty is to everything he do. Yeah.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

SUPERHERO

36

My role model is Dash. (Q: Dash? From which show?) It is a movie, The Incredibles. (Q: And why is that your role model?) Because, like you asked me a few minutes ago, super speed and he runs really fast and he is a superhero. OBAMA

I would have to say Obama, ‘cause he’s the president. First black president.


“My role model is my dad,

because he teaches me how to be a man and never to look down on myself and never to look down on whoever around me and what I’m doing.”

— Cleo Senegal


What is your greatest achievement?


EDUC ATION

My greatest achievement is being an African American Male Achievement award recipient my first year in Dewey. So that is one of my better achievements.

My greatest achievement would be graduating high school in a couple of weeks. I’m too stoked. I’m over excited.

My greatest achievement? Well, this year is my greatest achievement. Because last year, when I was in school, I was doing bad. But this year, when it comes around, when I’m being a senior, it’s like everything comes together and I do what I got to do. Shit, I’m positive! My greatest achievement is still being in school. That’s my greatest achievement.

Getting a 3.97 on my report card.

My greatest achievement was last year when I got five A’s and one B. Because I really wanted that 4.0, and that was closest I ever had to a 4.0.

My greatest achievement is to finish my last school year, and to go through school. And sometimes it can be hard. My greatest achievement is graduating from elementary school. Having good grades.

My greatest achievement? It was getting Student of the Month last year at Edna Brewer, ‘cause all the hard work actually paid off. And I knew that I made it to the 7th grade. I think getting 4.0’s is my greatest achievement. My cursive writing.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

Probably getting a 4.0 in the 6th grade.

39


Getting the African American Male thing – when you get an A – or if you get a 3.0 or higher, you get a lil’ certificate. As of right now, I know I’m gonna get into college. I mean, that’s it… but, I can’t really think of nothing right now, like – I still feel like I’ll have more to do.

My greatest achievement is to get all A’s on my report card. (Q: What are your grades looking like now?) They are looking good. I have B’s (Q: What do you need in order to get them to A’s) What I need in order to get A’s is to be good in the classroom and don’t be disrespectful. My greatest achievement is when I got an A+ in science.

My greatest achievement is when I was in second grade. I had gotten an A in math.

My greatest achievement is me pulling my grades up in school. (Q: So you used to have low grades?) Yes. (Q: What made you want to get better grades?) My mom and my brother encouraging me to do better, and me moving here to a better school.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Making it through high school ‘cause a lotta my friends didn’t graduate high school. So, that’s what mine is. (Q: Were there any challenges, obstacles, you faced throughout high school?) Uh, not really. No. (Q: So it was a smooth... ) It wasn’t smooth. School was okay. Had my little troubles inside the school and outside the school, but I just managed to keep on working and just keep on pushing and trying. (Q: And how did you manage that?) Just stay in the teacher’s classroom, just every day, just be there on time every day, hand ‘em every paper back that they hand to you.

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ARTS

Just my art. My art is an achievement. I see my art and I love it. SPORTS

Being good in basketball.

My greatest achievement is to be able to play basketball with my favorite team, the One


Nation Team, and so far we’re making good progress and soon our big game’s coming up.

Oh yeah, I almost know how to do a back-flip with no hands. Football.

Playing in tournaments in L.A. and Reno, Las Vegas. Basketball. Improving in football and basketball. And my cursive writing.

MVP’s, trophies, championships, baseball, football, “Defensive Player of the Year.” BEING ALIVE

My greatest achievement would be where I am now. Me being alive.

My greatest achievement man, is, shit, waking up every day and staying alive. Not a lot of people can say they does this every day.

As of now, still being alive. (Q: And why do you say that?) Well… just a lot been going on lately… it’s been a lot. The best not yet to come. (Q: And why is that?) Because I feel like you can always do greater. My long term goal is to never leave my family with nothing. So in order for my last achievement to be succeeded, I would have to be passed on from this life with my family having everything I didn’t. That’s my greatest achievement. My son and my daughter.

My greatest achievement is becoming independent and not relying on people so much.

My greatest achievements? Being on the news and being looked up to as a successful young black man.

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

FAMILY

41


PERFORMING

I said the Martin Luther King speech in 9th grade, the “I Have a Dream” speech. I read the whole thing in front of the Black Student Union, in 9th grade – coming in as a 9th grader. They selected me outta nowhere. They just came to me one day and said, “BJ, I want you to read a speech in front of a bunch of people.” It was NAACP people. City council people were there. I’m talking about, I got up in there and I just fluently read it. One time – in 9th grade – it was so many complicated words up in there, but I just knocked it out.

My greatest achievement? I think my greatest achievement is when I had to show out somewhere for basketball and I did. It was on a big stage – high stage, and I did. I’ll never forget it. It was at the Blue Williams and it’s a EYBO thing, if anybody ends up noticing what I’m talking about. And I showed up and showed out and that’s when I got all my recruits and everything and I felt good.

NONE

I’m not sure.

I don’t think I have reached any great achievements yet. I couldn’t say that right now. MISC

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Having a surprise party.

42


“My greatest achievement

would be where I am now. Me being alive.”

— Dailin Reese


THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Describe your life in 10 years.

44


HELPING PEOPLE/GIVING BACK TO MY COMMUNIT Y (9%)

Ten years? Man, Aston Martin with the top cut off, you know what I mean? With a little lightskinned peanut butter thing coming out my seat. Naw, 10 years, I’m giving back, I don’t care if I, you feel me, if I make it. I’m gonna make it and in 10 years I’m giving back to the society. I’m not just talking about I got money to blow, I got money to spend on some books for the kids. ATHLETE (9%)

PSYCHOLOGIST (7%) SUCCESSFUL (7%)

Ten years, huh? I would have everything. Every single thing in my mind that I want, I will have… 10 years from today. I HAVE A FAMILY (5%)

“In 10 years I hope to become a music producer. I hope to have started a new family. I hope to have worked around the world. The world revolves around music. Like we didn’t have music, imagine how boring this world would be. Imagine the stuff we be doing, just without music. So I feel music helps the world in the long run.” — Aaron Johnson

THEMES AND FINDINGS IDENTIT Y

MUSIC INDUSTRY (5%)

45


ARTIST (5%)

IN COLLEGE (5%)

In 10 years I’ll be 20 and I’ll be in college probably… and I’ll play for the college football team, whichever college I go to. And I really don’t care if they lose every game. All I know is, that I’m gonna try to put them in a safe place and make us win. FAMOUS (3.5%)

I’m just gonna be BJ, everybody gonna wanna be around me, everybody gonna know me, you know? Be one of those, “that’s him!” One of those people, like if I come around, they gonna be like, “that’s him.”

In 10 years I’ll be 22 years old… well, 21, and then I will be – I would wanna be famous for – I’m gonna try to help Oakland and be famous for cleaning up Oakland and helping the streets and dedicating a lotta stuff to Africa and kids. I AM SAFE (3.5%)

ACTOR (2%)

ACCOUNTANT (2%)

I HAVE A JOB (3.5%)

DOCTOR (2%)

THEOLOGIST (2%)

NICE HOUSE, NICE C AR (3.5%)

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

BUSINESSMAN (3.5%)

46

KARATE MAN (2%) MEDIC AL ASSISTANT (2%)

COLLEGE GRADUATE (2%)

RN (2%)

PHOTOGRAPHER (2%)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE (2%)

I AM RICH (2%)

PROFILER (2%)

MARKETING (2%)

DON’T KNOW (2%)

NOT WORRYING ABOUT MONEY (2%)


“I just want a comfortable

existence. Not having to worry about where the money gonna come from tonight. I don’t wanna be rich. I just wanna stop worrying about that, seems petty. I wanna worry about more important things… making a difference… helping people.”

— Benjamin Neomo Horgan


THEMES AND FINDINGS CHAPTER T WO

MY LIFE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

WHAT DID YOU EAT FOR BREAKFAST TODAY?

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY?

WHAT IS THE SC ARIEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? WHO IS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PERSON YOU KNOW? WHAT MAKES THEM SUCCESSFUL?

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL, WHAT WOULD IT BE? DO YOU PL AN ON GOING TO COLLEGE?


What did you eat for breakfast today?


CEREAL — 32.6%

REESE’S PUFFS APPLE JACKS CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH FRUIT LOOPS FROSTED FL AKES

NOTHING — 19.6% PANC AKES — 4% A SCONE — 4%

WAFFLES — 4%

EGGS AND BACON — 4% ORANGE JUICE — 4%

MUFFIN — 2%

GREEK YOGURT WITH GRANOL A — 2% YOGURT AND BEEF JERKY — 2%

PANC AKES, BACON AND KOOL- AID ON THE SIDE — 2%

BAGEL — 2%

CUP- A -NOODLES — 2%

TOAST — 2%

CHICKEN — 2%

SAUSAGE, EGGS AND PANC AKES — 2%

EGGS — 2%

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

OATMEAL — 2%

51


What is your favorite childhood memory?


“Playing sports, running around the

neighborhood, meeting new people.”

— Anthony J. Johnson

SPORTS (23%)

Probably being in my backyard, playing basketball, shooting free throws. If I was to choose one, it’d be the first time I made a half-court shot in basketball. When I first got on the baseball team.

It wasn’t really childhood - it was last year. I hit my first home run in baseball.

When I played basketball for the first time at Garfield Elementary School.

My favorite childhood memory has to be – that’s a hard one, I have so many good ones. Playing basketball at... what is it called? My bad, man, I forget the park... it’s in North Oakland... (Q: Mosswood Park?) Yeah, Mosswood. Growing up, playing at Mosswood. Hitting my first game winning shot.

When I was first playing basketball.

When I had a basketball game. I was playing with middle school students and I scored a shot.

When I first started doing backflips. FAMILY (21%)

Spending time with my family (Q: What did you guys do that was so memorable?) I remember all the times with my family. My favorite part of my childhood memory is just spending time with family… all together. Like going on trips, airplane rides, drives, vacations... lots of different stuff.

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

Playing football. (Q: Football, you was playing football in your younger years? What position do you play?) Quarterback.

53


We just enjoyed our day. It was the last day I ever got to see her, so you know, it’s one of those moments you probably never forget. (Q: Did something happen to your mom?) Umm… yeah, unfortunately. She passed away December 26th, 2006 at approximately 3:00 AM. Being at my great-grandma’s house on 39th.

“My favorite childhood memory was when I went to the beach with my mom and my cousin.”

I would have to go all the way back. Any memory I still have of my grandmother. ‘Cause my grandmother passed away when I was about eight, so any memory that I still have being with her. Being around her, talking with her, any of her words that still pop up in my head. Any of that is my favorite childhood of memory.

It’s actually, probably just hanging out with my mom and dad. You know, just spending time with them on the weekends. All the times I actually sat and played with my cousin.

My favorite memory was when I turned four because that’s when I first met my Grandma.

One year I was staying in the East on 96th and Sunnyside, it was just one year that me, my mom, my dad and my sister were able to stay in one house, and it was just like – it was just a solid year. It would have to be when my brother was sticking up for me.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

When I was with my mom. (Q: And what were you guys doing?) We were just out in the hotel enjoying ourselves.

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My favorite childhood memory was when my dad bought me my phone. PL AYING/TOYS (17%)

Probably my first Hot Wheels set. My dad brought it for me for Christmas

Climbing trees.


Lego Star Wars at age six.

My daycare.

Toys. Playing with toys at daycare.

When I was at my granny’s house and we was in the backyard, and we was playing, throwing rocks and see who can get the closest to the fence, yeah, and we was trying to hit it. (Q: And it was you and who?) Me and my cousins… and it was one of my big cousins named Devario.

Playing in the jumper.

Well, we didn’t really have a lot of money, so I used to like the little stuff we did. Like on Saturday mornings after school. I’ll eat breakfast and watch cartoons till like three o’clock and go outside and play till like nine o’clock at night and play football. HANGING OUT WITH FRIENDS/ENJOYING LIFE (13%)

Walking on E-1. Me and Sean inside the music shop and playing football.

Have to say my favorite childhood memory was back in middle school when we used to mess around at the park every day after school. Play basketball, old friends and everything. Being with my friends.

When I first rode my bike.

Just growing up and living to experience life. VAC ATION (9%)

My favorite childhood memory is when I was seven. My grandmother took me to Disneyland. That was nice. Probably my mom had this friend who’s a bronze artist and they had this café up in the

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

When I used to go to the Boys and Girls Club and play pool.

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middle of Wisconsin, in the middle of nowhere, Red Wing, I think. Just going up there in the summertime. It was really– it was one of those times that you know you don’t have to worry about anything.

When I went to Disneyland. (Q: With who?) My mom. (Q: Did you enjoy it.) Yeah. (Q: What made it fun?) Seeing Mickey Mouse.

Going to Disneyland. (Q: How was that?) I would say it was extravagant.

SCHOOL (9%)

My favorite childhood memory would be me graduating from the 8th grade. It was, like, a big ceremony that they have. First getting laid. No, I’m just playing. First time I learned how to read a book. It’s all about the knowledge. Being at my old school.

Just having fun times at my elementary school, Manzanita, with my friends that I still hang out with today.

BIRTHDAY PART Y (4%)

My favorite childhood memory was my fourth birthday party. I had it at The Jungle.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

My favorite childhood memory is my brother’s birthday party. I tried to go with them to the mall but I was too young. (Q: How old were you?) I had to be like six… five.

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NONE (4%)

(Shakes head “no”) (Q: Ain’t got no childhood memory? Okay, what is your first memory of childhood that you remember?) When my sister ran over my skateboard.


“I think, like, the last Christmas

that me and my momma spent together. I think that will be it.”

— LaShawn Nolan


PART ONE: THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?


RIDING ON A ROLLERCOASTER

BROKE MY ARM

FINDING OUT MY MOM DIED

NOTHING

LOSING MY PHONE

HEARING THAT MY MOM GOT RUN OVER BY A C AR

GETTING MY HAIR CUT

FALLING OUT OF A TREE SWITCHING SCHOOLS

SEEING A BIG ASS SPIDER ALMOST DROWNING

BAD ASTHMA ATTACK HEAD INJURY

ALMOST GOT HIT BY A C AR HAUNTED HOUSE

GETTING LOST AT A MALL

SOMETHING DARK IN THE HALLWAY

WATCHING A SCARY MOVIE OR CELEBRIT Y GHOST STORIES

NOT DOING WELL IN SCHOOL

The scariest thing that ever happened to me? I actually have no “scariest thing that ever happened to me,” except when I accidentally almost failed in the 4th grade. Because I knew that if I went on the wrong path that time, ain’t no way of going back, and I wanna keep my head up. I got a bad grade once and I was scared about what my mom was going to do.

GOING TO JAIL

Going to jail for the first time would probably be the – or just knowing I was in jail and not realizing what I was doing. So, yeah. (Q: And from that experience have you learned anything?) Yeah, it’s not too many people I would – I wouldn’t say – be careful of just who you be with, y’know what I’m saying? Not everybody is loyal.

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

Getting a whoopin ‘cause I got suspended.

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WITNESSING A SHOOTING

Seeing or hearing people get shot.

It was gunshots and I was playing outside. Then they start shooting.

When they shootin’.

I’ve seen a couple people get shot. Just seeing death. I mean, it wasn't nothing to be scared of, but you shouldn’t see it. You shouldn’t see it live, in the face, until it’s you, you get what I’m saying? So, those – just basic, in the flesh, in the moment, ohmigod type of scary, it just – it ain’t right.

I was in a party in Dubs, that’s what we call it, the – the 20’s, and a dude pulled out a gun and tried to kill somebody right in front of me.

When somebody tried to – it was when in L.A. and I was at my uncle Tay-Tay’s house and somebody was in front of the house and they were shooting.

I watched my friend die in front of me. (Q: How do you feel about that, at the time?) Lost, confused, real confused, like… confused. (Q: After the aftermath, after the shooting had been done, police came, how did you feel then?) I felt like Oakland wouldn’t just – it’s not safe anymore. It’s just, you gotta be careful at all times ‘cause you never know what could happen. Just… always try to be careful.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

GETTING SHOT AT

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When I got shot at. Believe I was running around the lake and I guess it was the wrong time, maybe it was getting dark. I was running and I made it all the way around. Stay right over there on Eastlake, so I’m over here by the district. I start over here, where the construction is now. I go all the way around and I make it home. Basically, because I’m right where I started and I’m walking. I’m walking over here by the lake, over there by the tennis courts, over there by Merritt Bakery. And there is a one-way coming toward the lake and there is


THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

that street that turns into First. So I’m coming up First and I’m right by the tennis courts. And up the one-way I see this Buick, burgundy, black tints. It’s creeping and I’m like alright, I ain’t tripping. I’m looking at the cars all the time. And I don’t have any altercations or “beef” with anybody. I’m not really tripping. So I’m walking and I’m ready to make that left on the one-way. So they are coming this way in a car. I’m walking this way. There’s a parked car in between us. I see the car slow down as it gets two, three cars in front of me. So I start to get more aware of the situation. I turn my music off. I didn’t take my head phones off, I just turn it off in my hand and put it in my pocket. I didn’t slow it down, I didn’t change up how I presented myself, my body language or nothing. So they wouldn’t react irrationally. So I’m walking and I can see the car slow to a stop. A stop to a slow and it goes. When it stopped, before it made any movement, I knew in my mind that it wouldn’t be a good situation. So I turned and looked at the light on First Avenue to see if there would be any cars coming. Just peep my surroundings right quick. And in a matter of seconds, I’m slowing down right quick so people could understand what’s going on. The car stops and goes slowly, stops and goes. And he punches it and the window rolls down, and the tints make the inside really dark. So I could only see the hand of the driver. I could tell he was African American himself. And he was driving. I was looking at his hand, although the window had rolled down. I knew that is where the danger was going to come from. I was trying to pick up any details that I can get. If I make it out of the situation I want somebody to be put in jail. I need justice. That is the only thing I’m thinking about at the time. In a situation like that, yes, you could think about your safety. But you’re thinking about that person. That’s your focus. That person wants me dead or he’s trying to get something from me. I need to figure out what is going on with that person. So the gun comes out, pop-pop-pop. I duck. I get behind a car and on the other side of the car I hear boom, boom, really heavy. And the glass shatters. I instantly grab my shoulder, I felt glass on my shoulder. And I look– I might have got hit. It looks like he shot three or four times and kept going.

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He wasn’t trying to kill me, I wasn’t somebody he thought I was. It seems to me, after the situation, they were bored. The more I think about it, they were looking for something to do. They didn’t have anywhere to kick it at. Let’s go over here for whatever reason. They felt like shooting at me, so they shot at me. They didn’t care whether I got hit or not because they never shot to confirm it. And I don’t recognize the car, so it was definitely not from my neighborhood, because I lived here my whole life, 18 years. I’m familiar with everybody in the area. So I really don’t feel like their intention was to take my life, but it was very close, and it’s not something I can do all the way, say that’s what they wanted to happen. I’m thinking and wanting to believe they didn’t want to take my life because I can’t stand black on black crime. I can’t stand the fact that we can’t unite and stop picking each other off. I just came here from running around the lake. What could I have done to make them want to take my life? That is one of the scariest things I have dealt with in Oakland. Most scariest thing that ever happened to me was staring down the barrel of a Glock 18 with a whole 30 on it asking, “Where you from, who is you?” Just ‘cause I’m walking down the wrong street.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I got shot. (Q: You mind me asking where?) I got shot in Acorn and I got shot in Richmond. (Q: At the time of the shooting, how did you feel?) I felt afraid, I felt frightened and it’s a shock, something I have to live with the rest of my life. (Q: In going forward after the shooting, the aftermath, how did you feel then?) Oh, I felt like… I can walk this whole earth.

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This one dude, he hopped out shooting. I used to go to school with him, you know? Walking down the street, he hit the corner, I guess he had fonk with one a my partners that was standing with me. He hopped out shooting at him, so he was shooting at me too. It was pointblank range but I didn’t get hit. (Q: How’d you feel at the time?) I was shocked… shocked.


THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

I was going up 64th and MacArthur, and I was going to see a female and, on my way to see her, I got to six-four and Mac’ and I crossed the street. I put my foot on that sidewalk and one of the guys that I used to go to school with, I had seen around, seemed as if he didn’t know me, and he was like, “What you doing around here?” He was like, “It ain’t good like that.” And I was like, “What?” It stopped me – shook me up – like, “Who you talking to?” I haven’t really been into too much, so I’m thinking he wants to fight me. I’m ready to fight. I noticed that he had friends around him after he told me it wasn’t cool like that, being around here. I got ready to fight, and that’s not what he was ready to do. He told one of his friends that was close to him, “Let me see the clip.” He had the gun on him already, and with him asking for that clip, I instantly thought, “Oh, it’s time to get up outta here.” And I ran. I don’t care if anybody say, “He ran, he a sucka’.” I don’t care. It was my life on the line and I ran. I got up outta there. They didn’t catch me. This lady ended up picking me up and she told me, “hop in.” I didn’t know her, but my life was on the line. I didn’t care. She was getting me out the situation I was in. So I hopped in and she was telling me to be careful, she was like, “Yeah, you gotta be careful around here.” Her nephew just got jumped a few weeks back by the same guys that attempted to shoot me. She dropped me off at home. And that was the scariest thing I ever been through. (Q: After dealing with all of that, how did you feel?) I felt like what my mom had been telling me, I should’ve paid attention to. Girls ain’t everything and there’ll come a time when you meet the right one, but I was kinda like, I ain’t been through what she telling me about so let me do what I wanna do. I was rebellious, you know, I went against the grain.

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LOSING A LOVED ONE

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

First time I found out my mom died. That was the scariest thing. My sisters were there and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know to cry. I was like, my mom is gone, what I’m supposed to do? And that is being a big brother. (Q: At the time, what was going through your head?) My mom, really. At this time I was like, alright, what is there for me to do? What is my next step? I know I’m going to cry in a minute, that is my number one step. What am I’m supposed to do right now? What is the thing that would define my future as a man at this moment for my sisters?

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Who is the most successful person you know?


DAD12 %

MOM 22.5%

UNCLE 12%

ALL OTHERS COMBINED 53.5%

“The most successful person is my mom and my dad. (Q: Why?) Because it feels like one day I can be just like them. (Q: What does your mom do?) My mom does – she is a custodian.”

— Carlton McWoodson

MY MOM — 22.5%

I hate to be corny but she has always overcome and always been strong. She is success.

Probably my mom because she goes to work every day and does what she has to do.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Mom. (Q: Your mom? What makes her so successful to you?) ‘Cause she always helps me with everything I need.

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I’d say my mom. My mom – she’s a substitute teacher, she’s got her BA. She’s still working toward being a permanent teacher. But she raised two kids, she raised two sons on her own. And I see young women out there with one kid and I hear about the struggle and I feel like she’s the most successful person that I can see right now in my life, like the person I can reach out to.


MY FATHER — 12.5%

My dad. (Q: What makes him successful?) That he paid attention to us. And when he wanted to play with us, he’d play with us. And when it came to playing or doing your homework, he’d go, “do it.” He’d ask us if we had any homework over the weekend and then we’d say no. He’d go to McDonald’s and buy something and if we said no, I mean yes, that we got homework, then he’ll call my mom and ask her, “Can I get the keys to the house?” He’d go get my backpack and stuff, my homework, and on the way there he’d go to McDonald’s to get us some food and go back home. My dad. (Q: What makes him successful?) He likes to do stuff with us. (Q: Okay, what kind of stuff does he like to do with you guys?) He likes to take us outside and take us to the skate park.

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

The most successful person I know is my pops. I feel like pops is a hard working man. Pops is a single father of three. One of them isn’t even his. You know how many people – men, run away from girls that say their child is on the way? My pops, he is a great man. He graduated high school, didn’t go to college and has been working since he was 18. He is now 46 and he is going strong. He worked at McDonald’s. He worked at a body shop. He did pipes. He worked in the plant. Right now he is currently working as a mailman. Working 12 hour shifts. It never ends for him. Never ends. Yet he still has time to make sure his sons are where they need to be, education wise and safety wise. He makes sure that his sons are never hungry or deprived of any basic need that they need at home. Pops made sure that his sons understood that the decisions that they make now can and will affect their future, just like it affected his. He always regretted not going to college or furthering his education. So his best wishes is for us to be the better person and further our education to make sure our life isn’t full of hard work. We need more easy work, more compassionate work, more efficient work. Pops is very inspirational. When I think of pops I don’t ever want to let him down.

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MY UNCLE — 12.5%

I come from a family where, you know, a lotta people are successful. I’m not trying to be a bragger or trying to front or anything, but I would have to say my uncle. He played professional football. His name’s Joe Abdullah.

Most successful person I know is probably my uncle, ‘cause he feels like his life is kind of just steady. He takes care of everything, not falling behind. He knows what he got to do and he gets it done.

I’d say my uncle, I would have to say my uncle. He owns his own club and owns his own security. MY GRANDMOTHER — 5%

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

The most successful person I know is probably my grandmother. And she’s successful in pretty much every sense of the word. She has made a nice life for herself. She is her own person. She is a nice lady.

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I know a lot of successful people, but I say my granny, because she overcame a lot to be where she’s at right now. She went through a real struggle. She’s successful right now. I’m very proud. Shout out to granny! Clap it up for her.

MY AUNT — 5%

She helps me with my homework if I need help and she’s the one who made me go to afterschool. MY COUSIN — 5%

I would say my cousin. She just graduated in 2012. Senior year and I don’t know her college plans, but she’s been working a lot and saving up. And she is my age, a few months older. Who couldn’t relate to that one? MY TEACHER/MENTOR — 5%

Actually, my god mom or my mentor, Debra Day. What makes her successful is her willing determination. She started off with one… just one small idea and one book and from that book and that idea she went and made a full, a full company from it called, A Shade by the Bay. And I mean, it’s filled with thousands of children’s books and it’s very amazing. I would say she is the most successful person. (Q: Did you ever think the only thing is I’d rather not follow in anyone’s footsteps. I’d rather make my own. The most successful person that I know is Mrs. Maririz (Q: Why?) Because in 3rd grade she helped us and taught us more


FAMILY, IN GENERAL — 5%

My mom, and my dad, and my sister, my brothers. (Q: Okay, what makes them successful? Whichever one you wanna pick.) They love me. My mom and my dad. My auntie and my uncle because they always tell me the right thing. Not to lie and to get a good education when you go to school. And always keep your head up and just focus in class no matter what. And they tell me sometimes, anything that happens, just walk away or tell the teacher. Don’t let anything go through. Just tell the teacher, ‘cause if you don’t, when you grow up you gonna be in jail, you gonna be there maybe for your whole life. BARACK OBAMA — 2.5%

The most successful person I know is, man, I would say Barack, ‘cause coming from a black dude, it’s hard to get up in that White House, you feel me? MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. — 2.5% TUPAC — 2.5%

I would have to say my family and otherwise I would have to say Jay-Z. (Q: Why?) Naw, Tupac, because he accomplished his complete goal and that was to have his name recognized by the world when he passed on and to have a social impact on the world when he left. He was so successful, he accomplished his one goal, over money and everything, that one thing he wanted to do. (Q: And what did you learn from that?) Regardless of how you pictured your life, you have to keep striving. You know, like how at a funeral is the one place where the good that you do is better than the bad. If your achievements are quiet, they’re going to be quiet at the altar. That is not how I wanted it to be. WIZ KHALIFA — 2.5%

BISHOP ANTHONY WILLIS — 2.5%

He came from a lifestyle just like mine, using coke, pimpin’, doing a whole bunch a stuff, you feel me, and now he just a man of God. He do the work of the Lord, which is honorable to me. STEPFATHER — 2.5%

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

things and different things to get us ready for 4th grade.

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The most successful person I know is my stepdad. He was a professor and he worked for 30 years and he instructed my brothers. Anytime they were feeling down about themselves he would give them encouraging words, like, “You can do it” and stuff. FAMILY FRIEND — 2.5% BABY MOTHER — 2.5%

My baby mom, because she completes everything that I haven’t – something I never had. NOBODY — 2.5%

Right now I don’t know anyone. (Q: You don’t know anybody successful?) No. MY BROTHER — 2.5%

My brother because he got A’s and B’s like my dad.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

MY GRANDFATHER — 2.5%

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The most successful person I know was my grandpa because he did what made him happy. He did what made him provide for his family, because family came first, and his ambition came first.


If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?


“To make everyone stop being mean.”

STUDENTS — 33%

CURRICULUM — 12%

DISCIPLINARY PRACTICES — 10%

TEACHERS — 10% NOTHING — 10% LUNCH — 8%

BIGGER SCHOOL — 4%

LONGER RECESS — 4%

MORE TIME AT SCHOOL — 4%

OUTREACH TO AFRIC AN AMERIC AN STUDENTS — 2%

COST — 2%

STUDENTS

Bullying.

NO UNIFORMS — 2%

MORE FUNDING FOR SCHOOL — 2%

Change the violence.

To make everybody stop being mean.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Stop getting mad at each other. (Q: Why is there a lot of people getting mad at each other at your school?) Because people keep bullying and we need to stop that.

72

The name calling. (Q: And why?) Because it’s not good for our community, because people should feel safe in the school community without being called names. (Q: Did somebody call you names?) No. (Q: How do you feel when you hear other people call your friends names?) Sad. Mostly sad because they don’t know what goes on in that person’s house and so it is kinda like personal what goes on in their house.


WASTING TIME

If anything, if I could just magically change anything, I would change the way some students think. I think some students need to grow up. That’s what I think. And take it more seriously, like when I was in the younger ages – like, I’m a senior now, but when I was younger I didn’t – I was thinking like them, like, I got time. But I would tell ‘em, you know, don’t waste time. CLIQUES

Have to probably be the cliques. People is in their own different cliques, everybody in their own different zones, their own different comfort zones, their comfort zone. I would like to be more diverse to where it’s not about the diversity drug-wise. Not all people talking about, “Oh yeah, I only hang out with this person because they give me some weed. They give me whatever I need.” I want them because they want to hang out. They don’t want to hang out because of what somebody else has. They don’t actually be friends. I’m color of the rainbow for friends. I hang out with everybody because I want to. It’s like that.

Well, right now I’m not in school. But when I was in school – I went to school in Vallejo, California, it was a lotta discrimination between races. The Asians would be on this side, the whites be on this side, the majority of the blacks be on the top of the stairs, so it was separate, no unity. (Q: How did you feel at the time?) At the time I wasn’t really worried about it, but I knew it was an issue, but I never really addressed the issue at hand. L ACK OF DIVERSIT Y

The diversity at the charter school wasn’t really up to snuff. I felt a little bit, you know, I like to stand out, like to be unique, but that was a lot.

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

I say… the… what’s that one name that – I can’t think of the name, but it’s the people that organize, like the rally and stuff… them, ‘cause it’s all Asians.

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CLEANLINESS

One thing I would change about my school is people not being messy but being clean. CURRICULUM

Less homework. More parties.

If I got to change one thing about my school I would change it so kids do more math and science.

Do more stuff.

More field trips.

More field trips. (Q: More field trips?) Yeah. (Q: Okay, what would be one of the field trips that you would like to go to?) Probably science, science and museums. Make the school bigger. DISCIPLINARY POLICIES

I would change OCS ‘cause that’s a bad thing and that just brings the kids down, and don’t make them want to work hard, it just makes them wonder why they’re in OCS.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I don’t know, ‘cause I’d change the disciplinary thing because some kids – they get in trouble a lot. And so they’re quicker to get sent out of class than other kids because they have a bad rep.

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Kids can’t – they have to write a sign from their parents to the school that they’re gonna walk home today and they’re gonna walk outta the school guardian, like off the campus and walk home. (Q: Oh, so you want them to write a note?) Yeah. (Q: To let them know?) To let them know. (Q: Why would you want that to happen?) Because some kids could get shot. They can get involved in something, and a lotta kids walk to a lotta culturally violent places. People that be bad... tell the principal.


“I’d change tardy sweeps. Tardy sweeps are wrong. (Q: Could you

expand more?) Tardy sweeps, like when you come late, they, no questions asked, no reason, but we’ll have to go in the room – we’ll stay there like the whole day, and that’s not good for students when it comes to their education. Might or could be a serious emergency but…” (shrugs shoulders)

— Leonard Moore

Probably the teachers. (laughs) Most likely the teachers, that’s what I’d probably change. (Q: Why would you say the teachers?) I feel like some teachers can be more... how can I say it? More “at us.” Y’know, more real. Instead of being like, “This is what you have to do,” could be more into us, like push us more. Like real life be on. Not parenting, but like a mentor that’s like a coach. Instead of a teacher, you know what I’m sayin’? Be more of a coach. Get real harsh on us.

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

TEACHERS

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“Man, my teachers – like,

my professors… they be kind of unorganized. So, if my professors could be more organized with the class work, like, showing up to my class – the students show up to class more than the professors. So if they got on top of that, everybody will learn better. Know what I’m saying? ”

— Terrell Toliver

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Man, I would change the fact that the teachers sometimes just don’t care. It takes a teacher to reach out to a person, for a person to really learn something, not just hand them a paper.

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Man… staff.

Better teachers. (Q: Better teachers? Why? You don’t like the teachers that are at your school?) No, they’re okay, but more teachers that have more education than those teachers.


NOTHING

Actually I wouldn’t change anything. Dewey is one of those schools where you have your good times, bad times, exclusive times. But you have a time. Dewey is one of those places where you will learn, you will stay focused. You will dedicate yourself.

At my school, Dewey, well to be honest, Dewey definitely isn’t what people make it to be, so I definitely want to start off by saying Dewey is a great environment. Full of adults and staff members that actually care about the students, rather than any other high school I visited. And I feel like if there needed to be a change here, I feel like the students that come here change the perspective of the school. So, that they come here to work. They come here to change. And they come here to make a better person of themselves, because this is a second chance. If you, for whatever reason, cannot make this happen at Dewey then there is obviously something wrong. And you really need to think about that before trying to walk into this campus and disturb everybody else’s education. Actually, I wouldn’t change anything. I really like my school. I feel like they really welcome me and it’s a great environment and I enjoy all the people so, I like my school. I wouldn’t change anything. Probably be the lunch. That lunch is not shmackin at all, I’m not gonna lie. Stale bread, y’all gotta get rid of that, I’m not gonna lie.

The lunch. (Q: Why?) Because, like, well, I know that… the quality was worse at the elementary school I just graduated from and it got a little bit better… but sometimes it’s just kind of bad and I actually went to the actual kitchen where they make the food

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

LUNCH

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on a field trip and if they cook it on Tuesday, you eat it on Friday and they just put it in a refrigerator and then heat it up really hot and put it in a plastic bag and serve it to you. The cafeteria food. (Q: Okay, what would you wanna eat for lunch?) Domino’s Pizza. (Q: Domino’s Pizza? What kind of pizza?) Cheese. (Q: Cheese, just everyday for lunch?) (nods head and smiles) LONGER RECESS/LUNCH

How long the recess is. (Q: How long would you want it to be?) Two days. MORE TIME HERE

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

It would be the time we spend here. (Q: Could you elaborate?) And it would be more time we spend here. I would want more time to be at school. I feel like it’s too little sometimes or just a lack of attention.

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My school? If I could change one thing about my school it would just be that I coulda’ went there earlier. My school – love my school, Dewey. I only been there like four days. I been at Tech. I only been to one high school in Oakland and that’s Oakland Tech. I’ve been there for the last three years, but as soon as I got to Dewey it’s like – it’s not even that it’s easy – I understand it more. Like when I do the tests, I actually remember what to do. I really feel like it’s knowledgeable – it’s a family. What school has dance parties on Friday? Come on now, it’s just the best. It’s the best.


OUTREACH TO AFRIC AN AMERIC AN STUDENTS

Probably outreach. Meaning how many students actually participate that are black. It’s pretty diverse, just not many black people. Right now I take a communications class and I think there’s about five black students in there. EXPENSIVE

Berkeley City College. I’d make it free. Can we please just get some free education? (laughs) Ohmigod, the bills just keep coming in. NO UNIFORMS

MORE MONEY

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

The money, so we can have more technology and stuff like that. (Q: If you had the money, what would you do with it?) I would probably buy better equipment for recess and more stuff for the classroom.

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Do you plan to go to college?


DO YOU PL AN TO GO TO COLLEGE?

I want to be the first in my family to graduate college with a masters.

I definitely plan on going to college. It sounds unrealistic but I feel like I’m going to dedicate more than half my life to furthering my education. I have this power, this will inside and this hunger for knowledge.

I plan on going to college so I can be the best at what I want to do.

Yeah, I plan on going to college just to show that just ‘cause I’m black, I’m smart, I’m intelligent, and I’m goanna make way more money than some Caucasian thinks I’m supposed to.

Yeah. (Q: You do?) Mm-hmm. (Q: Why?) Because I wanna go to the NFL and get good grades. And one day teach my own kids to be good.

Yes, I plan on going to college because I plan on inventing something and changing the world with it.

Yes. (Q: Do you have any college in mind yet? Do you know what you want to be?) No, I got too many things. (Q: Like what?) Like a football player, an actor, or karate man, or a basketball player or accountant.

I do and I’m in college right now. I attend Merritt College and I’ve been there since ‘08. I’m not the best student, but I understand that having a degree will get me somewhere and I’m about six classes away from graduating. I’m still pushing. (Q: Congratulations. What do you wanna study – or your intended major?) Right now I’m a social and behavioral science major and I’m interested in psychology. I’m very interested in the way people think, the way people do the things they do, and the reason people react to certain things the way they do.

THEMES AND FINDINGS MY LIFE

Yes. (Q: Why?) So that I can get my education, grow up to be an African American man.

81


100%

YES Do you plan to go to College?

NO 0%


“Of course. You know, I’m a black man. Of course I am going to college. ”

— LaShawn Nolan


THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND


THEMES AND FINDINGS CHAPTER THREE

[ BEING ]

AFRICAN QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

WHAT DO PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AFRIC AN AMERIC AN MEN IN OAKL AND? WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING A YOUNG AFRIC AN AMERIC AN MAN IN OAKL AND? HAVE YOU EVER FELT ASHAMED OF YOUR CULTURE?

TELL ME A TIME WHEN YOU FELT PROUD OF YOUR CULTURE.

AMERICAN


What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland?


WE’RE NOT ALL THE SAME/DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

If it’s more than three black hoodies – don’t go near them. We’re not all the same. There’s huge diversity in how we grew up, how we still growing up. There are some that will take care of their own and those who will fend for themselves. Definitely not all dead beats. We have our dreams. Even the ones in gangs, they all have a dream, a better dream for their life, they just don’t know what to do with it. They have so many expectations, so many things they would like to do with their lives, but the fact of the matter is, the economy is terrible, awful. And usually growing up around this stuff, you kinda forced into it. You have nothing to do, you don’t have hope that you could do anything better for yourself. So we’re not all the same, we’re totally different. We have different mindsets. It’s what you do with it.

There are a lot of us and we’re individuals. Just because someone looks one way, don’t be too fast to judge. I’m guilty of that. I’ll judge my brother on the street on occasion. Sometimes you’re not feeling as good and open minded as you really should be and you make judgments. But I think people should know that, just like everybody else, everybody is just trying to make it and not everyone has been given the same privileges and blessings as everybody else. So, just, you know, remember.

THEMES AND FINDINGS BEING AFRIC AN AMERIC AN

Watch them. Please watch them. They can be the most sweet talking, most evil, most lovely, most beautiful, most ugly people in the country. Because there are some that naturally believe in the good of the women and in the world and then there are some who are naturally just disguised as a con man. Oakland African American men really have a way with words and you watch them and listen.

87


“You need to know that African American

men are proud of themselves and don’t necessarily hate each other. It’s a stereotype that we hate each other. We don’t hate each other. It’s all love at the end of the day.”

— Aaron Johnson

Not to jump to conclusions and don’t judge a book by its cover, because everybody is different. And everybody is not just that dude on the music videos you see trying to get money and get hoes. We are successful and intelligent.

That they not always about drugs and killing. That some have talents, but you just gotta give ‘em that chance. That some of them kill each other.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Sometimes white people need to stop. They need to know that white and black is a great color and black is not a bad color. ‘Cause one time one of my friends said, my mom asked him, “Do you like black?” And he said no ‘cause he didn’t know, he was talking too fast. They said don’t ever say that, because young black men’s color is a great color.

90

That the majority of us are not always stereotypes, y’know what I’m saying. There’s quite a few people in Oakland, that I know personally, that have a good head on their shoulders. Going to work every day, don’t even do drugs, don’t even like the smell of cigarettes. So that’s what I look at as my African men.

WE’RE ALL GOOD/SMART/LOVING/STRONG

If we don’t like something, or, if something’s going on, we gonna speak our minds, whether you like it or not. It’s just how we feel – and it’s not to offend you, or nothing like that – it’s just to, you know, to clarify what’s going on.


That we’re all good. We’re good creative beings and we’re all very empowered. And we’re all individuals. I think Oakland kind of has a bad rep, especially the black community, which kinda takes the most of that. We’re all not bad. We’re all out here doing our own thing, trying to make it better - make Oakland and ourselves better.

We just cool. It’s Oakland, ain’t nobody like us. We’re the last of a dying breed. There is nobody like us out here. Whatever your type is in Oakland, in men, females, you’re going to find them. It’s good out here in Oakland, we... a couple knuckleheads, that’s why we got a crime rate – a couple of knuckleheads. But besides that, everybody’s – we cool out here. That we’re strong.

That we are strong and that we have a backbone.

They are good and they ain’t gonna hurt you.

That they’re grateful and they have — sometimes some people have a hard time.

They need to know about African men, because some African men help us and are bold and brave.

Our history. Because there is a lot of black people and we have knowledge. That there is hope. There are strong minded individuals. They’re our families, they’re all our people that do have potential to be very great men and women and have the potential to help you. We’re excited, with a lot of energy. It’s hard out here for us.

That it’s hard out here for ‘em and… that’s about it.

THEMES AND FINDINGS BEING AFRIC AN AMERIC AN

What people need to know about African American men in Oakland is that they are proud of their skin color.

91


They need to know that it’s hard to be in our shoes. That you gotta face all these struggles and stay on your school work and focus on not going on the wrong path and stay on the right path to greatness.

Oakland is kinda messed up right now, but the people that live in Oakland is not messed up. WE’RE MISUNDERSTOOD

People don’t understand African American males. The power they have to create change is so high. They underestimate what we can do. When I walk down the street, a lot of the times I get looks from people. Should I cross the street? There are a lot of assumptions but when you really get to know and learn about these men, these young men, you find out that they aren’t much different. Because of their color, because of where they came from, it creates a more genuine person. These “hoodlums” that everybody is afraid of, they have a lot of good inside of them that this community needs. Just for the simple fact, that what they have been through is something that nobody else has. And that contribution is important, because that is the missing puzzle piece — the understanding we never got. That’s the confirmation. And that still needs to be confirmed. That they are going through something, even though they don’t look like they are.

African American men in Oakland is not considered, you know, what you would call ignorant, not what you would call stupid, that’s just not the case. They just need a way out.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

They need to know that we can do better than they think we can do.

92

That they’re not all what you hear on TV. They’re not all shooting and robbing banks and stuff. And they’re not all on drugs and all that kind of stuff that people think. Yeah.That’s what I think all African Americans or Americans should know. That we don’t all run around shooting each other and killing each other.


“That they’re smart. Every black

kid in Oakland is smart. Young men too. ‘Cause, to maneuver out here and stay outta trouble, keep your name, depending on what you’re doing, and keep your name off the streets and people not wanting nothing with you, that’s – you gotta be a smooth guy. Really.”

People need to know that just because African American men look funny, doesn’t mean they don’t have great skills. Like Kunta Kinte, they thought the wrestler was just an ordinary slave, but the wrestler had these skills to wrestle, to fight back no matter what. That they’re not Negros. (Q: Okay, what do you mean by that? Like, they’re not slaves anymore?) Yeah.

THEMES AND FINDINGS BEING AFRIC AN AMERIC AN

— Miles Jones

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What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland?


O V E R 13 YEARS OLD

U N D E R 13 YEARS OLD

HARD

GOOD

GOOD

HARD

83% 17%

79%

21%


IT’S HARD

That’s tough. That’s definitely tough. Like I said, a lot of them are misunderstood, including me. It’s really tough because you can’t wear a certain color, you can’t do certain things without getting looked at funny. You can’t really do anything without having some kind of eyes on you that will make you feel weird. Make you feel sketchy, like, what am I doing?

It’s hard. Definitely hard. It seems like everything is a competition. It’s a lot of jealousy, rather than respect. And it seems like everybody is an enemy because you come from a different area. It seems like regardless of how much we have in common, we see differences. And for an African American male it is dangerous. If you don’t take advantage of school and opportunites given to you, you will be put out into a world that will turn you inside out. It will eat you alive. That world out there is sick. And African American males go through so much when they aren’t in school, when they aren’t at home, when they are at home. And I feel like not too many people understand the extent of the cruelty they deal with mentally.

It is hard because some black men can’t get no job, because the way their household is or the way they carry theyself, or something like that. But all you gotta do is just keep your head up and keep going forward and everything will be good. Don’t, don’t take no for an answer.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Man, it’s hard, a lot of harassment. Cops won’t stop driving back and forth behind me. I feel like I’m gonna get shot just ‘cause I got a hoodie and some Skittles.

96

It’s really hard… it’s really rough. It ain’t easy being a black African American male. See, me, I’m a good positive person and I love people period. I’m a people person, but other type of people look at me and walk past me and, y’know, mean mug me or look at me like I might be a threat. Down by Lake Merritt yesterday, for me to find my way to Grand Street. I’m asking somebody, “S’cuze me, s’cuze me, s’cuze me” and they just ignoring me. I’m like, wow, I’m not asking for no change, I ain’t asking for nothing. I’m just trying to ask you for directions.


It’s hard ‘cause when you walk into a store, everybody thinks that you gon’ do something wrong or bad just because of other people of your skin. And they gon’ put you down just because of the color of your skin. Just being African American.

It’s hard ‘cause people look at you with negative thoughts and you gotta turn them into a positive.

“Sometimes it means people

will treat you differently. Sometimes it means you need to be courageous and you need to know who you are and what you stand for.”

IT’S STEREOT YPED

It’s not the same thing as growing up in Antioch, or growing up in San Leandro or something. People expect you to do different things. Expect you to be in certain statistics. It’s all about expectations in Oakland because we got a reputation for certain things. (Q: And that reputation is?) Oakland statistically, I read recently, is one of the fourth worst cities in America to live in due to violence. Statistically, they expect African American males to feed into that statistic because we do. I think it’s probably one of the better places to be a young African American male. I mean like, if I was in Nebraska, I’m sure it wouldn’t be so fun. (laughs)

It’s good. I think as you look around and you see that there is more and more diversity in the African American community – not everybody is one way. And I feel like that’s just getting more prevalent and I think that’s something great to be celebrated. And Oakland is just like an epicenter of people mixing and doing their own thing and nobody having to really worry about them. People have their own lives around here, so they just worry about themselves.

It feels good, because then you can help other people in your community.

THEMES AND FINDINGS BEING AFRIC AN AMERIC AN

IT’S COOL

97


“I can do a lotta things, build

a lotta things, do a lotta things for my African culture.”

— Anthony Mack

It is great being a young African American in Oakland. (Q: Why?) Because you get to explore new things and have fun.

It’s a good thing, being a young man, a black, African man living in Oakland. It’s a good environment, people respect you more, people don’t look at you funny, everybody comes together and get along and do things.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

It is fun because I don’t have to get judged by my skin color.

98

It is what it is.


Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture?


100% 50%

NO

YES

59.2% 40.8% NO

Ashamed of my culture? No. I feel that they can do better, but I wouldn’t say ashamed. Everybody makes mistakes.

Never. (Q: Never?) Never.

“Not at all, not at all. Uh unh. (Q: Not at all?) What kind of dude would I be?”

— Cleo Senegal

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I never felt ashamed of my culture. I just felt disappointed, I just feel like we could do better. It’s nothing wrong with us, we’re not bad people, it’s just – when you grow up it’s like this; if you take a young black man to China for 12 years, eventually he gonna start speaking Chinese, right? You take a young black man and you see crime, selling crack, sex, drugs and people wanna party, all that. Eventually he gonna want that life. So I’m not, I’ve never been ashamed of my culture, I just feel like we could make better decisions.

100

It’s a good thing, being a young man, a black African man living in Oakland. It’s a good environment, people respect you more. People don’t look at you funny. Everybody come together and get along and do things.


YES

I mean, living in Oakland, it’s kinda hard not to, because the majority of things that happen are usually by black people, especially people that are in West Oakland that bang certain gangs. They start giving kids guns. Seriously? I know a 10-year-old with a gun already. Like, come on man. That’s not okay. They grow up around this and they start banging their own cliques and now Oakland is at war with itself. It’s falling apart. Every day I live here I see something new that makes me more ashamed of it. We could do so much better and we ask for equal rights and we working for it, we showing we’re animals. It’s not healthy.

I was going to say no, but when I think about it, there are many men and young African American males that make it hard for others to respect us. Their actions don’t comprehend well, I should say. When I do things, like, I participated in the student Fishbowl at the Chabot Space and Science Center, and joining the Urban Peace Movement, and being a peace ambassador, and I step on campuses other than mine, Dewey, and I interact with others and I see where they have come from. I see that they have been through a lot to make them better people, yet they shut it out. It seems like purposefully they shut it out and I have yet to figure out why. But I can tell they do it purposefully for whatever reason. I don’t understand it.

“I’m definitely ashamed of how

a lot of African American males are being provided with everything they need to be successful, but they don’t embrace it.”

— Mario McGrew

THEMES AND FINDINGS BEING AFRIC AN AMERIC AN

Yeah, because African American people are filling up the jails right now.

101


Yes. I feel ashamed all the time when I see black men or black women being loud, you know, just for no reason or what they call “ratchet.” Ratchet, you know, I just feel embarrassed every time I’m around that.

I feel ashamed of my culture when I see young dudes cussing and stuff and cutting up around older people. You have to show a little bit of respect.

Yes, because I remember that people think I always do wrong. But they don’t think that I take my education seriously, that I just goof off, and just wanna be a sports player, or just a rapper, but there is more to me. I wanna be in Criminal Justice, or like an American Therapist and everything else.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I feel ashamed of my culture when we Well, once I have because everyone don’t appreciate one another, when we kill each other off. For example, every kept on laughing at me because of time I look on the news it’s... I always the way my, because of my family’s hear something, like a young black color. (Q: For real?) Yeah. male shot in the street. That’s when I really feel, like, ashamed of my culture, ‘cause we don’t know what we can really do, but instead we put our anger out on each other for petty stuff, for petty change as well.

102


Tell me a time when you felt proud of your culture.


EVERY DAY WHEN I WAKE UP AND LOOK AT MYSELF IN THE MIRROR

BL ACK PANTHERS MOVEMENT WHEN I WAS BORN

BEING IN THE MANHOOD DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

WATCHING THE BET AWARDS

DURING BL ACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATING KWANZAA

WHEN WE STOPPED BEING SL AVES

WHEN BARACK OBAMA WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT

WHEN WE WENT THROUGH THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

TUPAC

NELSON MANDEL A

SUCCEEDING AT SCHOOL

WHEN WE HELP EACH OTHER AND STEP UP IN THE COMMUNIT Y

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Almost every day, almost every day. Just being out and seeing that things we’ve done have set trends. I was just at the mall the other day and, it was crazy, I’m at the mall and I’m purchasing a pair of jeans and a Mexican came through, and he got the music loud, like he walking through the mall. He got his stereo in his hand, and he’s slappin’ Lil Boosie, like, loud while he’s shopping. And I just – I thought okay, we influencing people. I saw what he was doing, it was kind of negative, and maybe a little ignorant, but I figured, if he was slappin’ Lil Boosie, and Boosie is African American so… it amazed me.

104

When I was in the Oratory Fest. It was me, my friend Gregory and Michael, and we won first place. (Q: Was it poetry?) We did poetry and we went against other people.

When I went to camp, an all-African American camp, just nothing but black kids, and I just seen, like, actually how many kids and how easy it is to get along with African American people.


he did a lot of positive things for our black community. I was proud to be a black African American then. (Q: Such things as?) Meals on Wheels, No Child Left Behind, things like that. I mean, just – just doin’ positive things in the community, just trying to help people out, period. And just thinking about how they are, it didn’t matter who you were. It’s all about just coming together and– the only way we can change the world, only way we can change our neighborhoods, only way we can change our community is by coming together. We have to all have an understanding and everybody has to be willing to put in an effort to do the right thing.” — Joshua Neal

When I was born I was proud of my culture.

Probably graduation day. Seeing a whole bunch of people, different races and everything, doing their thing, taking care of business, doing what everybody should be doing, making an example.

THEMES AND FINDINGS BEING AFRIC AN AMERIC AN

“When my uncle was still alive – he was Huey Newton and

105


THEMES AND FINDINGS CHAPTER FOUR

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS COMMUNIT Y IS...?

DESCRIBE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, WHAT WOULD IT BE? DO YOU HAVE ANY ADULTS YOU C AN OPEN UP TO? WHERE DO YOU FEEL SAFE?

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT OAKL AND? WHAT WOULD MAKE IT BETTER?


PLEASE COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE

Community is...


Community isâ&#x20AC;Ś Culture

A well oiled machine if put together right Broken Unity

Communication

Where everybody come together as one, and just chills

Messed up right now Special

The environment you feel most comfortable in

Family

People

Everyone sticking together and doing something together, to strive together, to succeed together

An environment put together to work

GREAT Unity

one of the best things you should have

A place with people in it

A little, little place where everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s connected as neighbors Important

A group of people working together, trying to make a new thing happen

A place where you usually see the same faces every day

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

A neighborhood

109


“Community is a helpful place with wonderful people. (Q: Do you feel like that about your community?) Yes.”

— Alonzo Holmes

A neighborhood

Good

When every individual comes together to work as one unit, and we all look after each other Environment

I don’t really know how to answer that question

Community is a helpful place with wonderful people (Q: Do you feel like that about your community?) Yes My dad

Community is a thing that all people no matter what color they are, come together and are one happy world

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Community is when we are all together

110

Community is a group of people talking and laughing and enjoying their lives

Important. (Q: Why?) Without a community – no team Life

Neighborhood, family, in a way. Everyone know each other


Community is a well oiled machine if we put it together right. (Q: Could you explain more on that?) Community, to me, means people that work together to accomplish the same goal to keep the peace and harmony, just to keep it together. If it’s not put together with the right, with the right components, then it will fall apart and we will start going to war with each other.

Community is broken. (Q: And why do you say “broken?”) Because, you know how community is supposed to be love one another? So far the community has been against each other. So really, there is no point of community, so it’s broken.

Community is unity. I feel like there is no individuality in community. I feel like if a community is to be successful it needs contribution from everyone.

Messed up right now, man. It’s a lot of unemployment, poverty, all that. So people need to get on top of that.

Community is the environment that you feel most comfortable, the environment that you feel most safe, most relaxed, most free basically. Community is s’posed to be built on a strong foundation of family and some type a morals – if not any at all – just some type. You can’t be a community if you killing each other in the same community or the same environment. You can’t. It won’t work out like that.

Danger, sometimes. (Q: Danger sometimes. Okay, why does that come to your mind?) Because people get shot, and I don’t want to be getting shot, and I don’t want no one else to get shot.

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

Community is special. (Q: Why do you say that?) Because when it’s – when there’s that synergy and when everybody is doing their part and has a good positive outlook, if you will, it can be really amazing. Community can do amazing things, but everybody has to have the right mindset.

111


Oh, it’s dangerous. (Q: Dangerous? Why do you say “dangerous?”) ‘Cause they be shooting around my house and in the world.

Community is... (pauses to think awhile) is about picking up trash and if somebody’s sad, make them happy. If somebody thinks something’s hard, you can, like, help them… and if somebody’s crying, don’t like... (shrugs shoulders). Make them happy again. Community is good because we can – people –black folks and white folks can get along.

Community is, well, (pausing to think) ...basically, when we talking ‘bout community, our community is basically Oakland. It’s a perfect place to live. Where people thinking Oakland is a bad place. Oakland is really not a bad place. It’s the people that’s living in Oakland, I mean people that’s doing the violence. That’s what’s wrong with Oakland. Other than that, Oakland is a beautiful place where people can come and live their lives.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Community is a family, y’know, everybody that’s from the same neighborhood, or different neighborhoods but, it’s still a family.

112


Please describe your neighborhood.


EASTMONT MALL

East Oakland, 81st Street, it’s a cool place. Well, not really too cool but, you know, I’m hangin’. S’alright. Mmm, it’s fun but it’s dangerous too. EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL

Peaceful, and kinda crackheady-ish, ‘cause there’s a lotta people – well, it’s not like at my house, it’s like in the other apartment. It's like a whole other apartment complex and there’s a lotta people that smoke and stuff.

There’s always people walking around or people jogging and usually there’s kids playing down the street. Noisy. A lotta cars go down the street.

My neighborhood is a good neighborhood. I have a lot of friendly neighbors.

It’s nice. Not, like bad, with bad influences or anything. Pretty good. A little ghetto.

It’s on a hill, at the top and there’s not much stuff that goes on up there because no one goes up there to do anything except a couple things, so it’s nice.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

It’s a lot of different races… I can’t remember the word right now, but it’s just real racial.

114

I guess you could say it’s nice.

Predominately Jewish and lower middle class. Cool, not too loud, calm.


MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Quiet.

Nowhere to park, so we just try to squeeze in somewhere. Just squeeze it.

My neighborhood is a good neighborhood ‘cause nothing’s bad, or nothing wrong with my neighborhood. My neighborhood is excellent because I have – I have everything I would need to have a good neighborhood. I have good neighbors, good friends, and all these people I can rely on if my parents aren’t home.

It’s a lot of kids and sometimes it’s violence.

Where I live, it’s kinda like where they come shoot. In my neighborhood, I get a little bit of everything. It’s white people, it’s Asian people, it’s black people, y’know. The good thing about my neighborhood is that everyone looks after each other. But, we get a little bit of everything, like I said before. We have police cars flying up the street. Somebody got shot right down the street from my house not too long ago, right where I normally get on the bus to go to football practice. He got shot and died. A little bit after that there was a shootout, like right behind my yard, almost in the school, in the backyard. So, it’s, you know, in the center.

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

OAKL AND TECHNIC AL HIGH SCHOOL

115


If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be?


Stop all the violence. Have people get along more with each other / The littering / The crime / People getting more involved in the community, people getting to know each other more

I would change how we conduct ourselves in our neighborhoods and how we interact with each other. Everybody needs to come together as a unit, just like other people, or like other minorities come together. We need to come together, just period. Not just one race, not just black people, not just white people, not just Mexicans, but people all together. People period.

The crackhead people / The trash / I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change anything / Make it cleaner, make better houses / Make it more quiet

Everyone that lives by my neighborhood has to be safe / For them to stop fighting / All the shooting and all the gang banging / Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lot of Mexicans. I would like to teach them English so they could communicate with us

That everyone would get along with each other / No violence / To stop all the meanness / Cleaning the environment / For them to stop shooting people / Seeing trees grow and plants being watered


EASTMONT MALL

Its location. It’s a good neighborhood, just better location. Like maybe, a little closer to the water.

I would change how we conduct ourselves in our neighborhoods and how we interact with each other in our neighborhoods. Everybody needs to come together as a unit, just like other people, or other minorities come together. We need to come together, just period. Not just one race, not just black people, not just white people, not just Mexicans, but people all together, people period.

The violence.

EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL

The crackhead people.

The amount of dogs barking at night. To make it more quiet.

There’s really nothing to change about my neighborhood. The trash.

How different the weather change.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Probably the location in the hills.

118

No smoking.

I would change the violence everywhere, because there is violence everywhere, but it’s more common in certain places. I wouldn’t change anything.

Make it cleaner, make better houses.


MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

That everyone would get along with each other.

That there don’t be a lotta cars parked, sitting in their cars, people be sitting in. Yeah.

Definitely the cleaning up. I would get all the trash up off the floors and make sure the streets get fixed. I would put a speed limit, like probably 30 mph or 20 mph, because some of us kids, we play baseball and stuff in the street, but people speed by. I don’t want that.

No violence.

For them to stop shooting people.

To stop all the meanness in my neighborhood.

Cleaning the environment-thing.

Seeing trees grow and plants being watered. OAKL AND TECHNIC AL HIGH SCHOOL

Stop all the violence and stuff. Have people get along more with each other. The way the buses run and the violence. (Q: Why would you pick those two?) ‘Cause I gotta walk kinda far to get to my house from the BART Station and the violence has been outta control lately. It’s just a lot going on. The crime.

People getting more involved in the community. People getting to know each other more and doing stuff together.

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

The littering.

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PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

What I could change about my home is to get out of Oakland. (Q: Why?) I want to get out of Oakland because I think it is a bad place, a bad neighborhood to be in. (Q: What makes it bad?) What makes it bad is all the violence stuff around here. (Q: Has that affected you in anyway?) Yes, it affected me in any way because, one time, I was watching a movie in my living room and I heard a gunshot right by my house. (Q: What did you do when you heard the gunshot?) What I did when I heard the gunshots is I turned everything off in the living room and ran to my mommy’s room. What I would change about my neighborhood... is stop the violence and stop being messy.

Everyone that lives by my neighborhood has to be safe.

For them to stop fighting.

The violence.

I would try to stop all the violence, all the shooting and all the gang banging.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

If I could change one thing about my neighborhood it would be – it’s a lot of Mexicans. I would like to teach them English so they could communicate with us.

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Do you have any adults you can open up to?


FAMILY: 83.8%

MOM — 20.5% DAD — 18.1%

GRANDMA — 10%

OTHER: 16.2% COACH/MENTOR — 3.6%

COUSIN — 2.4%

SISTER — 2.4%

BROTHER — 7%

GIRLFRIEND — 1.2%

GRANDPA — 4.8%

THERAPIST — 1.2%

UNCLE — 4.8%

FRIEND — 1.2%

COMMUNIT Y OF FRIENDS AND/OR FAMILY — 6% AUNTIE — 4.8%

STEPDAD — 4.8% TEACHER — 3.6%

STEPMOM — 1.2%

BOSS — 1.2%

NO ONE — 1.2%

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

My mother. My grandmother. My grandfather. People like that. They’re just people that understand me.

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My aunt and my cousin. They are really the ones who I can express my feelings to and not expect a negative answer. You will always get what’s right. There is nothing negative about it. Hurtful to your ear, it’s still a positive message. They make sure that you get it rather than just tarnishing you.


THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

My 8th grade English leadership teacher, Mr. Bell, Vernon Bell. In the 8th grade, when I was younger, I was bad. I did a lot of things I shouldn’t of did. Mr. Bell, at the time, he really played that father figure for me. My pops never been around. In the 8th grade I used to be the first one at school, first student. And for the longest time I used to just kick it in the library and cafeteria. And I noticed that my English teacher used to be at school before anybody. So halfway through the year I found myself being in the classroom before school for like an hour, just chopping it up. Before school he wasn’t Mr. Bell, he was Vernon and his facilitator cap was off. He was now a regular person. The way he talked was different, the way he presented himself was different. And his beliefs was different. When he showed me that different side of him, I felt that connection was much more greater than Mr. Bell, my teacher, my English leadership teacher. I felt like within that hour before school, Vernon talked to me like he actually cared and his interests were to better me for the future, rather then apply things out of the textbook that Mr. Bell was giving the class. I felt like that hour of individual attention allowed me to open up and talk about things I never got to talk about with my own dad or with anybody period. Mr. Bell, I will always have love for that man. He made a big impact on my life. I don’t want to leave out Lukas, Lukas Brekke-Miesner. He runs PAST 2 at O-High (Oakland High School), and he works for Oakland Kids First. He runs REAL HARD, representing educating active leaders having a righteous dream. The moment I met Luke, I thought in my mind I’m not going to let him down. I’m not. You don’t get that with anybody. Just think about it, you walk into a room and you make eye contact with another person and the first thing you think in your mind is I’m not going to let him down. That’s inspiration. That’s motivation. That is a role model. Luke is my big bruh. He makes it so easy to be you, to be yourself rather than try to be whatever everybody wants you to be or to follow what everybody else is doing. Lukas is really impactful. — Mario McGrew

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My grandmother. If not, then writing, or myself.

My mom, my dad, some of my coaches and my girlfriend at some points, when she don’t get on my nerves.

I got uncles, I got a mom, I got a whole circle of people I could talk to, you feel me?

I’m actually really fortunate. I was brought up by my mom mostly, and then all of her side of the family, like her sisters, my aunts, and all of her best friends. I was really fortunate to grow up in a really strong community. There’s that word again, community, right? It was good and it still is.

I have a family we call Hothead. We rap, we chill, we relax – they older than me, I’m basically one of the youngest, but they just somebody I go to when I, you know, feel down, whatever, just to chill, just to talk about anything. Anything and everything.

My mom and my stepdad. (Q: Why?) Because they just been really supportive and every time I tell them something, like, if I have a problem, they really try to help me solve that problem.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Parents, step parents, parent’s parents, that’s it, you know. (Q: And why can you open up to them?) Because I feel comfortable around them, unlike some of the teachers that just throw me some bullshit excuses for work.

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My dad, you know, I was fortunate to have my father around and I open up to him and talk to him a lot. He has a lot of knowledge and everything. There’s my therapist. I trust him and that’s kind of his job so... (laughs)

My boss, who’s also like a very good friend of mine. My step father. And also my mother.


My mom, my dad, and my family.

My auntie, my mom, and my grandma.

I can talk to my brother about my feelings. I can talk to my mom and my dad, and I can talk to my grandma about my feelings and my teachers.

“I can open up to my dad because I feel like he watches out for me all the time.”

— Carlton McWoodson

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

My granny and my grandpa. (Q: Why?) Because those are the people that kept me going during my childhood.

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Where do you feel safe?


HOME — 46%

GRANDMA’S HOUSE — 2%

ANYWHERE — 10%

DAD’S HOUSE — 2%

SCHOOL — 14%

OAKL AND — 8%

WITH MY PARENTS — 2% AUNTIE’S HOUSE — 2%

NOWHERE — 4%

CHURCH — 2%

IN A ROOM FULL OF MUSIC — 2%

IN MY HEART — 2%

FOREST — 2%

THE POLICE STATION — 2%

HOME

Well, I feel safe in the hallway in my house. (Q: And why do you feel safe in the hallway at your house?) Because it’s dangerous outside and in my room because they shoot. And one time I heard one, like it was flying by the window, because they were shooting from very far back at somebody else that was very far back, so they have to shoot up and I live in a building that’s high. That’s why I feel safe in the hallway. I feel safe at my house, except when people are sitting outside in their cars, (Q: And why do you not feel safe at that time?) Because either I feel like they’re gonna do something and I feel insecure.

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

I feel safe at home ‘cause everywhere you go it’s the danger zone. You step foot anywhere, wrong place, wrong time, you never know.

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I feel safe at … home because I know that when my dad’s around I can feel safe and I can do whatever and then hope that I can, and know that I won’t get hurt.

My home, because nobody breaks in it at night.

At home. Because I feel safe there because it’s only me and my mom and my baby sister and my mom's friend and we always stick together. And if we stick together, I feel safe there, so everybody in the house they feel safe and so do I. Home. Because I can lock my door… and I got my pit bull to protect me. Mm-hmm. (nods his head) SCHOOL

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I feel safe at school. Because although there is a lot of competition and jealously, school is a place to go to feel safe. I know a lot of people who come to school with the thought in their mind, I’m going to see so and so up there. I hope she doesn’t come over there with that rachetness. School to me is safe. There is nothing gonna happen to me at school. Because if there is something that happens to me at school, somebody is going to get into trouble and it’s not going to be me. So if you can’t be safe at school, than that tells you about society. You don’t go to school to feel violated, to feel in danger.

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I feel safe at school and at home. At school because I know nothing’s gonna hurt me and ‘cause I know I have a good principal and I have great teachers and great people that can help me. School. (Q: At school?) Yeah, ‘cause of the teachers.

Here. (Q: In school?) Yes. (Q: And why do you feel safe here?) Because I am learning and we have a security guard guarding us and we feel safe here.


I feel safe in my heart because I got people who care about me.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Kito Green


ANYWHERE

Pretty much anywhere. I’m not constantly looking for reasons to feel unsafe.

Anywhere. Why? Because I don’t go anywhere looking for trouble and trouble don’t come around here looking for me, so I can walk around anywhere. NOWHERE

I never feel safe. We do live in Oakland. Last time I checked it’s not a safe place to be, so I never feel safe.

I don’t feel safe nowhere out here. I don’t feel – you could die anywhere out here. I don’t feel safe nowhere. People get killed down here, people get killed – my neighbors across the street, on their porch, got killed one night. I don’t feel safe in the house or out the house. I don’t feel safe for my granny. She works in West Oakland, 12:00pm to 1:00 am. It’s killings over there. I don’t feel safe out here. It’s just – you won’t feel safe until you outta here, basically. OAKL AND

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I feel safe in the city, you know, around a bunch of people. (Q: Why?) Because I feel like everybody is looking out for each other and I can really express myself when I’m with people.

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Well, I feel safe in Oakland because this is where I grew up. I was born and raised and I feel safe all throughout Oakland. And I just think it’s because I grew up here. Couple of my friends got shot and a couple of fights have broke out, but I’ve never been one to fear anywhere that I went. It was kinda like, if it happened, it happened. If I’m there and it’s the wrong time, it’s the wrong time. But I feel like God got me anywhere I go, so I don’t really worry too much about that.


IN THE FOREST

In the middle of nowhere, in the forest. In the redwoods, way up north on the Lost Coast. That’s where my heart is. That’s where I feel safe. IN A ROOM FULL OF MUSIC GRANDMA’S HOUSE WITH MY PARENTS DAD’S HOUSE

I feel safe by my dad’s house. (Q: Why?) Because when I was here, it’s too dangerous where I live over there, because people shoot too much. And when I am at my dad’s house there’s never no murders or anything and I feel safe. AUNTIE’S HOUSE CHURCH Oh yeah. The police station. (Q: Why the police station?) ‘Cause, if somebody try to come take me, the police will arrest them.

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

THE POLICE STATION

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What do you love about Oakland?


I love our diversity. If you look around Oakland, you see we have a little bit of everyone out here. We have Indians, we have black people, we have every type of Latino out there. It’s like everybody out there. That’s what I love, our diversity.

I love the scenery and history of it, because it’s gorgeous besides the violence and whatnot.

It’s Oakland, come on. It’s the city of everything. You could find the biggest buildings, the smallest buildings. The best looking female, the worst looking female. It teaches you character. It teaches you how to be smart, how to be tough. It has two environments. It’s Oakland. It’s the heart of California.

The first thing I love about Oakland is how there is more outreach for the youth.

I love the diversity about Oakland. Like there’s hella different people in Oakland and they’re all from different backgrounds, and they’re all like hella cool. And for the most part, everyone kinda gets along. So, its cool.

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

There is no place like Oakland. Regardless of all the dangers you have to put up with, regardless of all the hatred and jealously and insecurities that people walk around with, Oakland is beautiful. There is no place like Oakland. I can’t say that enough. Diversity is one thing. I never been to a place that has so many different cultures, different sizes and shapes, voices, frequencies and smells. Everything is diverse. No matter where you turn, it’s going to be different. And I feel like it’s a great learning experience, because if you around something that is similar and you around it for a long time, when you get put into a situation that is different, you don’t know how to cope. I love the fact that Oakland is so diverse and when you look past the danger, you look past everything that makes Oakland, it’s a livable place. A lot of great people are being built in oakland. I feel like Oakland doesn’t get enough credit.

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I love everything! From the buildings, to the lake, to everybody. Everybody’s hella different out here. I like the way people think out here, I like every culture out here, from Caucasian to the blacks. I like scrapers as well as Benz. I like everything out here. We got a culture of our own. There’s everywhere, then there’s Oakland. I love the diversity, you know, no two people are the same. I’m from North Carolina, and a lot of the people, you know, it’s real cookie cutter. But here, everybody is different. What I love about Oakland is the people, how passionate the people are.

What I love about Oakland is freedom of speech and I got it here. I can go say, “Fuck the police.” No I can’t, I’m just playing.

Their basketball team.

our pride and things like that.

“The one thing I love about

Oakland is that we struggle, ‘cause everyone needs to struggle sometime. They say you never actually get up until you fell down. Oakland, we fall down. Only way from here is up, so that’s as far as I see it.” — David Hokes, Jr.


What I love about Oakland is the community.

I don’t really like oakland. (Q: Aw, why don’t you like Oakland?) Uh, it’s too much shootings and stuff.

I love the fact that I can feel safe all through the city, with or without people guiding me through.

I love that there is nothing like oakland. The Bay Area is the bomb. And the Golden State Warriors and the Oakland Raiders.

I like the sights we have, like we have Lake Merritt and then there’s Oakland Hills and you can see all across the bay – and it’s really cool to look at. That everybody’s usually nice. Not nice to each other, but everybody’s kind of welcoming people into their circle, kind of.

It’s creative, and that’s where I live

That the community cares. They’ll have a meeting sometimes, and they’ll get somebody to be a watch, and watch what is going on so they can call the police and tell them that there’s an argument going on, “Could you please come help?” That it got swimming pools.

I like Oakland because it’s fun.

My favorite baseball team made it to the playoffs.

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

I love that there’s really good people in oakland.

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It’s a lotta African Americans.

You can become something out here.

How everybody, like, hold it down. The city has a lot of potential.

I don’t love anything about oakland. (Q: You don’t, why is that?) I don’t love anything about Oakland because of all the bad stuff that be happening.

They have a good beach.

I love the people. And there are a lot of people in oakland who encourage me to do better.

We got events going on. We got kids going to the afterschool programs. We got kids picking up where they left off and doing things positive. opportunity is what I love about Oakland. Its individuality.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I love the cars of Oakland and I just love the energy of oakland.

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What would make Oakland better?


“People stop shootin’.”

— Damien Sims

I don’t really know what could make it better. Maybe just stop making ourselves look bad.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it is so violent and that you don’t feel safe walking out at night. I mean that’s one thing I’d definitely change. If I was to take my girlfriend out for a night out on the town, we might end up getting mugged, I mean come on. It’s not a romantic night if somebody gets mugged, somebody get shot, get hurt. It’s not a perfect night. I want to have a safe environment for my family. I want to have a safer environment for anybody I bring here to say yeah, I live in oakland, it’s a great place. I can’t say that about this place. I want to move out of this place, if anything. It’s tough living here.

Continue on this righteous path to success that I’m on right now. It starts with you. If I can’t better myself, I definitely can’t better my community, so I will start with myself. And I’m just trying to build peace. Trying to build confidence. Trying to build ambition for people because that is what they lack. THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

If we got youth, to help youth.

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Make more things to do in oakland, like, go carts, lil’ dirt bikes or something... something close.

I wish that I didn’t see a lot of people that look like they’ve had a pretty hard time and I wish that I could do something for them or that they felt more empowered to do something for themselves. Maybe just make it a little cleaner. Gets a little dirty sometimes.


If our education system – if we had more schools like Dewey... we need better teacher/ student communication ‘cause Dewey, they really help you out.

If people would stop being so angry.

Man, if we all just come together. Find a way to help us all succeed, not tear each other down.

If everybody was nice and there was no violence. That the police would be in the non-safe places. No shootings. No violence.

If my family lived around me. (Q: So they don’t live around you?) (shakes head no.) Not uh, not everybody. Be nice to each other.

Fix up the streets and a lotta people have homes.

What I could do to make it better is – to stop all the violence. (Q: And how would you do that?) I would do that by having a group of protesters saying, “Stop all the violence.”

“More support for the younger generation

from the older generation. Not teaching ‘em how to sell dope, but teaching ‘em how to do something else besides sell dope and shoot dice, whatever comes along with the hood life.”

— DeAndre Johnson

THEMES AND FINDINGS COMMUNIT Y

If they stop fighting.

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THEMES AND FINDINGS CHAPTER FIVE

WISDOM QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WHAT MAKES A MAN?

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR FATHER? WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE?

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER AFRIC AN AMERIC AN YOUTH?


What makes a man?


What makes a man is his actions. If you have a kid and don’t [take] care of it, you're not a man – you’re a boy. You hit a woman – you’re a boy. Do any of the things I named – you’re a boy. If you actually want to change, then you’re a man. It’s not about how much money you make, you could be a kid at heart. I’m still kinda a kid at heart. I love video games and stuff like that. I still own my mistakes. I still try to fend for my own. Still work for what I got. That’s a characteristic of a man. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, just saying.

You are not a man unless you can provide for yourself fully. If you can’t feed yourself or you can’t put clothes on your back. If you can’t get somewhere when you need to get there, you aren’t a man. If you can’t take care of your responsibilities and if you can’t take care of your children. And if you don’t have family values, you aren’t a man, you aren’t ready for life.

Being yourself and having something to stand up for.

I think the number one thing that would make a man a man is the ability to not worry about if you are a man. I think if you can just do what you need to do with your life, figure out your purpose, and find your place in the world and do good and not worry if you are a man, then I think, I guess you’re a man. But, otherwise, I’d worry about being a human first. What makes me a man is that I don’t give up.

Sacrifice makes a man a man. Learning when to sacrifice, learning when to do stuff when you need to do it. Just having a lot of discipline, I believe. Being strong and tough.

A man has values, has goals, is very courageous and is smart.

THEMES AND FINDING WISDOM

A man that handles his business. When you handle your business nobody can say nothing to you. That’s when you a man.

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“Providing. That’s what I see

it as. Being able to be a leader. Someone who can make something out of nothing at all. That’s what I work toward every day. And someone who is a role model. You know, a lotta people sag. I sag from time to time. Through my process of becoming a man, I have my days where I wear my pants on my behind, you know, and I’m getting to the point where it’s like, every day I need to wear my pants on my behind, but I’mma gonna take the time that I feel that I need to take. I don’t really like when older people say, ‘Pull your pants up.’ I’m gonna pull ’em up. Let me take my time, let me grow into it. Yeah. That’s being a man to me.”

— Kevin Munson


To grow up in the right place and learn about my culture and my past.

Being good. Not going down the wrong path, or not following in the steps that your parents took if your parents are bad or in-and-out of jail.

What makes a man is that he stands up for his situation and responsibility. And he makes the right decisions.

Someone who’s responsible and who takes responsibility for their actions and is always on time and has good punctuality. Somebody that can take care of theirself.

Education. And gets to grow up and go to college. He protects his family, he protects himself, and he does what he gotta do. Intelligent.

Not being scared.

To be smart.

A graduate. (Q: A graduate? Like, from college and from high school?) Yeah.

Becoming what you want to be and not listening or following everybody else.

What makes a man is he has to be, like my dad always said to me, “Your head supposed to be up and be a strong African American man. Don’t ever put your head down and be strong.”

THEMES AND FINDING WISDOM

To help someone in need. Like if somebody falls down, push them back up. And take blame for it if you did something wrong.

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“The muscles. The emotion

and the way that they act. (Q: When you say the way that they act, what is a man supposed to act like?) Responsible. Good, not bad. Act good like how you be in school, so you won’t go to jail. And that’s it.”

— Alonzo Holmes

Somebody who puts in work to make an education and gets a job, and not just slouch. They do what they are supposed to do.

It’s a man that stands up and takes care of his responsibilities and his actions.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

What makes a man is to know a man, y’know. I learned that from my mentor too. You can’t be a man without knowing one.

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Maturity. Making sure that he knows what his priorities is and he take care of his priorities. Handling his business, owning up to his wrongdoing.


What have you learned from your father?


POSITIVE LESSONS: 81%

NOTHING OR NEGATIVE LESSONS: 19%

DAD

NEGATIVE

I learned not to be like my father.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

To never use anything to cope with pain. Never use anything to cope with pain. Never use alcohol, never use drugs to cope with pain. Talk through it. To own up for anything wrong. He left me when I was six-years-old. He left us for about nine months with my mom and he actually came back. He owned up to that later on. It’s still hard to trust him. And definitely not to use your anger to cause harm to people you love. He’s doing that even to this day. Using anger to strike fear. To say, oh yeah, I’m the man of the house. But it doesn’t get you far if you getting at someone you love. It makes them fear you. It makes them not [want] to be near you. It’s not good, but definitely not to use anger. It’s not okay.

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That’s deep. My father. Let’s see. How not to treat my kids. How I won’t be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad. But I will not do the things he done to me or my sisters to my child. Wouldn’t happen. My child will never go hungry, will never be on the street, will never do the crazy stuff he put me through. Specifically, to another African American son, his son. I would never allow that to happen.


I don’t really know my father. I’ve had very limited meetings with him. He lived in Kenya and he passed away three years ago. I didn’t really know him too well. He was a jokester I guess; my mom says I got some of my antics from him. (laughs) Nothing much.

Nothing at all.

I learned from my dad – I forget.

Nothing. I mean he’s deceased now, so I taught myself how to be a man. POSITIVE

How to work on houses – I know how to do a little bit of remodel on houses and stuff. I learned to stay out of stuff that’s not my business. To always be honest and to always speak my truth.

“Have respect,

loyalty, and never to dishonor.”

THEMES AND FINDING WISDOM

I learn to never give up. I learn if you have your mind set on something, there is nothing that is stopping you from achieving it. Pops told me, if you have children, they are your number one priority. Don’t ever create something that you are just going to leave and let linger, wither up. He didn’t really tell me, but he show me this. He show me that men can play that single parent role for many children and problems don’t always have to occur. Pops made me somebody I couldn’t be without him. Pops play his role. He taught me about everything. He taught me to respect myself, as well as others. He taught me there is no such thing as a friend. That friends aren’t going to be there when you really need them to be and sure enough, he was right. He’s never been wrong about that. Never. Everything I have picked up, I picked up from pops.

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Shout-out Pops, (pointing to his tattoo), tatted. I learned a lot from him, just to be myself, just to keep going, just to be dedicated, just to stay, you know, humble. Not let anybody get to you. Eat my Wheaties – we’re small, we’re both short. And do my push-ups. I learned how to provide for my family, but I also learned how to own up to my mistakes and think about things before I do it.

Shit, I learned a lot from my dad. One of the things is how to read. If it weren’t for him I don’t know who I would be.

How to conduct myself. How to, you know, everything. I learned everything from my dad. And that’s just how I’m talking right now, how I carry myself, and what I do in school. Everything. I mostly went to church with him, so I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned that if you’re not close to your father for a long time, then when you’re older, it’s kind of more difficult to be together. And he’s also a teacher so he’s always kind of inside my school life, trying to figure out what projects and stuff I have, all the time, and just kind of learn that he cares, you know – he loves me.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

I’ve learned that if you step up to your challenges, you will beat them if you take the right steps to do so.

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To be a man and don’t let my family down, and don’t let myself down.

I’ve learned from my father to always believe and always trust in who I want to trust in. Money.

He’s the one that taught me how to do backflips.


“I’ve learned the aspects

of how to be a man, and what you need to do when you are a man. One of the quotes he told me was, ‘A man who stands for nothing can fall for anything.’ That’s the thing that I stand by.”

THEMES AND FINDING WISDOM

—Kahlil Chatmon

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Lots of tricks from my dad. Like folding paper airplanes.

Never to give up and keep on pushing. And to always try your best.

That he likes to ride motorcycles and drive cars.

How to do good in school.

What I learned from my father is no matter what, I am a strong black African American young boy.

What I have learned from my father is that he’ll always tell me things. ‘Cause one time, he went in jail, so he’ll always tell me don’t go to jail, ‘cause if you do, it is like you’re at the bottom of the ground. So try to don’t do the same thing, like as I do. Don’t go in there. But he is out now, so it is okay. He was telling me, don’t get in the same situation and go down the wrong path and the wrong road like I did.

“To get an education and go to college.”

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

— Anthony Buffin

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His history of being a Black Panther.

I have learned that he was a greater man and he takes no [in]tolerance from nobody. Take care of his kids.

Be me. Be me, not worry about what everybody else got going on, mind my business. I think I put that into making music. The music that I make, I feel like that’s me 100%. I’ve made it my own and I don’t listen to anybody else. That way I stay creative in my own craft. I learned how to build cars. I learned how to do hands-on things, like construction, or anything to do with auto mechanics, I know how to do it.

Shoot, how to be a man, and handle my business when it’s needed.


What gives you hope?


“Jesus (Q: Same here – and why do you say Jesus?)

Because, my definition of Jesus is a couple things: Hope, inner beauty, truth, power and love. All those things just come together and they give me, you know, one day I’mma gonna be up there with God and Jesus and as long as I know He’s there, I’m probably gonna get up there.” — Isaiah Pitre


“I would say my mom, my grandmother, you know.

(Q: That family bond?) That bond. That, you know, that we can strive. That we can. That’s what gives me hope. And to see the young kids smile.” — Kaulana Caldwell

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Generations. Looking at the generations coming up. Looking at my generations. We not all the same, like the last generation. My mother’s generation. We not doing the same thing they were doing. A lot of us tend to have common sense, and think things out more, so it kinda gives me hope. I know we’re not going to have another era of just mental retardation. Pretty much people not thinking things through.

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Change. Depending on the change itself, change gives us hope. Me personally, I went from being a felon to wanting to have bigger dreams than that. Wanting to change my whole life around. All from having a 0.0 my freshman year to having a 4.12 at this school. Change inspires me the most. That is one thing nobody can take away from you. You can be yourself. You can change at any time. Going from being a felon to having two kids to being a multimillionaire by changing your life for good. That’s hats off. I bow to someone like that.

Family. Actually my little sister. My big sister too. They give me hope. (Q: Why?) Because they inspire me. They give me a mindset to do great, you know? They do some amazing things and lets me see that the next generation has the possibility to come out of the poverty.


That oakland can be something that everybody says it can’t.

What gives me hope? The youth. Children. What others have or don’t have.

Just waking up – it gives me hope. Every day is a new day. You gotta start out fresh, gotta start out new.

Seeing people graduate, doing something with they life, you know what I’m sayin’? That give me hope.

Every day, seeing more and more interracial couples, multi-racial babies. Seeing people relax. What’s important is that you’re kind to one another, you’re not worried about silly things, you’re worried about big ideas. Like, if the planet ends, where you gonna go? You gonna pollute so much you can’t live someplace? You got a condo on Mars? Because if you don’t... (laughs) yeah. People growing up and getting over themselves, I like to see that, and I see it a lot. I see a lot of people just getting to be who they are, see a lot of people walking around in drag, you see frickin’ interracial couples and people just letting ‘em be. It’s perfect. A lot of things.

My granny. I been staying with my granny these last couple of years and she’s the motivation. Like her smile, you know, when I go across that stage and she is just smiling, that’s just the best feeling. The youth of our community, I feel like we can bring it up.

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our generation gives me hope. I feel like we’re a generation of very bright and intelligent young people. And I think that, with the right training and the right direction, we can do a lot.

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“Thinking about my family.”

— Markai Penn

The fact that being broke, you can get rich. Being rich, you can get broke. When you live, you can die. When you die, you can’t come back to life, so live it up while you’ve got a life to live.

Man, not too much. (Q: Man, why you say that?) I say that because I don’t see any improvement happening out here. I don’t see anybody trying to be super productive and trying to change Oakland. I see a lotta negative, and hear a lotta negative. Nobody’s doing anything positive, or nobody pushing the positive movement out here too much.

Dreams and goals that I set for myself to become successful. I just keep moving off of that. Yeah. My mom and my family.

My family.

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To wake up every day and know that it’s a good day.

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It gives me hope to see little kids doing the right thing, helping each other out – even if they don’t like each other, I’ll see them volunteering and being good. My family. Teachers sometimes, my friends and my positive thoughts. (Shakes head no) (Q: Nothing gives you hope?) (shakes head no)


My mom and my dad keep me safe and my sisters.

Definitely my best friend, James. (Q: Your best friend James?) My best friend James. (Q: How does he give you hope?) He gives me hope because he inspires me to do things. He works with me 24/7. We go outside, practice basketball, football. And then sometimes my cousins, they come over and we just start working, doing our school work, and then after my mom says I’m done, we go outside. We study for a little bit before we go outside, then we go outside, play basketball, football, and it just be a lotta fun. (Q: Okay, does he inspire you to do better in school and in sports?) Uh-huh. He tells me to eat healthy. That way I can be fast like him. He’s super fast. Jesus.

My family.

Dreams. (Q: What type of dreams?) To be in the NBA.

The fact that I can actually do something great. And that I could be actually a positive, successful African American male, out of Oakland, and that I could do it.

“Football.”

— Antoine Chatman III

To follow in my dad’s footsteps. (Q: And what is that?) To be a racecar driver.

To believe in something. Something that gives me hope is a nice, fine, caring community. My education.

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I really don’t know.

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“My mom’s words saying that she is

proud of me becoming the African American I am today. (Q: So that keeps you motivated?) Yes.”

— Christen Taylor

Everything. (Q: Can you explain?) Everything. I get hope by my mom because she just bought us a new house with all her effort and her money. So I really thank her by making a good new house. She gave me things for being good in school. So I try to do my best in school and try to get my education. My friends and the people I like being around most of the time in school. Sports. People around me and my family.

Me. Y’know, self-motivation is better than anything, so that’s my hope.

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Support. (Q: From who?) Family. Family, meaning those who are loyal to you.

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Being able to wake up every morning. Living. Being able to know that I do have family. I don’t have much, but if I ever need anything, my mom and my brother is what I have, and that’s enough for me, you know. I got a father-figure. I don’t know my biological father, but I had somebody there that I was able to call dad and I think my family is what pushes me and gives me hope. Waking up every day. That’s what gives me hope, waking up every day, and going home at the end of the day.


What advice would you give other African American youth?


I would probably tell them to be themselves, stay in school, don’t do drugs, things like that.

Never quit. There’s a saying in my house, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” If you’re a drug dealer right now, just don’t. You could do so much better with your life. If your goal is drug dealing, guess what you could also be good at – business. Like seriously, you’re pretty much your own business. If you convince somebody to buy drugs, don’t let them buy drugs. You’re pretty much ruining families, ruining relationships over drugs just to make some money. You could make 10 times that if you graduate college. Like seriously, as a banking investor you know what you’re doing. Coming out of college you’re getting almost a million dollars a year, after four years of learning. And what are you making now? Around $600 a month on drugs? Come on man, you’re going to jail for that? Dude, you could afford your own fancy mansion, your own Rolls-Royce. You could afford anything you want. And you could afford how many baby mommas that you have to pay child support? That’s so aggravating to me. You guys could do so much better. I know people like that. They’re so smart and talented and they don’t do anything with it. They just sell drugs. They want to go out and be a ganglord and want to get shot at for money? No thank you.

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“To not feel ashamed that you’re African American and just be yourself. ” — Bryan Reed

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Leave Oakland. Get out of oakland. That is the number one thing: [Get] my young black brothers out of here. There is a bigger world than California. There is a bigger world than the United States. Get out of here and learn new cultures. See how they react, be at peace with yourself. Love yourself. Do other things than Oakland. Oakland will drive you straight to the gutter.


I tell them to step up, step out of their box, take opportunities you usually wouldn’t take. Don’t hold back because you feel like you’re not going to do it right or you feel like it’s not you. Anything is possible and if you set your mind to it like I’m setting my mind, my dreams, anything is possible. No matter what you go through and what gets through your way. I advise people, young men, African American men to stay strong. There is nothing you can’t go through and still survive. You can do it. You can do it. The main key would be to stay patient, stay on-task. If you don’t see a process being achieved, take your time over what you done and look at your accomplishments. Not just at what you don’t have.

Believe in yourself. You have to because nobody else is gonna do it for you. Be proud that you’re mixed, that you’re African, that you’re whatever you are. Just believe in yourself, you gotta. Stay in school and crack is wack.

Same thing like my dad said, to stay out of stuff that you’re not involved in.

Just be patient. Whatever you go through, keep your mind clear and know that it’s gonna get better, ‘cause when you’re at the lowest of the low, the only place you can do is go up. It’s gonna get better. Whatever you got a talent at, if you going through some things, use that talent as a outlet. Use that talent as a time to get your emotions out, ‘cause in the end it’s all gonna pay off. Don’t run with the crowds, just be yourself. That’s what’s gonna get you rich, not what you see on TV, not all that – that’s out. Just be yourself, be comfortable, handle your business, stay in school of course, drink milk and say your prayers.

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Keep your head straight, get on the right path, and do what you love.

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Just follow your dreams and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t, because you can.

Stay focused, stay driven, stay going toward a goal. Forget about the money ‘cause money’s gonna come whichever way you go. Just do what you really wanna do and just stick to it, you know. Don’t let nobody stop what you really wanna do.

Same advice Boosie gave me: chill out. These streets ain’t cool, but grades is.

Go to school, and stay in school, and don’t stop school after high school. Keep going. Get on the right path and stop the violence.

Stay on top of your business. Set a goal and go for it. Keep doing it, keep pushing.

Never give up, always stay positive. Do what you got to do, keep your head up, stay respectful and just do you.

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Finish high school. Even if you don’t plan on really doing anything after, finish high school. Because if you don’t, you will remember that you didn’t. Everyone will remember. High school is actually very important. This is my last year and I’m really trying to finish and I’m having struggles and problems with myself, personally. So, my main thing would be to finish high school.

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Go to Youth Uprising (laughs) and apply yourself. Take the initiative by being the first one to try ‘cause there is no limit to how high you can fly. If you go where there’s no path, and you make a trail, you are now a leader in a position to excel. Do your hardest. Try not to get in trouble. Never give up.


“Always never lie.”

— Malik Ewing


“Don’t get angry at people that try to hurt you ‘cause you can always just back off and go tell a teacher.”

— Marcus Henderson

Set goals for yourself, because if you set goals for yourself, you’ll know what you wanna do when you grow up, and that’ll make you work harder to be that.

Always stay on path, on the right path.

Keep your head up.

Don’t look down upon yourself. (Q: Why?) Because, like I said, a lot of people look down upon us, so if you look down upon yourself, then you’re just showing them that they’re right. You hold a connection to every single other African American. So if you go down, then you’re showing other people who look down upon us that they’re right and then you pull all of us down. Looking down on your past, looking down upon yourself isn’t really a good thing. You’re not gonna be happy in life and you probably want to be happy. Just stay in school, and even if you’re having a bad day, don’t try and inflict it on others.

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That you need to stop being in the Blood gangs and all that stuff. You need to focus on doing your work and then don’t do all that other stuff and just do what you gotta do.

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Stay ahead in school – that way you can get a good job and then do whatever you want in life. That no matter what anybody says about you, you should always be yourself, and never be ashamed of your skin color. Think before you do.

To just stay in school.


That they should be doing good and staying in the right place at all times.

Don’t care about what anybody else thinks. It’s about what you think and not what nobody else thinks. So, just be happy and love yourself. If somebody else thinks something about you, say okay and just move on to life because it’s all about you. Don’t act up in school.

Stay in school.

Don’t be a sin to other people. Just be nice and don’t let people be mean when they say you can’t do nothing.

Stay good and do your homework every day.

Stay out the streets. (Q: Why is your advice for them to stay out of the streets?) Because a lotta African American youth are getting killed nowadays, y’know, because they either in gangs or they don’t got no good parents to lead them in the right way.

Stay in school, do the best they can, and don’t give up on nothing they trying to go for.

To stay in school, get good grades, and don’t become a street nigga out here, and shit like that.

Just grow up and don’t get caught up in the drama in the streets.

All I got to say is, you can do this. All this – succeeding, getting good grades, getting a job, not getting into trouble – it’s all easy. Everybody has a certain will at heart. Everybody has a strong point in their heart where you can just walk away from some things. Some people need to improve on it, some people have already improved on it and they’re doing pretty good. We can all do something with ourselves, you just gotta show you can do it, just show potential and let it out.

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Think before everything they do, because everything they do has a response, it could be good or it could be bad. So make the right choice.

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“Keep your head up and everything that seems, like, hot right now

is really just not. Stay in school. Just the normal, but also on top of that, when things get hard, don’t give in to the pressures around you because there’s more for you. Just like my father and my coaches tell me – God gives his greatest challenges to the strongest people.”

— Erick Jackson

To prove to people that we can do things right.

I don’t know what advice I would give to them. (Q: What would you say to them?) I would say African Americans are proud of who they are.

Live in a safe environment. I don’t know.

To never give up they dream and keep on going.

To go for what they want to do in life. If they want to play sports or do good things, help people, they can do it.

That you guys can do better. You can’t blame everybody for your mistakes. It only takes a man and a woman to take control of their own actions.

To stay determined, stay loyal and just do you. You don’t have to fake it to make it, but just be who you are and just be proud of who you is.

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An advice I would give my friend if he was around me right now I would tell him, the last time you said that black skin wasn’t a good color. I would say black African American men need to be tough, need to be strong and black is a good color and never forget that.

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“Be yourself and don’t be a

follower. Do what you gotta do. Follow what’s right, make the right decisions. Think about it, that’s all they gotta do. A lot of ‘em don’t think for theyself. They’ll see the next person and be like, “oh he saucy” or “he clean.” Why don’t you be the one that they talking about, being clean and being saucy? And, I think they’ll be alright.”

— Kevin Munson


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Hop up out the streets, ‘cause the hood don’t love you. They’ll shoot you in the backa’ the head, all because they jealous of you. They want to be the top-dog, but then, they can’t wait they turn, which is silly ‘cause good comes to those who wait. Just be patient, you’ll get you time to shine. But growing up in the hood, and living that gangsta lifestyle, or thug lifestyle, it ain’t good gonna come out of it at all. I’ve lived it, I’ve done it. I started thuggin’ at 12-years-old, like, started young. I’ll be 19 in a week. I been to jail three times. It took about the third time for me to have a real experience, like, I need to grow up – need to mature. It just – it just clicked. (Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?) It’s very important to believe in yourself, because I’m pretty sure, growing up in the hood – if you watching this documentary, you know that it’s not a lot of people that support you, you feel me? You may not have a lotta people that support you, or since they don’t support you, you don’t even support yourself. I’m telling you, you got to just be independent. Have a plan, set goals and strive to succeed. Achieve those goals.

— DeAndre Johnson


THEMES AND FINDINGS CHAPTER SIX

REFLECTIONS What do you think about all you’ve read in this book? This section includes reflection questions, organized by chapter, to take your contemplation deeper.


GENERAL QUESTIONS

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Please answer all the interview questions for yourself. How do your answers compare to those in the book?

Think of a time when hearing someone’s story helped you understand them better. What was the story? What understanding did it create for you? Which of the quotes in this book had an impact on you? Why? What is the general message of this book? Who should read this book? Why?

What other community would benefit from a project like the African American Oral History Project?

Is there a story about your own life that you would like to voice? What is that story, and who should hear it?

If you could have a conversation with one of these young men, who would it be? Why? What would you want to talk about? Name three situations where people would benefit from coming together and sharing stories. Did this book surprise you? If so, how?

How has this book contributed to your perceptions of African American men?

If mainstream media covered stories and quotes like those in this book, how might that affect people’s perceptions of African American men? Everyone has biases. What bias have you seen in yourself as you read this book?


  

Did any of these quotes or stories remind you of yourself? Which ones?

What is the impact of the images in this book? What stories do they tell? What other questions should have been asked? Write a three sentence summary of this book.

How do you contribute to the stereotypes of African American men? How do you benefit from them? Imagine a world where prejudice did not exist, where African American men were truly seen as equal to all others. What would the world be like?

One project is not enough to shatter perceptions of African American men. What other steps should be taken to change the discourse on how African American men are perceived? Given what you’ve read in this book, what actions will you take?

Compare the answers to the first two questions in this section. What insights does this comparison create for you?

What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? Now, think of an African American man you know personally. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think of him?

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IDENTIT Y

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What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about a Latino man? An Asian man? A Caucasian man? An Arab man? Where do these impressions come from? Which answer in this section was most surprising to you?

Which of the accomplishments listed was most impressive to you? Why? How important is education to the interviewees?

Looking at the answers in this section, what contributes to a person’s identity?

Three young people answered that their greatest accomplishment is being alive. What is your reaction to this answer? Review the list of answers given to the life descriptions in 10 years. What would you have expected to see more of? Less of? MY LIFE

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Why were the youth asked about what they ate for breakfast?

Review the list of answers given for the scariest thing that ever happened to them. Which of these stands out most for you? Why? Which of these can you relate to? How did you feel when you read about these boys being shot at or going to jail?

Who would you guess would be the person voted most successful by these youth? Would you have guessed the number one would be their mom? Why or why not?


What is success? How do the interviewees define success? How do their answers affect your understanding of what it means to be successful?

Of all the school improvements suggested, which do you think would have the most impact if implemented in all schools nationwide? Why?

Were you surprised to learn that 100% of the interviewees plan to go to college? What percentage would you have expected? BEING AFRICAN AMERICAN

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Choosing from the answers given, what is the most important thing people need to know about African American men in Oakland? Why did you choose this answer? What would be the impact if everyone understood this?

There are many stereotypes about how African American men look. Review the photo montage on pages 88 – 89 and discuss how these images do or do not play into these stereotypes.

When asked what it’s like to be a young African American man in Oakland, the statistics for youth under 13 years old are almost opposite to that of youth over 13 years old. What can explain this difference? Have you ever felt ashamed of your own culture? Why or why not? How did this make you feel about yourself? How do you feel when others make fun of or insult your cultural group? Name a time you felt proud of your culture.

How does your culture impact your perception of yourself and others? Why are some cultures more looked down upon than others?

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COMMUNIT Y

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Which of the completed sentences, “Community is…” was most compelling to you? Why?

The red quote on page 110 came from a young boy who lives in one of the most “dangerous” areas of Oakland. What does his answer tell you about the many layers of community?

What would you change in your own neighborhood? How does this compare to the answers in this book? What impact does your neighborhood have on your day-to-day life? Why is it important to have adults you can open up to?

Have you experienced living somewhere that doesn’t feel safe? How did that affect you and your decisions? Where does safety come from?

What have you learned about the city of Oakland from this chapter?

Do you agree with the quote on page 134 that, “Everyone needs to struggle some time?” What are the benefits of struggling? How is Oakland similar and different from your own place of residence?

Which of the suggestions for making Oakland better would you implement if you could? Why?


WISDOM

   

Is there a difference between what makes a man and what makes a woman? If so, what is the difference?

One stereotype of African American youth is that their fathers are not present in their lives. What does the statistic on page 148 tell you about this perception?

What have you learned from your father? Which answer in the book is most similar to your own experience? What does this quote mean to you: “The man who stands for nothing can fall for anything.”

Do you feel hopeful when you read the answers to “What brings you hope?” Why or why not? Who are the inspirations in your life?

Which piece of advice resonates for you personally?

Which piece of advice should you take to heart? Will you? What makes someone wise?

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many thanks to Alameda County Health Care Services Agency’s Center for Healthy Schools and Communities. Special thanks to the Center for Healthy Schools and Communities’ Tracey Schear, Kimi Sakashita and Hilary Crowley for their vision and support. Thanks to Cal Humanities Community Stories grant program.

Thank you to Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement, and especially Chris Chatmon and Brenden Anderson, whose efforts to uplift the voices and meet the needs of African American male youth included extensive support for this project. Thank you to Story For All for designing and implementing the oral history training, story collecting and story sharing processes, and for creating products to share the youths’ voices with the larger community. Thank you to Oakland Unified School District, Dewey Academy, KDOL and the Media Enterprise Alliance for providing classroom space and recording equipment.

Thank you to the African American Museum and Library in Oakland for elevating our content, archiving the oral histories, and making them accessible to the community. Thank you to our partners at Edna Brewer Middle School, Oakland Technical High School, Parker Elementary School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, Dewey Academy, and Youth Uprising for creating the space and encouraging the youth to share their stories with us. Thank you to our project facilitators: Jesse Childs, Sean Kennedy, Brenden Anderson and Angela Zusman. Thank you to Mi Zhou for his photography and professionalism.

Thank you to Cheryl Crawford for beautifully translating this story into graphic design.

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Thank you to Jelal Huyler for transcription and project support.

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Thank you to our project graduates: Jarvis Henry, Sean Johnson, Nequwan Taylor, Casey Briceno, and Eric Nobles II, and the many youth who participated in the program. We thank you for showing up, agreeing to learn, sharing your light, and helping us learn from you and your peers. Thank you to all the griots: the many youth who shared their voices with us. You inspired us greatly, and we hope you inspire others to share their truth as well. Your voice matters. Know that you have been heard.


ABOUT THE EDITOR Angela Zusman is an author (Story Bridges: A Guide to Conducting Intergenerational Oral History Projects, Left Coast Press, 2010), oral historian, and former columnist for the Bay Area News Group. After graduating with honors from UC Santa Barbara, Zusman spent ten years working her way around the world, spending time in over 50 countries, interviewing everyone from religious leaders to refugees, housewives to heads of state. Along the way, she recognized the power of story to connect people,even when they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t speak the same language. She also came to see that underneath it all, we humans are very much the same.

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For the last ten years, Angela has taught workshops and acted as a writing coach and editor, helping hundreds of people of all ages free their voice through writing, art and oral history. In 2011, she founded Story For All to connect people and communities through the power of storytelling.

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THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND VOICES FROM THE AFRIC AN AMERIC AN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT INTERVIEW

TRANSCRIPTS EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL

OAKL AND TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL EASTMONT MALL

PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DOWNTOWN OAKL AND YOUTH UPRISING

DEWEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E D N A B R E W E R M I D D L E S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

KAHLIL CHATMON

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL

INTERVIEWER

ERIC NOBLES

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: KAHLIL CHATMON

INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 5 , 2 012

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Q: Today is October 5th at Edna Brewer Middle School Middle School and this is the African American Project. My name is Eric Nobles, and I’ll be interviewing? A: Kahlil Chatmon.

Q: Could you spell that for us? A: K-A-H-L-I-L.

Q: Alright, let’s get this interview on the road. What did you eat for breakfast today? A: Today I had oatmeal.

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Q: Oatmeal? Sup. What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Um, well, my favorite childhood memory was my fourth birthday party, I had it at the Jungle, and, yeah.

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Q: The Jungle? I remember the Jungle, that used to be my place. Get lost for hours. Uh, please describe your neighborhood, like what you see, what it smell like… A: Um, well in my neighborhood there’s lots of cars, there’s one tiny street, uh, and some big houses. Uh, there’s not a lot of noise – there’s, uh, dogs though. Um, there’s always people walking around, or people jogging and, uh, usually there’s kids playing down the street, and, yeah.

Q: Alright. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Um, the amount of dogs barking at night.

Q: I see, you don’t like the dogs. A: Yeah.

Q: What are the first three words that come to your mind when you think of African American men, though? A: Um, freedom, justice and equality.

Q: Why did you choose those words? A: Um, I don’t really know, they just come to my mind.

Q: It sounded nice. A: ’Cause, uh, a lotta things that I hear, uh, that sometimes we need to be brought to justice, or we need to have equality within one another and other races.

Q: Oh, that’s cool. Who is your favorite teacher here and why? A: Uh, currently or overall?

Q: Uh, sure, overall. A: Um, well my favorite teacher is Mr. Kirschbaum, because he does cool activities. He’s engaged with all the students and I have had a good relationship with him.

Q: How do you like your school? A: Uh, it’s pretty cool. Uh, I like the diversity. Um, There’s a lotta people here, uh, and yeah.

Q: Do you think it’s a good idea to go to school? Why or why not?


Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: One thing about my school, it would be... the amount of, uh, I wouldn’t say bullying, but teasing and name calling, because a lot of people are different in some ways and some people don’t respect that, and they treat them differently and actually hurt them, and, yeah.

Q: Hm. Please share a time in your life when you were proud of your culture. A: Time in my life when I was proud of my culture? Um, well my family, we celebrate Kwanza, so last year we had my cousins came over, and uh, some friends came over and we had a very intimate and cool Kwanza. Uh, there was a lot of people there, there was a lotta love and we just all felt good, and I felt proud of my culture. Q: Hmm, that’s nice. What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Uh, sometimes it means people will treat you different, uh, sometimes it means you need to be courageous and you need to know who you are and what you stand for.

Q: Hm. Uh, what to you, makes a man? A: Uh, what makes a man? Well, a man to

me has values, has goals, is very courageous and is smart, and, yeah.

Q: Alright, those are some good aspects. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Uh, I tend to say yes to a lot of things. Uh, its kinda hard to say no to my friends, ’cause I feel like they’ll sometimes hold a grudge or something, but... Q: Try to bully you? A: Naw, but they’ll like, uh, hold a grudge, like if I ask, if I’ll ask them for something...

Q: Oh they’ll just say no. A: Yeah, just, like, no.

Q: I feel it. Where do you feel safe? A: I feel safe at my house, uh, I feel safe here at Brewer, um, and I feel safe at my grandma’s house.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength, um, my greatest strength, uh, to me I think is to engage in things ’cause once I get engaged I feel like I’m in there and I feel like that’s what I’m good at.

Q: Hmm, alright. Who is your role model and why? A: My role model is my father, uh, because he created the African American Male Achievement Program, and, uh, he is, he’s just someone to look up to.

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A: I think it’s a great idea to go to school because, um, if you want to have a job when you grow up, this is the place to learn about it and get the things you need to do that job.

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Q: Alright. What do you need to be happy? A: What do I need to be happy? Uh, I like, I like food, so I need food to be happy. And my family.

Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Uh, one thing... um, I would like to have a dog.

Q: Despite all the other dogs in your neighborhood, you still want a dog? A: Yeah. Q: Alright. What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement, um, was last year when I got four A’s, and, no, five A’s and one B. Uh, because I really wanted that 4.0, and that was closest thing, uh, that was the closest thing I ever had to a 4.0.

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Q: Alright that’s cool, keep working at it. What do you love about Oakland? A: Uh, I love the diversity, I love, um, the different things we have like, uh, all the, yeah, just all the different things, all the different things we can have, um, and, yeah, our pride and things like that.

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Q: Hm. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? A: Um, I don’t really know.

Q: Nothing? No secrets? What is your dream for yourself? A: Uh, well, my dream, well my dream job is to

be either a chef or an auto mechanic ’cause I love cars and I want to work on them and build them, and yeah.

Q: Alright. What have you learned from your father? A: Uh, I’ve learned the aspects of how to be a man and what you need to do when you are a man. And I’ve learned that – or one of the, one of the quotes he told me that was from someone else was that a “Man who stands for nothing can fall for anything."

Q: I know that quote. A: That’s the thing that I stand by.

Q: I feel it, that’s a good quote. What do all Americans need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Um. That we are strong and that we have a backbone.

Q: What advice would you give other African American youth your age? A: Uh, set goals for yourself, because if you set goals for yourself, you, you’ll know what you wanna do when you grow up, um, and that’ll make you work harder to be that.

Q: Alright, for sure. Anything else you would like to add, just anything you wanna say? A: Um, no.

Q: Alright, it was cool interviewing you, man.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E D N A B R E W E R M I D D L E S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

BRYAN REED

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE INTERVIEWER

ERIC NOBLES

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Q: It’s October 5th at Edna Brewer Middle School Middle School. This is the African American Project. My name is Eric Nobles, E-R-I-C N-O-B-L-E-S, and I’ll be interviewing...? A: Bryan Reed.

Q: Can you spell that for us please? A: B-R-Y-A-N R-E-E-D.

Q: Alright, let’s get this interview going. What’d you eat for breakfast today? A: Umm... I ate a bagel.

Q: A bagel, that’s cool, uh, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Mm, my favorite childhood memory is... um, being at my old school.

Q: What was your old school? A: Umm, Zion Lutheran, up the street.

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Q: Alright, Zion, that’s cool. Please describe your neighborhood. A: Umm, noisy, umm, a lotta cars go down the street.

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Q: Hmm, where do you live? A: Umm, on 57th Street, in Oakland, between, um, Shattuck and Telegraph.

Q: Oh, I know where you live, you live close to me actually. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: To make it more quiet – quieter.

Q: What are the first three words you think of when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm, myself? Uh, Africa, and... hmm, how we, um, how we work and how our past was.

Q: Uh, who is your favorite teacher here, and why? A: Umm, my favorite teacher is, um, Ms. Coob, she’s a good math teacher... and she teach[s] very well.

Q: That’s good. You think it’s a good idea to go to school, why or why not? A: I think it’s a good idea, so you can get an education and try to get a good job when you’re older and out of college.

Q: Hmm. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Umm, to change – I would change – if there is any bullying, I would try to prevent that.

Q: Please say a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Umm, I felt proud about my culture by... remembering, umm, learning about my past in this program and I feel proud to be here.

Q: Well, that’s good, I’m glad you feel proud to be here. Uh, what is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Umm, I feel that it can be... hard, because people can treat you differently, cause your African American. So, I would say it would be... okay, kind of.


Q: Not yet, but you thinking about it? A: Yeah.

Q: That’s good. Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No.

Q: Never? What makes a man to you? A: To, umm, grow up in the right place and learn about my culture... and my past.

Q: Where do you feel safe? A: I feel safe at home, or at this school.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Umm, I would change... about myself – to, hmm, to, umm, I wouldn’t really change anything, really.

Q: That’s good. What is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength is to, like, kick balls.

Q: So you play kickball? A: Yes.

Q: And soccer? A: Ah, kickball mainly.

Q: That’s cool. Who is your role model and why? A: My role model would be... I don’t have one.

Q: No? What do you need to be happy? A: I need to be happy? To, um, to learn more about my culture than right now.

Q: That’s good, like, do you need, like, an object? Like anything in life that you just need to have to be happy? A: No. Q: No? If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: I would change – one thing about my home is – to be... to have a separate room.

Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement is to... finish, umm, um, last school year. And to go, um, and to go through school, and sometimes it can be hard.

Q: That’s your achievement right now? A: Mm-hmm.

Q: Alright. What do you love about Oakland? A: I love about Oakland how it’s, umm, like different kind of people here, and different cultures, and different kind of foods, and you can go to different places...

Q: That’s cool. What is one thing you would think people would be surprised to know about you? A: Umm, one thing they would be surprised to know about me, is to – how I like, umm, to be myself, and not change anything about me.

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Q: Do have plan on going to college? A: No, not yet.

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Q: Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a good answer. Uh, what are your dreams for yourself? A: Uh, my dream is for myself to... is to go... umm, have a great life when I get older, and... to feel safe about myself.

Q: Hmm. If you could have one wish, what would it be? A: To, umm, make school days shorter.

Q: Alright. Uh, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: To, um, not feel ashamed that your African American, and just be yourself. And be yourself.

Q: Anything you would like to add, is there anything else to add? A: No.

Q: You good? A: Yes.

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Q: Alright then man, thanks for the interview. A: Okay.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E D N A B R E W E R M I D D L E S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

ISAIAH PITRE

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE INTERVIEWER

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: My name is Sean Johnson. I’m with the African American Male Oral History Project here at Edna Brewer Middle School on Friday October 5, 2012 and I’m interviewing? A: Isaiah Pitre. I-S-A-I-A-H P-I-T-R-E. I’m in 7th grade and I go to Edna Brewer Middle School and I live in Oakland.

Q: I’m gonna start by asking you a few questions. What did you eat for breakfast today? A: Uh, I had some – I had a lemon peach scone. Q: Was it good? A: Yes, I had two.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Um, spending time with my family.

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Q: What did you guys do that was so memorable? A: Uh, I mean – I remember all the times with my family like, uh, I just remember, like, my favorite part of [my] childhood memory is just spending time with family... all together, like, uh, going on trips, airplane rides, drives... vacations. Lots of different stuff.

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Q: Please describe your neighborhood. A: Um, I know Oakland itself is – can be a little – um, you know – ghetto. I guess you could say, in some ways, but... where I live... it’s, it’s kind of away from all that. It’s kind of in a, like, uh, it’s on a hill, so it’s at the top and there’s not much stuff that goes on up there because... no one goes up there to do anything except a

couple things, so it’s nice. There’s nice people, um, it’s a – what’s the word, um... it’s a lot of different races. I can’t remember the word right now, but it’s just real... racial, I guess you could say. It’s nice.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: How different the weather changes.

Q: Why do you think that? A: Because, sometimes I’ll dress, like, I’ll think it’s going to be hot one day and I’ll wear shorts and then it ends up being 60 degrees and I | don’t know what to do.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Talented, um, underestimated and, hmmm, smart.

Q: That’s good. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Awesome, beautiful and, um, funny.

Q: You tell a lot of jokes? A: Little bit, yeah.

Q: How do you like your school? A: I like it. I love it. It’s real... it’s like a lot... I like it a lot... better than the elementary school I graduated from.


Q: Who’s your favorite teacher and why? A: Out of all together or at this school?

Q: Uh, at this school. A: I would say my Spanish teacher, because I just kind of like her, um, like the way she teaches and, like, we’re kind of friends like that. We talk sometimes, like, after classes, like how her day went. She’s kind of friendly. She isn’t just school, school, school, drama, school, like, she’s actually like, you know, she had some interesting stories in her day... backpacking around the country... and... not much, you know?

Q: You said the way she teaches class. How does she teach? A: She doesn’t go at a pace that’s too fast or too slow for me. Like she just – and like most of the kids like her – like she’s just not like one of the teachers that’s like, “Can I please get out of this class? Can I please get out of this class?” She’s just kind of like, you know, she’s kind of like – I looked forward to 6th period last year and I’m going to look forward to it next year in 6th period, so... she just kind of does a good pace and she doesn’t just like put your hand down when you’re trying to ask a question. She answers it. You’re trying

to learn a language and that can be kind of hard sometimes, so I just kind of like when she does that.

Q: That’s pretty cool. Do you think it’s a good idea to go to school, why or why not? A: Uh, I kind of think it’s a good idea to come to school, um, actually, recently I been thinking and I like something a lot of, well, actually a few things about school that I really think... that actually the idea... is like – really just, like, eh, so then actually doing it is like really bad. Like, I hate the idea. Well, I shouldn’t say – I dislike the idea of coming into a class every day and learning about the same thing you learned yesterday and then getting assigned some little worksheet or something. But then getting assigned pretty much the same thing to go home and do it on my, like, you know, time. Like I would rather get an extra hour of school, for each, like, 15 minutes for each class, instead of go home and do, like, cut into my eating, chillaxing, kind of time, ’cause by the time I’ve done my homework, eat dinner, I got to go to bed – I can’t do anything

Q: Do you think the people at your school care about you, why or why not? A: Um, I guess my friends, um, I guess they kind of care about me, um, I know the teachers, they do, because they try – some may not show it, um, but they – I know they do, that’s why they – they’re there to help us learn and stuff, so I guess

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Q: Which was? A: Cleveland Elementary. It’s like, right around the corner from here.

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yeah, some – not everybody, because some people you just don’t like and some people you do, like so, I take it that way.

Q: If you could change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: The lunch.

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Q: Why? A: Because, like, well, I know that... the quality was worse at the elementary school I just graduated from and it got a little bit better, but sometimes it’s just kind of bad and I actually went to the actual kitchen where they make the food on a field trip and if they cook it on Tuesday, you eat it on Friday and they just put it in a refrigerator and then heat it up really hot and put it in a plastic bag and serve it to you or they just put it on a little brown thing, cardboard thing.

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Q: Where’d you go on that field trip? A: Um, I went to this school. I forget the name... it’s in Oakland, but, um, it’s like this really big kitchen that just makes all the food for the whole Oakland Public School District. It’s like, it’s just this one school happens to have a kitchen and they gave us free lunch and stuff.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Proud of my culture, hmmm, well, let’s see... every time... one I know – uh, what part of my

culture are you looking at, like, my race, or like my beliefs, like...

Q: Being an African American. A: African American. Umm, I guess when I’ve learned about the different achievements that African Americans have made in the past, like a couple people, uh, Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Muhammad Ali, like when they had achieved something and they were looked down upon, but they went aside that and, you know, and then they still became legends. I guess I kinda felt proud ’cause, yeah. Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is…?” A: A... place with people in it that, um, I guess... could be – that has a theme of... different things that could be, uh, different ethnicity, um, clean or dirty, just kind of a place, like a kind of not necessarily a city – but just like a little, little place where everyone’s connected as neighbors or whatever in some way, like, in positive and negative ways.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Awesome.

Q: And why do you say that? A: Because, one, I love being black because it’s just like – like I kinda said earlier, people kinda sometimes, not always, look down upon us – or me or, you know? So, if we show them up, then


Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Yes, because I want to get a job one day and in order to do that I’m gonna have to need to go to college and get an education. And also, it would just be easier to go through life.

Q: What college are you looking at? A: Um, either Cal or some art college. Because if I’m going to be an anime artist one day, I’m gonna probably need to go and be into an art community, so, that way I’ll get a higher chance of being able to pursue my dream.

Q: You say you like to draw? A: Yes, sir.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No.

Q: Please describe the situation. A: No, I’ve never felt ashamed, um, no I’ve never really felt ashamed of anything of that – of my culture. I’m kind of proud of it – I’m proud of being black and African American, um, I’m not sure what else – way to describe it, but, um, I know I’m not, you know – I’m proud of it, I know that.

Q: What gives you hope? A: Jesus.

Q: Same here. And why do you say Jesus? A: Because, my definition of Jesus is a couple things; hope, one, um, inner beauty, truth, um, power, and love, so, all those things just, like, come together and they give me, like, you know – one day I’mma be up there with God and Jesus and as long as I know he’s there, I’m probably gonna get up there.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: That I grow my beard faster. Q: Where do you feel safe? A: Where do I feel safe? Uh, I guess at home, or at school, or something.

Q: Why do you say at home – or school? A: Uh, I guess home, because it’s my home and it’s not really a bad neighborhood or anything, and, um, I have family there... literally, in the apartment I’m in. My grandmother lives in an other, like, I guess you’d say number – and so does my best friend and so do other friends – live in the same complex so, I’m always, if my mom’s not home. I’m at grandmas or my friends or something. And at school it’s kind of a protected place, like, I can’t, like, if someone’s, I guess, like, if someone’s trying to, like, punk on me, I’m not going to just sit and cower. Like, I’m either going to say something and not necessarily fight them, but stick up for

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: ISAIAH PITRE

it’s kind of representing all of us, you know? Like I’m not being racist or anything, but a lot of other races, like if, like, sometimes – if they get like a really high grade or something it’s not, like 3,000% of, like, amazing. But you know, you know, it’s just, yeah.

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myself, like, not just cower and let them like punk me – so that’s really the only reason I could see that someone might not be safe at school, unless it’s like, dangerous stairs, but, uh, other than that... I feel pretty safe at school.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: Personality.

Q: Why? A: Um, I guess because my personality shows the fundamentals of myself, so, if I don’t have a personality or anything, then – I’m – I don’t, or – personality and, like, I guess like feelings and stuff – than I’m not really me, so.

Q: How would you describe your personality? A: Kind of like the things that describe myself; funny, awesome, fantastic.

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Q: Who is your role model, and why? A: Um, I guess, one of my role models is Masashi Kishimoto, he’s – uh, and Michael Dante DiMartino. They are writers of two, um, animes that I really like, that I’m basing a lot of my stories I’m going to write... and animes and stuff in the future.

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Q: What do you need to be happy? A: Jesus, again.

Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Um, bigger.

Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: Not being, eh, necessarily, a... no... I’m not sure.

Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: That it’s very, um, I keep forgetting the word, um, I guess I’mma say again – racial. There’s a lot of ethnicity, there’s the word. It’s everywhere, it’s real, it’s a lot of people, um, a lot of different types of people. It’s not just one set based people in one place. It’s very – communities and like, there’s a lot of different things to see, a lot of different restaurants and places, and things like that. Like, I could see if someone was coming from France, they might come to see Oakland, like they might come to go see it, Bay Bridge a lot of, you know – or just in the Bay Area. I’d say just a lot of neat things.

Q: Do you have a favorite place in Oakland that you would go to? A: Not really. I mean there probably is, I just don’t know... the water.

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: My dreams? I guess to be an anime artist, that I’ll be happy, that, um, I’ll be close to all my family when I’m older... and that... I have a nice... decent life, eventful.

Q: What would help you achieve your dreams? A: Um, well. One, staying in school, ’cause that will help me come and be into jobs and stuff, and that’ll help me get a fundamental of being able to be happy and stuff. So getting jobs,


Q: What have you learned from your father? A: From my father? Well, most of – I usually – I mostly went to church with him. So, I’ve learned a few things, I’ve... learned that you, um, if you’re not close to your father for a long time, then when you’re older, it’s kind of more difficult to be together, because he was – he was close to his father but he wasn’t that close, you know, because – like they just didn’t, like, hug each other, you know, not much. I mean they still know each other – they still love each other, but you know. So, I guess I learned that, and he’s also a teacher so he’s always kind of in, you know, inside my school life, trying to figure out what projects and stuff I have all the time and just kind of learn[ed] that he cares, you know. He loves me and stuff. And that in my family, sports is important.

Q: And why? A: For sports?

Q: Yeah, why is sports important? A: Because, it’s just, my grandfather and my father and his – all my uncles and stuff. They just really like sports, baseball, football and my dad kind of likes all those sports,

but, like, baseball and football, Giants, Raiders. If I’m not a Giants or Raiders fan than I’m not part of the family. I’m just not, uh, part of my mom’s side. I’m not even – so it’s just kind of important, like it kind of brings us all together ’cause, like – if we don’t, like, talk, like, we’ll all talk about the Raiders game. So if we can’t find something... we’ll find something about a game, you know, a sports game.

Q: What do all Americans need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That they’re not all what you hear on TV. They’re not all, like, shooting and, uh, robbing banks and stuff, and not all on drugs and all that kind of stuff that people think and... yeah, that’s what I think all African Americans or Americans should know.

Q: Do you want to have kids? Why or why not? A: Yes, I want to have a boy and a girl, because, well, one, I want to keep my family going and two, if it’s – the idea of having a kid just seems kind of fun, being able to raise ’em, kind of like apprentices, apprentices that you get to raise – teach, you know? Add more people to the world, experiences, see how hard it really is, so they say.

Q: What advice would you give another African American youth? A: Don’t look down upon yourself.

Q: Why? A: Because, I, like I said, like, a lot of people look

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: ISAIAH PITRE

getting a nice home, family, um, make sure I’m working on my art, because I can’t just come in 10 years and do a drawing and that’ll get me – I have to keep, you know, working on it while, um, living and stuff. And uh, just kind of being happy, yeah.

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down upon us, so if you look down upon yourself, then you’re just showing them that they’re right. So, if you’re showing them that they’re right then, yeah, like, you hold – I say – a connection to every single last other African American. So if you go down, then you’re showing the rest – then you’re showing, like, other people who look down upon us, that they’re right, you know? And then, well, you pull all of us down. So, and also looking down on your past – looking down upon yourself isn’t really a good thing, like, it just isn’t gonna bring – you’re not gonna be happy in life and it’s just – you probably want to be happy, you know?

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add, or, is there anything we should ask you? A: I don’t think so. I’m okay.

Q: Thank you for your time. A: Alright, thank you.

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Q: Nice meeting you.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E D N A B R E W E R M I D D L E S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

KAMRAN STEPHENS

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL

INTERVIEWER

ERIC NOBLES

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: KAMRAN STEPHENS

INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 5 , 2 012

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Q: Today is October 5th at Edna Brewer Middle School Middle School and this is the African American Oral History Project. My name is Eric Nobles and I’ll be interviewing? A: Kamran Stephens.

Q: Can you spell that for us? A: K-A-M-R-A-N S-T-E-P-H-E-N-S.

Q: Alright, let’s get this interview started. Uh, what’d you have for breakfast this morning? A: I just had a bowl of fruit loops and some orange juice.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory was when my dad bought me my phone.

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Q: What kinda phone? A: Uh, Sano.

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Q: Okay, that’s wassup. Uh, please describe your neighborhood, like what does it look like? A: Well, I live with my dad and my mom, sort of. And – I live in Pittsburgh, California, and it’s like a gated community, and the house is, like, tan, and I got my own room and a computer room and it’s all cool there.

Q: That’s wassup. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Umm, hmm, that’s a hard one. Um... no smoking.

Q: No smoking? I feel it. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think of African American men in Oakland? A: Struggle. Oh, struggle and working hard.

Q: Working hard? Uh, what is your – who is your favorite teacher here, and why? A: My favorite teacher is Ms. Courtney because she want[s] me to do my best and work hard and achieve my goals.

Q: Alright, that’s cool. How do you like your school? A: I like my school. It’s really cool around here and I can just be myself, no – no situation wrong and I can just have fun.

Q: Uh, alright. Do you think it’s a good idea to go to school? A: Yes, ’cause you need your education and you need to work hard in order to succeed.

Q: Alright. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: I would change OCS ’cause that’s a bad thing and that just brings the kid down, and that’s – don’t want them to work hard, it just make them wonder why they’re in OCS.

Q: Uh, what is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It’s hard ’cause, like, when you walk into a store, everybody think that you gonna do something wrong or bad, just because of other people from your skin, and they – and like they gonna put


Q: Hmm, I feel it. Umm, do you plan on going to college? A: Yes, of course ’cause my – not even just because my family want[s] me to go to college, also I want to go to college ’cause I’ll know that I finally did it, and that’ll just be my whole dream, finished.

Q: Hmm, have you ever felt ashamed of being black? A: Yes, because, like, I remember that people think I always do wrong, but they don’t think – that I don’t take my education seriously, that I just goof off, and just wanna be a sports player, or just a rapper, but there is more to me, like, I wanna be in Criminal Justice, like American Therapist and everything else. Q: Mmm, nice going. Uh, what to you, makes a man? A: What makes a man is that he stand up for his situation and responsibility and he make the right decision.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: I actually wouldn’t change nothing because I like being myself and I wouldn’t change nothing. I just like being me.

Q: Hmm. Uh, where do you feel safe? A: I feel safe at my house. I know that all the stress and all the situations [are] gone. I can just relax. Q: Alright, that’s good. Uh, what is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength has to be science, I like studying molecules and animals and seeing more about the earth and geology and biology.

Q: Hmm. Who is your role model, and why? A: My role model is my dad because when I grow up I want to be exactly like him. Be well successful- I mean well successful, wealthy and just do what he gotta do.

Q: What do you need to be happy? A: Um, just make sure that my family is good and that they’re not in no situation. Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: I would make it a bigger house so I can have my own room. And my own laptop and a waterbed.

Q: Oh, okay. Uh, what is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement? It was getting “Student of the Month” last year at Edna Brewer Middle School ’cause all the hard work actually paid off and I knew that I made it to the 7th Grade.

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: KAMRAN STEPHENS

you down, just because of the color of your skin, just being African American, so, yeah.

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Q: Alright, that’s cool. Uh, what do you love about Oakland? A: I love about Oakland that there is nothing like Oakland. The Bay Area is the bomb, and the Golden State Warriors and the Oakland Raiders.

Q: Uh, what is one thing that people will not know about you? A: That I am a well known person and that I am loyal to my friends.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Oh, that’s cool. Umm, what do all Americans need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: African American men in Oakland? They need to know that it’s hard to be in our shoes, that you gotta face all these struggles, and stay on your school work, and focusing on not going on the wrong path, and stay on the right path to greatness.

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Q: Hmm, I like that answer. Umm, what advice would you give other African American youth your age? A: That you need to stop being in the Blood gangs and all that stuff. You need to focus on doing your work and then – don’t do all that other stuff, and just do what you gotta do.

Q: Mmm, I feel it. And my last question, what is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing that ever happened to me? I actually have no scariest-thing-that-ever-

happened-to me, except, hmm, when I accidentally almost failed in the 4th grade or something, because I knew that if I went on the wrong path that time, ain’t no – it was no way of going back and [I] wanna keep my head up.

Q: Alright, uh, thank you for being here. A: Alright.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E D N A B R E W E R M I D D L E S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

MALIK GORDEN

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE INTERVIEWER

ERIC NOBLES

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: MAILK GORDEN

O C T O B E R 5 , 2 012

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Q: Today is October 5th at Edna Brewer Middle School, this the African American Project. My name is Eric Nobles, and I’ll be interviewing…? A: Malik Gorden. Q: Can you spell that? A: M-A-L-I-K.

Q: Alright. What’d you eat for breakfast today? A: Umm, eggs and bacon.

Q: Eggs and bacon? Exactly what I had. What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Umm, my daycare. Q: Your daycare? A: (nods his head)

Q: Please describe your neighborhood. Like, what does it look like? What does it smell like? A: Smells good. It’s alright. Q: It’s alright? Where do you stay at? A: Huh? Q: Where do you stay at? A: Umm…

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Q: If you can change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: I wouldn’t change anything.

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Q: Alright. What are the first three words that come into your mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm, like, I want people, like, I want them to succeed... and... I don’t really have three things. Q: Alright. Who is your favorite teacher here and why?

A: Ms. King because she’s always helping me whenI need it.

Q: How do you like this school? A: It’s good.

Q: It’s a good school? Do you think it’s a good idea to go to school? A: Yeah. Q: Why? A: Because, without – without going to school you wouldn’t be able to get a job and you wouldn’t be able to take care of yourself.

Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Umm. How long lunch time is.

Q: Alright. Please share one time you were proud about being black. A: Being in this program.

Q: Being in this program? That’s good. Umm. What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It’s kind of hard. Q: It’s kind of hard? Why do you say that? A: Because like, some people, like, try to mess with you sometimes because you’re like, because I’m smaller than them sometimes.

Q: Do you ever plan on going to college? A: Yeah.

Q: Oh, that’s nice. Have you ever felt ashamed about being black? A: No.


Q: Uh, what to you, makes a man? A: Somebody that can take care of theirself.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Nothing. Q: Nothing? Uh, where do you feel safe? A: At home.

Q: At home? That’s good. What is your greatest strength? A: Science. Q: Science? What kinda science? A: Life science.

Q: Life science? Who’s your role model and why? A: Brother Jahi. Q: Brother Jahi? Why? A: Because he always makes the right decision and he always knows what he’s doing before it happens.

Q: Uh, what do you need in your life to be happy? A: My parents.

Q: Parents? If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Wouldn’t change anything.

Q: Wouldn’t change anything? What is your greatest achievement? A: Um, being good in basketball.

Q: You good at basketball? I see you. Point Guard? A: (nods head)

Q: Uh, what do you love about Oakland? A: That everybody’s usually nice, like, not nice to each other, but like everybody’s kind of welcoming people into their, like, circle kind of.

Q: That’s nice. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? A: Um, that I like science.

Q: That you like science? Uh, what are your dreams for yourself? A: To be in the NBA.

Q: To be in the NBA? You have, like, a backup plan at all? Like, if you don’t make it to the NBA? A: (nods head) Q: What is that? A: Lawyer.

Q: A lawyer? That’s wassup. What do all Americans need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Um, I don’t know off the top of my head.

Q: You don’t know? It’s good. What advice would you give African American youth your age? A: That no matter what anybody says about you, you should always be yourself, and never be ashamed of your skin color.

Q: Amen to that. And our last question, what is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Umm, getting a whoopin’ ’cause I got suspended.

Q: Aw, man, I remember how that is. Thanks for your time man. A: Alright.

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: MAILK GORDEN

Q: Never ever? Uh, what to you, makes a man? A: Huh?

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E D N A B R E W E R M I D D L E S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

(ANONYMOUS)

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 5 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

ERIC NOBLES

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Q: Cereal, what kind of cereal? A: Uh, Frosted Flakes. Frosted Flakes, the best.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Mmm, oh, hitting my first game winning shot. Q: Game winning shot. For basketball? A: Mm-hmm.

Q: What position do you play? A: Shooting guard.

Q: Alright, the two. I see. Uh, please describe your neighborhood. A: Mm, uh... peaceful, and kinda, like, crackhead-ish, ’cause there’s a lotta people, well, it’s not, like, at my house, it’s like in the other apartment, it’s like a whole other apartment complex and there’s a lotta, uh, people that smoke and stuff. Q: Well, where do you live at? A: Uh, I can’t tell you that.

Q: Alright. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: The crackhead people.

Q: What are the first three words that come to your mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Sports, uh... violence, and, uh, fun.

Q: Fun. Alright. Who is your favorite teacher here and why? A: Mr. Bush Q: Mr. Bush? A: Mm-hmm. Science teacher.

Q: How come? A: Oh, ’cause he’s hecka funny.

Q: That’s cool. How do you like your school? A: I like it.

Q: You like it a lot? A: Mm-hmm.

Q: You think it’s a good idea to go to school? A: Yeah, but, yeah, yeah.

Q: Yeah, but... A: Uh, I like to sometimes, but I mostly don’t like it ’cause I get bored, but over the summer I wanted to come back. Some days I wanna come and some days I don’t.

Q: I feel it. I’m the same way. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Uh, probably less homework.

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: (ANONYMOUS)

Q: Alright, what did you eat for breakfast this morning? A: Cereal.

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Q: Less homework? Uh, please share a time in your life when you felt proud of your culture A: Uh, Thanksgiving. Q: On Thanksgiving? A: ’Cause a lotta my family came over and we were celebrating Thanksgiving. Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It’s cool.

Q: It’s cool. Just cool? A: Yeah.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? A: Yeah.

Q: Alright. You ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No. Q: Uh, what makes a man a man? A: Hmm?

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Q: Uh, what makes a man, a man? A: A man, a man? Uh, being strong and tough.

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Q: Alright, uh, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Uh, one thing about me – if I could change... I would probably – nothing.

Q: Nothing. Uh, where do you feel safe? A: Everywhere.

Q: Everywhere. What is your greatest strength? A: Basketball.

Q: Basketball. Who is your role model and why? A: Monta Ellis.

Q: Monta Ellis is my boy! But why? He’s inspired you to be a basketball player? A: Yeah. Well, yeah, and my favorite number is eight because of him, so, well, now his number is eleven but it’s still always eight to me.

Q: Uh, what do you need to be happy? A: Uh, probably... a basketball.

Q: Alright, if you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Nothing.

Q: Absolutely nothing? What is your greatest achievement? A: In life? Q: Yeah, just what’s, what’s your greatest achievement? A: Uh, to go to the NBA.

Q: Or like what’s – okay. What do you love about Oakland? A: Their basketball team.

Q: Uh, what is one thing people [would] be surprised to know about you? A: That I’m talkative.


Q: Hmm. Uh, what are your dreams for yourself? A: To go to the NBA.

Q: To go to the NBA? Uh, what do all Americans need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That we’re strong.

Q: Hmm. Uh, what advice would you give other African Americans your age? A: Never give up.

Q: Almost drowning in a pool, that’s scary. Well, alright man, thanks for being with us. A: You’re welcome.

TRANSCRIPTS: EDNA BREWER MIDDLE SCHOOL: (ANONYMOUS)

Q: Never give up? And the last question. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Uh, umm, uh, the scariest thing that... oh! Almost drowning in a pool.

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OAKLAND TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: O A K L A N D T E C H N I C A L H I G H S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

ANTHONY J. JOHNSON

INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 19 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

N E Q U W A N T AY L O R

TRANSCRIPTS: OAKL AND TECHNIC AL HIGH SCHOOL: ANTHONY J. JOHNSON

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

OAKL AND TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL

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Q: My name Nequwan Taylor. I’m here at Oakland Technical High School. Today is October the 19th, 2012. We at Oakland High and Oakland Tech football game. I’m here with? A: Anthony Johnson. Q: Uh, first I wanna ask you, how is your day going today? A: It’s going good, good.

Q: What is your, umm, favorite childhood memory? A: Playing sports, running around the neighbor hood, you know, meeting new people.

Q: What are three words that come to mind when you think about... yourself? A: Athletic, funny and, you know, handsome, you already know, the ladies gotta, you know.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Positive, powerful and respectable.

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Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? Please describe the situation. A: Never.

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Q: Yeah, that’s good, that’s good. What is it like being African American man in Oakland? A: It’s – it’s sometimes hard because people expect you to live up to the statistics that we not – we’re not gonna live to amount to nothing. And that can be challenging because people don’t give you the benefit of the doubt.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: When Obama won the Presidency.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My dad because he always been there, and he a good father, you know?

Q: What is your great achievement? A: Mm… oh, getting a – getting the African American Male thing – when you get a – or if you get a 3.0 or higher, you get a lil’ certificate.

Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: It gotta a lotta cultural – it got a lotta culture in it, and it’s a lotta African Americans.

Q: I got one last question for you. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Stay out the streets. Q: Thank you for your time. A: Alright.

Q: Why is your advice to – for them to stay out the streets? A: Because a lotta African American youth are getting killed nowadays, you know, because they either in gangs or they don’t got no good parents to lead them in the right way. Q: Once again, thank you for your time. A: Yeah.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: O A K L A N D T E C H N I C A L H I G H S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

ERICK JACKSON

INTERVIEW LOC ATION INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 9 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

JARVIS HENRY

TRANSCRIPTS: OAKL AND TECHNIC AL HIGH SCHOOL: ERICK JACKSON

OAKL AND TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL

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Q: My name is Jarvis Henry. It’s October 19, 2012 and we at the Tech versus O-High game – it’s O-High, right? Alright, good, Tech versus O-High game, uh, right now I’m about to do an interview for the African American Oral History Project. Uh, can you give me your name? A: My name is Erick Jackson.

Q: Alright, Erick Jackson, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Uh, my favorite childhood memory would probably be, uh, I used to like, well, we didn’t really like have like a lot of money so I used to like, like the little stuff we did like … like on Saturday mornings after school, man I’ll, I’ll eat breakfast and watch cartoons till like three o’clock and go outside and play till like nine o’clock at night and play football, so, I mean, yeah.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Alright, my next question is, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Um, I would probably have to say lost. Uh, they have potential, we have potential and, uh, I think we’re more powerful than we, than we know, so yeah.

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Q: Okay, alright, what, uh, my next question is, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Optimistic, uh, positive, and – smart, and, uh, wise, um, I dunno... yeah.

Q: Okay. Alright, for sure. Share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Uh, I think, like, every black person – when Obama got elected, got the first black president, man, feel me, Mr. Obama…

Q: Yeah, I agree with that, I agree with that – that was a proud moment for everybody. Uh, my next question is, please complete the sentence, uh, “Community is...?” A: Community, to me... is when every individual comes together to work as one unit, and we all look after each other, you know. Like they say – it takes a village to raise a child, and we all look after each other.

Q: Alright, that was a good definition, uh, my next question is, what is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Well, I think that, uh, I think we, we have... we, we have – I think we have a lot that’s faced against us, because of the bad, like, stereotypes that we get, and, but, I also feel that the chal lenges that we face, I think we’re, we’re kind of fortunate in a way, because we, we, we can be stronger people and... I feel that we have a lot to offer into the world, but yeah.

Q: Okay, my next question is, have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? And, if you have, can you please describe the situation? A: I feel ashamed of my culture when we don’t, um, when African Americans – when we don’t


Q: Yeah, I feel the same way about that. Uh, next question is, what is your greatest strength? A: I think my greatest strength is that I kept a level head despite, uh, despite everything that was going around me, and, I think, part of that too, is that... I was fortunate to have good people around me, such as my father, my coaches, my family, and the people who, actually, the people around my school as well, too... so.

Q: Alright, who is your role model and why? A: My role model would be my father, because he, despite, all of the – despite all that he was, all the challenges that we faced, he always put me and my sister, my younger sister, all of our sisters... he put us before himself and he always – he always took care of us, despite whatever happened. He just, he was always – he always stayed strong. Q: Okay, my next question is, what is your greatest achievement? A: As of right now, I know I’m gonna get into college, I mean, that’s it... but, I can’t... I can’t

really think of nothing right now, like – I still feel like I’ll have more to do.

Q: I feel the same way, but college still is a good-ass achievement. My next question is, though, what do you love about Oakland? A: What I love about Oakland is, our – we are very – we are diverse and, um, it’s a lot more that Oakland has to offer, than – despite what the media puts out about it. But, I like the diversity and the city has a lot of potential.

Q: Okay. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? A: Uh, that I’m social, like, I guess, people – I guess I wouldn’t say that people think that I’m antisocial, but people always think of me as like this, like, real laid back, quiet, in his shell, dude, but, I, I’m really... pretty social, I think I’m social.

Q: Okay. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: The advice that I would give other African American youth is... to keep your head up and, um, that everything that seems like, like hot right now is really just not. Like, I think the best advice I could tell them – to stay in school, you know, just... just, the normal, but also on top of that, like, when things – when things get hard... don’t... don’t give in to, to the pres sures around you, because, you know – um, there’s, there’s more for you, just like, like, like my father and my coaches tell me – like, they

TRANSCRIPTS: OAKL AND TECHNIC AL HIGH SCHOOL: ERICK JACKSON

appreciate one another, when we kill each other off, for example. Like, every time I look on the news it’s... I always hear something, you know, like, a young black male... young black male – shot in the street. That’s when I really feel, like, ashamed of my culture, ’cause we don’t know what we can really do, but instead we... we put our anger out on each other for petty stuff... for petty change, as well.

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give – god gives his greatest challenges to the strongest people, so, yeah.

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Q: Alright. Another question for you, please describe your neighborhood? Like what you see when you look around, or what it smells like or, if you feel safe. Why, why not? A: In my neighborhood, I get a little bit of every thing, uh, it’s, it’s... it’s white people, it’s Asian people, it’s black people, you know, uh. I think, I think, uh, the good thing about my neighbor hood is everyone looks after everyone – each other. But, uh, we get a little bit of everything, like I said before, like, we have police cars flying up the street, uh, somebody got shot, like, right down the street from my house, like, not too long ago. Like, right where I normally wait for – to go get – get on the bus to go to football practice, uh, he got shot and died. And, um, I think a ’lil bit after that it was a, like, a shootout, like right behind my house, like, almost in the school, in the back yard. So... it’s, you know... it’s in the center.

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Q: Well, what would you change about your, uh, neighborhood? A: I mean, I don’t think I would really change anything besides the obvious, such as the crime. So, yeah.

Q: Okay. My next question is, since we at this football game and stuff, how do you feel about your school? A: I love my school, um, I think I’m fortunate to

go here, well, because... I’m, I’m proud that I went here because I made a lot of connections. I’m glad I met the people that I met, and, um, I miss – I could play – I wish I could play football right now, but, um, other than that, though, um, we got – we have a lot that other schools don’t – don’t have – I think it’s because the area that we [are] in. We’re near, like, the Piedmont area – where I feel like it’s kinda, it’s still kind of – a – to me, it’s also kind of segregated, because you have like the rich kids, like, I just wouldn’t say the rich, but like the white kids, that’s in, like, the engineering and all that, the kids that live in, like, the piedmont hill districts and then you got, like, you know, like us – the people who look like us and we don’t – I’m not saying we all fail, but we don’t have, like, that same, like base, I should, guess, I should say. So, yeah.

Q: Yeah, I definitely get what you saying about the base and stuff like that. Oh, and I also agree with you about playing, I wish I was playing with my team, playing Castlemont. My next question is, who would be your favorite teacher in this school and why? A: My favorite teacher in this school would be, uh, Mr. Price, my uh, he was my history teacher, my 10th grade year, my AP history teacher in my junior year and he’s my leadership teacher right now, but, Mr. Price – he’s also an African American male, but he understands where we come from and he wants the same thing, like,


Q: Okay. My next question is, if you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Uh, if anything, if I, if uh, if I could just magically change anything, I would change, like, um, the way some students think. I think some students need to grow up, that’s what I think. And, um, and take it more seriously. Like, like, when I was like, like, the younger ages – like, I’m a senior now, but when I was younger, I didn’t – I was thinking like them, like, you know, I got time. But I would tell ’em, you know – don’t waste time.

Q: Okay, another question would be, what do you need to be happy? A: Where?

Q: What do you need to be happy? A: What do I need? I need football. I wish I wasn’t injured. But, I need success to be happy, like, I feel like, me, personally – if I don’t have success, I don’t feel like I have anything. But – but, besides success, if I didn’t have my family, I wouldn’t be happy, you know, to keep your head straight... you know? Q: Alright, what gives you hope, then? A: What gives me – what gives me hope, is the

fact that, uh, that I can actually do something great. And that, um, that I could be a – actually, a positive, successful African American male, out of Oakland, and that I could do it. But, yeah.

Q: Alright, I’mma wrap it up with this last question, what makes you a man? A: Uh, that’s a good question. What makes me a man? I, I would say that – I – like, like my dad tell me – he – he always tells me that, like, for example, we go, we get – we have it kind of hard at the house, but he always tells – I always, I would tell him, I know – I want to get a job, so I can carry my own weight and that, you know, I want to help out more and he always tells me no, because he wants me to focus on school, but he said it – it makes me more of a man, because, I’m trying to be more responsible, and uh, and I understand that, and I’m being more considerate, and I know what I need to do. So, yeah.

Q: Alright, thank you for your time. I appreciate you letting me interview you. Are there any last comments that you would like to make before we close out? A: Uh, naw – this, this is it, that’s it man, just... yeah.

TRANSCRIPTS: OAKL AND TECHNIC AL HIGH SCHOOL: ERICK JACKSON

he wants great. He always expects great from me and he always stays on my head about, like, college and keeping my mind straight, you know, and he always, he always gives me help when I need it too, so, uh...

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: O A K L A N D T E C H N I C A L H I G H S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

JUSTIN ROBINSON

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

OAKL AND TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 9 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

N E Q U W A N T AY L O R

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Q: I mean Robinson, umm, I’mma start off with, how are you doing today? A: I’m doing good, how are you?

Q: I’m good. Umm, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Umm, my favorite childhood memory was, when I first got on the baseball team.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Uh, um, people getting more involved in the community, like people getting to know each other more and… doing stuff together.

Q: What are the first three words that come to your mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm, stereotyped, umm, uh, feared, and... athletic, I guess.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Um, when Barack Obama became President.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is…?” A: Community is, oh, umm, community is

environment, uh, I don’t really know how to answer that question.

Q: Alright. Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? Please describe the situation. A: Umm, I have felt ashamed of my culture when, umm, when like people were – well, like some of my friends were, like, doing ignorant stuff, and, like everybody else was being quiet, but they were the ones acting out and... that’s how we’re saw – I mean that’s how we’re seen, like... as black people.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: Umm, what do you mean by greatest strength?

Q: Like, um, when I say greatest strength, I mean like, what you [are] most proud of – of yourself? A: Umm, my accomplishments in baseball.

Q: I have one last question for you. Umm, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: To... to prove to people that we can do things right. Q: Thank you for your time. A: Thank you.

TRANSCRIPTS: OAKL AND TECHNIC AL HIGH SCHOOL: JUSTIN ROBINESON

Q: My name Nequwan Taylor. I’m at Oakland Technical High School, watching O-High versus Tech. football game. Uh, today is October the 19th, 2012. I’m here with Justin Gaines... A: Robinson

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EASTMONT MALL


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E A S T M O N T M A L L INTERVIEWEE

D.L. (ANONYMOUS)

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EASTMONT MALL INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 2 6 , 2 012 SEAN JOHNSON

TRANSCRIPTS: EASTMONT MALL: D.L. (ANONYMOUS)

INTERVIEWER

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Q: My name is Sean Johnson. We’re at the Oakland Eastmont Transit Center on October 26, 2012. I’m interviewing? A: D. L. Q: Spell that? A: I don’t want – see I don’t want to spell it and stuff like that.

Q: And this is a voice interview. A: ’Cause I don’t want to be on camera.

Q: I’mma ask you a few questions. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Mm... let me think... if I could change one thing? I don’t know. That’s a good question. Go to the next one.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Alright. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm... these niggas is wild, reckless and violent.

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Q: Alright, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Uh... I’m wise, good looking and cautious of what I do...

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud about your culture. A: Black History Month.

Q: Alright. Please complete this sentence, “Community is…?" A: Community is a neighborhood.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Go to the next question.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? Please describe the situation. A: Yeah, I feel ashamed of my culture every day. Just the violence that go on day – ona daily basis. Q: Alright last question. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Get on the right path and stop the violence. Q: Alright, thank you for your time.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E A S T M O N T M A L L INTERVIEWEE

DAVID HOKES, JR.

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EASTMONT MALL INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 2 6 , 2 012 N E Q U W A N T AY L O R

TRANSCRIPTS: EASTMONT MALL: DAVID HOKES, JR.

INTERVIEWER

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Q: My name Nequwan Taylor. I’m here at Eastmont Transit Center. I’m here with? A: David.

Q: Today is October the 26th, 2012. We’re part of the African American Oral History Project. First question I wanna ask you is, how are you doing today? A: I’m doing okay, in a little pain, but okay.

Q: Uh, I’mma start off with the questions, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory would be all the times I actually sat and played with my cousin.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: If you could change one thing in your neighborhood, what would it be? A: It’s location... it’s location. It’s a good neighborhood just... better location. Like maybe, a little closer by the water. That basically can be easily solved by me moving, but I like where I’m at, so...

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Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: I think, uh, the first three words is... history, Alkebulan and Kemet. Q: Why those three words? A: History, because without your history, you don’t fully know where you come from. I think of Alkebulan because it’s the original

name of Africa, and it’s actually where all of us originated from. And Kemet because it’s the original name of Egypt, one of the things I’m really interested in.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: That’s kinda hard. The first three words I think about when it comes to me? My twin sister, it’s basically my sister Danielle, my sister Natasha and my mother.

Q: Do you plan to go to college? Why or why not? A: I do plan to go to college after I get out of the Service. Umm, I plan to go to college because I wanna major in Psychology and Kinetic Studies.

Q: Do you have any adults in your life that make you feel comfortable opening up to? A: Yes, I actually do, I have actually a lot. There’s my therapist, I trust him and that’s kind of his job so, umm, there’s my boss, who [is] also, like, a very good friend of mine, named Debra Day. Um, my stepfather, Lourie Dorn and also my mother.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: What?

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Actually every day ’cause I still know, out of


Q: Who is the most successful person you know? What makes them successful? A: Um… the most successful person I know is my... is actually my god mom or my mentor, Debra Day. What makes her successful is her willing determination. She started off with one, just one small idea and one book, and from that book and that idea she went and make a full – a full company from it called, A Shade by the Bay. And I mean, it’s filled with thousands of children’s book and it’s like, very amazing. I would say she [is] the most successful person.

Q: Did you ever think about following in her footsteps? A: I have... but the only thing with that is – is I’d rather not follow in anyone’s footsteps. I’d rather make my own.

Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: The one thing I love about Oakland is that we struggle ’cause everyone needs to struggle sometime. They say you never actually get up until you fall down. Oakland, we fell down, only way from here is up, so that’s as far as I see it.

Q: Last question, what advice would you give to other African American youth? A: Um, the one thing I would say would be finish high school. Even if you don’t plan on really doing anything after. Finish high school, because if you don’t... you will... you will remember that you didn’t. Everyone will remember. High school is actually very important. This is my last year and I’m really trying to finish and I’m having struggles and problems with myself, personally. So, my main thing would be to finish high school. Q: Thank you for your time. A: No problem.

TRANSCRIPTS: EASTMONT MALL: DAVID HOKES, JR.

everything, we are the most strongest and the most willing to survive almost anything that come[s] our way, from slavery all the way up till now. We are still struggling and we’re still surviving

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E A S T M O N T M A L L INTERVIEWEE

JOSHUA NEAL

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EASTMONT MALL INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 2 6 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: Please spell that. A: J-O-S-H-U-A N-E-A-L.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Uh, I would change how we conduct ourselves in our neighborhoods and how we interact with each other in our neighborhoods. Everybody needs to come together as a unit, just like, um, just like other people, or other minorities come together. We need to come together, just period. Not just one race, not just black people, not just white people, not just Mexicans, but people all together, people period.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about other African American men in Oakland? A: Guns, violence, and, um, negativity.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Um, self-willed, um, A very outgoing person, and um, highly intelligent. Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: When my uncle was still alive, and he was,

um, he was Huey Newton, and he was uh – he did a lot of positive things for our black community. I was proud to be black African American then.

Q: Such things as... A: Meals on Wheels, um, No Child shall – um, No Child shall – uh, how you say it? No child shall be Left Behind, um, things like that. I mean just – just doing positive things in the community, just trying to help people out, period. And just thinking about how they are, it didn’t matter who you were. It’s all about just coming together and – the only way we can change the world, only way we can change our neighborhoods, only way we can change our community, is by coming together. We have to all have an understanding and everybody has to be willing to put in an effort to do the right thing.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is…?" A: Come again?

Q: Please repeat this – please complete this sentence, “Community is…?" A: Unity.

Q: What is it like being a young African American in Oakland? A: Um, it’s really hard... it’s really rough. Um, it ain’t easy being a black African American male, by – I mean, police brutality, uh, just

TRANSCRIPTS: EASTMONT MALL: JOSHUA NEAL

Q: Alright, my name is Sean Johnson. We’re hereat the East Oakland Transit Center, on October 26, 2012, I’m interviewing? A: My name is Joshua Neal.

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THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

the way people look at you through, um, through stereotypes, you know what I mean? Me being – see, me I’m a good positive person and I love people period. I’m a people person, but, you know, other type – other people look at me and walk past me and, you know, mean mug me or look at me like I might be a threat ’cause I’m tall, or something like that, you know what I mean? And it’s not judging a book by its cover. It’s all about getting to knowing – getting to know everybody, individually. And people ain’t gotta walk around mean-mugging folks, you know, and cussing people out. Somebody ask you a question – I mean, it was the hardest thing, in Oakland, California, down by Lake Merritt yesterday, for me to find my way to Grand Street. I’m asking somebody, “s’cuze me, s’cuze me, s’cuze me,” they just ignoring me. I’m like, um, wow, I’m not asking for no change, I ain’t asking for nothing, I’m just trying to ask you for directions. So... yeah.

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Q: Alright, last question, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: Go to Youth UpRising and apply yourself. Take the initiative by being the first one to try ’cause there is no limit to how high you can fly. If you – if you go where there’s no path, and you make a trail, you are now a leader in a position to excel.

Q: Alright, thank you for your time. A: Fasho.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: E A S T M O N T M A L L INTERVIEWEE

MALIK EWING

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

EASTMONT MALL INTERVIEW DATE

O C T O B E R 2 6 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

TRANSCRIPTS: EASTMONT MALL: MALIK EWIG

JARVIS HENRY

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Q: My name is Jarvis Henry. It’s October 26, 2012 and I’m doing the African American oral history project with my main man, Malik, at the Eastmont, uh, mall. Malik, what is your favorite memory now as a kid? A: Hmm?

Q: What is your favorite memory now as a kid? A: My favorite memory was when I turned four because that’s when I first met my grandma.

Q: Oh, okay, alright. Were you excited? A: (nods)

Q: Yeah, I woulda been excited too to meet my grandma for the first time. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Awesome, courageous and insane.

Q: Why the last one? A: Hmmm?

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Why do you want to be insane? A: Because I do a lot of random things and people say I’m insane

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Q: Yeah, I do a lot of random stuff too sometimes. Alright, my next question is, if you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Hmmm, how long the recess is.

Q: How long would you want it to be?

A: Two days.

Q: Hmmm, two days? The recess? So you want to go to school for a couple hours then leave for two days, then come back? A: (nods)

Q: Alright, I wanna do that too, that sounds hecka fun. Okay, my next question is, do you plan to go to college anytime soon? Well not soon, but do you plan on going to college? A: Yes.

Q: Alright, do you know what college you want to go to? A: No. Q: Okay. Yeah, I haven’t really decided either. Mmm, Malik, what gives you hope? A: My mom. Q: Is that it? A: My mom and my family.

Q: Oh, okay, yeah, my family is a good support system for me too. Okay Malik, my next question is, what is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength is... wait... I don’t think I have one.

Q: You don’t have a greatest strength? Something you’re good at? A: Oh. I’m good at having fun.


Q: Oh, your mom? Mmm, I think my mom would make a good role model too. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Hmmm, we would have a better backyard.

Q: Oh, so you can play around? A: No because – so we can grow more plants.

Q: Oh, Okay, Alright. Hmmm, my next question is, what is something people would be surprised to know about you lately? A: Umm, that I broke my, umm, that my skull broke when I was 18 months.

Q: Wow! How did that happen? That’s – that’s really tragic. A: My sister – when I was – I – I was top – I think my sister picked me up on the railing and then – and I slipped out of her hand, and hit my – and hit my – and my skull cracked.

Q: Wow, I would have been screaming, that would’ve really hurt. A: I was laughing. Q: You were laughing? A: Yes.

Q: Wow. I wouldn’t of been laughing. I’d of been so scared. Okay my next question is, what do you need to be happy? A: Well, I need a special – I need something really good to happen or a good – or a good – or a really good joke, to start me – to make me happy.

Q: Yeah, I like jokes too. I like Kevin Hart, he’s hecka funny. My next question is, do you have any advice that you would give to your friends? A: Well, I do have one. Umm, always – never lie.

Q: Oh yeah, it’s not good to lie. Alright, do you have any final comments or shout-outs before we close out? A: Yes. Umm, I appreciate black people. Q: Alright, thanks Malik.

TRANSCRIPTS: EASTMONT MALL: MALIK EWIG

Q: Having fun? Okay, I guess that’s a pretty good strength. Who is your favorite role model? A: I have to say it’s my mom.

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PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: P A R K E R E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

C A R L T O N MC W O O D S O N

INTERVIEW LOC ATION INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 9 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

SEAN JOHNSON

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: C ARLTON M C WOODSON

PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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Q: Good Afternoon, my Shawn Johnson. I am with the AAOHP at Parker Elementary on November 9, 2012. I am interviewing? A: Carlton.

Q: Please spell that. A: C-A-R-L-T-O-N.

Q: Your last name? A: McWoodson.

Q: Spell that, please. A: M-C-W-O-O-D-S-O-N.

Q: Thank you. Carlton, I will be asking you a few questions today. First one, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: I did not eat anything for breakfast.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory is when I was with my mom.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: And what were you guys doing? A: We were just out in the hotel enjoying ourselves.

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Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: I don’t really know.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Smart, intelligent and pretty.

Q: If you can change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: One thing I would change about my school is people not being messy but being clean.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud to be African American? A: I felt proud about being an African American is when – I forgot.

Q: Okay, we will come back to that. Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is good, because we can, people, black folks and white folks can get along.

Q: What is like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It is fun because I don’t have to get judged by my skin color.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? A: Yes, I do.

Q: What college? A: I plan on going to CAL college.

Q: Why? A: Because my cousin, Desinay, plays basketball for her team.

Q: Do you know what you want to be? A: I want to be an NFL superstar.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No.


Q: And what is that? A: Is to be a racecar driver.

Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to, and who? A: I can open up to my dad because I feel like he watches out for me all the time.

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man is becoming what you want to be and not listening or following everybody else.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? A: What I would change – one thing about myself – is to be a leader and not a follower. Q: Where do you feel safe and why? A: I feel safe and – why – because I feel like I have a shelter over my head and I am safe with my parents.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: The most successful person is my mom and my dad. Q: Why? A: Because it feels like one day I can be just like them.

Q: What does your mom do? A: My does – she is a custodian.

Q: For a school? What school? A: Any kind of school in Oakland.

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing that ever happened to me is that my mom told me a story that she got ran over by a car.

Q: Is she okay? A: Yeah, she is still living.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My role model is my dad because maybe I can have dreams, like him, and keep my hopes up.

Q: What do you need in order to be happy? A: What I need in order to be happy is a family.

Q: What are your dad’s dreams? A: My dad’s dream is to win everything.

Q: Win what? A: Racecars.

Q: Championships and all that? A: Yes.

Q: That’s good. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: What I could change about my home is to get out of Oakland.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: C ARLTON M C WOODSON

Q: What gives you hope? A: What gives me hope is to follow in my dad’s footsteps.

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Q: Why? A: I want to get out of Oakland because I think it is a bad place, a bad neighborhood to be in.

Q: What makes it bad? A: What makes it bad is all the violence stuff around here.

Q: Has that affected you in any way? A: Yes, it affected me in any way because, one time, I was watching a movie in my living room and I heard a gunshot right by my house.

Q: What did you do when you heard the gunshot? A: What I did when I heard the gunshots is I turned everything off in the living room and ran to my mommy’s room.

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: The dreams for myself is to be an NFL football player. Q: For what team? A: For the Philadelphia Eagles.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: That’s your favorite team? A: Yes.

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Q: Who is your favorite player? A: Michael Vick

Q: Why? A: Michael Vick is my favorite player because he is a quarterback and I training to be a quarterback in the NFL.

Q: That’s good. What do you love about Oakland? A: I don’t love anything about Oakland. Q: You don’t, why is that? A: I don’t love anything about Oakland because of all the bad stuff that be happening.

Q: What could you do to make it better? A: What I could do to make it better is stop all the violence.

Q: And how would you do that? A: I would do that by having a group of protesters saying stop all the violence.

Q: That’s good. What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: What people need to know about African American men in Oakland is that they are proud of their skin color.

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: I have learned from my father is that he likes to ride motorcycles and drive cars.

Q: And going back to the other question I just ask you, what makes them proud? A: What makes them proud is doing what they do best.

Q: And what is that? A: What they do best is, my mom what she does best is to, take care of me and have shelter over me.


Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement is to get all A’s on my report card. Q: What are your grades looking like now? A: They are looking good. I have B’s

Q: What do you need in order to get them to A’s? A: What I need in order to get A’s is to be good in the classroom and don’t be disrespectful.

Q: What advice would you give other African American youth? A: What I would other African American advice is – I don’t know what I would give advice to them.

Q: Anyway, what would you say to them? A: I would say African American is proud of who they be.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood what would it be? A: I would change about my neighborhood is stop the violence and stop being messy.

Q: Anything else you would like to add? A: No. Q: Okay Carlton, thanks for your time.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: C ARLTON M C WOODSON

Q: Describe your life in 10 years? A: My life in 10 years is going pretty good because I am safe when I am at school and when I am home with my family.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: P A R K E R E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

ALONZO HOLMES

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 9 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

CASEY BRICENO

242


Q: Do you have a last name? A: Holmes.

Q: Can you spell that for me? A: H-O-L-M-E-S.

Q: Can you spell your first name? A: A-L-O-N-Z-O.

Q: I’m ask you a couple of questions. The first question is, what did you eat for breakfast? A: For breakfast I ate cereal.

Q: What kind of cereal? A: Apple Jacks.

Q: Apple Jacks sounds good. So what is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory was when I went to the beach with my mom and my cousin.

Q: So, you had fun. So what are the three first words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Strong, fun and kind. Q: Why were those the first three words that come to mind?

A: Because a lot of people, even African American people, are like fun, nice and kind.

Q: So what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Funny, fast and handsome.

Q: Next question is, if you could change one thing about your school what would it be? A: If I got to change one thing about my school I would change that kids do more math and science.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud to be an African American? A: A time I felt proud was when I helped somebody.

Q: How did you help that person? A: That person was, like, upset, because we were playing a game, kickball. Then when I kicked the ball and started running and I went to second base, somebody yelled at him because he was not on his base, then I cheered him up.

Q: That is nice of you. Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is a helpful place with wonderful people. Q: Do you feel like that about your community? A: Yes.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It is great being a young African American in Oakland.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ALONZO HOLMES

Q: Hi my name is Casey Briceno. Today is November 9, 2012. We are here Parker Elementary School. And this is brought to you by the AAOHP. I am interviewing? A: Alonzo.

243


Q: Why? A: Because you get to explore new things and have fun.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? A: Yes.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Do you have any college in mind yet? Do you know what you want to be? A: No. I got too many things.

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Q: When you say, the way that they act, what is a man supposed to act like? A: Responsible, good, not bad, act like good, like, how you be in school, so you won’t go to jail. And that’s it.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: If I could change one thing about myself, then it would be to have superpowers.

Q: Like what? A: Like a football player, an actor, or karate man, or a basketball player or accountant.

Q: What super powers would you have? A: I don’t know, I would have a lot.

Q: What gives you hope? A: Help?

Q: Where do you feel safe at? A: I feel safe by my dad’s house.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: (shakes head no)

Q: If you could have one? A: Super speed.

Q: Hope. A: Something that gives me hope to [to] believe in something. Something that gives me hope is a nice fine caring community.

Q: Why? A: Because when I was here, it’s too dangerous where I live over there, because people shoot too much. And when I am at my dad’s house there’s never no murders or anything and I feel safe.

Q: Do you have any adult you can open up to? Somebody to talk to about your feelings? A: I can talk to my brother about my feelings, I can talk to my mom and my dad, and I can talk to my grandma about my feelings and my teachers.

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man is the muscles, the emotion and the way that they act.

Q: Where does your dad live? A: I don’t remember but it’s, like, out there where it is always hot. Q: He doesn’t live in Oakland. What is your greatest strength? A: Like, what do I do when I get strong?


Q: How many laps do you do? A: After school. Sometimes he make us do six, but last year we did twelve. Mr. Roberto. And it’s fun.

Q: You like running? How do you feel when you run? A: Excited.

Q: Excited? Why? A: I feel excited because all the wind is flowing through my body and stuff when I run.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: Can it be, like, in a TV show too?

Q: No. A: Can it be one of my teachers?

Q: Yes. A: The most successful person that I know is Mrs. Maririz.

Q: Why? A: Because in 3rd grade she helped us and taught us more things and different things to get us ready for 4th grade.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: Can this one [be] in a TV show?

Q: Yes. A: My role model is Dash.

Q: Dash? From which show? A: It is a movie, The Incredibles.

Q: And why is that your role model? A: Because, like, you asked me a few minutes ago, super speed and he runs really fast and he is a super hero. Q: What do you need to be happy? A: What do I need to be happy? My family.

Q: Why is that? A: Because my family are the most people close to me.

Q: If you tell me one thing about home, what would it be? A: Home? That my home is a safe little place to live.

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: To go to college and get more knowledge. Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: That I can do something that I don’t like about Oakland?

Q: Yes? A: Something that I don’t like about Oakland is that there are too many people that kill people. What I do like about Oakland is that they have a good beach.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ALONZO HOLMES

Q: No, like, what is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength is when I run laps.

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Q: What beach? A: The one by that place, but I don’t remember.

Q: You said you don’t like Oakland because people killing each other. A: Yeah. And I don’t like Oakland because when its winter, we don’t have any snow.

Q: What do you think you can do to make it better? A: The people that kill, I wish I had a time machine, so I can reverse it all to where they were in school, so they can learn not to be bad.

Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: They need to know about African – because some African men help us and are bold and brave.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: What I have learned from my father is that – how to do good in school.

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Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement is when I got an A+ in science.

Q: Do you like science? A: Actually I got a B+ in science.

Q: What advice would you give to African American youth? A: The advice I would give to them is to live in safe environment.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Something that I would change about my neighborhood, if – would – change something about my neighborhood – everyone that lives by my neighborhood has to be safe.

Q: Anything you want to add? A: To what?


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: P A R K E R E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

ANTHONY BUFFIN

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE INTERVIEWER

JARVIS HENRY

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ATHONY BUFFIN

N O V E M B E R 9 , 2 012

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Q: My next question is, do you have any adults you can open up to? A: My sister.

Q: Cereal. What kind of cereal? A: Fruit Loops.

Q: My next question is, what is your greatest strength? A: I don’t know.

Q: Thank you. My first question for you, Anthony, is, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: I ate cereal.

Q: Is there a place you feel safe? A: Home.

Q: Fruit Loops. What is your favorite cereal? A: Frosted Flakes.

Q: What do you love about your sister? A: That I can come over to her house sometime.

Q: My next question is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: I don’t know what that means.

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Q: My next question is, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: I don’t [know] that one either.

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Q: My next question is, what is something that gives you hope? A: My education.

Q: My name is Jarvis Henry. I am part of the African American Oral History Project. It is November 9, 2012. And we are at Parker Elementary with my main man Anthony. Anthony can you please spell your first and last name for us? A: A-N-T-H-O-N-Y B-U-F-F-I-N.

Q: My next question is, if you can change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Do more stuff.

Q: My next question is, have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? And if so, please describe. A: No.

Q: My next question is, please complete the sentence, “Community is...?” A: My dad.

Q: My next question is, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: My life.

Q: Can you be a little bit more specific? What would you change about your life? A: Like, I don’t know.

Q: My next question is, what is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: When I was at home, I had got scared at a haunted house.


Q: What do you want to do with your life? A: Grow up.

Q: What do you need to be happy? A: My family. Q: Who is your role and why? A: I don’t know.

Q: Who is your hero? A: My mom.

Q: Why she your hero? A: Because. I don’t know.

Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: I don’t know. Q: Do you have any dreams? A: Sometimes.

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: I don’t know.

Q: What do you like about your home? A: That I get to sleep.

Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: I love that it’s a lot of people. Q: Is that it? A: Yes.

Q: What would make Oakland better? A: I don’t know.

Q: My next question is, what have you learned from your father? A: To get an education and go to college. Q: What advice would you give to your other friends? A: I don’t know.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: My mom and my dad.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up? A: A football player.

Q: What team you want to play for? A: The Green Bay Packers. Q: What position? You know? A: No.

Q: Why do you want to be a football player? A: Because you can be tough.

Q: What makes your mom and dad successful? A: That they... I don’t know.

Q: What do you see when you look around your house? A: I see houses and cars. Q: Do you feel safe? A: Yes. A little bit.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ATHONY BUFFIN

Q: What scared you? A: It was a person that had a fake knife.

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Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: For them to stop fighting. Q: You said, for them to stop fighting? A: Yes.

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Q: My last question is, is there anything you would like to add, shout-outs? A: No.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: P A R K E R E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

C H R I S T E N T AY L O R

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL N O V E M B E R 9 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

SEAN JOHNSON

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: CHRISTEN TAYLOR

INTERVIEW DATE

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Q: My name is Shawn Johnson and I am here with the African American Oral History Project on November 9, 2012 at Parker Elementary and I am interviewing? A: Christen Taylor. Q: Please spell that. A: C-H-R-I-S-T-E-N T-A-Y-L-O-R.

Q: See, I am going to ask you a few questions. First off, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: I ate some cereal. Q: What kind of cereal? A: Trix.

Q: Trix. Good cereal. What is your favorite childhood memory? A: When I had went to Disneyland.

Q: With who? A: My mom.

Q: Did you enjoy it. A: Yeah.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What made it fun? A: Seeing Mickey Mouse.

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Q: Did you get on any rides? A: Yes.

Q: What rides? A: Well, I can remember it, it was a big old elephant ride.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about other of African American men in Oakland? A: I am not sure really. I don’t know.

Q: What do you think when you meet other African American men? What do you think? A: Well, I think, really, I think that he is proud to be an African American.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Black, African American and handsome.

Q: If you can change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: The name calling.

Q: And, why? A: Because it not good for our community, because people should feel safe in the school community without being called names.

Q: Did somebody call you names? A: No.

Q: How do you feel when you hear other people call your friends names? A: Sad. Mostly sad, because they don’t know what goes on in that person’s house and so it is kinda, like, personal what goes on in their house.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud to be African American. A: When I was first born.


Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? A: Yes. Q: Who? A: My mother, my grandmother and my uncle.

Q: What is it like being a young African American male in Oakland? A: Good.

Q: Why? A: Because those are the closest grandparents and parents next to me.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Yes. Because, instead of going to a high school and stopping, I want to go, like, further – more – because I want to, like, one day I might want to be, like, a doctor and get degrees and all that.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Really, nothing.

Q: Why is it good? A: It’s good because I know that I am African American and other people in Oakland [are] also African American.

Q: Do you know what college you want to attend? A: Right now, no. Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No.

Q: What gives you hope? A: My mom’s words of saying that she is proud of me becoming the African American I am today.

Q: So that keeps you motivated? A: Yes.

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man is that – African American – has a job and don’t brag about his money and all that.

Q: You think you wouldn’t change anything about yourself? A: No ’cause I love the way that I am today. Q: And what way is that? A: I don’t know.

Q: Where do you feel safe? A: I feel safe in, mostly in my house and my community.

Q: Why? A: Because in my house, it’s like I can do anything and the same in my community, but in my community, but not everything.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: CHRISTEN TAYLOR

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is a thing that all people, no matter what color they is, come together and are one happy world.

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Q: And what do you do? A: I mostly go home and play my games, eat and, like, go places with my grandma.

Q: What games do you play? A: I got Madden 2011, I got 11 and 12 then I got Left 4 Dead, then after that I gonna plan on getting Call of Duty Black Ops 2.

Q: What game system? A: Xbox. Q: 360? A: And Wii.

Q: You said you go places with your grandmother? A: yes Q: Places like what? A: Walmart, ShopRite, Game Stop and Payless. Q: So you just go and hang out with grandma? A: Yes.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: You enjoy hanging out with grandma? A: Yes.

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Q: What is your greatest strengths? A: My greatest strengths is sports, math and English?

Q: What sports do you play? A: Basketball.

Q: Do you know what position you play? A: I just play for fun.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: Um?

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: Right now, I don’t know anyone.

Q: You don’t know anybody successful? A: No.

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing that ever happened to me was when I had got lost in the mall and I couldn’t find my way out. Q: Why did you get lost? Did you just run off? A: I was looking for a pair of shoes and my mom had went somewhere else.

Q: Were the shoes cool or nice? A: Yes.

Q: What kind of shoes were they? A: Jordan’s.

Q: What mall was you at? A: The Eastmont mall.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My mother because she is, like, the closest person to me right now. I admire her because – that my mother – and she takes care of me and feeds me.

Q: What do you need in order to be happy?


Q: If you can change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: My TV. Q: Why? A: Because my TV is too big and I need a smaller one.

Q: You need a smaller one? A: Yes, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s too big.

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: My dreams for myself to be a big strong African American during adulthood and during senior citizen hood.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow older? A: Well, I was thinking about basketball, because people keep on saying [I] am tall so I should be a basketball player or football player. Q: Is that what you want to do? A: Yes.

Q: You know what teams you want to play for? A: For basketball, I might play for the Golden Gate Warriors and for football, I might play for the Oakland Raiders.

Q: We gonna need some better players. I will be

looking out for you. What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Oakland is kinda, like, messed up right now, but the people that live in Oakland is not messed up. Q: What have you learned from your father? A: What I learned from my father is no matter what, I am a strong black African American young boy.

Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement is when I was in 2nd grade. I had gotten an A in my math.

Q: Do you like math? A: Yes.

Q: Describe yourself in 10 years? A: I describe myself as a hardworking person that is, like, successful through his years. Q: What advice would you give other African American youth? A: To never give up the dream and keep on going.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: The violence. Q: Is there anything you would like to add? A: No Q: Thanks for your time.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: CHRISTEN TAYLOR

A: Well, every kid might need love to be happy from their family members and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enough for me.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: P A R K E R E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

YEHESHUA SAL AM

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 9 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

CASEY BRICENO

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Q: Can you spell that for me please? A: Y-E-H-E-S-H-U-A S-A-L-A-M.

Q: I am going to ask you a couple of questions. First question is, what did you eat for breakfast A: I did not eat nothing for breakfast.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: When I had a basketball game. I was playing with, like, middle school students and I scored a shot.

Q: Did you play for a school? A: I was playing for a basketball team, but it was not for a school.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Smart, intelligent and respectful. Q: Why are those the first three words? A: Because as African Americans we can go back in history and tell about stories. African American people, we know about, like, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Smart, intelligent and respectful.

Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: The money. So we can have more technology and stuff like that.

Q: If you had the money, what would you do with it? A: I would probably buy better equipment for recess and, like, more stuff for the classroom.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud to be an African American? A: When I was in the Oratory Fest. It was me, my friend Gregory and Michael, we won first place.

Q: What was it? Poetry? A: We did poetry and we went against other people.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is a group of people talking and laughing and enjoying their lives.

Q: Do you feel like that about your community? A: My community, like, where I live and stuff – in school most of the time.

Q: What is like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It feels good because, like, you can enjoy life when you are young. You can play and stuff like that, and go to school and get your education.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? A: Yes.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: YEHESHUA SAL AM

Q: Hi, my name is Casey Briceno. I am here by African American Oral History Project. We here at Parker Elementary School. Today is November 9, 2012. Today I am interviewing? A: Yeheshua Salam.

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Q: Do you have any college in mind? A: No. What do you mean, any college?

Q: Do you have a college you want to go? A: Cal.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No. Q: What gives you hope? A: My friends and. like, the people I like being around most of the time in school. Sports.

Q: Do you have a favorite team? A: Warriors.

Q: Do you have any adults you can open up to? A: Yes.

Q: Who? A: My teacher, my teammates, my mom, my stepdad and my dad.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man, like, somebody who puts in work to make an education and gets a job, and not just slouch. They do what they are supposed to do.

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Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: I wouldn’t want to change anything about myself.

Q: Where do you feel safe? A: Here. Q: In school? A: Yes.

Q: And why do you feel safe here? A: Because I am learning and we have a security guard guarding us and we feel safe here. Q: What is your greatest strength? A: Knowledge.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: The most successful person I know is my step dad. He was, like, a professor and he worked for 30 years and he instructed my brothers. Anytime they were feeling down about themselves he would give them encouraging words, like, you can do it and stuff.

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing that ever happen to me was I got a bad grade once and I was scared about what my mom was going to do. Q: Who is your role model? A: My role model is my brother. Because he goes to school every day and he has changed his posture and behavior a lot. And he has grown since he was eight, and has just grown a lot. Q: What do you need to be happy? A: I need people around me so I can be happy, because I can laugh and play with them and I need family and friends.

Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: It would be, probably be, that some people that are bad in the neighborhood – I would change that.


Q: You said you have a lot of fun activities in school, what is the funnest activity you ever had? A: The funnest activity I ever had is, like, when we were in class we did this project about the day of the dead. And we wrote something about the person that died and colored the picture and put it on the wall. And some people brung pictures of that person.

Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Our history. Because it is a lot of black people and we have knowledge. Q: What have you learned from your father? A: His history of being a Black Panther.

Q: What history did you learn from your father? A: Like, when he was a Black Panther, there was a helicopter chase and he almost lost his life, but he survived. He is a much stronger man and he can respect people more. Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement is me pulling my grades up in school.

Q: So you used to have low grades? A: Yes.

Q: What made you want to get better grades? A: My mom and my brother encouraging me to do better, and me moving here, to a better school.

Q: You were in a different school last year? A: Yes. Santé Fe. I used to get in a lot of trouble.

Q: Describe your life in 10 years? A: In 10 years?

Q: Describe your life... A: Me being a basketball player and getting drafted into the NBA, and playing on a good team or a bad team and bring them up to the playoffs and winning a championship.

Q: What advice would you give to other African American youth? A: To go for what they want to do in life. If they want to play sports or do good things, help people, like, they can do it.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: If I could change one thing about my neighborhood, it would be, it’s a lot of Mexicans. I would like to teach them English, so they could com municate with us.

Q: You have anything else to add? Shout-outs? A: No. I don’t have any shout-outs. Q: Thank you for your time.

TRANSCRIPTS: PARKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: YEHESHUA SAL AM

Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: I love the people. Because, like, most people, when they go to school, they actually learn and in class we do fun activities. And there are a lot of people in Oakland who encourage me to do better.

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DOWNTOWN OAKLAND


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D O W N T O W N O A K L A N D INTERVIEWEE

CLEO SENEGAL

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DOWNTOWN OAKL AND INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 2 , 2 012

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: CLEO SENEGAL

INTERVIEWER

CASEY BRICENO

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Q: Casey Briceno – today is, uh, November 2nd, 2012, um – we’re here in downtown, um, I’m interviewing today Cleo and I have a couple questions for him... so first question is...what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Uh... I’d say a bowl of cereal.

Q: Bowl of cereal... do you – what kind of bowl of cereal? A: Man, maybe some fruit loops, maybe Cinnamon Toast Crunch – whatever I – I feel like eating in the morning.

Q: Alright, sounds good, sounds good, uh, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Man, uh... walking in, walking on E-1, me and Sean inside the music shop, and playing football.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Ah, you said playing football... you play with a school – for, like, a team? A: I played flag for my dad for a couple years, then I, uh, went to high school and I started playing for Oakland High.

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Q: Okay, that’s cool, that’s cool. What are three first words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Uh, money. Shit, sleep, and shit. Q: Okay, so why those the first three words that come up? A: Because it seems like all black men can’t get, they can’t get their stuff together, so shit,

beside... you know, besides them doing whatever they do on the street... they could just be doing some processing while they inside the house or doing... uh, doing something...

Q: Feel it. So, uh, if you can change one thing in your school, what would it be? A: Uh... I say... the... what’s that one name that, uh... hmm... I can’t think of the name, but it’s the people that organize the, like, the rally and stuff... them, ’cause it’s all Asians...

Q: It’s all Asians? A: All Asians. There ain’t a lick of black folks...

Q: That’s kind of not cool, there – but, uh, please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Huh? Could you repeat that?

Q: Um, uh – Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: People I share time with?

Q: No. A, like, a time in your culture that you liked about your culture. A: Uh, yeah. They keep, they keep me focused, they keep my head together, they keep me out of trouble.

Q: Uh, Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Uh... where everybody come together as one and just chill.


Q: Got another question for you – uh, Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: I plan on going to college, but at this particular moment I need to get a job and get situated before I even go to college. So I have somewhere when I get out of college on, on spring break or something, I can just go... go to the house or something.

Q: Do you have any, uh, college in mind that you want to go to? A: I say Berkeley or Merritt...

Q: That’s cool, uh, have you ever felt ashamed of your culture, if so, please describe? A: Not at all, not at all. Q: Not at all? A: Uh unh. What kind of dude would I be?

Q: Okay, that’s cool, uh, what gives you hope? A: What gives me hope, man, just waking up – it gives me hope, like, every day is a new day. You gotta start out fresh, gotta start out new doing something.

Q: That’s true – um, do you have any adults you can open up to? A: Yeah – I got my mom, my dad, some of my coaches, and then – and my girlfriend at some points, when she don’t get on my nerves.

Q: I feel it. Um, what makes you a man? A: What makes me a man? I take my responsibilities. I do my responsibilities as a man and I do what I gotta do to accomplish what I gotta do.

Q: Alright, uh, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: If I could change one thing about me – what would it be? Um, what would it be? Right now, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t – you know, answer that question right now ’cause it’s kind of hard.

Q: Okay, it’s good. I’ll go to the next one. Where do you feel safe at? A: In the house.

Q: And why do you feel safe in the house and not, like, in, let’s say, your community or, you know, somewhere around A: ’Cause, when you in the house... can’t nothing go wrong – you in the house. What you gonna do? Watch TV. What? And then, what, get on the computer or something? That’s it, that’s probably... what else?

Q: Alright, what is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength? Like, what do you mean by that?

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: CLEO SENEGAL

Q: Okay. What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Um, it is hard, because some black men can’t get no job, because the way they household is or the way they, you know, carry they self, or something like that – but, like, all you gotta do is just keep your head up and keep going forward and everything will be good. Don’t – don’t take no for an answer.

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Q: I mean, like, in your whole, like, like, character or of what you do. What is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength is my personality. It’s like, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but there’s always somebody who’s going to like it... whether you like it or not.

Q: That’s cool... uh, who is the most successful person you know? A: Hah, my dad. Yeah.

Q: Okay, that’s cool, uh... who is your role model and why? A: My role model is my dad because he teaches me how to be a man and never to look down on myself and never to look down on whoever around me and what I’m doing.

Q: That’s cool... um, what do you need to be happy? A: What I need to be happy? Life, that’s what I need to be happy.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Alright, that’s cool. Um, If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Uh... what would it be? One thing I could change about my home... uh... I wish I had a pool table.

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Q: Pool table, okay. A: Gambling session...

Q: Oh, make some money, huh? Alright, um... what are your dreams for yourself? A: Um, my dreams for myself is; stay positive, stay strong, what and – and be responsible.

Q: Okay, sounds deep, sounds deep. What do you love about Oakland? What would make it even better? A: Uh... what I love about Oakland is – it’s more people that you could socialize with and... what else was you saying?

Q: And... uh...what would make it even better? A: What would make it even better? Uh... hmm... they... they’ll make more things to do in Oakland, like, we could go visit somewhere, like – that wouldn’t be that far – and they could have a good lil’ structure or something... like, go carts, lil’ dirt bikes or something... something close.

Q: That would be cool, tell you the truth. Uh, what do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Uh, what do they need to know about ’em? They probably, they... we all... well, we as black African Americans, like, we the most positive you could get. That’s the most positive – if something – if we don’t like something, or something, or if something going on, we gonna speak our minds whether you like it or not. It’s just how we feel and it’s... it’s not, if... it’s not to offend you, or nothing like that. It’s just to, you know, to clarify on what’s going on, or something.

Q: Cool. Um, what have you learned from your father? A: Uh... how to work on houses – I know how to


do a little bit of remodel on houses and stuff. I know how to do a little something, something.

Q: Alright, that’s cool. Um, what is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement? Uh, well, this year is my greatest achievement. Because, last year when I was in school I was doing bad, but this year, when it comes around, when I’m being a senior, it’s like everything comes together and I do what I got to do. Shit, I’m positive.

Q: Alright, I got a last question for you. What advice would you give other African American youth in Oakland? A: Some advice... never give up, always stay positive, do what you got to do, keep your head up, stay respectful and just stay out... and just... just... and just do you.

Q: Alright, well, thank you for your time, I appreciate it.

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: CLEO SENEGAL

Q: Describe your life in 10 years. A: Describe my life in 10 years? Uh... I’ll be in a nice car, got a job, maybe a family depending on how old I am.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D O W N T O W N O A K L A N D INTERVIEWEE

TERRELL TOLIVER

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DOWNTOWN OAKL AND INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 2 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

N E Q U W A N T AY L O R

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Q: Umm, I wanna start off with – what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Today, I had some – lemme see, I had some biscuits with some, uh – some, uh – what I had [was] some waffles, some orange juice and I had a bowl of Reese’s Puffs.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Favorite childhood memory? Probably just hooping, just – you know, playing sports, know what I’m saying? Just street, you know.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Man, it’s a lot of, it’s a lot of killing, you know. But, uh, I like to think about the good, uh, the good things black people do, like, you know what I’m saying? All the inventions and, know what I’m saying? Just, just the struggle?

Q: What are the first three words to come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Just my intelligence and uh... lemme see... my intelligence and just my appearance, you know? Q: Why do you say that? A: I mean, that’s what I hear all the time from everybody around me, like, they tell me I’m, you know what I’m saying? Intelligent and all

that... and of course, from the female, you know – they say my appearance all the time, you know. So, yeah.

Q: If you could change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: Man, my, uh, my teachers – like, my professors. They be kind of, know what I’m saying? Unorganized. So, if my – if my professors could be more organized with the class work, know what I’m saying? Like, showing up to my class... the students show up to class more than the professors. So, if they get on top of that, every body will learn better what I’m saying?

Q: What school do you go to? A: I go to, uh, College of Alameda.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Repeat that one more time?

Q: Please tell a time when you felt proud of your culture? A: Well, yeah, it’s kind of sad, know what I’m saying? We celebrate black history month once a year, but about that time, I really started to think about it. So black history month...

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is…?” A: Messed up right now, man, know what I’m saying? It’s a lot of unemployment, poverty all that. So, people need to get on top of that.

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: TERRELL TOLIVER

Q: My name is Nequwan Taylor. We’re here on 14th and Broadway, uh, with the African American Oral History Project, uh, I’m here with? A: Rell.

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Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Man, it’s hard out here, man. It’s hard to find jobs, you know what I’m saying? I’m always criticized and judged by my appearance, you know what I’m saying? But it’s all good, though. Still living life. Q: Um... after the college you’re in, do you plan to go to any other college, why or why not? A: Yeah. I plan to, uh, go to LSU, know what I’m saying? Louisiana, I’ve heard it’s real cool down there. It’s real cool down there.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? Please describe the situation. A: Like, sometimes when I’m in public, like, the way some people be acting, like it’s just sad. Like, like no home training, you feel me? Like, it’s just sad, like... but all you can do is just... just explain to people, like, how they can better they self, you feel me?

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What gives you hope? A: Seeing people, know what I’m saying? Graduate – doing something with their life, know what I’m saying? That give me hope.

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Q: Do you have any adults you can open up to, and who? A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I got uncles and, know what I’m saying? Brothers, I got a mom, know what I’m saying? I got a whole circle of people I could talk to, you feel me?

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: One thing. Nothing. I wouldn’t change nothing.

Q: In your definition, what makes a man? A: Being yourself and stand – uh, having something to stand up for, know what I’m saying?

Q: Uh, Where do you feel safe and why? A: Well, me... I feel safe everywhere, but, like, when I’m at home, it’s just like, you feel me? You at home, like, you feel me? So, at home.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength is – I’m a... I’m a big thinker. I – I think deeply about things, you feel me? I’m not ignorant.

Q: Who’s the most successful person you know? What makes them successful? A: The most successful person I know – that’s a hard one. Probably my mom, though – she always on top of her business, so – yeah, probably my mom, yeah.

Q: What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing? Uh, honestly, like, two days ago, like, I thought I lost my phone, so, you know that’s kind of scary, you know – you know that’s kind of scary. I lost my phone. Q: Who’s your role model and why? A: Role model, well... I would have to say...


my Uncle Yancy. He taught me everything I know, damn near, about... cars, you know what I’m saying? That’s why I’m going to college right now, to be a... you know what I’m saying? Mechanic, you feel me? So, I’d have to say my uncle.

Q: What do you need to be happy? A: Support from my family, you know what I’m saying? Even, even if it ain’t my family, just, you know what I’m saying? People that’s around me every day, you know what I’m saying? So...

Q: One last question. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Stay in school and crack is wack. Q: Thank you for your time.

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: TERRELL TOLIVER

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: My dreams are to own my own mechanic shop, you feel me? Like, to own my own shop, work on cars... know what I’m saying? Be an entrepreneur – own my own business, be my own boss.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D O W N T O W N O A K L A N D INTERVIEWEE

BENJAMIN HORGAN

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DOWNTOWN OAKL AND INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 2 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

ERIC NOBLES

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Q: Can you spell that for us? A: Yeah, B-E-N-J-A-M-I-N, last name Horgan, H-O-R-G-A-N. Q: Glad to meet you. A: Good to meet you too man.

Q: Let’s get this interview started. Uh, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Uh, breakfast? Uh, I just went with some Greek yogurt and granola today.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Uh, favorite childhood memory? Uh, probably, my mom had this friend who’s a bronze artist and, uh, they had this café up in the middle of Wisconsin, in the middle of nowhere, uh, Red Wing I think, and, uh, just going up there in the summertime... it was really, it was one of those times that you know you don’t have to worry about anything.

Q: Are you from out there or...? A: Yeah, um, uh, I uh, grew up there, uh, till I was about 15, up in Minneapolis, and then, uh, we moved out here to California.

Q: So how do you like it out here? A: Uh, it’s, it’s really wonderful. This area is incredible. I’ve moved all over the United States and, uh, just to explore different cities and Oakland...

Q: End up back here? A: Yeah, Oakland is home.

Q: I feel it. What are the first three words that come to your mind when you think of black African American males in Oakland? A: Uh, man, marginalized, uh, misunderstood, uh, and uh, just challenged.

Q: Why do you choose those words? A: Uh, challenged just because, uh, I feel like there’s a lot of obstacles. You know, everybody has their own obstacles, and unfortunately a lot of people, you know, it all depends on, like, women have obstacles because they’re women, you know? Asian American people have obstacles because they’re Asian American, African American people have [the] same deal. Uh, African American men have the same story, you know? Everybody has certain, certain challenges that they have to overcome, and uh, as an African American male I – I’ve definitely had to face them and it’s not fun. Uh, as a minority you feel marginalized. I – I personally find, um, you feel uh, you know, you’re called a minority and that just never sat well with me. I don’t like – I don’t like that.

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: BENJAMIN HOGAN

Q: Hello, my name is Eric Nobles. I’m a part of the Black African Youth Project, it is November 2nd, and we’re down in downtown Oakland, and I’m here with? A: Benjamin Horgan.

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Q: Like you’re lower? A: Yeah, it’s like lower, or like, kinda pushed aside, or, you know, you’re not, there’s not enough of you to do anything, I don’t know what it is. It just never sat right. But apparently everyone that’s not white is a minority and – which is kinda interesting.

Q: If you could change anything at your school – do you go to school? A: Um, I’m actually, uh, going back to school, uh, next semester, uh, community college. Q: Well, what schools did you go to when you were out here – when you were like 15?

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

A: Um, Berkeley City College, uh, I went to this place called Castle Rock Charter, uh, yeah, that was high school, Castle Rock Charter, then Berkeley City College.

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Q: If you could change one thing at those schools in the past, what would you change? A: Um, the diversity at the charter school wasn’t really up to snuff, uh, I uh, felt a little bit you know, I like to stand out, like to be unique, but that was a lot. Um, and then, uh, Berkeley City College – I’d make it free. Can we please just get some free education? Ohmigod, the bills just keep coming in.

Q: It’s crazy. Please share one time when you felt proud of being black? A: I feel proud to be who I am. I think maybe not all the time, every day, but every day.

Um, yeah, I am very happy to be who I am. I’m very happy to be different in the ways that I am. It just can be a little bit hard and frustrating at times, but, uh, that’s what makes you stronger and better and who you are.

Q: Uh, complete this sentence, “Community is…?” A: Community is special.

Q: Why do you say that? A: Uh, because when it’s – when there’s that synergy and when it’s just like – when everybody is doing their part, and has, like, a good positive outlook if you will, it can be really amazing. Community can do amazing things, but everybody has to have the right mindset.

Q: What’s it like being a young African American male in Oakland? A: In Oakland? Uh, you know what? I think it’s probably one of the better places to be a young African American male. I mean like, if I was in Nebraska I’m sure it wouldn’t be so fun. Uh, it’s – it’s good. I think as you look around and you see that there is more and more diversity in the African American community, uh, not everybody is, you know, one way. And I feel like that’s just getting more prevalent and I think that’s great. Something to be celebrated. And Oakland is just like an epicenter of just people mixing and doing their own thing and nobody having to really worry about them. People have their own lives around here so they just worry about themselves.


Q: That’s sad too. A: Yeah, it sucks.

Q: Uh, what gives you hope? A: Uh, just every day, seeing more and more interracial couples, multi-racial babies and uh, just seeing people relax and more people see that, you know, what’s important is that your kind to one another. Yeah, yeah, you’re not worried about silly things, you’re worried about big ideas. Like, if the planet ends where you gonna go? You gonna pollute so much you can’t live someplace? You got a condo on Mars? Because if you don’t, yeah, so I mean, like people, people just kinda growing up and getting over themselves. I like to see that,

and I see it a lot. I see a lot of people just getting to be who they are, see a lot of people walking around in drag, you see frickin’ interracial couples and people just letting ’em be. It’s perfect.

Q: Do you have any adults that you could be – open up – that you open to, and who? A: Um, I’m actually really fortunate. I, I’ve had, uh, I was brought up by my mom mostly, and then uh, all of her side of the family, like her sisters, my aunts, and all of her best friends. I was really fortunate to grow up in a really strong community. There’s that word again, community, right? And uh, it was, it was, it was good, and it still is. Um, you know, it’s interesting as you grow up, as you really start to become your own person, it’s weird, as much as you still love everybody you grow up and you change. You become your own individual. Anyway...

Q: What makes a man a man? A: I think the number one thing that would make a man a man is the ability to not worry about [if] you are a man. I think if you can just do what you need to do with your life, figure out your purpose, and find your place in the world and do good. And not worry, are you a man? Then I think, I guess you’re a man. But, uh, otherwise I’d worry about being a human first.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: About myself? Um, I would just like to be more

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: BENJAMIN HOGAN

Q: Ah, that’s cool. Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture and why? A: Yeah, I guess, unfortunately, that sucks some times to really think about because, uh, if you just kinda admit what the truth is, uh, there can be some shame, uh, just because, uh, you can see what the other people in your commu nity might do, or in some ways I feel like, uh, our culture – that whole minority thing that we were talking about earlier – how I’ve perceived it over the years, um, it can make you feel less than, um, and, you know. That’s, that’s um – maybe it’s just kinda inherent to the way that we’re socialized, but uh, it’s been there. I’ve felt it ever since I realized that people are apparently different races.

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accepting of myself and my situation. I’m, like, constantly trying to better myself, and you know, make myself better. And, uh, I think it’s really important to just be okay with where you’re at, who you are, you know? I mean, not to say, like, you know, don’t do good things and don’t learn things and better yourself but don’t, like, feel, or try not to feel obsessed to be like, oh, I’m not good enough. That’s what I would change.

Q: I feel it. Uh, where do you feel safe, and why? A: Oh, I probably feel the safest in the middle of nowhere, in the forest. In the redwoods, way up north on the Lost Coast. That’s, that’s where my heart is. Uh, that’s where I feel safe. Q: You like to bike or hike? A: Yeah, I love to bike, I love to hike, I don’t run, um, unless there is a zombie outbreak I probably won’t be running anywhere. But yeah, I feel safe in the forest man, nature.

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Q: What is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength? Probably my creativity, my imagination.

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Q: Are you an artist, dancer? A: Yeah, yeah, I paint, I draw, I like to sculpt, yeah, that’s my stuff. I’ve got some of my work in my backpack. I can show you if you want.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know, and what makes them successful?

A: Oh man, uh, there[s] a lot – “Hey Judy!” Um, I probably would definitely say, um, there’s been a lot of strong women in my life, and, uh, I see them as really successful. Especially my mom. I hate to be corny, but she has always overcome and always been strong. She is success.

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Oh, uh, man, uh, jeez man, probably, uh, there was one time I was playing hide and seek and I fell out of a tree and I broke a limb on the way down and the jagged part went right into my armpit and I was hanging by it, my armpit. Yeah, and my friend Dane – I was like, Dane go get your mom and he was like no, no. ’Cause I always lied, so he thought I was lying again. Oh man, that really sucked. It was really scary.

Q: Crazy. Uh, who is your role model and why? A: Again, mom, mom. Mom and this artist, Hayao Miyazaki. Incredible storyteller, um, anyway, yeah, mom.

Q: What do you need to be happy? A: Uh, I need – I like to be surrounded by beauty and plants and animals and beautiful places. I’m very visually aesthetic, so, um, beautiful places is really, really important to me... and plants. Um, some good food, a nice comfortable place to put my head down, I’m pretty set from there.


Q: Man, uh, what are your dreams for yourself? A: Um, my dreams for myself? Probably one of my biggest dreams, I’ve always, um, really like – probably my number one is to be able to get my mom to be retired. You know, just be able to tell my mom, you know, stop working, or if you want to open up a business, just don’t worry about bills for the rest of your life.

Q: What does she do? A: She works for a nonprofit organization up north, um, yeah, but uh, she, uh, no one’s rich these days. That’s just not really how it is, you know, some people are, but I just want her to be like, you know, not have [to] worry ’cause that would help me not worry. And then beyond that – be nice to be able to be that way for myself too.

Q: Uh, what do you love about Oakland, and what would make it even better?

A: That diversity. That diversity is what I really love about Oakland. Um, not feeling like, uh, I like to stand out and be an individual – it’s not like – just like feeling like you’re being stared at ’cause you’re different. I love that. Uh, if there was anything that [was] a little different about Oakland, I wish that, um, I see a lot of people that looks like they’ve had a pretty hard time and, uh, I wish that I could do something for them or that they felt more empowered to do something for themselves. Maybe just make it a little cleaner, gets a little dirty sometimes.

Q: That is definitely true. What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Um, that uh, there are a lot of us, and we’re individuals, uh, just because someone looks one way, don’t be too fast to judge it. I’m guilty of that, um, I’ll judge my brother on the street on occasion, you know, sometimes you’re, uh, sometimes you’re not feeling as good and open minded as you really should be and you make judgment. Uh, but I think people should know, that just like everybody else, everybody is just trying to make it and not everyone has been afforded the same privileges and blessings as everybody else, so, just, you know, remember.

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: Uh, I don’t really know my father. My mom met my dad in the Peace Corps and I’ve had very limited meetings with him. He lives in Kenya, so, uh, and he passed away three years ago. It’s

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: BENJAMIN HOGAN

Q: That’s what’s up, the chill life. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Um, if I changed one thing about my home, uh, you know, right now I just moved to a new place, and uh, I really don’t have much furniture, ’cause, uh, it’s really, uh, paycheck to paycheck right now. I’m feeling the recession, but, uh, it[’d] be nice to have a little bit more, uh, little more money to be able to get some more pots and pans and another chair because I got one.

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okay, it’s okay, um, yeah, I didn’t really know him too well. So, uh, he was a jokester I guess; my mom says I got some of my antics from him.

Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: Uh, just my art, my art is an achievement. I see my art and I love it.

Q: I respect it. A: Thank you.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Describe your life in 10 years. A: In 10 years from now? Oh, well, have to call Miss Cleo on this one. Um, I would love to see it, just, you know, mom’s retired, um, just something – I just want a comfortable existence, not having to worry about, you know, where’s the money gonna come from tonight, or you know, see that gone. I don’t wanna be rich, I just like wanna stop worrying about that, seems petty. I wanna worry about more impor tant things and I just wanna see myself doing my art, you know, making a difference... helping people.

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Q: My last question is, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: Um, believe in yourself. You have to, because nobody else is gonna do it for you. Uh, and be proud that you’re mixed – that you’re African – that you’re whatever you are. Uh, you know, and just believe in yourself – you gotta.

Q: Alright thanks for having it. A: Thanks.

Q: I mean, I’m glad to have you, Benjamin. Alright, take care. A: Thanks.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D O W N T O W N O A K L A N D INTERVIEWEE

B R Y A N “B J” H A L L

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DOWNTOWN OAKL AND INTERVIEW DATE INTERVIEWER

SEAN JOHNSON

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: BRYAN “BJ” HALL

N O V E M B E R 2 , 2 012

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Q: What’s happening? My name is Sean Johnson, we’re at 14th and Broadway. This is the African American Male Oral History Project on November 2nd, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: I’m Scott Pilgrim – Bryan Hall – Baby BJ to be exact.

Q: Please spell your first and last name. A: Bryan, B-R-Y-A-N, Hall, H-A-L-L.

Q: The first question I’mma ask you, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: I don’t even think I ate breakfast this morning.

Q: Alright. What is favorite childhood memory? A: Umm. One year – I got one year. I was staying in the East on 96th and Sunnyside, it was like one – it was just one year that me, my mom, my dad, and my sister were able to stay in one house, and it was just, like, it was just a solid year.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Death, Drugs and Money.

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Q: Why you pick those three? A: Look at where we at. Well, I can’t – if I could take you on a tour through my hood or through where I’m from, I could give you a better picture. Right now we’re in downtown so it’s a little bit better looking, but where I stay at – I stay in what you call “the flatlands.” I live in a bowl

basically. I can see the hills from my house, and – all it is, is just death. I mean all it is, is just... miscommunication. Uh, a lot of stuff could’ve been better, but all it is, is... people don’t wanna educate themselves, so it’s just death, drugs and violence.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: I couldn’t even give three words – it’s so many, it’s just so many flashed in my mind. Just extraordinary, spectacular. I’m just BJ. That’s a word. I’m BJ. Just – it’s just so much stuff, it’s just so much stuff. I’m glad I got to do this interview, because right now, as of right now, I’m shooting my senior project. I’m shooting a movie on my life in Oakland. It’s a real – it’s gonna show the real part of Oakland – for Dewey – for Dewey Academy, I just transferred from Tech. It’s just basically, I’m taking my camera everywhere, I want y’all to see what we really deal with as young males in Oakland because it’s – if we had a better... a better opportunity, we wouldn’t be out here. If you can see, although we’re in downtown, it’s – it’s drugs and death around us right now as we do this interview so... it’s just – it’s a hard knocks life. It’s crazy, it’s very crazy. Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: My school? If I could change one thing about my school, I would – it would just be that I coulda


Q: Alright, that’s good. Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: A time – a time where I felt proud of my culture? Man, I just – I’m just proud of my culture overall because of how we are. We – we are ourselves. Can’t nobody tell us how to be, how to live, how to – we’re just ourselves. And Barack Obama, Barack Obama. I’mma proud supporter of Obama and I just turned 18, so I’m going to go vote. I will be voting. Proud of myself.

Q: Alright, please complete this sentence, “Community is...?" A: Community is... the environment that you feel most comfortable, the environment that you feel most safe, most relaxed, most free, basically. Community is supposed to be – it’s supposed to be built on a strong foundation of family

and like, some type a morals. If not any at all, just some type. You can’t be a community if you killing each other, in the same community, or the same environment, you can’t – it – it won’t work out like that.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It’s a movie. I’ve seen too much so far. It’s – I – I feel like we’re faced with a different opposition from different places. I – I been to other places but... out here, I don’t know, it’s just – it’s crazy – it’s just, you never know what to expect – I don’t know – it’s just – it – I don’t know – it’s a movie. It’s – it’s – they got the good, you got the bad, and you just got Oakland. Oakland – I don’t – I don’t look down at – I don’t look down on Oakland at all. I – I love Oakland. It’s not Oakland, it’s just... bad decisions. Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Hell yeah, s’cuze my language. I gotta go to college, not even – if – I gotta go to college, because if – I couldn’t – I couldn’t – I couldn’t not go to college if I didn’t want to. I got family, I got a brother, I got a mother, I got a – I’m – I’m representing somebody, it’s team BJ, it’s team Bradford, team Hall. I got a family to support, I got myself to support, and I like college females. Gotta educate myself. I’mma get a degree in Photography. I wanna get a degree in Psychology because I feel like, if I have a

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: BRYAN “BJ” HALL

went there earlier. My school – I – I love my school, like Dewey – like, I only been there like four days, like – I been at Tech. I only been to one high school in Oakland and that’s Oakland Tech. I been there for the last three years, but as soon as I got to Dewey it’s like – it’s not even that it’s easy, I understand it more. Like when I do the tests, I actually remember, you feel me? What to do, like – I really feel like it – it’s knowledgeable, it – it’s a family. What school – what school – what whole school has dance parties on Friday? Come on now, it – it – it’s just the best. It’s the best.

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conversation with somebody younger than me, I could – I could prevent a lot of crime. I feel like if somebody [could] just hang out with me for a day a lot more people would be here. I feel like I could – I could change the world, myself, but its gonna take others to work together, to help that possible – to make it possible.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What college are you planning on attending or what college are you looking at? A: Well right now, my set plan is to just attend San Francisco City College for two years and then transfer to Arizona State because I don’t wanna go too far from my Grandma for the first two years because she’s approaching that age where she need, you know, she’s gonna need some help, and – it’s not – I love San Francisco, it’s a – it’s cultural – it’s very cultural out there. You could learn outside of school, you could learn on the way to school, you could learn on the BART, people – it’s – it’s a lot – it’s education everywhere out there, and...

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Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? Please describe the situation. A: I never felt ashamed of my culture. I just felt – I just felt disappointed. I just felt disappointed, like, it’s just – I feel like... I don’t know, I just feel like we could do better. It’s – it’s nothing wrong with us, we’re not – it’s nothing – like we’re not bad people, it’s just... when you grow up it’s like this, if you take a young black man to China for 12 years, eventually he gonna start

speaking Chinese, right? You take a young black man and, you see crime, selling crack, all – sex and drugs and people wanna party all this – that life, all that, eventually he gonna want that life. So I’m not – I’ve never been ashamed of my culture, I just feel like, we just – we could make better decisions.

Q: What gives you hope? A: My granny. I got a scar right here. I just cut myself by accident, but my granny – I been staying with my granny these last couple of years and she’s just – she’s just the motivation. Like her smile, you know? When I go across that stage and she – she just smiling, that’s – that’s just – right now – that’s just the best feeling, like – it’s just that – that one right there.

Q: Do you have any adults you can open up to? And who? A: Yeah, I do. I have a family we call “Hothead.” We rap, we chill, we relax – they older than me, I’m – I’m basically one of the youngest but they just somebody I go to when I, you know, when I feel down, whatever, just to chill, just to talk about anything. Anything and everything.

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man? Well, besides being a male, its just – its just – I don’t know, it’s just – it’s the way he carries himself, the – the way he gets – handle his business, the way he gets the job done, the way... the way he – his character, loyalty, you know, just, you know, general


Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Man, if I could change one thing about myself? Uh, I don’t know. Uh, I’d say I wish – I wish I knew the things I knew now a little bit earlier with this photography thing. Like ’cause if I woulda knew that back then, I’d be a millionaire right now. Q: Where do you feel safe and why? A: I don’t feel safe nowhere out here. I don’t feel – you could die anywhere out here. I don’t feel safe nowhere. People get killed down here, people get killed – my neighbors across the street, on their porch, got killed one night. I don’t feel safe in the house or out the house, I don’t feel safe for my granny. She works in West Oakland, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., umm, it’s killings over there, I don’t feel safe out here. It’s just – you won’t feel safe until you outta here, basically.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: Courage. I ain’t – I don’t fear nothing. I’m not letting nothing stop me, can’t nothing stop me. I’m going through every obstacle with smiles and happiness, chill and relax, ain’t nothing gonna hold me back.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know and what makes them successful?

A: I know a lot of successful people, but I say my granny because she overcame a lot to – to be where she’s at right now. She went through a – a – a real struggle. She – she’s successful right now. I’m very proud. Shout out to Granny, clap it up for her.

Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: I’ve seen a couple people get shot. Just seeing death. I mean, it [wasn’t] nothing to be scared of, but you shouldn’t see it. You shouldn’t see it live, in the face, until it’s you, you get what I’m saying? So, those – just basic – in the flesh, in the moment, Ohmigod type of scary, it just – it ain’t right.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My role model? My role model – he’s not even here no more. His name was Raymond Lamont Justice. He got gunned down in 2010 walking home from his school, Oakland High. Uh, he was just a over – overall standup guy, he was 17 when he passed and he was just – he was just the coolest. Everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him, he rapped, he was just the coolest.

Q: What do you need to be happy? A: Uh, you just need – I don’t know, you just need a relaxed state of mind. You can’t be uptight all the time, you gotta do things to make you happy. If you smoke weed, I wouldn’t say do that, but, [for] some people, it makes them happy, but you

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: BRYAN “BJ” HALL

presence, somebody who you wanna be around, who you wanna kick it with, you know?

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just – you just can’t be out here just looking for – you just, you gotta – you gotta wanna succeed. You gotta wanna get out, you gotta wanna – you gotta wanna be successful. You just can’t – you just can’t be inactive. You gotta get active basically.

Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: I just wanna get my granny out of where we stay, like it’s just – it’s not safe where we stay at. I just wanna get my granny out. I don’t wanna be over there no more, we need a house on the hill, you know, flowers, white gate, as long – even if I have to stay here. I just gotta get her out, ’cause I don’t like it – I don’t – it’s crazy out here.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: I wanna be a mogul. P Diddy, BJ. I wanna be – not on his – I wanna be myself, but a version of him. I do everything – I just wanna be happy, that’s my – that’s my dream. I want my family to be comfortable. Even if we’re not filthy rich. I wanna be wealthy and just relax.

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Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: I love everything! From the – from the buildings, to the lake, to – everybody. We – everybody’s hella different out here – it’s – it’s – I love every thing. I like the way we – people think out here, I like every culture out here, from Caucasians to the blacks, I like “scrapers” as well as Benz, I like everything out here, like – like – the stuff

you see out here, it just amazes you, like... it makes you wanna come – it makes you wanna come out here ’cause we got – we got a culture of our own. There’s everywhere, then there’s Oakland. And people – people jock us, basically. We are – I – it’s just – it’s great out here, besides the crime rate. That’s – that’s the only thing pulling us back.

Q: What would make it even better? A: If our education system, like, if we had more schools like Dewey, like on a – on a regular basis, like... ’cause the teach – like, I don’t know. We need better education, like, better teacherstudent communication. ’Cause Dewey, they really, they really help you out.

Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Ah, I don’t know, like, it’s whatever they wanna find out. We just cool. It’s Oakland, ain’t nobody like us. We’re the last of a dying breed. There is, there is nobody like us out here. Whatever your type is, in Oakland, in men, females, you’re going to find him. Oakland, we got, it’s good out here in Oakland. We a couple knuckleheads, that’s why we got crime rate, a couple knuckleheads, but besides that, everybody’s – we cool out here.

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: Shout-out Pops, tatted. Uh, I learned a lot from him, just to – just to be myself, just to keep going, just to be dedicated, just to stay, you know, stay humble, not let anybody get to you.


Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: I said the Martin Luther King speech – the Martin Luther King, Jr. speech in 9th grade, the “I Have A Dream” speech. I read the whole thing in front of the Black Student Union in 9th grade – coming in as a 9th grader. They selected me outta nowhere, they just came to me one day and said, “BJ, I want you to read a speech in front [of] a bunch of people.” It was NAACP people, City Council people there. I’m talking about, I got up in there, and I just fluently read it one time, one try, in 9th grade. It was so many complicated words up in there, but I just knocked it out. Granny was there. That was what’s great about it, she was there. I know she felt great.

Q: Describe your life in 10 years. A: In 10 years everybody gonna know me. In 10 years it’s – in 10 years I’mma – in 10 years I’mma – you gonna see me in Oakland, in 10 years you gonna see me in some built-by-BJ buildings here. I’m – I’m gonna give back in 10 years, and I – I put that – if I don’t get back in 10 years, I’m not gonna be here in 10 years, basically. I – in 10 years I plan to come here, just to give back to the community. We had a couple nice recreation centers here but, I don’t know what happened. I’m – I’m building all that. We gonna build houses for low, low

income houses that don’t go away if other people become president, that don’t, you know – we gonna, we gonna really get it poppin’ out here if I – I just wanna – I’m just gonna be BJ, everybody gonna wanna be around me, everybody gonna know me, you know. Be one [one] of those, “That’s him!” – one of those people like, if I come around, they gonna be like, “That’s him.”

Q: Alright BJ, one last question. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Just be patient. Like – like, whatever – whatever you go through, just – just know – just to keep your mind clear and that it’s gonna get better, ’cause when you at the lowest of the low, the only thing you do – the only thing you can do is go up. So just keep – it – it’s gonna get better. If you – whatever you got a talent at, if you going through some things, use that talent as a outlet, use that talent as a time to get [your] emotions out, ’cause in the end it’s all gonna pay off. Don’t run with the crowds, just be yourself. That’s what’s gonna get you rich, not what you see on TV, not all that – that’s out, just be yourself, be comfortable, handle your business, stay in school, of course, drink milk and say your prayers. Q: Alright, thank you BJ. A: It’s good.

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: BRYAN “BJ” HALL

Eat my Wheaties. We’re small – we’re both short. And do my pushups.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D O W N T O W N O A K L A N D INTERVIEWEE

GABRIEL MARCEL CHANEY

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DOWNTOWN OAKL AND INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 2 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

N E Q U W A N T AY L O R

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Q: Uh, first question I wanna ask you, what is the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: The first three words that come to mind? I don’t know if you think, like, a general aspect of African American, or you think... people from the outside may think... ignorant, or they think... I don’t know, too fast, like fast living, or not – not focused on what they should be focused on, but I see – I see determination. I see hustle. I see – you know what I mean? I see that integrity but... it’s nothing out here to really even get to, you know? It’s hard.

Q: Okay. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: When I think about myself? Uh, determined, focused, driven.

Q: Why you pick those three words? A: Uh, I picked those three because, like, the stuff I’m doing right now’s what a lot of people should be doing right now, but they [are] not. Like, my age, going to school, working, got my own spot and everything, you know?

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Umm, it just is what it is. It is what it is, you know.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is…?” A: Community is... community is people, community is family, community is groups getting together, but community is really just everyone sticking together and doing something together, you know?

Q: What do you love about Oakland? What would make it even better? A: Umm, what I love about Oakland is, like, just the people, how passionate the people are and how, you know what I mean? People really think different than the other – like, if you go to New York or something, or you go to, like, Alabama or something – people think different, you know? That’s what I like about Oakland.

Q: One last question. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: What advice? Umm, really just to stay focused, stay driven, stay going towards a goal. Forget about the money ’cause money is gonna come whichever way you go. Just do what you really wanna do and just stick to it, you know? Don’t let nobody stop what you really wanna do.

Q: Thank you for your time. A: It’s all good.

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: GABRIEL MARCEL CHANEY

Q: My name Nequwan Taylor. I’m here on 14th and Broadway, umm, I’m here with? A: Marcel.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D O W N T O W N O A K L A N D INTERVIEWEE

MILES JONES

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DOWNTOWN OAKL AND INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 2 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

ERIC NOBLES

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Q: Alright, good to meet you Miles. Let’s get this interview started. What’d you eat for breakfast today? A: Uh, cereal, cereal. Q: What kind? A: Apple Jacks.

Q: Apple Jacks? A: Apple Jacks.

Q: You got two more? A: Huh? Oh yeah, violence, you know, uh, basketball, umm, just sports when it comes to mind, I don’t think too many – too much and Black Panthers, the Black Panthers.

Q: Why you think of all that? Just because? A: I mean it’s [the] history of Oakland. We got a lot of – we got a lot of famous basketball players that come out of Oakland. I mean, it’s a lot of violence happening in Oakland right now, and then, uh, just... man... what else did I say? I’m sorry, my bad, and just the history of our city really, and what – what people done for us African American men here in Oakland.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory has to be, mm, that’s a hard – that’s a hard one, I have so many good ones... playing – my favorite childhood memory, probably playing basketball. Playing basketball at, uh, what is it called? My bad, uh, man, I forget the park, uh, it’s in North Oakland, uh...

Q: If you could change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: Man, staff.

Q: Oh, that’s what’s up. What are the first three words that come to your mind when you think of African American men in Oakland? A: Man, violence.

Q: I feel it, I go to Tech. A: Yeah.

Q: Mosswood Park? A: Yeah, Mosswood. Mosswood. Growing up, playing at Mosswood.

Q: Violence? A: Yeah.

Q: Staff? What school do you go to, by the way? A: McClymonds.

Q: McClymonds? Why would you say staff? A: Well, not at McClymonds necessarily, but I was also – I went to Oakland High, too. So, yeah, overall, just staff out here. People who want to help, not people who go to school, go to work, just to work, you know?

Q: Uh, please share one time you felt proud of your culture. A: One time I felt proud of my culture? That would have to be learning about the Black Panther

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: MILES JONES

Q: Alright, my name is Eric Nobles. I am a part of the African American Oral History Project. It is November 2nd and we’re in Downtown Oakland, and I’ll be interviewing Miles? A: Miles Jones. M-I-L-E-S, J-O-N-E-S.

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movement in Oakland. That’s when I felt proud of my people, when I first heard of it.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is…?” A: Community is great, you know? Community in Oakland is great, it’s just some people in Oakland, you know, who make a bad name for our city, that... I don’t know. Pretty much that.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? A: Yes.

Q: Where and why? A: Uh, I might go to Mississippi State or Iowa State and, uh, just because I wanna get out of Oakland, I wanna get out of the Bay Area, and uh, the people in the Midwest are very nice and the people back in Mississippi, down south are nice too, and, as you know, that’s where a lot of people are from.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: I feel it. Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Huh?

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Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Yes. I feel ashamed all the time when I see black men or black women [being] loud, you know, just for no reason or, you know, what they call “ratchet.” Ratchet, you know, I just feel embarrassed every time I’m around that.

Q: I feel it, it is disappointing. Where we at? What gives you hope? A: What gives us hope? What gives me hope? Uh, man... not too much, I mean...

Q: Man. Why you say that? A: I say that because I don’t see any improvement happening out here, I don’t see anybody trying to be super productive and trying to change Oakland. I see a lotta negative, and hear a lotta negative, you know? Nobody’s doing anything positive, or, nobody pushing the positive move ment out here too much.

Q: Do you have any adults that can open up to, and who? A: Yeah, my dad, you know. I was fortunate to have my father around, and uh, I open up to him and talk to him a lot. He has a lot of knowledge and everything.

Q: What is it like being a black man and having a father around? A: I mean, I’ve always had my father around, I don’t know how it – how it is to not have him around too much, but uh, you know, it’d be hard. I’d be a totally different person if I didn’t have my dad around living in Oakland, California.

Q: What makes a man, a man? A: Sacrifices makes a man, a man. Learning when to sacrifice, learning when to do stuff when you need to do it, uh, just having a lot of discipline, I believe.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: My height. Q: Your height? A: Yeah, I don’t like being tall.


Q: Bro, I’m hating on you right now. I wish I had your height. A: I don’t – I don’t like being tall. I mean, every time you go somewhere, everybody’s looking at you ’cause you’re tall and I don’t like a whole bunch of attention. I don’t like attention.

Q: You play basketball? A: Yeah, I play basketball. Unfortunately, last year I had bad grades, so I couldn’t go to the colleges that were recruiting me. So I have to go – do a one year thing – two year thing or a one year thing.

Q: I feel it. Don’t worry bro, you’ll get there. A: Yes, sir.

Q: Where do you feel safe? A: Huh?

Q: Where do you feel safe and why? A: Say it again?

Q: Uh, where do you feel safe and why? A: Oh, I feel – I feel safe where I’m from and I feel safe at home and – because I love – love the people who – I mean the people where I – the places where I’m from, the people who are there, you know, they got love for me, and they love what I do and... Q: I feel it. Where do you stay at? A: I stay in North Oakland, and, uh, in the West.

Q: Alright, for real, that’s what’s up. What is your greatest strength? A: You said what?

Q: Oh, what is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength is... learning how to – knowing how to talk to people and knowing how to communicate, and not just – and not just on a “brother to brother” basis or on anything and, you know.

Q: Alright, so you really articulate? A: Yes.

Q: Uh, who is the most successful person you know? And what makes them successful? A: I mean, well, I come from a family where, you know, a lotta people are successful, you know? I’m not trying to be a bragger or trying to front or anything but, you know, I would have to say my uncle, he played professional football, his name’s Joe Abdullah.

Q: What team? A: Uh, Broncos, The Broncos, he went to Pacific. University of Pacific in Stockton and then, uh, he went to the pro’s.

Q: That’s what’s up. A: Yeah, you know, he teaches me a lot, and pushes me through a lot, to stay focused, and, you know, stay on the right path out here in Oakland.

Q: Oh, that’s good. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Scariest thing that ever happened to me? I was in a party in the – in the Dubs, that’s what we

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: MILES JONES

Q: What? A: Yeah, I just...

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call it, the – the 20s, and uh, a dude pulled out a gun and tried to kill somebody right in front of me. In the party.

Q: That’s crazy. A: Yeah, and everybody, you know, it was hectic, everybody ran, ran to different rooms and stuff, it was crazy. Q: Man, I’m glad you made it through that. A: What?

Q: Oh, I said I’m glad you made it through that. A: Oh yes, thank you man. I’m happy about that.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My role model? My role model has to be Chris Paul, man. He, he conducts hisself so well, on the court and off the court, you know what I’m saying? And, uh, my dad really, ’cause he’s just a good man and he does, you know, he takes care of his business and me, makes sure I’m right. Q: What do you need to be happy? A: Say it again?

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Uh, what do you need to be happy? A: I don’t need anything to be happy. I’m a happy person. I love doing stuff for people.

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Q: That’s cool. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: My home city?

Q: Naw, just, well, yeah? A: My home city? More stuff for kids to do in Oakland, instead of negative, like, there’s nothing to do. It’s nowhere we can just go and

kick it and everybody can do one thing out here. Everybody’s either in their hood or, you know...

Q: Not much positive. A: Not much. Nothing positive, man.

Q: Uh, what are your dreams for yourself? A: Say again?

Q: Uh, what are your dreams for yourself? A: My dreams? To become a successful man and make over $100,000 a year. Support my brothers and sisters and my family.

Q: That’s what’s up. So what you trying to do? A: I’m trying to become an EMT, a fireman and a paramedic. So I’m trying to become a chief of the fire, you know, why I’m going to school and getting scholarships, and, you know, playing basketball, but that’s what I want to do.

Q: What do you love about Oakland? What would make it a better place? A: I love the culture about Oakland, I love the people in Oakland. I just – I just don’t like what – what some people are about and how they conduct themselves in Oakland. I – I feel like, 20 years ago – I probably wasn’t alive 20 years ago. I wasn’t, but 20 years ago, this, what you [are] seeing behind us right now wouldn’t be happening. People would be conducting themselves as real, productive, you know, uptight, you know what I’m saying, just business, very... how can I say it, uh, very... very... I’m sorry, I’m just thinking of the – you know, it gets caught on my tongue, uh... very, uh... man...


Q: It’s good man, I still understand what you trying to say. A: My bad man.

Q: Oh, it’s all good. What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That they’re smart. All – every black kid in Oakland is smart, young man too. ’Cause, you know, to maneuver out here, you feel me, and not – stay outta trouble, keep your name, depending on what you’re doing, and keep your name off the streets and people, you know, not wanting nothing with you, that’s – you gotta be a smooth guy. Really.

Q: Uh, what have you learned from your father? A: What have I learned from my father? How to conduct myself. How to – how to, you know – everything. I learned everything from my dad. And that’s just like, how I’m talking right now, how I carry myself, and what I do in school. Everything.

Q: That’s very fortunate. What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement? I think my greatest achievement is when I went, uh, I had to show out somewhere for basketball and I did. It was on a big stage – high stage, and I did. I’ll never forget it, it was at the Blue Williams and uh, it’s a EYBO thing, if anybody ends up noticing what I’m talking about, but uh, yeah. And I showed up and showed out, and uh, and that’s when I got all my recruits and everything and I felt good.

Q: How many points did you make? A: I put up like 24, I had five assists, and, you know, I was grabbing some boards, I don’t remember everything, though, yeah. And I had a poster.

Q: You had a poster? A: Yeah, I had a poster.

Q: That’s respect. He had a poster of himself, that’s respect. Uh, describe your life in 10 years? A: Man, I hope that it’s nice, you feel me? I can’t describe it ’cause I don’t know it yet, but I would want it, you know, I would love to live in a condo somewhere in the city, in San Francisco, and I want to be playing overseas, making money and coming back and seeing everybody. That’s my dream. Those are the dreams, but that’s why you have second plans too. Q: Backup plan. A: Yeah, my backup plan, you already heard.

Q: What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Go to school and stay in school, and don’t stop school after high school. Keep going. Q: That’s the end of our interview, man. A: Alright, thank you.

Q: It was good to have you. A: Yes, sir.

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: MILES JONES

Q: You don’t got it man? A: Nah, I don’t got it.

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YOUTH UPRISING


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Y O U T H U P R I S I N G INTERVIEWEE

AKEEM BROWM

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

YOUTH UPRISING INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 3 0 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: AKEEM BROWN

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: My name is Sean Johnson. I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Youth Uprising on November 30th, 2012 and I’m interviewing? A: Akeem Brown.

Q: Please spell that. A: A-K-E-E-M B-R-O-W-N.

Q: Alright Akeem, I’mma ask you a few questions today. First off, what did you eat for breakfast? A: I ate sausage, eggs and pancakes.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Playing football.

Q: What position? A: Cornerback and Receiver.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Peace, love and honor.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What are the first three things that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Three things? I’m talented. I’m smart and creative.

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Q: You said talented. What kind of talents do you have? A: Like, I dance – I turf-dance. I do choreography and I do Bo dancing?

Q: What is that? A: Uh, it’s like – it’s like Salsa.

Q: Nice. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Change the violence.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Well, one time I felt proud of my culture, when it was all coming along, where it was no arguments, it was no fighting, it was always everybody come together, and come to agreement.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is, well, basically, when we talking about community, our community is basically Oakland. It’s a perfect place to live. Where people thinking Oakland is a bad place. Oakland is really not a bad place. It’s the people that’s living in Oakland, I mean people, that’s doing the violence. That’s what’s wrong with Oakland. Other than that, Oakland is a beautiful place where people can come and live their lives.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: What is it like to be a young man in Oakland

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It’s a good thing, being a young man – a black, African man living in Oakland. It’s a good environment. People respect you more. People don’t look at you funny, everybody come together and get along and do things.


Q: That’s what you wanna... A: That’s what I wanna major in, in college.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No, I have not felt ashamed of it.

Q: Never. Nothing at all? A: Nothing at all.

Q: What gives you hope? A: Uh, people around me and my family.

Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? A: My granny and my grandpa. Q: Why? A: Because those are the people that kept me going during my childhood.

Q: What makes a man? A: It’s a man that stands up and takes care of his responsibilities and his actions.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: The violence that I used to do a long time ago. If I can change it, it’ll be the good thing.

Q: And what did you learn from your mistakes? A: I learned that – that doing things that you’re not supposed to do, because of people that are around you, can point the fingers at you and you become a victim.

Q: Where do you feel safe and why? A: Well, I feel safe in Oakland, because this is where I grew up. I was born and raised and that Oakland is all I know. Q: What is your greatest strength? A: What is my greatest strength? Can we talk about what’s the greatest strength?

Q: What are your accomplishments? A: My accomplishments are, like, what do that mean?

Q: Umm, what is your greatest strength, accom plishment and what do you – what is your most proud moment, in your life? A: My son and my daughter.

Q: How old are they? A: Um, three years old.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know and what makes them successful? A: Umm. My baby, moms, and what makes her successful, because she complete everything that I – something I never had.

Q: What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you?

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: AKEEM BROWN

Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: I’m plan on going to college, so I can get a scholarship, so I can get a degree, so I can become – doing medical assistance or doing criminal justice.

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A: I got shot.

Q: If you mind me asking, where? A: I got shot in Acorn and I got shot in Richmond.

Q: At the time of the shooting, how did you feel? A: How I feel? I felt afraid, I felt frightened, and it’s like a shock, something I have to live with the rest of my life. Q: In going forward, after the shooting, the aftermath, how did you feel then? A: Oh, I felt like... I can walk this whole Earth.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My father, because he kept – he keeps me going. He teaches me how to be a man, and the steps that I should take.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: I have learned that he was a greater man and he takes no [in]tolerance from nobody.

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Q: What do you love about Oakland, and what would make it even better? A: What I love about Oakland – because we got, we got events going – we got events going on. We got kids going to the afterschool programs. We got kids picking up where they left off and doing things positive.

Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That they’re not bad people – we are good

people. It’s just how you look at us.

Q: Describe your life in 10 years. A: In 10 years, I’ll be opening my own business, um, I’ll move out of Oakland and have my own place, my own car, my own lifestyle and marriage.

Q: You said, open up your own business, what type of business? A: Like, my dancing business. Bring people if – that’s in the streets, bring ’em to my program where they can learn more, instead of living out in the – living out in the streets doing violence.

Q: Alright, last question, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: That you guys can do better, you can’t blame everybody for your mistakes. It only takes a man and a woman to take control of their own actions.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add? A: Oh, that’s it. Q: Alright, thank you for your time.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Y O U T H U P R I S I N G INTERVIEWEE

AQUAN MARKEE

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

YOUTH UPRISING INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 3 0 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: AQUAN MARKEE

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: Hi, my name is Sean Johnson. I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Youth Uprising on November 30th, 2012 and I’m interviewing? A: Aquan Markee, A-Q-U-A-N M-A-R-K-E-E.

Q: Alright, I’mma ask you a few questions today. First off, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Umm, eggs, bacon and that was it.

Q: Alright, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Umm, my favorite childhood memory, umm, just growing up and living to experience life.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm, honestly, umm, it would be, umm... typical, because we all come from the same place, umm, same background, even if it’s different. You know how we grew up. It’s always the same thing. So I’d say number one would be typical. Umm, my second one would be... probably, motivated, I feel like, we way more motivated, just because of the struggle we – most of us went through, and the third would be umm, ambition. Seeking and understanding and trying to find something. Whether we do anything.

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Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Umm, well, first and foremost... loyalty, you know, my motto is, “If it ain’t loyalty, it ain’t nothing.” Umm, ambition, you know and motivated and determined. Those be mines.

Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Umm, probably the teachers... most likely the teachers, that’s what I’d probably change.

Q: Why would you say the teachers? A: Umm, I feel like some teachers, umm, can be more – can – how can I say it? Umm, more, “at us,” You know, more real, you know what I’m saying? Instead of being, like, you know, “this is what you have to do,” you know what I’m saying? Could be more into us, like you know what I’m saying, push us more, you know, like real life be on us. Not – not parenting but, like a mentor that’s – like a coach, you know what I’m saying, instead of a teacher, you know what I’m saying? Be more of a coach. Get real harsh on us. Q: I like that one – coach. Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture.

A: Umm, everyday. I mean, you know what I’m saying? We have a black president, you know, so nothing makes me more happier than seeing, you know, a black person, or any person, African American, you know, just succeeding in life, you know. Whether it be just paying a debt off, you know, you knocked a burden off, you know. Anything, successful and positive.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is…” A: Community is, I would say, umm... community is a family, you know, everybody that’s from the same neighborhood, or different neighborhoods, but it’s still a family.


Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Yes, um. Why? Because, um, I’d like to further my education, and um, you really can’t be successful without a education.

Q: What college are you planning on attending? A: Chabot College.

Q: Any interest? A: Uh, music and marketing.

Q: You wanna make music? A: Ah, yeah, I wanna make music.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Umm, not really. I mean, the majority of everything that we went through – wasn’t even us, you know? So there’s nothing for me to be shameful, or shocked, or... anything. Surprised? Naw.

Q: What gives you hope? A: Umm, Me. You know, self-motivation is better than anything, so, that’s my hope.

Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? A: Umm, yeah. I would say my mentor, Roy, Miles, Nate, umm, and I would say my brother – my oldest brother, Malcolm.

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man is to – is to know a man, you know? I learned that from my mentor too, you know, you can’t be a man without knowing one.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Umm, probably to, uh, be on myself more, you know what I’m saying? You know, to stay more focused, you know, to not drift off, honestly.

Q: Where do you feel safe at, and why? A: Anywhere. Why? Because um, I don’t go where – go anywhere looking for trouble and trouble don’t come around here looking for me, so I can walk around anywhere.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: Umm. The – the mentality – my mindset would be my greatest strength.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know and what makes them successful? A: Umm, that I know – literally know, or do I know of…?

Q: It could be both ways. A: Umm, I would probably say my favorite artist, who would be Wiz Khalifa. And why? Because, uh, the way he grow – grew into his music until now. I mean he accomplished a lot. So, I would say Wiz Khalifa.

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Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Umm, not easy, but, it depends on you, you know and how far you wanna go, you know, and how far – or how fast you wanna take it.

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Q: And do you have any – do you know anybody that’s most successful, that you know personally? A: Personally, it would be… successful, umm… my cousin, Kareem, he’s coming outta San Francisco. He’s a Boxer, umm, professional, so, know him, yeah.

Q: And going back to umm, Wiz Khalifa, would you call him your role model? A: Umm... yes, I would call him as a role model to me.

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Q: Why? A: Why? Because, it’s not always about what he talks about, you know he likes – like he said – he was, like, he might do a lot of weed but, you know, weed is not his first priority. You know what I’m saying? It’s music, you know what I’m saying? So, that tells me right there his – even though he raps about it a lot, that’s not his number one priority, you know, his family, you know, he’s about to become a dad so, you know, a true man to his – to his words, you know what I’m saying? His loyalty is to everything he do. Yeah.

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Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Uh, going to jail, for the first time would probably be the – or just knowing I was in jail and not realizing what I was doing. So yeah.

Q: And from that experience have you learned anything?

A: Uh, yeah, umm, it’s not too many people I would – I wouldn’t say – be careful of just who you be with, you know what I’m saying? Not everybody is loyal.

Q: What do you love about Oakland and what would make it even better? A: What I love about Oakland is, umm, the community, the people, you know what I’m saying? This is where I grew up and, you know, Oakland will always be Oakland, you know, you won’t change it, you know, it will just continue to grow and umm, that’s it.

Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That, majority of us is not always, you know, stereotypes, you know what I’m saying? There’s – uh, quite a few people in Oakland that I know, personally, that are um, having a good head on [their] shoulders, going to work every day, don’t even do drugs, don’t even like the smell of cigarettes, you know what I’m saying? So that’s what I look at as my African men, you know.

Q: Uh, last two questions. What have you learned from your father? A: Um, nothing. I mean he was – he’s deceased now, so, I taught myself how to be a man.

Q: What advice would you give other African American youth? A: To stay determined, stay loyal, and, you know, just do you, don’t – you don’t even have to –


just doing you, you don’t have to fake it to make it at the same time – but, just be who you are, and just be proud of who you is.

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Q: Is there anything you would like to add? A: Uh, stay loyal.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Y O U T H U P R I S I N G INTERVIEWEE

DE A N D R E J O H N S O N

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

YOUTH UPRISING INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 3 0 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: Thank you, DeAndre. I’mma ask you a few questions today. First off, what did you eat for breakfast? A: Eggs.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Going to Disneyland. Q: How was that? A: I would say it was extravagant.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Hyphy, outta control.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Humble... self-opinionated... independent.

Q: If you could change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: Well, right now I’m not in school, but when I was in school – I went to school in Vallejo, California, it was a lotta discrimination between races. The Asians would be on this side, the whites be on this side, the majority of the blacks be on the top of the stairs so… it was separate, no unity.

Q: How did you feel at the time? A: At the time I wasn’t really worried about it, but I knew it was an issue. But I never really addressed the issue at hand.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Watching the Civil Rights Movement.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Important. Q: Why? A: Without a community... no team.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It was rough growing up... being... stereotyped, just by the way you dress or your hairstyle.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Yeah, I plan on going to college, I plan on better ing myself, you know what I’m saying? I got to get out, not stay in.

Q: You know what – you have a college in mind? A: Morehouse. Q: What would be your intended major? A: Theology.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Not ashamed, but disappointed.

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Q: Alright, my name is Sean Johnson. I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Youth Uprising on November 30th, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: DeAndre Johnson.

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Q: Why? Or please describe a situation. A: See as I grew up in the – in Oakland, California, at first I didn’t see, like, the grass being greener on the other side, like, per say, but people usually say – like, as I got older, I seen, like, how much potential blacks – African Americans, such as myself… have, like how much potential we actually have, like, you feel me? Like how much muscle power – how much – how much just ability, just, just being, you feel me, the skin color we are. It’s a lot – it’s a lot that can come with it.

Q: What gives you hope? A: Support.

Q: From who? A: Family. Family, meaning those who are loyal to you.

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Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? A: No.

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Q: Why? A: Most of – most of the ones that I – that involved [their] self in my life, as well as being involved myself in [their] life, are around my age. There are a few, as a matter of fact, maybe about in [their] thirties, mid-thirties, early-thirties, but not too many.

Q: What makes a man? A: Maturity. Making sure that he know what his priorities is and he takes care of his priorities.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: I be more supportive to myself. So that I can be more supportive to others. Q: Where do you feel safe and why? A: I feel safe at the church.

Q: Who is your most successful person you know? And what makes them successful? A: Bishop Anthony Willis. And what makes him successful? That he came from a lifestyle just like mine, using [coke], pimpin’, doing a whole bunch a stuff, you feel me? And then now, he just a man of God. You know what I’m saying? He do the work of the Lord, which is honorable to me.

Q: What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: This one dude, he hopped out shooting. I used to go to school with him, you feel me, walking down the street, hit the corner, he hit the corner, I guess he had fonk with one a my partners that was standing with me. He hopped out shooting at him, so he was shooting at me too. It was point-blank range, but I didn’t get hit.

Q: How’d you feel at the time? A: I was shocked... shocked.

Q: What do you love about Oakland and what would make it even better? A: Opportunity is what I love about Oakland. What would make it better? If [there] was


Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That there is hope. There are strong-minded individuals, they’re our families, they’re all our people. That do have potential to be very great men and women, and to – have the potential to... help you.

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: Take care of his kids.

Q: That’s it? Last couple questions, what is your greatest achievement? A: MVPs, trophies, championships, baseball, football, Defensive Player of the Year.

Q: My last question is, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: Hop up out the streets, ’cause the hood don’t love you. They’ll shoot you in the back of the head, all because they jealous of you. They want to be the top dog, but then, they can’t wait they turn, which is silly ’cause good comes to those who wait. Just be patient, you’ll get you time to shine, but… growing up in the hood, and living that gangster lifestyle, or thug lifestyle, it ain’t no – it ain’t nothing

good gonna come out of it, at all. I’ve lived it. I’ve done it. I started thuggin’ at 12-years-old, like, started young, I’ll be 19 in a week. I been to jail three times. It took about, the third time for me to have a real experience, like, I need to grow up man, need to mature, it just – it just clicked.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add? A: It’s very important to believe in yourself, because I’m pretty sure, growing up in the hood – if you watching this documentary... it’s like, you know that it’s not a lot of people that support you, you feel me? You may not have a lotta people that support you, or since they don’t support you, you don’t even support yourself, like, I’m telling you, you got to just be independent. Have a plan, set goals and strive to succeed. Achieve those goals.

Q: Thank you for your time.

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: DE ANDRE JOHNSON

more support to the younger generation from the older generations. More so – as saying – like, not teaching ’em how to sell dope, but teaching ’em how to do something else, besides sell dope, and shoot dice, whatever comes along with the hood life.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Y O U T H U P R I S I N G INTERVIEWEE

KEVIN MUNSON

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

YOUTH UPRISING INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 3 0 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: Alright Kevin, I’mma ask you a few questions today. First off, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Uh, this morning I had a breakfast sandwich; sausage, egg, cheese and croissant.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Umm, probably being in my backyard playing basketball, shooting free throws.

Q: Oh, you a basketball player? A: I was. I was in high school.

Q: What position? A: Point Guard.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Black, struggle... power.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Gifted, uh, smart and umm, hard-worker.

Q: If you could change one thing about your school what would it be? A: Umm, probably outreach, outreach. Meaning

uh, how many students actually participate that are black, you know, it’s – it’s – it’s pretty diverse, just not many black people. Probably say, right now I take a communications class, um, and I think it’s about five black students in there.

Q: Out of how many students? A: Out of like 35, 30.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Umm, almost every day, almost every day. Just being out and seeing that… things that we’ve done have set trends. I was just in the mall the other day and – it was crazy – and – and I’m [in the] mall and I’m purchasing a pair of jeans and a Mexican came through, and he got the music loud, like he walking through the mall – he got – he has his stereo in his hand, and he’s slappin’ Lil Boosie, like, loud while he’s shopping, and I just – I thought like, okay we influencing people. You know I didn’t – I saw what he was doing, it was kind of negative, and maybe a little ignorant, but I figured if he was slappin’ Lil Boosie, and Boosie is – Boosie is African American so... it amazed me.

Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Life.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Umm, it has it’s up and downs, you know? It’s ups, um, being seen as a role model, you know,

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: KEVIN MUNSON

Q: My name is Sean Johnson and I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Youth Uprising on November 30th, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: Kevin Munson, K-E-V-I-N M-U-N-S-O-N.

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somebody that’s a leader. Umm, it’s downs, the cops getting behind you just because it’s four black men riding in a car, you know, and they automatically think you might have a weapon on you, or you got some drugs on you, and that’s not the case every time so...

Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: I do and I’m in college right now. I attend Merritt College and, umm, I’ve been there since ’08. I’m not the best student but I under stand that having a degree will get me some where and I’m – I’m about six classes away from graduating and I’m still pushing.

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Q: Congratulations. Do you plan on going to a four year? A: I do plan on going to a four year. I’m not certain on how it’s going to work, or what GPA I’ll end up getting when I’m headed there, or – umm, or which one I’m going to, but I do plan on going, no matter what it takes – or no matter where I’m at.

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Q: Do you have a college in mind? A: I don’t have a college in mind, not specifically I don’t. It doesn’t – I don’t know it – right now it doesn’t really matter to me, it just matters if I go.

Q: What do you wanna study – or your intended major? A: Uh, right now I’m a Social and Behavioral

Science Major and um, I’m interested in Psychology – I’m very interested in the way people think, the way people do things they do and the reason people react to certain things the way they do.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No… no, except for – I mean the only thing I might be ashamed of is us not knowing what we’re capable of, you know, and us not – not knowing where we came from. A lot of us not knowing our culture and not even knowing that we have one. I mean it’s been a lotta people that I asked like, you know, “What is your culture?” Of my same race and they won’t know, won’t have an answer... not even something simple like saying, you know, Hip Hop is part of our culture, you know, but… Q: What gives you hope? A: I’d say, being able to wake up every morning, living, being able to know that I do have family. I don’t have much, but if I ever need anything, my mom and my brother is what I have, and that’s enough for me, you know. I got a, uh, father figure. I don’t know my biological father, but I had somebody there that I was able to call dad and I think my family is what pushes me, and gives me hope.

Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? If any, who? A: I do. I feel like it’s a couple people I can open up to, umm, being the way that I am and being the


Q: What makes a man? A: Providing. That’s what I see it – that’s what I see it as. Being able to be a leader, someone who can make something out of nothing at all, that’s what I work towards every day, and some one who is a role model, you know? A lotta people sag. I sag from time to time, through my process of becoming a man I have my days where I wear my pants on my behind, you know, and I’m getting to the point where it’s, like, okay, well, every day I need to wear my pants on my behind but I’mma take the time that I feel that I need to take, I don’t – I don’t really like when older people say, “Pull your pants up,” you know? I’mma pull ’em up. Let me take my time, let me take my time, let me grow into it, umm… yeah. That’s being a man to me.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: I think it’d be how negative I can be towards myself sometimes. I’m – I’m – I’m the reason… that… I don’t finish, or don’t do, some of the things that I can do. I put myself down. I’m my biggest – biggest, uh, uh, what would you call it, I’m my biggest umm, I can’t – I can’t think

of the word right now. I – I’m – it’s nobody more tough on myself than me, you know? I’m the one doing – bringing myself down, whenever that happens so... yeah.

Q: Where do you feel safe, and why? A: I feel safe all throughout Oakland and I just think it’s because I grew up here, umm, not saying that I’m not aware of where I’m at, when I’m there, but I – I haven’t been through, you know, too much, you know? Couple of my friends got shot and couple of fights have broke out, but I’ve never been one to, you know, fear anywhere that I went. It was kinda like, if it happened, it happened. If I’m there and it’s the wrong time, it’s the wrong time, but I feel like God got me anywhere I go so I don’t really worry too much about that.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength is I won’t let nobody tell me what I can’t do. I still – I kinda go against the grain, you tell me I can’t do it and it makes me feel like, oh well, since you can’t – you said I can’t do it, I’mma do it, and even if I’m wrong – a lotta the time I’ll still try to do it. So, that’s my greatest strength. Q: Who is the most successful person you know and what makes them successful? A: I’d say my mom. My mom, she’s a substitute teacher, she’s got her BA, she’s still working towards being a permanent teacher, umm, but she raised two kids, she raised two sons

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: KEVIN MUNSON

person that I am, so far it’s got me – it’s got me a ways, you know, just being cool, calm, and cordial. Umm, I say somebody I can open up to, just off the top of my head, is Genesis Ruben, she’s a, uh, music producer and she’s become very close to me and umm, I feel like that’s – that’s who I can open up to.

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on her own. And I see young women out here with one kid and I hear about the struggle, and I feel like she’s the most successful person that I can say right now, you know, in my life – like the person I can reach out to.

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Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Umm… the scariest thing that ever happened to me, I was – I was going up 64 and MacArthur, and I was going to see a female and, on my way to see her, I got to 64 and Mac’ and I crossed the street. I put my foot on that sidewalk, and one of the guys that I used to go to school with, I had seen around, seemed as if he didn’t know me, and he was like, “What you doing around here?” He was like, “It ain’t good like that.” And I was like, what? Like, I was – it stopped me – shook me up like – like, who you talking to? Feel me, you know? I haven’t really been into too much, so I’m thinking he want to fight me. I’m ready to fight. I noticed that he had friends around him, umm, after he told me it wasn’t cool like that, being around here. I got ready to fight, and… that’s not what he was ready to do. He told one of his friends that was close to him, “Let me see the clip.” He had the gun on him already and with him asking for that clip, I instantly thought, oh it’s time to get up outta here and I ran. I care – I don’t care what anybody say, umm, “he ran, he a sucka’.” I don’t care. It was my life on the line and I ran. I got up outta there. They didn’t catch me. Umm, this lady

ended up picking me up. And she told me hop in. I didn’t know her, but my life was on the line. I didn’t care. She was getting me out the situa tion I was in. Um, so I hopped in and she was telling me to be careful. She was like, yeah, you gotta be careful around here, my nephew just got jumped a few weeks back by the same guys that – that attempted to shoot me, or so – that’s what I thought was gonna happen and she dropped me off at home and that was the scariest thing I ever been through.

Q: After dealing with all of that, how did you feel? A: I felt like, umm, I felt like what my mom had been telling me, I should’ve paid attention to. Girls ain’t everything, and you’ll come – it’ll come a time when you meet the right one, but I was kinda like, you know, well, I ain’t been through what she telling me about so, let me do what I wanna do. I was rebellious, you know, I went against the grain.

Q: Who’s your role model, and why? A: My role model? I think – I think I have multiple role models. Umm, everyone who’s in my life and – and brings positivity into my life, is a role model. I – I’ve grown and become the man that I am because of the people that surround me, my friends, even people of the same age, I – I feel like I got a gift, or I – I see what I should take from the individuals that are around. If it’s something that I see, like, okay, I need to be that. I mimic it and I’ll copy it and I’ve took a little bit


Q: Just a few more questions. What do you love about Oakland and what would make it even better? A: What I love about Oakland is its individuality. But, it seems like it’s definitely changing, people are starting to see what’s going on, on the East coast or what’s going on in other cities and, I don’t wanna say bite, but they – they’re not – they’re not turning it into their own style, like they used to. Like, ’08, ’07, it was way different. People would take something and make it they own, and times is changing… so, yeah.

Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That we all aren’t the same. We definitely all aren’t the same and, we need a little guidance, you know? People – people just leave it like, you know, that’s them, that’s what they have to deal with, let’s leave ’em where they at and we need help too, just like anybody else.

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: I’ve learned from my dad, umm… what could I say I learned from my dad? Be me. Be me, not worry about what everybody else got going on, mind my business. Umm, and I think I put that into context with a lot of things. Like I think I put that really into me making music, the

music that I make, I feel like that’s me 100%. Um, even with me listening to somebody and taking something from it, I’ve made it my own, and I don’t listen to – I try not to listen to, uh, anybody else. That way I stay creative in my own craft, so, yeah.

Q: Describe your life in 10 years. A: In 10 years… I think I’ll be one of the – one of the biggest artists to ever come out of Oakland, in 10 years.

Q: Last question, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: Be yourself and don’t be a follower. Do what You gotta do, follow what’s right, make the right decisions, think about it, that’s all they gotta do. A lot of ’em don’t think for they self. They’ll see the next person and be like, “ooh, he saucy” or “he clean.” Why don’t you be the one that they talking about, being clean and being saucy? And umm, I think they’ll be alright.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add? A: Umm… I love Oakland. Q: Alright, thank you for your time

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: KEVIN MUNSON

from everybody that’s – that I’ve been around and that’s how I grew up to be how I am. So I’d say everybody who’s around me and that’s positive is a role model.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Y O U T H U P R I S I N G INTERVIEWEE

LEONARD MOORE

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

YOUTH UPRISING INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 3 0 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: Alright Leonard, I’mma ask you a few questions today. First off, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Well, I didn’t even eat breakfast today. I had lunch.

Q: Okay, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Uh, my favorite childhood memory is, uh – oh, my brother birthday, my brother uh, birthday party and I tried to go with them to the mall but I was too young.

Q: How old was you? A: I had to be like six… five.

Q: What are the first three things that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm, uh, struggle, uh, school and killing… fast life.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: To myself? Person, uh, work hard and... Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?

A: Uh, I’d change the lunch, I’d change uh, tardy sweeps. Tardy sweeps are wrong.

Q: Could you expand more? A: Tardy sweeps. Uh, like, when you come late, they – they, no questions asked, no reason, but we’ll have to go in the room – we’ll stay there like the whole day and that’s not good for, like, students when it comes to – about their education. Might – could be a serious emergency but…

Q: So not if you have a doctor’s note, or such things as that? A: Uh. No, it’s not going down. I have a really strict school, Castlemont High.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Ooh, when I found out that my uncle was Huey Newton, in the Black Panthers and to just find out that my family went through something like that, like, in the struggle back in the 70s and 80s. To find out that my family got history, that made me proud to be black. Q: Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is… hmm, community is neighborhood, um, family, in a way, everyone know each other.

Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Uh… hmmm. Uh, pretty, uh, exciting, just – just like a fast life living.

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: LEONARD MOORE

Q: Alright, my name is Sean Johnson. I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Youth Uprising on November 3oth, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: Uh, hi, my name is Leonard, L-E-O-N-A-R-D, Moore, Leonard Moore, M-O-O-R-E.

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Q: And what makes it exciting? A: Uh… I don’t know. Hmm – in – to – what – wait can you repeat that question?

Q: You said that being an African American man in Oakland is exciting, what makes it exciting for you? A: Umm… just the life people live in Oakland, just… everybody know everybody, just… party every day.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Yes because… I want to better my life when I get older. Uh, do big things.

Q: What college do you plan to attend? A: Uh, probably Alameda or Chabot College, do a two year and then transfer to, uh, Fresno, that’s CSU.

Q: What would be your intended major? A: Um, probably, uh, business… and – probably business.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: So you wanna create your own business? A: Yes. Probably go into the stock market or, get my wholesale license.

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Q: That’s good. Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No, never. Q: Never? A: Never.

Q: What gives you hope? A: Waking up every day… that’s what gives me hope, waking up every day, and going home at the end of the day. Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? If any, who? A: Uh, my father. Yeah, my father and me. My father’s just like – oh, I can tell him about anything.

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: Hmm. Uh, I learned to – uh, build cars. I learned how to – doing hands on, like, things, like construction, or anything – anything to do with auto – auto mechanic. I know how to do it.

Q: What makes a man? A: You said, what makes a man? Uh, hmm... uh, I would say, umm, handling his business, umm, owning up to his wrongdoing and... wrong.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Umm... stop being late to school.

Q: Why are you late? A: I do not go to sleep at night – can’t go to sleep at night. It’s like the TV possess me or something, I don’t know, just can’t go to sleep. Q: Where do you feel safe, and why? A: Home. Because I can lock my door… and I got my pit-bull to protect me. Mm-hmm.


Q: And how is that a strength? A: How is that a strength?

Q: For you? A: ’Cause… I know – I know for a fact if I graduate high school, um, blacks are most likely to be accepted at any Black University.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know, and what makes them successful? A: Umm, hmm… I’d say my uncle, I would have to say my uncle. Uh, he owns his own club, and owns his own security.

Q: What – what’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Uh, uh, I watched my friend die, in front of me.

Q: How you feel at the time? A: Uh, like, lost, like – confused, real confused like, uh… confused.

Q: After the aftermath, after the shooting had been done, police came, how did you feel then? A: Uh, I felt like – I felt like uh, Oakland wouldn’t just like – it’s not… safe anymore, it’s just, you gotta be careful at all times ’cause you never know what could happen. Just… always try to be careful.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: I would have to say… Obama ’cause he’s the president. First black president.

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: Uh, to make music, good music, good energy. Um, just to make it in life.

Q: What do you love about Oakland and what would make it even better? A: Mmm… what do I love about Oakland? I would have to say I love the cars of Oakland and I just love the energy of Oakland.

Q: What is your favorite cars? A: My favorite cars is Chevys. Chevys or Mustangs.

Q: What do people need to know about African American in Oakland? A: Uh… we’re excited, with a lot of energy.

Q: What have you learned from your father? A: Hmm, a lotta – uh, shoot, how to be a man, and handle my business when it’s time needed.

Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: Uh… making it through high school. Making it though high school… ’cause a lotta my friends didn’t graduate high school, so, that’s what mine is.

Q: Was there any challenges, obstacles, you faced throughout high school? A: Uh, not really. No.

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: LEONARD MOORE

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: Uh, my greatest strength is knowing that I’m black.

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Q: So it was a smooth... A: It wasn’t smooth, like, uh, school was okay, had my – had my little troubles inside the school and outside the school, but I just managed to keep on working and just keep on pushing and trying.

Q: And how did you manage that? A: Just – just stay in – just stay in the teacher classroom, just every day, just be there on time every day, hand ’em every paper back that they hand to you.

Q: Last two questions. Please describe your life in 10 years. A: Hmm, after?

Q: Your life in 10 years. A: Um, I would have to say I’m gonna be rich. Um, 10 years? Uh, I would say, I be rich, just at home with my family, in a mansion.

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Q: What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Go to school! Just, keep going to school, ’cause the streets ain’t worth it.

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Q: Is there anything else you would like to add? A: Mm, no. Q: Alright, thank you Leonard for your time.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Y O U T H U P R I S I N G INTERVIEWEE

KAUL ANA CALDWELL

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

YOUTH UPRISING INTERVIEW DATE

N O V E M B E R 3 0 , 2 012

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: KAUL ANA C ALDWELL

INTERVIEWER

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: I’m gonna’ ask you a few questions, I’m gonna’ start off. What did you eat for breakfast today? A: Uh, cereal. Q: What kind? A: Uh, Fruity Pebbles. (laughs)

Q: Alright, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: UM (pauses to think) I would say, coming from Markham Elementary, right there on 73rd and Crouse. With like two, three of my cousins, from the hood, where we from, 73rd probably. You know, coming home, just walking home, just having that feeling, you know, were youngsters, that’s where we from. You know, natural habitat having fun coming home from school, laughing. That’s, that’s one of my young…

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Q: Did you go to Markham? A: Yeah.

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KC: Myself? Well, you know, I take a lotta time to sit down and just vent. You know, self reflection is the main thing that we need to do right now, so, I mean, I, I figure myself as like a humble inner city, Oakland inner city kid that you know, use his talents to better people around him. You know, the people around me I try to be uplifting spirits, those people around me that you know walk around all drowsy head down. When they walk past me I like to, you know, brush ‘em off, you know, have ‘em looking head up to the sky shine, you know, brush the boots off and re-lace ‘em. But you know, I’m more, I’m

a talented kind’ young fella’ out here trying to, you know, help others learn economics. Create my own business, sooner or later.

Q: What talents do you have? A: Well, it started off from like sixth grade, drawing. Being in class being, getting my work done, you know, before people that, the other classmates, and I would have to do something to, you know, keep me, you know, yeah in the class, but not class clown cause you know I had energy so it was like I was bouncing around so to do that I drew a lotta’ pictures, uh, graffiti. It, It probably escalated by like seventh grade to a bad thing, but it was a good thing to me, you know, to, to express myself through art. That’s what it was, then it went to dancing. You know, I used to dance with Super Sick With It, yeah, old school Super Sick With It, yeah, you know what I’m saying, we need to reunite but yeah, Super Sick With It was…

Q: Can you say something about creating your own business? A: Yeah

Q: What, expand on that? A: Well, I’m, again I would say it started in like sixth grade, you know its like, that’s when life hit me. Reality slapped me right there, like get it, get real. So I mean, yeah, I wanted to do something that was like in my hood, what I would say, back when I thought of it was like do something in your hood that can help every


Q: That’s good. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Ooohh, and, as in school like…

Q: Yeah school in general, or your high school that you recently went to. A: Recently went? Uh, it would of been more like the kids mouthing off to the, to the, to the teachers. The lack of respect we had for, you know, the teachers. I would say that we, we would have to better ourselves on that. Because that was keeping a lotta people out of the situations of, you know, achieving things because of certain things that other class members may have been doing at a certain time, you know, class clowns most of the time were popular, so that’s what it was. If it was gonna be anything at my school I would say change the class clown, pay more attention to them, and keep the people that’s like into the subject, like put them in the back. Their more, you know, proficient with the subject so use the people that lack, you know, our weakest, um, link is our only, you know, you know that quote, I cant really get it out right now, but yeah, you know, work with your weakest link so that you could have a lotta strengths. And they like, pushed us to the side, just let us skip class and stuff so; I can’t really speak on that, but, yeah.

Q: Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Oh man, when they elected Obama. I mean before hand it was more like, when people walk up, like not (stutters) people, the people will, family I would say, older people that, you know, lived already would say our history has been such and such for us, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X have done this way, paved this way. I would always say, you know, I appreciate that, you know, acknowledging that but when Obama was elected it was more like a sense of me being part of the history instead of me hearing bout it so, that would be like, the one right there.

Q: Please complete this sentence. “Community is..?” A: Community is (pauses to think) the only way we would be able to…work together, and create a unit, a unity I should say. It’s the only place we can get together and huddle up about our own problems and solve ‘em. Q: What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Phew…I think I speak for a, a bunch of us when I say its more like a struggle, you know, uh, a never ending dream. Some people think they, you know, living out their dreams. Some people say it’s a nightmare. I mean, oh man, it’s, it’s a whole lot, you know what I’m saying, from being good guy, to being bad guy, to being, clocking out of the bad guy but cant because of the, you know, that’s being your community (laughs)

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: KAUL ANA C ALDWELL

body that will live in the hood win. And what it was, it was to create, you know, a urban built business, you know, and try to help others learn like economics, the way to build things. So yeah.

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Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Yes I do, actually, plan on going to college because I wanna better myself as a person, and knowledge is power so, to be, to be the person that I wanna be I would have to gain the knowledge to uphold my own business which I was saying earlier. To create my own urban built business I would have to have the knowledge and, to, to be a boss you would have to be an employee to understand the inner work, you know, the work field so uh, its more like school is for everybody and to say you don’t need it is to say you, you don’t wanna be any thing, you don’t wanna see yourself achieve or be a better you.

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Q: What college are you looking at or intending to? A: Right now I would say more the community college, Laney, I’ll say Heald. No, not Heald, scratch that, my, uh, girl got that in my head from last night. I would say Chabot, (laughs) Chabot, you know, that’s in Hayward, the one out, yeah, I would attend, I would go to Chabot.

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Q: Are you looking at transferring after the two years? A: Yeah, to a university?

Q: Mm hmm A: If I can get that, and I believe I can achieve, I will achieve, yes I do. Q: What, what, uh, university?

A: Right now anything that pops up. I would say… I couldn’t really name it. I mean, you know, I’m not a picky guy its just the education that I want. I mean if I can get it I want it, and that’s what I’m gonna fight for.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Ha nah, never. Well, there was I time where I felt like, embarrassed to be because of, you know, the ignorance, you know, ignorance is bliss so, you know, to see a group of us acting just, pshh, out, you know, out or – in front of, you know, a different race or kind, I mean, whichever y’all wanna call it, but, hmmm, I wouldn’t say, nah I wouldn’t say, nah, that wouldn’t be it.

Q: What gives you hope? A: (sigh) I would say my mom, my great, you know my mom, my older, my grandmother, you know, so…

Q: That family bond? A: That bond, that, you know, that we can strive. That we can, that’s what gives me hope. And to see the young kids smile.

Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? If who? A: (laughs) Moms (laughs) Moms listen, you know, I talk to her about anything. My brother (laughs). Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man? I would say the journey the man, the boy took. The journey the boy


Q: True. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: I would say… the way I think, because, you know, with us being from Oakland California there’s more of a, we don’t have really ethnical issues or racism issues, its like we practice our own race, so its like we are all racist because if you practice your own race you are basically studying race. A person that studies science is a scientist, a person that studies, you know, anything is a, they got the I S T, so if I’m studying race, my own race, it would be I am racist. So, that’s what that is.

Q: Where do you feel safe and why? A: (sucks teeth) There’s not really a word to feel safe because, its a quote that we use out here in our urban hood area, which wherever you may call it, its called your “out the way”. You know, like “oh I’m out the way”. “Where are you,

where hey, how you doing, what you doing’?” “Oh I’m out the way.” Like oh “you coming outside today?” “No, I’m be out the way.” Its more like, you cant be out the way, you know, you out the way you still in the way because problems travel like air. Struggle is everywhere, poverty is everywhere, so you can’t really escape it.

Q: What is your greatest strengths? A: My greatest strengths? It’s my family encourage ment, you know, to, it’s the love they give me. That’s my greatest strength. Too wake up in the morning and see them, and they believe. That’s what I say.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know, and what makes them successful? A: The most successful person I know? (Pauses) I would say, yeah, I would have to say my, um, my Pops. Simple fact cause, you know, the situation he was in, which I cant really reflect on cause I wasn’t really there but, the success I see is him bringing his strength to the family and making sure that he has everything going for himself that he has the tools to use for when people do have a, you know, the hand out for something that he can, he can hand it out. Without, maybe nag about it but then he still, like, I got it, you know he has it, its like, the worries are gone. And, I guess he, he puts, he shows me how he strives for things and in a way it’s more like for the family. So, his success is

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: KAUL ANA C ALDWELL

took and what he overcame, and what was the experience, and if he could explain the experi ence, in minor details, without hurting, you know, feelings of others and make other people feel belittled, that’s, you know, I would say that’s a man, that, that handled his responsibilities and able to bring it to the table with action and proof (laughs). You know, a lotta people say I’m a man because I got money, I’m a man because I – I beat on my girl, I’m a man because I got my own house, and, and uh, I, I, you know, come on, a real man wouldn’t even have to toot his own horn.

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more highlighted because of like, he’s not doing it just for himself, he’s doing it for everybody else.

Q: That was my next question, what did you, did you learn anything else from your father? A: Well, to be a better me at all times and anything that I wanna do to be a hundred percent at it. Never just fifty-fifty it, never halfway it. Always put your whole in it, never slouch at anything. Be your best you can be at whatever it is.

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Q: What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: I would say, to be held up at gunpoint. To be held up at gunpoint. Everything… the scariest thing I have ever, excuse me, ever encountered, someone, you know, just, uhh, out the fear in their heart (laughs), felt that they had to, you know, force fear on me, but the fear was not forced hard enough so I guess that’s when they felt it was time, you know, to put some more, you know, strength into, demand it, so that’s when they pulled out, you know. I remember it was a, it was a blue steel .45, you know, right in my face.

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Q: Man. A: All I can say is don’t do it, you know, it ain’t worth it.

Q: What do you love about Oakland? A: What I love about it is, its high raisin, you know, like, the thing that I could put my mind

to when it is time to think, because of the city I’m from.

Q: What would make it even better? A: If they would be able to re… reverse the hypnosis they have us under. To where we all can be better us. And stop the killing. That’s what I’m trying to hit, just stop the killing. Q: Last two questions. What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Ahh, (pauses) our growth and development is, is at a, is like at a high power. Like whatever we believe in we can achieve but at this time we are under the hypnosis of kill, kill death kill. As you can see we achieve a lot, and, if, if we was to reverse that and, you know, mirror back onto the real self reflection, positive note we would get a lot of, (sigh), oh man, could you say the question one more time?

Q: Sure. What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: In Oakland, let me sum this up. We are not young, dumb, hyphy, retarded, stupid, ignorant, ride the yellow bus. I mean, its funny to say because, hey, words are cool (laughs), and when you put words together a lotta people are, you know, open eared (laughs). So that’s what we do, we actually fashionable with words, you know, and that’s what that created but, what y’all need to know is we are all actually (sucks teeth) simple. We just like you. We put our pants on one leg at a time, you know, milk and cereal (laughs), you


Q: Last question, what advice would you give other African American youth? A: You do have a chance, you can do it. You can. It ain’t, I ain’t and I can’t. Remember that. Its always you can. It might be hard because every thing in life is not easy, especially if you really want it and it’s really worth it and you really deserve it. Its like you gotta put in strength, you gotta have the ability to, to show your powers, you know, you cant just be walking

round here and thinking you gonna earn respect and have money. You have to show your strength, you have to, you know, just be like, just think like from another person’s perspective. Meaning think what another person would think about you, or think what another person would feel, and then you will be able to see how it is.

Q: Alright, thank you for your time.

TRANSCRIPTS: YOUTH UPRISING: KAUL ANA C ALDWELL

know, sometimes ice (laughs). But, it’s more of just, we just want out. It’s like what they put us in when we want out we want out and for us to be in the position we in the way we gotta survive is how we gotta survive. It either me or you, and I hate to say it, it uh, it have to be you. And that’s how we live and this is a kill, kill situation. Live, live or die, you know, and right now it’s a die hard, everybody wants to be brave hearts, every body want to be the guy, everybody wants to be the woman, everybody wants to be seen, you know, the top guy, the, the, the word of the town, the talk of the town, huh, that sound better. But yeah, that’s what it is. If you wanted to know anything its more like, we do have a chance we just, we cant really see it because of the, the smoke, you know, the gun smoke and all the other things that’s covering us, you know, and the obstacles that’s front of us that’s hard to overcome because of situations were going’ through, but, I mean, the fake perish and the meek inherit the earth.

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DEWEY ACADEMY


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D E W E Y A C A D E M Y INTERVIEWEE

KENDEL EDWARDS

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DEWEY ACADEMY INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 3 , 2 012

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: KENDEL EDWARDS

INTERVIEWER

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: My name is Sean Johnson and I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Dewey Academy [on] December 3rd, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: Kendel Edwards.

Q: What you eat for breakfast? A: I didn’t eat breakfast.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Probably my first Hot Wheels set. My dad brought it for me for Christmas.

Q: Did you play with it? A: Yeah, I play it for like eight hours straight.

Q: Straight? A: Straight, nonstop. Only had a Cheez-It break and that was it.

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Q: What is the first three words come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: First thing to come to mind?

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Q: First three words. A: First three words? Misunderstood. Crazy. And I don’t know how to put it, but they kinda own up to a stereotype. They stereotypical I guess.

Q: When you [say] misunderstood, would you please explain more on that? A: Like me personally. I get kinda the weird look on the bus. Like a lot of the people that do a lot

of the bad stuff in Oakland [they] are kinda refer[ed] to as African American people. A lot of the people – we scared of them now. A lot of people give them bad looks. So like me personally, I don’t see myself like that kind of people. I got my crazy stuff when I was in middle school. I just feel like people misunderstood. They got picked as the wrong person. Maybe for what they wear, maybe for how they look. Misunderstood. I wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless I was prone. That’s it.

Q: What are the first three words when you think about yourself? A: Loyal. Protective. Strong. First three words.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Have to be – probably the cliques. People is in their own different cliques, everybody is [in] their own different zones, their own different comfort zones, their comfort zone. I would like to be more diverse. To where it’s not about the diversity drug wise. Not all people talking about, oh yeah, I only hang out with this person because they give me some weed. They give me whatever I need. I want them because they want to hang out. They don’t want to hang out because of what somebody else has. They don’t actually be friends. I color of the rainbow for friends. I hang out with everybody because I want to. It’s like that.

Q: And how would you change the different cliques? A: You have to crack down on the drug thing a lot. ‘Cause somehow, someway the drugs is getting


Q: Tell me a time you felt proud of your culture. A: I’m only half black. My mom is Italian. The one [time] I actually feel proud of my culture would probably be the time I…Well, me and my dad and my brother were out of town and it was night time. It was late on a Saturday night. We actually stopped and saw two people. We didn’t know who they were. They were stop dead out in the middle of the sidewalk. They were standing there, had their backs turn to us. We were like, what is going on? We came around – saw and look around and saw they were getting mugged. We didn’t really know – like, why out of nowhere? We didn’t know they [were] getting mugged until we walked around them. The muggers apparently didn’t see us. So they were kinda looking at them. We ran back around the corner so they took them out from behind. That is one time I did feel proud. They were actually Asians. They were some Asian people. They thanked us later on. That made me feel really good.

Q: Please complete this sentence. “Community is...?” A: Community is [a] well oiled machine if put together right.

Q: Could you explain more on that? A: Community to me means people that work

together to accomplish the same goal, to keep the peace and harmony, just to keep it together. If it’s not put together right, if it's not put together with the right components, then it will fall apart and we [will] start going to war with each other.

Q: What’s [it] like to be a young African American man in Oakland? A; That’s tough. That’s definitely tough. Like I said, a lot of them are misunderstood, including me. It’s really tough because you can’t wear a certain color, you can’t do certain things without getting looked at funny. You can’t really do anything without having some kind [of] eyes on you that will make you feel weird. Make you feel sketchy, [like] what am I doing?

Q: Do you plan on going to college, why or [why] not? A: Yes I do. My biggest dream is to go to business school. And why? Would probably be – I want to be the first in my family to graduate college with a masters. My family has actually graduated college. So far, my mom went to one semester, but she eventually drop[ed] out. Dad didn’t even went. I definitely want to be somebody to possibly make a whole lot of money. Then my family has just to support them later on in life. It’s the least I could do. I want to definitely have that glorious thing, like yeah, I got a master's degree. I got a master’s degree.

Q: Do you know what college you plan to attend? A: I want to start off at College of Alameda to get

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: KENDEL EDWARDS

in the school. They usually hang out because of that. They just hang out because they have something in common. Nine times out of ten they have a bad thing in common. Stuff like that.

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my AA and then I want to go to Haas Business School at Cal Berkeley. Any type of business school I want to be in. I want to get high in [it] as I can. I want to get high as I can. Haas, Harvard, anywhere like that. I would love to attend there.

Q: And when you say, “business school,” what kind of business getting business? Start your business? A: I plan on being a banking investor. Banking investor[s] usually just start off – if you ever heard the story of Warren Buffett – how he the third richest man in the world, second richest I think now. But he’s up there. He has his own investment firm. He start giving out to GEICO and places like that made them [the] business they are today and I would start doing that. I mean, small businesses start off with big dreams. So I want to start them off.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: That’s good. Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Yeah. I mean living in Oakland, it’s kinda hard not to, because the majority of things that happen are usually by black people. Especially people that are in West Oakland that bang certain gangs. They start giving kids guns.

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Q: Seriously? A: I know a 10-year-old with a gun already. Like, come on man! That’s not okay. They grow up around this and they start banging their own cliques. And now Oakland is at war with itself. It’s falling apart. Every day I live here I see some thing new that makes me more ashamed of it.

We could do so much better and we ask for equal rights, we working for it, we showing [that] we’re animals. It’s not healthy.

Q: What give you hope? A: Change. Depending on the change itself, change gives us hope. Me personally, I went from being a felon to wanting to have bigger dreams than that, wanting to change my whole life around. All from having a 0.0 my freshman year to having a 4.12 at this school. Change inspire me the most. That is one thing nobody can take away from you. You can be yourself. You can change at any time. Going from being a felon, to having two kids, to being a multi-millionaire by changing your life for good. That’s hats off. I bow to someone like that.

Q: What grade you in? A: I’m a senior.

Q: Senior. You said you went from a 0.0 freshman year to 4.12 your senior year. How did you change in between? A: It would probably be the change around – would probably be my brother. My brother is fighting cancer right now. I’m actually fighting – the majority – for my family, because I want to make a better life for them. I want to give them every thing they ever wanted that I never had. That [means] anything they ever need.

Q: Do you have adults you could open to? If so, who? A: I don’t have any.


Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man is his actions. If you have a kid and don’t [take] care of it, you're not a man – you’re a boy. You hit a woman – you’re a boy. Do any of the things I named – you’re a boy. If you actually want to change, then you’re a man. It’s not about how much money you make. You could be a kid at heart. I’m still kinda a kid at heart. I love video games and stuff like that. I still own my mistakes. I still try to fend for my own. Still work for what I got. That’s a characteristic of a man, kinda. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, just saying.

Q: If you [could] change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Probably be my anger. Growing up I have been taught to deal with my problems by any means necessary. You take out whatever your parents give you and I grow up being an angry person. I was being, like totally and completely, angry at anything that happens. At anything that would go on – I couldn’t control – I get immediately angry. I snap on the next person to me. It’s really me being angry, but at times I pent it up and I boiled inside and snapped on somebody I love. It wasn’t healthy for me. I['ve] change[ed] that now, but I got back into boxing. I can change that now. It was really [a] bad habit.

Q: What you love about Oakland, and what would make it better?

A: I love the scenery and history of it because it’s gorgeous. And history of it because it’s a gorgeous place besides the violence and whatnot. If it wasn’t for the fact it was so violent and then you don’t feel safe walking out at night. I mean that’s one thing I [would] definitely change. If I was to take my girlfriend out for a night out in the town we end up getting mugged, I mean come on, it’s not [a] romantic night. If somebody gets mugged, somebody get shot, get hurt. It’s not a perfect night. I want to have a safe environment for my family, I want to have a safer environment for anybody I bring here, to say yeah, I live in Oakland, it’s a great place. I can’t say that about this place. I want to move out of this place if anything. It’s a tough living here.

Q: Do you have any places in mind you would like to move to? A: I heard Alameda is good. It’s not far away. It’s really nice there. I heard nothing but good, especially because I know a lot of people that live there. Either that or somewhere in Piedmont, even though I live[d] there for a bit. It’s kinda sketch, it’s still nice. Anywhere it’s safe to grow a family I love to live.

Q: Just a few more questions. What people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: If it’s more than three black hoodies, don’t go near them. We’re not all the same. There’s huge diversity in how we grew up, how we still growing up. There are some that will care for their own and those who will fend for themselves.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: KENDEL EDWARDS

Q: None at all? A: Besides, probably, Fernando Battier. That’s it.

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THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Definitely all not deadbeats. We have our dreams. Even the ones in gangs, they all have a dream, a better dream for their life, they just don’t know what to do with it. They have so much expecta tion[s], so many things they would like to do with their lives, but the fact of the matter is, the economy is terrible, awful. And usually growing up around this stuff, you kinda forced into it. You have nothing to do, you don’t have hope that you could [do] anything better for yourself. So we’re not all the same, we’re totally different. We have different mindset[s]. It’s what you do with it.

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Q: What have you learn from your father? A: To never use anything to cope with pain. Never use anything to cope with pain. Never use alcohol, never use drugs to cope with pain. Talk through it. To own up for anything wrong. He left me when I was six-years-old. He left us for about nine months with my mom and he actually came back. He own up to that later on. It’s still hard to trust him. And definitely not [to] use your anger to cause harm to people you love. He’s doing that even to this day. Using anger to strike fear. To say, oh yeah, I’m the man of the house. But it doesn’t get you far if you getting at someone you love. It makes them fear you. It makes them not [want] to be near you. It’s not good, but definitely not to use anger. It’s not okay.

Q: When you say he left you at six years old for nine months, when he came back, what was running

through your mind? How you feel when he came back after nine months? A: After he came back [after] nine months we kind of seen him transitioning from him and my mom to only see him every once in a while. Only saw him for a couple of hours. Even then, when he came back, the question [from] me was, “Are you here to stay?” Even around then, my mom was talking to people, trying to see what you could do. Because they were planning on a getting a divorce. They were going through all this whole jam. It was a rough time. It was more a question: is [he] going to stay? How long he going to stay? What is he going to do to help us get back on our feet again? We were going through a rough time.

Q: How is that going for you? A: Not really well. He is extremely religious. It’s aggravating how religious he is. But it's not going well for me, but I personally don’t have a view on church. I really don’t feel like going because I usually getting hollered at [for] things I do. I really [don’t] like it that much, so he’s not really fond of me at the moment. So that answers the question. It’s not going well.

Q: Last two questions. What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement would be graduating high school in a couple of weeks. I’m too stoked. I’m over excited.

Q: Any obstacle you face over the years to graduate in a few weeks?


Q: I feel you. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Never quit. There’s a saying in my house, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” If you a drug dealer right now, just don’t. You could do so much better with your life. If you’re goal [is] drug dealing – guess what you could also be good at? Business. Like seriously, you're pretty much your own business. If you convince somebody to buy drugs, don’t let them buy drugs. You’re pretty much ruining families. Ruining relationships over drugs just to make some money. You could make 10 times that if you gradu ate college. Like seriously, as a banking investor, you know what you’re doing, coming out of college, you getting almost a million dollars a year after four years of learning. And what you making now? Around $600 a month on drugs? Come on man, you going to jail for that? Dude, you could afford your own fancy mansion, your own Rolls-Royce. You could afford anything you want.

And you could afford how many baby mommas you have that you not paying child support? That’s so aggravating to me. You guys could be do[ing] so much better. I know people like that. They are so smart and talented and they don’t [do] anything with it. They just sell drugs. They went to go out and be a ganglord and want to get shot at for money? No, I’m [not] cool with that. No thank you.

Q: Is there anything else you like to add? A: There is a bunch I [would] like to add, but I don’t think we have enough time. Oakland need to be [a] safer place, that’s one. That’s just hands down. The fact we #3 on the worst city in the US – that shouldn’t be. If you look outside your house – December 3rd – it’s a beautiful day out and guess people are dying today in Oakland because of gang violence. It’s not really a good thing. [That’s] not a sky with rainbow and happiness. You see a bird outside, you see a happy bird with no worry in the world. Super nice outside, super gorgeous outside. I would go for a job, I would take my kids out for the night if it wasn’t so dangerous. It’s too dangerous. That’s the one thing. I wish it wasn’t dangerous.

Q: Thank you for your time, Kendel. A: No problem.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: KENDEL EDWARDS

A: Definitely my brother fighting cancer. That’s my biggest thing. His fight with cancer has been a long journey. He has been doing [this] for around six years. He’s been fighting it the whole time. He’s making some bad decisions right now involving chemotherapy, so that has been a really rough ride for me, because I’m trying to talk to him, to get back on it. Because it could save his life. It could change his life. I just want him to [be] safe and stay alive for as long as possible. It’s a violent disease.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D E W E Y A C A D E M Y INTERVIEWEE

LASHAWN NOL AN

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DEWEY ACADEMY INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 3 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: I’m going to ask you a few questions. What you eat for breakfast? A: I ate a muffin and some Fruit Loops.

Q: And how was that? A: It was actually pretty satisfying ‘cause I woke up hungry and I didn’t eat at the house.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: I think like the last Christmas that me and my momma spent together. I think that will be it.

Q: And what you guys do? A: Have Christmas. Naw. We just enjoy our day, you know. It was the last day I ever got to see her, so you know, it’s one of those moments you probably never forget. You know, we did everything, family houses, and you know, stuff like that.

Q: Did something happen to your mom? A: Umm…yeah, unfortunately. You got to see – smile about it. She passed away December 26th, 2006 approximately 3:00 am. Q: Sorry for your loss. What is the first three words hat come to mind when you think about yourself?

A: I think I would say talented, outspoken and driven.

Q: And why those three words? A: One, I’m talented because I am able to do what I am driven to be, you know. I’m outspoken because I can tell you what my plans are and with that I can actually evolve myself, and you know, say that when you speak it into existence, and what happens. That’s how I think about certain things.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Jail, jail, and more jail. Because this society is formulated on rules. Yes, you have to have rules. Yes, you have to do what you do. But in the same instance, these rules contradict what you have to do. If I have to feed my family, I’m going to do whatever it takes, but your laws are contradicting me getting my money to take care of my family, you know. So I think [we just] is set up to go to jail.

Q: If you could change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: Dewey? I don’t know. Actually I wouldn’t change anything. Dewey is one of those schools where you have your good times, bad times, exclusive times. But you have a time. Dewey is one of those places you will learn, you will stay focus. You will dedicate yourself.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: L A SHAWN NOL AN

Q: My name is Sean Johnson and I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Dewey Academy December 3rd, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: LaShawn Nolan.

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Q: And what you love about Dewey? A: I would have to say the staff. You could have a school, but who runs it, makes school. You know [what] I’m saying?

Q: Please share a time when you was proud to be African American? A: When I first heard Tupac. When I first heard how he spoke about our nation. Well, better yet, I would say Nelson Mandela. You know, having people like that, you learn to appreciate it because the stuff that they said in the lyric and how they spoken was amazing, you know.

Q: So do you listen to Tupac? A: Very often. He is just one of those people who just mellow your nerves. Be driven. One target.

Q; Please complete this sentence. “Community is…?” A: Oakland?

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Q: In general. A: Community is broken.

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Q: And when you say “broken...” A: Because you know how community is supposed to be, love one another. So far the community has become against each other. So really, there is no point of community so it’s broken.

Q: What’s [it] like to be a young African American man in Oakland? A: Stereotyped. It’s very stereotyped. You know they see one generic type of brother who’s going to automatically fall into the lines of my father,

which, that is not categorized to be. Because I strive to be upon on another level, away from my father, thank god. I still love him, but yeah.

Q: So you plan [on] going to college? Why or why not? A: Of course. You know, I’m a black man. Of course I am going to college. You know, really to have a life is your knowledge. You know, so of course I am going to college.

Q: Have you ever been ashamed of your culture? A: Yes I have. When I start seeing brothers [and] all kinds of crazy stuff. Unnecessarily kissing females. All kind of crazy nonsense. I just sorta felt, this is not a black nature. This is not [how] we originated.

Q: Going back to college. What college you planning to attend? A: I would say OU because of their academic level, but I want to stay close to home so I think the best school that way is Stanford, Palo Alto. Set my high hopes there.

Q: And what you plan [on] doing while there? A: I’m pretty much focusing on my literature. I’m focusing a lot on my vocal skills. Maybe sports if I’m involved. Anything that will get my doctoral degree, personally. Q: What give you hope? A: Family. Actually, my little sister. My big sister too. They give me hope.


Q: Do you have any adults you can talk to? If any, who? A: My cousin. She’s 20. That’s an adult. No, my aunt and my cousin. They are really the one who can express your feelings [to] and not expect a negative answer. You will always get what’s right, you know. There is nothing negative about it. Hurtful to your ear – it’s still a positive message. They make sure that you get it. Rather than just tarnishing you.

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man? What makes a man to me is a man who shuts up, looks up and takes up. Shut up. I mean don’t sit around and talk about your accomplishments. Don’t sit around and talk about what you do in life. You know what I am saying? You know, what was the next one? It was sit down. It was take up. Those things make a man. First of all, you can’t talk about your accomplishments. Second of all, you know I think you take up because you take up your falls – downfall, which you mess up on. You know how they be like, “Ahhh Ahhh whoop

de whoop,” and they try to play it off like [it’s] someone else fault. That’s not a man to me. If I have to improvise, I would say love your family.

Q: That’s all good answers, by the way. If you have to change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: One thing? I can’t really answer that question “cause, what I’m not, makes me what I am. So what if I change – if I try to think about something I am not, I wouldn’t be myself. I wouldn’t change one thing.

Q: And what are you? A: I’m an individual who sees the bigger picture in anything. What I got to fight for? I’m going to be hurt after. I see the bigger picture in everything.

Q: Where you feel safe at and why? A: Actually, I never feel safe. We do live in Oakland. Last time I checked it’s not a safe place to be, so I never feel safe. Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: The best not yet to come.

Q: And why is that? A: Because I feel like you can always do greater. My long-term goals is to never leave my family with nothing. So in order for my last achievement to be succeeded, [I] would have to be passed on from this life with my family having everything I didn’t. That’s my greatest achieve ment to me.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: L A SHAWN NOL AN

Q: Why? A: Because they inspire me. They give me a mindset to do great, you know? They, I mean, they do some amazing things and lets me see the next generation has the possibility – you know, we come out of the poverty that Oakland can be something that everybody says they can’t. So I have to say my sisters.

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Q: Who is the most successful person you know and why? A: I would have to say my family and otherwise I would have to say Jay-Z.

Q: Why? A: Naw, Tupac because he accomplished his complete goal and that was to have his name recognize by the world when he passed on. And have a social impact on the world when he left. He was so successful. He accomplished his one goal, over money and everything, that one thing he wanted to do.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: And what you learn from that? A: ‘Cause regardless of how you pictured your life, you have to keep striving. You know, like how at a funeral is the one place the good that you do – than the bad. If your achievement[s] are quiet, they going to be quiet at the altar. That is not how I wanted it to be.

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Q: What’s the scariest thing that happened to you? A: First time I found out my mom died. That was the scariest thing. My sisters were there and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know to cry. I was like, my mom is gone, what I’m supposed to do? And that is being a big brother.

Q: At the time, what was going through your head? A: My mom, really. At this time I was like, alright, what is there for me to do? Like what is my next step? I know I’m going to cry in a minute, that is my number one step. What [am] I’m supposed

to do right now? What is the thing that would define my future as a man at this moment for my sisters. Does that answer your question? I’m here, right here. That’s the aftermath, I’m still here.

Q: What [do] you love about Oakland, and what would make it better? A: It’s Oakland. Come on. It’s the city of everything. You could find the biggest building, the smallest buildings, the best looking female, the worst looking female. It teaches you character. It teaches you how to be smart, but how to be tough. It has two environments. It’s Oakland. It’s the heart of California. You can ask anybody around California. It’s Oakland, we don’t want to go there. This is the city, so then we recognized.

Q: And you said, it’s Oakland, we don’t want to go there. What’s the mindset of people in Oakland? A: I can’t really speak for the nobody else, but the mindset for me, is if I’m leaving outside of Oakland I will never send my child. Never. I love Oakland. That is coming from the bottom of my heart. My child would never know what a “Oakland” was. Because the stuff that comes from here is not always good. I seen a few people make it to Penn State, Harvard, Stanford. I seen people do that. But at the rate we going – to be any kids left. To be real. .Q: What they need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Watch them. Watch them. Please watch them.


Q: What can you learn from your father? A: That’s deep. My father. Let’s see. How not to treat my kids. How I won’t be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad. But I will not do the things he done to me or my sisters to my child. Wouldn’t happen. My child will [never] go hungry, will never be on the street, will never do the crazy stuff he put me through. Specifi cally, to another African American son, his son. I would never allow that to happen.

Q: Describe your life in 10 years? A: Ten years, huh? I would have everything. Every single thing in my mind that I want, I will have. There will be nothing I will not [have] accom plished because I feel that your mind is settled. But once you agree with [what] society says you can have and what you have accomplished. So I will everything, every little piece of detail of things that I want and I want it how I want it. Ten years from today.

Q: What advice would you give African American youth? A: Leave Oakland. Get out of Oakland. That is

the #1 thing. [Get] my young black brothers out of here. There is a bigger world than California. There is a bigger world than the United States. Get out of here and learn new cultures. See how they react, be peace with yourself. Love yourself. Do other things than Oakland. Oakland will drive you straight to the gutter.

Q: Is there anything else you like to add? A: Stay true to yourself. Don’t believe everything you read. Don’t believe everything you see, especially media, society. Don’t believe it. Because you will be lead in the wrong direction. Never ever back down, in a good way. Never back down to nobody. No type says you can’t do something. No type of attitude that somebody throws at you. Nothing. Don’t you ever back down to society, because this society will gobble you straight up.

Q: How did you become so self-conscious? A: I’m just so self-conscious I don’t know. I won’t let society beat me. I saw self-value in myself. Like, I’m very talented. Yes, I’m very outspoken. And I will step on that. I will proclaim what I can do. I did say shut up, but at the same time, you have to back up what you say. I go out and do every piece of detail I say I’m going to do. Rather, if I’m saying it or I’m not, it gets done. Does that answer your question? Q: Any other questions? A: No, I’m done talking Sean. You can wrap this interview up.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: L A SHAWN NOL AN

They can be the most sweet-talking, most evil, most lovely, most beautiful, most ugly people in the country. Because there are some that naturally believe in the good of the women and in the world and then there are some who are naturally just disguised – that as a con man. Oakland African American men really have a way with words and you watch them and listen.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D E W E Y A C A D E M Y INTERVIEWEE

MARIO MCGREW

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DEWEY ACADEMY INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 3 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: Alright, I’m going to ask you a series of questions. First off, what you eat for breakfast? A: Nothing.

Q: Is that normal? A: Yeah. I don’t know, I kinda like, I’m out the house without preparing a nice breakfast.

Q: That quick. A: Yeah. It’s never in my schedule. But I intend to have a good day or otherwise.

Q: You eat breakfast at school? A: Um, no. I drink though. Juice and water. Lots of hydration.

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory? I would have to go all the way back. Any memory I still have of [my] grandmother. ‘Cause my grandmother pass away when I was about eight, so any memory that I still have being with her. Being around her, talking with her, any of her words still pop up in my head. Any of that is my favorite childhood memory.

Q: Can you remember anything you guys did? A: Oh man, I use to always watch soap operas

with my grandmother. I used to go into her room, messing with her. I used to smell her perfume. I used to just – I didn’t even [mind] the soaps. I just sit there and stare at her watching her soaps. She used to be so into it. Always in the kitchen when she cooking. And every time she cooks, it never fails. She turns on the stereo and all the good jams she always has. Brian McKnight, Musiq Soulchild. Have the whole house tranquil.

Q: What is the first three words come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Misunderstood. Definitely misunderstood. I feel like there is a lot of assumptions going on in the streets when black males usually walk past a group of businessman or a group of not black males. So you know, there are a lot of assumptions. So misunderstood, definitely. Powerful. I just feel like young African American males who have grown up in this generation have been through so much stuff. Like growing up in this generation, by far, is one of the hardest [things] that anyone can withstand in such [a] short amount of time. And I don’t think anybody really understands the extent of the pressure and the assumptions, misconceptions that these African Americans go through. These young males. And last one is determined, definitely determined. Because these men don’t stop. They don’t find something they want to strive for and they turn anything into willpower and shoots them towards it.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: MARIO M C GREW

Q: My name is Sean Johnson and I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Dewey Academy December 3rd, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: Mario McGrew.

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Q: Name three words that could describe yourself? A: Humble. Definitely. I feel like [I] don’t expect anything in return for what I do. I don’t expect a thank you. I don’t expect anything in return. When I was doing something for you, I do it because it made me feel better. I don’t do anything out of a selfish way. I am very trustworthy.

It kinda ironic, I am very trustworthy. It’s hard to earn that trust. A lot of things I’ve been through, a lot of friends, family, friends who have, for a long time, call family. None of them kept it real with me as somebody should have been.

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The man I call my brother, I grew up with this man 17 of the 18 years of my life. You really see true colors in a lot of different situations. When I was young, I made a lot of decisions I shouldn’t have made and that made me who I was today. I perform in something I shouldn’t have done when I was younger. Me and a group of friends decided to go into somebody’s place and take something of theirs. I did this because, I was like, I felt comfortable in these situations.

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It was not the right thing to do, but I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble for it or I wouldn’t have not gotten any consequences. It did not turn out to be the way, definitely, because the police was involved, although I wasn’t in the picture. I learn friends and family definitely are not going to be there when you need them to be. So trust is hard to earn by me.

On the other hand, I am somebody that you can trust in, you can tell anything. I feel like I can relate to a lot of things. I’m very heartfelt

person that everybody seems to confide their trust in.

Q: And going back to the situation – at the time of the situation, how did you feel? What was going through your mind at the time? A: At the time it was a rush. Definitely a rush, because I wasn’t into all of that and it was kinda like a spot and the adrenaline was going. It was fun, because you’re with your friends and it’s something y’all always going to remember. Like, you remember back in the day and we did that Whoop D Whoop. So it’s like you’re enjoying the moment and you’re not really thinking what’s going on, so it’s like, I’m just going with it. But as everything is in sequence, I start to really think about what my actions are going to cause me to go through after the fact. And sure enough, like halfway through, if I was to the point I was like, yeah I was having fun to, oh, this isn’t the best idea. But you know, it’s too late to turn around now.

Q: And after that, how did you feel? A: After the aftermath I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt like there should’ve been much more decision mak[ing] skills being made – implemented into my game plan. They caught me off guard, they took advantage of me, my guidelines. After the aftermath, I appreciate belongings more. If I see somebody, in class for instance, and the teacher walks out, see a student go behind their desk and start messing around with stuff. Hey, hey, hey, that’s not yours, wait until the teacher gets back


Q: If you change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: At my school, Dewey? Well, to be honest, Dewey definitely isn’t what people make it to be, so I definitely start off by saying Dewey is a great environment. Full of adults and stuff members that actually cared about students rather than any other high school I visited. And I feel like, if there needed to be a change here, I feel like the students that come here change the perspective of the school. So that they come here to work. They come here to change. And they come here to make a better person of themselves, because this is a second chance. If you, for whatever reason, cannot make this happen with what you got to do at Dewey at another school, then there is obviously something wrong. And you really need to think about that before trying to walk into this campus and disturb everybody else education.

Q: Please share a time you were proud of your culture? A: I come from a mixed culture. I’m not only African American, I’m Hispanic as well. I feel

like whenever I see a African American male or Hispanic male step out of their circle – step out of their comfort zone and really challenge themselves, not really – just for another person request, just to make somebody else feel better or ask them to do it. If somebody steps out of their own self then I can respect them. I feel like too many African American male and Hispanic male hold back from what they can actually do and what they actually be.

I feel like if we had more African American males, men of color period, who really sat and thought about what their actions would bring them in the future. I feel like everybody can respect them more, not just me. We’re in this together. We all represent each other. Their individual standpoint and group standpoint. And if one of us is having that bad example, then it shines on the group. Can you restate the question? I didn’t feel like I really answer it.

Q: Please share a time you were proud of your culture? A: So a specific time. A specific time would be maybe last year [when] I was at Oakland High. I was part of a group called PAST 2: Peer Advising Student to Succeed. So PAST is a student led group, basically within the school, and they hold workshop[s] with freshman classes to help them learn their A-G Requirements, which [is] also the graduation requirements and transcripts literacy. I feel like that group, I’m a little off topic, but I want to have a little background for the

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: MARIO M C GREW

at least, because you’re going through their stuff. What if something comes up missing? Just an appreciation of people’s belongings, because people work really hard for what they get. And when you decide to go to take that from them, for whatever it was, selfish or not, it’s not fair. It’s not right, it’s not normal.

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program. That group is, like, efficient. More efficient rather than learn it from a teacher, because students are much more attentive to other students when they up in the room speaking, rather than teacher [or] adult that’s coming in. You don’t know who it is. It’s in this ear and right out the other. We reach out and they reach back and I could see that in every workshop.

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And in particular, one of our mentors, like his 9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade year was all over the place. And his contribution[s] to the group was real genuine, because a lot of the things that we were talking about, he really went through. Rather than the Asian American student who had a 4.0, straight A’s all through high school, and when he got up, he made a speech about the difficulties he [went] through [in] high school. And all the teachers that doubted him. All the stress, all the problems that goes on at home. The whole room was silent. And you could just see in everybody face, they felt, not only heard, but they felt what they were listening to.

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And I couldn’t do nothing, but to respect that. Because he step out of his comfort zone and he became almost selfless to let everybody know who he is. He didn’t have to do that. He really threw it out there. Everything. I can’t really speak for him. But this is something I could definitely respect. That is a moment.

Q: Please complete this sentence. “Community is...?” A: Community is unity. I feel like there is no

individuality in community. I feel like if a community is to be successful, it needs contribu tion from everyone.

Q: What’s [it] like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It’s hard. Definitely hard. It seem like everything is a competition. It's a lot of jealously rather than respect. And it seems like everybody is an enemy because you come from a different area. It seems like, regardless [of] how much we have in common, we see differences. And for an African American male, it is dangerous. If you don’t take advantage of school and opportunities given to you, you will be put out into a world that will turn you inside out. It will eat you alive. That world out there is sick. And African American males go through so much when they aren’t in school, when they aren’t in home, when [they] are at home. And I feel like not too many people understand the extent of cruelty that deal with mentally. Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: I definitely plan on going to college. It sounds unrealistic, but I feel like I’m going to dedicate more than half my life to further my education. I feel like there is no end, there is no stop to it. I have this power, this will inside and this hunger for knowledge. And this limit that says, not enough. I don’t believe in not enough. That limit is over my head. I don’t pay attention to that. I


Q: What college are you looking at or planning to attend? A: UCSF, because it’s where I was born – on their medical campus. Although I have not visited since I was a baby, which I’m not going to remember, I feel like it’s home. I’m right across the bay. I feel like being in that environment means – such a good school. UCSF is one of the top medical schools in the country. There is nothing but good things to be done there. If I go there, my life would have to excel to a point where, it’s no turning back.

Q: So you planning to go to SF State after you graduate from high school? A: No. Definitely go to a community college first. Just because I slack off in my 9th and 10th grade years and my grades, and my credits. It’s just,

I’m a little behind, to where I should have been. So, I’m prepared to go to a community college for two years and transfer to a university. UCSF when the time comes.

I’m not in a rush to get to a university, because not too many people would think about the seriousness of the work and the commitment that you must put in if you want to be the best student, and the best nurse, in my opinion, in my case, you could be. Like, you really [have] to have the best study habit[s] and you need to have understanding of everything that is going to be thrown at you. And it’s going to be over whelming. I need that community college, I need that practice. They give that support, rather than just stepping on the university campus and just being oblivious to everything.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: I was going to say no, but I when I think about it, there are many men and young African American males that make it hard for others to respect us. Their actions don’t comprehend well, I should say.

Q: Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: When I do things, like I participate in the student Fishbowl at the Chabot Space and Science Center, and joining the Urban Peace Movement, and being a peace ambassador, and I step on campus[es] other than mine, Dewey, and I interact with others and I see where they have come from. I see that they have been

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definitely want to go to college. I want to be an RN. But there is a lot of things I want to learn in college. I want to teach psychology. I want to know what’s going on in people’s heads. I know what goes on in mine. There is a lot of [stuff] going in mine. I need to understand why people do what they do. And why they act the way they act without really trying to hurt them by finding out. A lot of people have this wall and if you try to penetrate it, they will react in a way you don’t need to react. So I need to figure out ways, and I need to be trained to do so without penetrating that wall. Because there is definitely ways to get around the wall.

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through a lot to make them better people, yet they shut it out. It seems like purposefully they shut it out and I yet to figure out why. But I can tell [you], they can do it purposefully. For what ever reason and I don’t understand it. So I’m definitely ashamed of how a lot of African American males are being provided with every thing they need to be successful. But they don’t embrace it.

Q: What gives you hope? A: What gives me hope? The youth. Children. Me too. I’m still a child too. I’m a baby. We’re still babies. Us as the youth, definitely.

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Q: What gives you hope? A: I feel like the children give me hope, because the more we try to learn by example – everybody needs to practice leading by example. And our life is only so long and we could do so much, so if we made it to where things that we do and accomplish in life are big enough to impact an amount of youth, then that’s hopeful.

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That’s something to hope for because you might not have been able to create the change, but you have [to] apply the knowledge, the tools that people can practice that [are] based – that to be off of and create. Because hope is what you want to see. Hope is what you believe. Hope is what you want to happen. And a lot of people can’t and haven’t been able to create hope in their lifetime, but sure enough, it came along. It came along.

Q: Do you have any adults you could open up to? If any, who? A: I feel like [I] get along with adults more than students and peers. They can relate more, of course, because they have been around longer. At school, not so many, because I only have so many teachers and a few of them aren’t so social, so they don’t open up as other teachers. I feel like Ms. Brooklyn, in the next door, she is one of the adults I can talk to about anything. I feel like she is a welcoming person. She just gives you that comfort and that respect and that attention you need when you need it to talk about anything. My 8th grade English leadership teacher, Mr. Bell, Vernon Bell. In the 8th grade, when I was younger, period. I was bad. I did a lot of things I shouldn’t [of] did. Mr. Bell, at the time, he really play that father figure for me. My pops never been around. In the 8th grade I used to be the first one at school. First student. And for the longest time I used to just kick it in the library and cafeteria. And I noticed that my English teacher used to be at school before anybody.

So halfway through the year, I found myself being in the classroom before school for like an hour, just chopping it up. Before school he wasn’t Mr. Bell, he was Vernon, and his facilitator cap was off. He was now a regular person. The way he talk was different, the way he presented himself was different. And his beliefs was different. When he show me that different side of him, I felt that connection was much more


I felt like within that hour before school, Vernon talk to me like he actually cared and his interest were to better me for the future, rather then apply things out of the textbook that Mr. Bell was giving the class. I felt like that hour of individual attention allow me to open up and talk about things I never got to talk about with my own dad or with anybody period. Mr. Bell, I will always have love for that man. He made a big impact on my life.

As well as Ms. Brooklyn, I have not known her for very long, but I’m definitely going to keep those connections. And I don’t want to leave out Lukas, Lukas Brekke-Miesner. He run PAST2 at O-High (Oakland High School), and he works for Oakland Kids First. He runs REAL HARD, Representing Educating Active Leaders Having a Righteous Dream. I know that is a lot, but that what it is, REAL HARD and PAST 2.

The moment I met Luke, I thought in my mind, I’m not going to let him down. I’m not. You don’t get that with anybody. Just think about it, you walk into a room and you make eye contact with another person and the first thing you think in your mind [is], I’m not going to let him down. That’s inspiration. That’s motivation. That is a role model. Luke is my big bro. He makes it so easy to be yourself. Rather than try to be whatever everybody wants you to be

or to follow what everybody else is doing. Lukas is really impactful.

Q: Do you still keep in contact with Mr. Bell? A: Mr. Bell, no I haven’t. I haven’t talk to him in awhile. Just recently, at the Fishbowl I was | participating in, I ran into Luke and another counselor that works at Westlake Middle School where I meet Mr. Bell. And she stop me after the event and she told me, “I recognize you.” I was like, “I recognize you too.” “One of Mr. Bell students right?” “It’s funny that you say that.”

And I told her in my 9th grade English class we had to write creeds about people who inspire you. You need to write a paragraph, but I wrote two pages, so that definitely exceeded the maximum expectation. So I kept that. The teacher had me read it in front of the class and she gave me extra credit. She kept everybody else[’s], but she wanted me to keep that, particularly, so I could give that to him and read it to him. Or make sure he got it, because I felt like it means nothing if he doesn’t get the chance to read it. Get the chance to understand how important he’s been to me.

Q: What’s makes a man? A: You are [not] a man unless you can provide for yourself fully. If you can’t feed yourself or you can’t put clothes on your back. If you can’t get somewhere when you need to get there, you aren’t a man. If you can’t take care of your responsibilities. And if you can’t take care of

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: MARIO M C GREW

greater than Mr. Bell, my teacher, my English leadership teacher.

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your children. And if you don’t have family values – you aren’t a man. You aren’t ready for life.

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Q: If you change one thing about yourself what would it be? A: I would change the fact [that] I run away from a lot of opportunities. I feel like whenever I’m given an opportunity, I don’t embrace it, and it has held me back for so long. And I can honestly say, I am in the process of that change, because this year is my senior year. I have been a part of, join in – participate in more programs than four of my high school years. So that process is definitely in affect.

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Q: Could you name some of the programs you have been a part of? A: Well, at O-High for two years. 10th and 11th grade, I was a part of PAST 2. We did work with ACC [All City Council]. We did a lot of leadership classes. Been to events at UCSF that brought a lot of schools together. I have been a part of a lot of violence prevention programs here as an internship program. I join Urban Peace Movement, I am a peace ambassador. I participated in the Fishbowl. That Fishbowl was big. It was a big room, we had mics. That’s something I never been a part of. That made me feel good. Made [me] feel [like] I’m definitely going in the right direction. And just joining programs like that. Impasse and Urban Peace Movement. That makes me feel like I am making that change.

Q: And you still involved with other different programs? A: I definitely stop by Oakland High and add my contribution to the group. I’m not on the roster, I’m not a part of them. I just stop by as a guest and they definitely appreciate it. I give it my all. I come in there and I bring my passion to it. I feel like they are my mentors.

Now it's part of the schedule. Last year and the year before, it was a program after school so this year it's an actual class and its 5th period. Some of them don’t know what they [are] getting themselves into. Rather than me in the 10th grade signing up for the program. You can imagine the difference between the passion I’ve put into the group and these students that almost placed into the program. I feel like some of them don’t really understand the importance of the information we providing freshmen.

They don’t put their full enthusiasm into it. It’s [a] very interactive workshop. You can’t be just chill and just, “alright, are we done yet?” You need to be really hyped, you really [need] to be enthusiastic and show everybody [it] is real. You don’t have to be in that box all the time. Being in that box will hold you back from excelling. Everybody is smart. Everybody is like a sponge, just soak up all this information and become very knowledgeable. I feel like you show that enthusiasm and you have a group and everybody is on the same page. You build the environment and help all the student[s] to start to participate


Q: Where you feel safe at and why? A: I feel safe at school. Because although there is a lot of competition and jealously. Like, school is a place to go to feel safe. If you have [that] in your mind, then you going to feel safe there. I know a lot of people who come to school with the thought in their mind, I’m going to see so and so up there. I hope she doesn’t come over there with that rachetness. School to me is safe. There is nothing [going] to happen to me at school. Because if there is something that happen to me at school, somebody is going to get into trouble and it’s not going to be me.

So if you can’t be safe at school, than that tells you about society, the larger picture. Schools in places where the community – that is where you go for safety, you don’t got school to feel violated. To feel in danger.

I don’t know. But school is safe. My home is safe. The neighborhood is safe. I feel like Oakland is a safe place, but if you are walking around with an unsafe and irrational mindset, then danger is going to come.

Q: You say you feel safe at school. When you walk out the gates of Dewey, what goes through your head? A: When I leave Dewey, I’m like, alright it’s time to go to the house. To be serious about it, once

I leave campus, everything is on me. I no longer have people who care about me. I no longer have a staff who is really trying to look after me. So now I’m on a street and [in an] environment that is hostile at any moment.

At any moment that environment could be taken from me, just because somebody see something about me that didn’t trigger right or because I walk down the wrong block or because I’m with somebody [and] somebody else doesn’t like [them]. When I leave campus, I’m aware. I’m aware of my surroundings. My senses heighten. Although I have earphones in, the music is all the way up, my visual aspect of the world is incredible. I can see nasty situations a mile away. The streets is hectic, so when I leave this school, I know I have to be on top of my game if I want to survive.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know and what makes them successful? A: The most successful person I know is my pops. I felt like Pops is a hard working man. Pops is a single father of three, one of them even his. You know, how many people, men, run away from girls they say their child is on the way. My pops, he is a great man. He graduated high school, didn’t go to college and has been working since he was 18. He is now 46 and he is going strong.

He’s work at McDonald’s. He worked at a body shop. He did pipes. He work in the plant. Right now, [he] is currently working as a mailman.

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and raise their hand and asking teachers questions. We start interacting with each other.

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Working 12 hour shifts. It never ends for him. Never ends. Yet he still has time to make sure his sons are where they need to be, education wise and safety wise. He makes sure that his sons are never hungry or deprive of any basic need that they need at home.

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Pops [makes] sure that his sons understand that the decisions that they make now can and will affect their future, just like it affected his. He always regretted not going to college or furthering his education, so his best wishes is for us to be the better person and further [our] education to make [sure] our life isn’t full of hard work. We need more easy work, more compassionate work, more efficient work. Pop is very inspirational. When I think of Pops, I don’t ever want to let him down.

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Q: What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? A: When I got shot at. Believe I was running around the lake and I guess it was [the] wrong time... maybe, it was getting dark. I was running and I made [it] all the way around. Stay right over where – on Eastlake. So, I’m over here by the district. I start over here, where the construction is now. I go all the way around and I make it home. Basically, because I’m right where I started and I’m walking. I’m walking over here by the lake, over there by the tennis courts. Over there by Merritt Bakery. And there is a one-way coming towards the lake and there is that street that turns into

First. So I’m coming up First and I’m right by the tennis courts, and up the one-way I see this Buick, Burgundy, black tints. It’s creeping and I’m like, alright, I ain’t tripping. I’m looking at the cars all the time. And I don’t have any altercations or beef with anybody.

I’m not really tripping. So I’m walking and I’m ready to make that left on the one-way. So they coming this way in a car – I’m walking this way. There’s [a] parked car in between us. I see the car slowdown as it get two, three cars in front of me. So I start to get more aware of the situation. I turn [my] music off. I didn’t take my head phones, I just turn it off in my hand and put it in my pocket. I didn’t slow it down, I didn’t change up how I presented myself, my body language or nothing so they wouldn’t react irrationally.

So I’m walking and I can see the car [go] from a slow to a stop. A stop to a show, and it goes. When it stopped, before it made any movement, I knew in [my] mind, it wouldn’t be a good situation, so I turned and look at the light on First Avenue to see if there will be any cars coming. Just peep my surrounding right quick. And [all] of this is a matter of seconds. I’m slowing down right quick so people could understand what’s going on.

The car stops and goes. And it slowly sto and goes and [then] it comes. And he punches it and the window rolls down, and the tints make the inside really dark. So I could only see the


If I make it out of the situation, I want somebody to be put into jail. I need justice. That is the only thing I’m thinking about at the time. In a situation like that, yes, you could think about your safety. But you thinking about that person. That’s your focus. That person wants me dead or he’s trying to get something from me. I need to figure out what is going on with that person.

So the gun comes out, pop, pop, pop. I duck. I get behind a car. And the other side of the car I hear, boom, boom, really heavy. And the glass shatters. I instantly grab my shoulder. I felt glass on my shoulders. And I look, bam, I might [have] got hit.

It look like he shot three or four times and kept going. He wasn’t trying to kill me, [I] wasn’t somebody he thought I was. It seem to me, after the situation, they were bored. The more [I] think about it, they were around looking for something to do. They didn’t have anywhere to kick it at. Let’s go over here for whatever reason. They felt like shooting at me, so they shot at me. They didn’t care whether I got hit or not because they never shot to confirm it.

And I don’t recognize the car, so it definitely not from my neighborhood because I live here my whole life. 18 years. I’m familiar with every body in the area, so I really don’t feel like their intention was to take my life, but it was very close and it’s not something I can do all the way, say that’s what they wanted to happen. Though [I’m] thinking and wanting to believe they didn’t want to take my life, because I can’t stand black on black crime. I can’t stand the fact that we can’t unite and [stop] picking each other off. I just came here from running around the lake. What could I have done to make them want to take my life. That is one of the scariest [things] I have deal with in Oakland.

Q: And after the shooting, after everything happen, what you think at the time, after all of that? A: After the shooting I’m on the ground and I look around for the car. Didn’t see the car, so I took off running. Ran all the way to the house, two-three blocks. And I got to the house, I was real sweaty, I had my shorts on. When I got to my house, I felt like I was home. I felt like I was safe, and it was relief. But then this anger start to build up and I didn’t know how to react at the situation. I stay up in the front, I paced [back] and forth. I turn up the music. I could see people come in and out of the building. They all looking at me like, “What is wrong with him?” And at this point, I’m thinking to myself, what did I do. Because now I’m thinking I did something to somebody. They want my life. If it happen that

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hand of the driver. I could tell he was African American himself. And he was driving. I was looking at his hand, although the window had roll down. I knew that is where the danger was going to come from. I was trying to pick up any details that I can get of...

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quick at a time I wasn’t expecting it, is it going to happen again? My head is full of concerns. I start thinking about my tomorrow. I’m thinking about the rest of the week. And the more I think, the more I think about what I didn’t do, and how much I shouldn’t be concern about people looking after me and I started to feel relieved again. And I start to calm down, and I started to feel like this is something I need to focus on. That if I can change the way black – or just young men in Oakland, period, change the way they look at each other and the way they under stand each other. Maybe shootings like that and acts of violence like that would decrease immensely.

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Q: And after that tale of shooting, is there anything you like about Oakland? A: There is no place like Oakland regardless of all the dangers you have to put up with, regardless of all the hatred and jealously and insecurities that people walk around with. Oakland is beautiful. There is no place like Oakland. I can’t say that enough. Diversity is one thing. I never been to a place that has so many different cultures, different sizes and shapes, voices, frequencies and smells. Everything is diverse. No matter where you turn its going to be a difference and I feel like it’s a great learning experience because if you around something that is similar and you around it for a long time, when you get put into a situation that is different and you don’t know how to cope. I love the fact that Oakland is so

diverse and when you look past the danger – you look past everything that make Oakland to be. Oakland is a livable place. A lot of great people are being built in Oakland. I feel Oakland doesn’t get enough credit then what it should.

Q: And is there anything you would do to make it better? A: Continue on this righteous path to success that I’m on right now. It starts with yourself. If I can’t better myself, I definitely can’t better my community, so I will start with myself. And I’m just trying to build peace. Trying to build confidence. Trying to build ambition for people because that is what they lack.

Q: What [do] people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: People don’t understand African American males. The power they have to create change is so high. They underestimate what we can do. When I walk down the street, a lot of the times I get looks from people, like, should I cross the street? There are a lot of assumptions, but when you really get to know and learn about these men, these young men, you find out that they aren’t much different because of their color, because of where they came from. It creates a more genuine person. These “hoodlums” that everybody is afraid of. They have a lot of good inside of [them] that this community needs. Just for the simple fact [of what] they have been through [that] nobody else has. And that contribution is efficient because


Q: What have you learn from your father? A: I learn to never give up. I learn if you have your mind set on something, there is nothing that is stopping you from achieving it. Pops told me, if you have children, they are your number one priority. Don’t ever create something that you are just going to leave and let linger, whither up. He didn’t really tell me but he show me this. He show me that men can play that single parent role for many children and problems don’t always have to occur. Like, Pops made me somebody I couldn’t be without him. Pops play his role. He taught me about everything. He taught me to respect myself as well as others. He taught me there is no such thing as [a] friend. The friends aren’t going to be there when you really need [them] to be, and sure enough he was right. He’s never been wrong about that. Never. Everything I have picked up, I picked up from Pops.

Q: What advice you give other African American youth? A: I tell them to step up, step out of their box, take opportunities you usually wouldn’t take. Don’t hold back because you feel like you’re not going to do it right or you feel like it's not something. It’s you. Anything is possible and if you set your mind to it, like, I’m setting my mind, my dreams –

anything is possible. No matter what you go through and what’s get through your way, I advise people, young men, African American men, to stay strong. There is nothing you can’t go through and still survive. You can do it. You can do it.

Q: Is there anything else you like to add? A: I like to add... no.

Q: Thank you, Mario, for your time. A: No, thank you.

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that is the missing puzzle piece that is the understanding we never got. That’s the confirmation and that still needs to be confirm

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D E W E Y A C A D E M Y INTERVIEWEE

DAILIN REESE

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DEWEY ACADEMY INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 3 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

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SEAN JOHNSON

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Q: Dailin Reese , I will ask you a few questions. What you have for breakfast? A: I didn’t have any breakfast. Q: Is that normal? A: Yes, it is normal.

Q: Why don’t you eat breakfast in the morning? A: Today was just a late start.

Q: So you start to eat breakfast in the morning? A: Yes, I do.

Q: Okay, what is your favorite childhood memories? A: My favorite childhood memory would be me graduating from the 8th grade. It was, like, a big ceremony that they have.

Q: What middle school? A: United for Success Academy.

Q: What you do after? A: Started my supervisor and then chill with some of the friends that graduated. Walked the stage.

Q: What is the first three words that come to mind why you think about African American men? A: Youth. Outreach. Motivation.

Q: Why those first three words come to mind? A: Youth, mainly, because [there is] a lot of male youth that is either on the right track or the wrong track. Outreach would be because, most likely, we need outreach to the youth or just to African American males, period. And motivation would be – we should have more motivation. And every program or every African American male – whatever we go through.

Q: What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Dedicated. Curious. And also, I would say healthy.

Q: If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: It would be the time we spend here.

Q: Could you elaborate? A: And it would be more time we spend here. I would want more time to be at school. I feel like [it’s] too little sometimes or just [a] lack of attention.

Q: Are you referring to the periods – how long the periods are or just the school scheduling itself? A: Just the class itself. Q: Please share a time you was proud of your culture. A: When I woke up in the morning and look in the mirror. Brush my teeth, wash my face,

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Q: My name is Sean Johnson and I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Dewey Academy December 3rd, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: Dailin Reese.

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Q: And why is that? A: I know – I think I look good a little bit.

Q: Please complete this sentence. “Community is...?” A: The key. The key is communication. The key to involvement and helping process to youth or those in need.

Q: What [is it] like to be an African American male in Oakland? A: To me, it’s like, being sometimes – you see yourself as an ant and if you think outside of the box, but you stick with what you[‘re] doing now and your daily activities, you will feel big. You feel like it’s a process being completed, bit by bit.

Q: Do you plan on going to college? Why or why not? A: Yes, I plan on going to college. For many reasons, but I’m going to give you one. One would be – is to achieve my greater goals, just so I could be a profiler or a music engineer.

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Q: Do you have college in mind? A: For now, for a junior college, would be BCC (Berkeley City College). A four year college would be hopefully out of this state.

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Q: So you plan on doing two years and then transferring? A: Yes, sir.

Q: And what’s your major? A: My major, hopefully, would be music engineering or whatever involves, like, psychology.

Q: Have you been ashamed of your race? A: No. I never been ashamed of my culture.

Q: What gives you hope? A: What gives me hope would be what’s not there in my life now and sometimes what others have or don’t have.

Q: Do you have adults that you can open up to? A: I do have adults I could open up to – who be – most likely is my grandmother. If not, then writing, or myself.

Q: And writing means just jotting down ideas? A: Mostly ideas of what’s next.

Q: So that’s how you control your anger? Or violence? A: With my anger, deep breath, happy thoughts. Q: And that works every time? A: Or sleep. Happy thoughts.

Q: What makes a man? A: What makes a man? Well, right now I am a young man, so I don’t know what makes a man. So I could say what’s a young man – grow into a man – would be responsibility. Be considerate of others and to accomplish your goals, things you set. And not breaking your promises.

Q: If you change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: If I could change one thing about myself, I think


Q: When you feel safe and why? A: I feel safe wherever I go, because I feel like I’m unlike some others that are just weary of their surroundings, which you should be, and I just feel comfortable.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know and what’s them successful? A: The most successful person I know would be... it’s a few people, but I would say my cousin. She just graduated [in] 2012. Senior year, and I don’t know [what] her college plans [are] but she been working a lot and saving up. And she is my age, and a few months older. Who couldn’t relate to that one?

Q: What high school she graduate from? A: Oakland High.

Q: What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing that has happened to me would be when I was younger – was getting my first haircut and I didn’t like it.

Q: What you love about Oakland and what makes it better? A: The first thing I love about Oakland would be how there is more outreach for the youth or pure youth period.

Q: And you said developing slowly. What would make it better? A: What would make it better is if we got youth to help youth and not just [those] that already been youth to help youth put both together.

Q: If somebody ask for your help, are you willing to help? A: Yes. I am always willing to help, if capable.

Q: What people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: What they should know is that some are not always the same and I would say some – and I would say some, and not most, because most are the same. So some just like taking their time, being patient. Some aren’t patient. So I would say, most are weary of Oakland, period.

Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My role model would be... I wanna say everyone because I feel they motivate me, either from what they don’t have or do have. If you don’t have anything, I feel like I would want [to] help. And that gives me the motivation to be able to achieve [what] I need [to].

Q: What have you learn from your father? A: What I learn from my father would be – is to have respect, loyalty, and never to dishonor.

Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement would be where I am now. Me being alive.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: DAILIN REESE

it would be maybe get some Neutrogena to clear this face up. And then get a big smile out there.

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Q: What obstacles have you faced over the years? A: Over the years, I faced failures in a way. In school, but then obstacles would be – the process to accomplishing my goal, so I would say, just dealing with life. Dealing with any kind of poverty in my household.

Q: What are your goals? A: My goals would be to stick with the process, stay calm as possible. Junior college after high graduation and a job, of course. And then a four year, hopefully out of state.

Q: And how you attempt to make them all the time? A: How would I attempt? Right about now, I am in high school – the process you – to be patience – on. Get as much done – participate – make yourself available.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What advice you give African American males in Oakland? A: The main key would be to stay patient, stay on task. If you tell, like, you don’t see a process being achieve[d]. Take your time over what you done and look at your accomplishments, not just at what you don’t have.

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Q: Is there anything else you would like to add? A: Besides... have a wonderful day, and wrapping up this, and hope they appreciate this, Sean Johnson. Q: Thank you Dailin for your time.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: D E W E Y A C A D E M Y INTERVIEWEE

AARON JOHNSON

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

DEWEY ACADEMY INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 10 , 2 012

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: AARON JOHNSON

INTERVIEWER

SEAN JOHNSON


Q: My name is Sean Johnson and I’m with the African American Oral History Project at Dewey Academy [on] December 3rd, 2012, and I’m interviewing? A: Aaron Johnson.

Q: I’m going to ask you a couple of questions. First, what you eat [for breakfast]? A: I didn’t eat breakfast today. Q: Is that normal? A: No. I was just in a hurry this morning.

Q: What you usually eat? A: I might have to grab some cereal. My mom might have made something.

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Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory is when I was seven. My grandmother took me to Disneyland. That was nice.

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Q: What rides you get on? A: I don’t remember which rides I get on. Went through the Pixar area and things like that and we were watching [indiscernible]. What I was doing was – I wasn’t really looking at stuff ‘cause I was a short kid. I couldn’t do too many things. Some[one] had to go through the area where I could do stuff, so I couldn’t do much. I appreciated the trip.

Q: How long you stay for? A: A day.

Q: Vacation or just to… A: It was just a ride down there.

Q: First three words when you think about African American Men in Oakland?

A: Strong, prideful and real.

Q: Why those the first three words? A: Those words describe yourself.

Q: Read my mind. Next question. What are three words to describe yourself? A: Strong, prideful, real.

Q: If you could change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: Probably make the school bigger. It’s a small school, not really a lot going on at this school. Always been something I have been thinking about. Like, why is this school so tiny?

Q: If you could – how could you make that happen? A: Maybe a change of location. Can’t start buying up property in random trying to expand the school, you know.

Q: If you could, where would you have the school at? What location? A: Probably somewhere like Castlemont and Fremont High. Something like that. Close to another school.

Q: Why you choose Castlemont and Fremont Hig A: ‘Cause they don’t seem like horrible areas, the whole school. They ain’t exactly ideal areas, the whole school. They ain’t exactly ideal areas, don’t get me wrong, but they are not horrible areas, like, I wouldn’t try a school in the 100s or some thing like that.

Q: Please share a time [when] you was proud of your culture? A: When Barack Obama was elected president. Q: How you feel? A: Ecstatic. Prideful. Proud.


Q: What’s [it] like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: I wouldn’t say it’s hard. It’s different. It’s not the same thing as growing up in Antioch, or growing up in San Leandro or something. People expect you to do different things, expect you to be in certain statistics. It’s all about expectations in Oakland because we got a reputation for certain things.

Q: And that reputation is? A: Oakland, statistically, I read recently, is one of the 4th worst cities in America to live in due to violence. Statistically, they expect African American males to feed into that statistic because we do.

Q: Do you plan on going to college and why? A: I do. I want to go to college, obviously, for personal reasons. One, not heavily to deal with later on in life. I don’t have to be the adults in my family trying to get their college degree now and they had kids that already graduated high school and things like that. And my grandmother, all of her grandkids, and none of them have went to col lege. And I just went to college and I just want her to have to say, one of my babies went to college and graduate before she dies.

Q: Sorry for your loss. A: She didn’t die.

Q: I’m I thought… A: If she die, she wouldn’t be able to do that.

Q: Sorry, what college you want to attend? A: I want to go to Laney and transfer to Cal State Long Beach.

Q: What you want to major in? A: I haven’t really decided yet. I’m interested in a lot of different things. I’m particularly interested into being a music producer, so I might take classes that feed into the field.

Q: Have you been ashamed of your culture? A: Never.

Q: Never? A: Never.

Q: What gives you hope? A: What gives me hope is generations. Looking at the generations coming up. Looking at my generations, we not all the same, like the last generation, my mother’s generation. We not doing the same thing they were doing. A lot of us tend to have common sense, and think things out more, so it kinda gives me hope. I know we not going to have another era of just mental retardation. Pretty much people not thinking things through.

Q: Could you name some of the things your mom’s generation is doing? A: Specifically, the crack epidemic. My mom grew up in an area where crack was the black plague. It was horrible. She had to get out of it. My mom didn’t do it. My father had to go through some stuff like that. Just living off that specific – that

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: AARON JOHNSON

Q: Please complete this sentence. “Community is…?” A: Community is culture. It’s culturalistic. It’s more than just an area. It’s like people, diversity, thing like that.

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is when all of this started, and we not necessarily going through [it] as bad as they were. It was an epidemic back then. It’s now more, so it’s a problem that can be fixed.

Q: And you say crack. What age group do you think has more affect? A: I feel like it’s more people over the age of 30 that is more affected by crack, due to stress and things like [that]. Seems like they don’t deal with stress as easily.

Q: So they intend to...? A: So they intend to go to drugs, because they don’t know how to deal with it, at least from my opinion. From my witnessing.

Q: What makes a man? A: A man does what he has to do before [what] he wants to do. A man is somebody who handles his issues and does the right thing. Not all the time, but, you know, stays within logic and reasons. He doesn’t make bad decisions intentionally. Doesn’t do childish things on a real basis.

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Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, [what] would it be? A: I would probably change my height. I feel like I’m short.

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Q: What height would you like to be? A: Like 6' 3". A normal height.

Q: Tall, huh? Do you have any adults you can open to? A: Yeah. Q: Who? A: My mother. My grandmother. My grandfather. People like that.

Q: Why? A: They’re just people that understand me.

Q: Where you feel safe at and why? A: Where do I feel safe at? Pretty much anywhere. I don’t really look at certain places and look for reasons to feel unsafe. I’m not like necessarily constantly feeling like secure in any area, but I’m not feeling, Ohmigod I’m going to die here, or something like that. I’m not constantly looking for reasons to feel unsafe. I don’t have problems with anybody to feel afraid.

Q: What is your greatest strength? A: My greatest strength, I feel like, my energy, my mindset. I’m calm. I don’t get out of my wits. I can keep calm in any situation. And I’m a smart dude.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: The most successful person I know is probably my grandmother. And she successful in pretty much every sense of the word. She has made a nice life for herself. She is her own person. She is a nice lady.

Q: What’s the scariest that happened to you? A: The scariest thing that has happened to me was the first roller coaster I ever rode on. I despise roller coasters. They scare me. I don’t know why.

Q: Which roller coaster? A: Medusa. Six Flags. I got on the biggest one I can see and that is probably where the phobia comes from.

Q: When was this? A: I was only eight.


Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My role model? I will probably say that my role model is Michael Jordan. Dude followed his dream. He did what he wanted to do with his life. And [he] didn’t let anybody stop him from doing what he wanted to do in his life. And that is what I want to do and I don’t want nobody in my ear constantly telling me that’s not smart. Be smart about your decision, like now I don’t want to hear that.

Q: What you love about Oakland and what makes it better? A: I love our diversity. If you look around Oakland, you see we have a little bit of everyone out here. We have Indians, we have black people, we every type of Latinos out there. It's like everybody out there. That’s what I love, our diversity. And some thing that would make it better? I don’t really know what you could make it better. Maybe we just stop making ourselves look bad.

Q: What [do] people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: You need to know that African American men are proud of themselves and don’t necessarily hate each other. It’s a stereotype that we hate each other, or something like that. We don’t hate each other. It’s all love at the end of the day. Q: What have you learn[ed] from your father? A: I learn not to be like my father.

Q; And why is that?

A: My father made a lot of bad decisions in my life. I don’t blame him for that – for a lot of stuff, but he made a lot of bad decisions in his life. And he pay for the repercussions. I learn[ed] not to be like him.

Q: And how has that impacted you? A: In the long run, it has made me a better person, because I don’t necessarily make decisions like he would make. And in the long run, he would make [me] a better person.

Q: What is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement is [being a] African American Male Achievement award recipient my first year in Dewey. So that is one of my better achievement.

Q: Describe your life in 10 years. A: In 10 years I hope to become a music producer. I hope to have start a new family. I hope to have work around the world, you feel me? The world revolves [around] music. Like [if] we didn’t have music, imagine how boring this world would be. Imagine stuff we be going, just without music. So I feel music helps the world in the long run.

Q: Any family in 10 years? A: Yeah.

Q: What advice you give African American youth? A: I would probably tell them to be themselves, stay in school, don’t do drugs, things like that. Q: Is there anything else you [would] like to do? A: Not necessarily.

Q: Thank you for your time. A: Alright.

TRANSCRIPTS: DEWEY AC ADEMY: AARON JOHNSON

Q: A couple of years ago? A: A year ago.

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

JALEEL HARRIS

INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

CASEY BRICENO

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: JALEEL HARRIS

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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Q: Alright, hi, my name is Casey Briceno. Today is December 14th, 2012. We’re here at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, and I’m here, brought to you by the African American Oral History Project, and today I’m interviewing? A: Jaleel. J-A-L-E-E-L.

Q: And your last name? A: Harris. H-A-R-R-I-S.

Q: Alright, Jaleel, today I’m gonna be asking you a couple questions. The first question I will ask you is, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: I ate, um, toast.

Q: Toast? A: Yes.

Q: Was it good? A: Yes.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Um, next question is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: (shakes head no)

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Q: Ain’t got no childhood memory that you – here – ain’t none? Um, okay, what is your first memory of childhood that you remember? A: Um, when my sister ran over my skateboard. Q: She ran over your skateboard? A: Yes.

Q: On purpose? A: No, she didn’t see it ‘cause she had a, um, truck.

Q: Oh, okay. Um, well, um, next question is, what are the three first words that come to your mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Um, I think of...

Q: You don’t know? Okay I’ll just... A: I just, it’s not three, it’s only two.

Q: It’s only two? Go ahead, just name the two. A: I just think of black people, you know, who are African American.

Q: Like what? What do think about them though? Like, what do you, when you see them, do you, do you feel like, you can say scared or, like, strong or what do you feel? A: Normal.

Q: Just normal? Alright, um, what about, what are the first three words that come to about yourself? A: Um, nervous, nosy and brave.

Q: Okay, so why are those the three first words that come to mind? A: Because, um, most of the situations I have – I usually have one of those.

Q: You either get nervous or, well at least you’re brave, so that’s good. Um, if you could change one thing about your school, what would you change? A: Better teachers.


Q: Okay, um, um, please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is? Q: What comes to your – community is what? A: Community is a place where you usually see the same faces every day.

Q: Alright, um, what is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: It’s okay.

Q: It’s okay? Um, do you plan on going to college? A: Yes.

Q: Do you have any schools in mind? A: (shakes head no) Q: No, not yet? A: (shakes head no)

Q: Um, okay, what gives you hope? A: (shakes head no)

Q: Nothing gives you hope? A: (shakes head no)

Q: Like, your mom or somebody or something? A: Sometimes my dad.

Q: Um, do you have any adults you can open up to? A: Yes.

Q: Who? A: I have, um, my brother, and my dad.

Q: Okay, um, what makes a man? A: Um...

Q: You don’t know what makes a man? A: I don’t know how to explain it.

Q: Well, just explain it the best way you could. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just how you feel. A: Um, like, I guess like, um, like education, and get’s to, um, grow up and go to college.

Q: Sounds like me. Um, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: (shrugs) Q: You don’t know? A: (shakes head no)

Q: You wouldn’t change nothing? A: (shakes head no)

Q: Can you say it instead of just nod? Just say no? A: No. Q: Alright, where do you feel safe, and why? A: Well, I feel safe in the hallway in my house.

Q: And why do you feel safe in the hallway at your house?

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: JALEEL HARRIS

Q: Better teachers? Why? You don’t like the teachers that are at your school? A: No, they’re okay, but, like, more, like, like teachers that, that have, like, that have like more education than those teacher.

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A: Because they, it’s dangerous outside and in my room because they shoot. And one time I heard one, um, like, it, it was like flying by the window because they we're shooting from very far back at somebody else that was very far back so they have to shoot up, and I live in a building that’s high. That’s why I feel safe in the hallway.

Q: Okay, um, um, what is your greatest strength? Like, if somebody would ask you, um, what is, what do you like about yourself, basically, like what are your greatest strengths? A: What I like about myself is... that I’m smart and I’m good at reading.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: That’s good. Um, who is the most successful person you know? A: Um, I don’t know who is the most successful person.

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Q: Um, and, what is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing that ever happened to me was when I, well there’s two favorite, um, scariest things that happened to me. Once, um, I had an asthma attack and I couldn’t breathe and I had to go the hospital, and the second I fell on my head and then it was bleeding very bad and then I had to go get stitches, and then my dad was scared because it was, like, because, he thought, he thought it was like, it was like on my eye and he thought it was in my eye, and because it was like so much, it was blood and he couldn’t see where it was, and by, seeing him afraid, I was scared too.

Q: And what would make it even better? A: If everybody was, was nice and there was no violence.

Q: Um, what have you learned from your father? A: That to stay away from, from all, um, the um, gangs and violence.

Q: Okay, um, describe your life in 10 years. A: I don’t really have a picture of anything in 10 years.

Q: Okay, but, so, where would you like to see yourself then? Like, what would you like to see in 10 years, in your life? A: That, that I could, um, that I could stay in school and at least try out for football in college. Q: Okay, um. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: To, just, to stay in school.

Q: Stay in school? Okay, um, if you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: That everyone would, um, get along with each other.

Q: Okay, do you have anything else you would like to add to this interview? A: No.

Q: Okay, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

CASEY BRICENO

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: JAMES WILLOUGHBY

JAMES WILLOUGHBY

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Q: Alright, hi, my name is Casey Briceno. Today is December 14, 2012. We’re here at Martin Luther King Elementary School and I’m here on behalf of the African American Oral History Project. Today I’m interviewing? A: James Willoughby

Q: Can you spell that for me? JB: J-A-M-E-S W-I-L-L-O-U-G-H-B-Y.

Q: Okay, I’mma interview you. First question is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Uh, when I, when I was at my granny’s house and we was in the back yard and we was playing, throwing rocks and see who can get the closest, yeah, like to the... when we was very small, we was trying to throw it at the... see who could throw the farthest to the fence, yeah, and we was trying to hit it.

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Q: And it was you and who? A: Me and my cousins... and it was one of my big cousins named Devario.

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Q: Okay, umm, what are the three first words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Uh, that some of them are killing each other and I’d better watch out and I better stay out the way.

Q: Okay, why do you feel that way? A: Because some, some blacks kill each other and some whites get involved and things go down and I don't wanna be a part of it.

Q: Okay, but why do you think that there is a lot of killing around Oakland? A: Because if you watch the news in the morning they’ll talk about it, or at 10:00 p.m. at night, or sometimes it comes on at 9:00 p.m., yeah, because they kill each other and I don’t wanna be a part of it.

Q: Okay, um, next question is, what are the three first words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Um, that I’m going, I’m going to be in the NFL, and I gotta get my education first, and I gotta look out for my mom, my dad, my sisters. Yeah, my family.

Q: Okay, but if you can put that in just three words, just three words. A: Okay, I gotta look out for, okay, uh, I wanna go to the NFL, and football, uh, look out for my family, and get my education. Uh, NFL, education and family.

Q: Okay, sounds good. Um, if you could change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: Uh, that kids like can’t, they have to write a sign from their parents to the school that they’re gonna walk home today and they’re gonna walk outta the school guardian, like, outta, off the campus and walk home.

Q: Oh, so you want them to, like, write a note? A: Yeah. Q: To let them know. A: To let them know.


Q: Hmm, sounds like a good change. Um, please share a time when you felt proud about your culture. A: About my culture?

Q: Yeah, like about being an African American male. A: Um, when we was doing history, we was watching Roots with Alex Haley. When he made the movie Roots and we had to write summaries about him with my teacher Ms. Eely and the rest of my class and Mr. Mohamed.

Q: Did you like the movie? A: Yes.

Q: That’s good. Um, please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Danger, sometimes.

Q: Danger sometimes. Okay, why does that come to your mind? A: Because people get shot and I don’t want to be getting shot and I don’t want no one else to get shot.

Q: Okay, um, what is like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Um, it’s good, but at the same time you gotta stay out the way and not go to dangerous place

where you’re not supposed to be.

Q: Okay, um. Do you plan on going to college? A: Yes, I do.

Q: Do you have any schools in mind that you think about going? A: Uh, Caltech, mm, yeah.

Q: Okay, um, have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Hmmm, no. No. No.

Q: Okay, um, what gives you hope? A: What gives me hope?

Q: Yeah. A: Is that my mom and my dad keep me safe and my sisters.

Q: Okay, that’s good, um. Do you have any adults you can open up to? A: Adults? Q: Yeah, that you can open up to? A: Uh, my mom, dad, uh, and my cousin.

Q: Okay, is he, like, your older cousin? A: Yeah, it’s a she.

Q: Oh, it’s a she. Um, what makes a man?

A: A man? It’s like, what makes a man is that he protects his family, he protects himself, and he does what he gotta do.

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: JAMES WILLOUGHBY

Q: Why would you want that to happen? A: Because some kids could get shot, they can get involved in something, and, and a lotta kids walk to a lotta culturally violent places.

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Q: Okay, that’s straight up. Um, if you could change one about yourself, what would it be? A: That I would be more faster.

Q: Who is the most successful person you know? A: Uh, uh, the most successful person I know is my, my family.

Q: Okay, well, you can. You can train for that. A: Yeah.

Q: Okay, and what makes him successful? A: Uh, that he paid attention to us and when he wanted to play with us, he’ll play with us, and when it came to, umm, playing time or doing your homework, he’d make you. He’d go “do it.” Like he’d ask us if we have any homework over the weekend and then we’d say no. He[‘d] go to McDonald’s [to] buy something and if we say no, I mean, yes, that we got homework, then he’ll, he’ll call my mom, ask her can I get the keys to the house, he go get them, he go get my backpack and stuff, my homework and he’ll go, on the way there he’ll go to McDonald’s [to] get us some food and go back home.

Q: Faster in, like, speed? A: Yeah.

Q: Um, let’s see, the next question. Where do you feel safe at and why? A: I feel safe at my auntie Mary’s house where my dad took me and I feel safe at my house, yeah, except when people are sitting outside in their cars.

Q: And why do you not feel safe at that time? A: Because either I feel like they’re gonna do something and I feel insecure.

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Q: Um, what is your great, your greatest strength? A: What do I like, what do I go...

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Q: Like, what is your greatest strength, like what do, what can you do, like, that you’re sure you can do? Like, say, I dunno... A: I can play football very good. Q: Very good. A: And basketball.

Q: Okay, that’s a good strength. A: Just sports, period.

Q: Is there like just one person? A: Oh, my uh, my uncle Terrance.

Q: Sounds cool. JS: Instead of my grandma having to cook. Sometimes she did.

Q: Um, what is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: Uh, when I was, actually when I was, when I was a kid, very small, that I used to play around too much. And one day I was playing around, I went in the street, and I didn’t see the cars, I didn’t look both ways, and my dad and my uncle always tell me, look both ways before I go in the


Q: Oh, you almost got hit? Was that very scary? Now you look both ways before crossing the street, huh? A: Yeah, now that I know.

Q: Okay, um, who is your role model and why? A: Uh, my, my dad is my role model because he pays attention to me a lot, and he pays attention to his kids, and he wants us to go to college and be successful and he wants us to put him in a safer place when he get older.

Q: Um, what do you need to be happy? A: Uh, what I need to be happy is [to get] out of the area where they’re not shooting, and I don’t wanna get involved in anything like, something, I wanna, I would be happy in a safe, safer place. Not a dangerous one.

Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Um, that, that if I clap my hands the light would turn on and off.

Q: Okay, so you don’t feel like getting up. A: And with the TV, I would just snap and then it would turn off and on.

Q: Ah, okay, um, what are your dreams for yourself? A: To go to the NFL.

Q: NFL. You know what team? A: 49ers.

Q: 49ers. No other team, just the 49ers? A: Yeah, 49ers.

Q: Um, what do you love about Oakland? A: Um, what I do love about Oakland is that the community cares when there’s, they’ll like, they’ll have a meeting sometimes, and they’ll, like, get somebody to be a watch, and watch is going on so they can, they can call the police [and] tell them that there’s an argument going on – could you please come help.

Q: Okay and what would you make it, what would make it even better? A: That the police would be in the – the non-safe, safe places.

Q: Okay, um, what do people need to know about African American men? A: What do they need to know?

Q: Yeah, what do they need to know? A: That some of them kill each other.

Q: That’s it? A: Yeah.

Q: Okay. What have you learned from your father? A: To be a, to be a man and don’t let my family down, and don’t let myself down.

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: JAMES WILLOUGHBY

street and I didn’t do it one time, and almost got hit by a car.

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Q: Um, okay, here goes a good one. Describe your life in 10 years. A: In 10 years I’ll be 20 and I’ll be in college probably.

Q: Mm-hmm. A: And I’ll play for the college football team, whichever college I go to, and I really don’t care if they lose every game, all I know is that I’m gonna try to put them in a safe place, and make us win.

Q: Okay, what position would you play? A: I would like to play either wide receiver, running back, or quarterback... or sometimes even lineman. On defense either safety, or somebody just to guard somebody, or rusher.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Oh, cool. Okay. Um, here goes one. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: Uh, that they should be doing good and staying in the right place at all times.

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Q: Okay, um, um, please describe your neighborhood. A: Our neighborhood is so quiet, and it’s, like, [we] live in the hills ‘cause, like, some houses, it’s like, you know when earthquake happens, like the streets, like the street closes up a little, it’s like that. And some cars are parked on the curbs and stuff. And when we come home there used to be a lot of, uh, parties going on because of, like, thanksgiving and stuff. And, yeah, and we used to have nowhere to park – and except

in our stall because my dad had the sticker and he wasn’t home. He was at work, so yeah, so we just try to squeeze in somewhere. Just squeeze it.

Q: So you had a parking spot. Um, if you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Uh, that there don’t be a lotta cars parked, sitting in their cars. People be sitting in. Yeah.

Q: Okay, do you have anything that you would like to add to this interview? A: Uh, no thanks. Q: Thank you for your time.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

ANTHONY MACK

INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

JARVIS HENRY

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ANTHONY MACK

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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My name is Jarvis Henry and I’m here with my man, Anthony, at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary. It is December 14th and uh, I think I’m just gonna ask you a few questions for, uh, our project, which is called African American Oral History Project.

Q: Alright, my first question for you, Anthony, is, what did you eat for breakfast? A: I ate some cereal.

Q: Cereal, what kinda cereal did you eat? A: I ate some honey – I ate some Cheerios.

Q: Some Cheerios? Is that your favorite cereal? A: No.

Q: What’s your favorite cereal? A: Frosted Flakes.

Q: Aw, that’s my favorite too, umm. My next question for you, Anthony, is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: My favorite childhood memory is when me and my cousins, we would go bike riding and play basketball, or football, every single day.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Every single day? A: Mm-hm.

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Q: Every single day? Like in a work day? A: Mm-hm

Q: Alright. Okay. That’s a lot of stuff. My next question for you is, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland?

A: Umm, the first three words are Kunta Kinte, ‘cause he was one of my favorite African American people, and Martin Luther King ‘cause he helped free the salves and – I’m thinking Abraham Lincoln.

Q: You said – what was the last one? A: Abraham Lincoln.

Q: Abraham Lincoln, why the last one? A: Because... he kinda freed slaves, but he didn’t really want to, but I guess since he helped free the slaves, I guess that would be a good one.

Q: Okay, alright. My next question is what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Talented. Smart and athletic. Q: Okay, you play sports? A: Mm-hm.

Q: Okay, what sports do you play? A: Tackle-football and basketball. Q: Alright... A: And baseball.

Q: I play football too, that’s my favorite sport. Umm, do you have a favorite football team? A: Yes.

Q: What is it? A: The New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.


Q: Okay. Do you plan to go to college when you get older? A: Yes.

Q: Do you know what college you want to go to? A: I think I want to go to Alameda.

Q: Alameda College? A: (nods his head)

Q: My next question is, have you ever felt ashamed of your culture and if so, can you please describe a situation? A: Well, once I have because everyone kept on laughing at me because – because of the way my – because the way my, uh, because the way – my family’s color.

Q: For real? A: Yeah.

Q: Okay, umm, my next question is, what is something that gives you hope? A: Definitely, my best friend James. Q: Your best friend James? A: My best friend James.

Q: How does he give you hope? A: Him – he gives me hope because he – he inspires me to do things. Him – he works with me – he works with me 24/7. We go outside, practice basketball, football, and then, like, sometimes my cousins – my cousins we come – they come over and we just start working, doing our school work and then after my mom says I’m done, we go outside. We study for a little bit before we go outside, then we go outside, play basketball, football, and it just be a lotta fun, and my – my other friend, Chris McCullis, he inspires me, but he moved to Boston.

Q: Okay. Does he inspire you to do better in school and in sports? A: Uh-huh, he told – he tells me to eat healthy. That way I can be fast like him... he’s super fast.

Q: Okay, my next question for you is, do you have any adults that you could open up to? A: Yes. I can open up – open up to my Uncle David, my Auntie Tiandra, my mom and my dad, and um, one of the coaches, his name’s Coach Al. He was a good coach that I could rely on, and my Auntie Jan.

Q: Okay. Uh, do you have a place that you feel safe, and if so, why? A: I feel safe at school, at home. At school, because I know nothing’s gonna hurt me and ‘cause I know I have a good principle, and I have great – I have good teachers, and great umm, great people that can help me. And at home, because

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ANTHONY MACK

Q: My next question is, what is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? Well, kid? A: It’s... it’s good because, umm, because I can do a lotta things, build a lotta things, do a lotta things for my African culture.

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I know that when my dad’s around I can feel safe and I can – I can do whatever and then hope that I can – and hope – and know that I wouldn’t get hurt.

Q: Okay. My next question is, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: I would want to change my teeth.

Q: Okay. What is your greatest strength? A: Strength?

Q: Yeah. A: Hmm. My greatest strength would be... I guess, to work hard.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: My next question is, who is the most successful person that you know, and what makes them successful? A: The most successful person I know is my uncle David because he – no it could be my dad, but my uncle David, my uncle David never thought he was gonna make it, uh, to the NBA, but he soon will get – soon he’s gonna be drafted to The Warriors, soon.

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Q: Oh, like the Golden State Warriors? A: Uh-huh.

Q: Okay. That’s wassup. Umm, my next question is, what is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? A: The scariest thing that has ever happened to me is when somebody – is when somebody tried

to – it was when – it was in L.A. and I was at my uncle Tay-Tay’s house and somebody was in front of the, uh, somebody was in front of the house and they were shooting...

Q: Alright. Who is your role model and why? A: My role model, to be exact, is my big cousin, he’s only, uh, one year older than me, his name is Anayis. He’s my role model because he inspires me to get out and get active and he – he shows me how to play basketball, football, he just shows me a lot of great things, that I can just get out and get active and don’t care about what anybody thinks.

Q: Okay, that’s wassup, that’s a good role model. My next question is, what do you need to be happy? A: To be happy I just need myself and my family.

Q: Okay, I do too. My next question is, what are your dreams for yourself? A: My dream for myself is to get drafted in the NFL and play basketball with my uncle David and just have a lotta of great memories with my cousin Anayis because I don’t get to see him that much.

Q: Okay. What team you wanna play for in football? A: In football, I’m thinking about playing for the Oakland Raiders.

Q: Okay, that’s wassup. We need some good players. My next question is, what do you love about Oakland and what would make it even better?


Q: Oh yeah, that would make it a lot better. My next question for you is, what do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: People need to know that just because they – just because African American men look funny doesn’t mean they can’t – they don’t have great skills, like Kunta Kinte. They thought that he was just – no they thought the wrestler was just an ordinary slave, but the wrestler had these skills to wrestle, to fight back no matter what.

Q: Okay. My next question is, what have you learned from your father? A: I’ve learned from my father to always believe and always trust in who I want to trust in.

Q: Uh, what is your greatest achievement? A: My greatest achievement is to be able to play basketball with my favorite team, the One Nation Team, and so far we’re making good progress and soon our big game’s coming up.

Q: Alright. Do you think you can describe yourself in 10 years? A: In 10 years I’ll be 22-years-old. Well, 21, and then I will be – I would wanna be famous for – I’m gonna try to help Oakland and be famous for cleaning up Oakland and helping the streets and dedicating a lotta stuff to Africa and kids.

Q: Aw, that’s nice. What advice would you give other African American youth? A: To not – just don’t care about what anybody else thinks. It’s about what you think and not what nobody else thinks, so, don’t – just be happy and love yourself and don’t love – and if somebody else thinks something about you, say okay and just move on to life because it’s all about you.

Q: My next question is, when you get older, do you plan on having any kids, why or why not? A: Yes, because I like to play around, like, I like to play around with little kids and I’d have two little girls and a boy.

Q: Okay. My next question for you is, can you please describe your neighborhood? A: My neighborhood is a good neighborhood, ‘cause nothing’s bad, or nothing wrong with my neighborhood. My neighborhood is excellent because I have – I have everything I would need to have a good neighborhood. I have good neighbors, good friends, and all these people I can rely on if my parents aren’t home.

Q: Okay. Umm, when you look around the neighborhood, what do you see? A: When I look around my neighborhood I see young children playing around, having fun, and I see a lot of – a lot of adults just walking by and a lot of people buying a lot of houses ‘cause my neighborhood is a good neighborhood.

Q: Okay. Do you feel safe in your neighborhood, why or why not?

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ANTHONY MACK

A: What I love about Oakland is how, is how it gets – how people get around and the way people just move and what could be better is, like, if we fix up the streets and a lotta people have homes.

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A: I feel safe in my neighborhood because I can rely on my friends and family that lives around there to always come through and check on me and my family.

Q: Okay. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Uh, definitely the cleaning up. I would get all the trash up off the floors, and make sure, like, the streets get fixed, and make sure it’s not like – ‘cause people just like to speed, so I would put a speed limit, like probably 30 mph or 20 mph, because some of us kids, we play baseball and stuff in the street, but people speed by. I don’t want that.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: My next question is, what is one thing people will be surprised to know about you? A: One thing people will be surprised about me is that, some people think that I will achieve nothing, but um, I’m gonna. I’m gonna be able to have a good life and a good family and they’re gonna look at me one day on TV.

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Q: Alright. Umm, my next question is, if you could have one wish, what would it be? A: To always see my cousins and my family every day and every Sunday ‘cause that was our – that used to be our religion here, till our family started moving away.

Q: Okay. Name someone you really respect and why? A: I definitively respect my parents and my cousin

because I know that my parents brought me into this world and I respect my cousin because I know I can rely on him. If I ain’t respect him then he might – then I might never be able to rely on him.

Q: Okay. How do you like your school? A: I like my school because we have a lot of sports equipment and me and my friends love to play sports, basketball, football, whatever you bring out we’ll turn it into a game, basketball, football, and we will just have a blast.

Q: Okay. Who is your favorite teacher and why? A: My favorite teacher would be my teacher Ms. Eelie – no Mr. Mohammed, because Mr. Mohammed, he doesn’t like to get interrupted and I don’t like to get interrupted neither, and because Mr. Mohammed, he has a lotta stuff – he has a lotta skills that we use in our everyday lives and we always have a good time working with him ‘cause he takes us to play football at the end of the day.

Q: Okay, he sounds like a very nice teacher. Now my next question is, what do you think about your teacher? A: I think about my teacher as a young woman that will someday go back to Africa and help clean up the world.

Q: Okay. Do you think it’s a good idea to go to school, why or why not? A: Yes, because if you go out in the streets and earn money, how will you learn to count the money?


Q: Okay. What do you do after school, besides football and basketball? A: After school I come to the afterschool program and in the afterschool program I like to do my homework. Then I help Mr. J. Mr. J. is a good, nice man and I could rely on him.

Q: Do you have any siblings? And if so, how many? A: I have... I have three sisters and a brother. Q: Just one brother? A: Uh-huh, that’s five, well four siblings, plus me is five. Q: Alright. Do they live with you? A: Yes.

Q: What is it like at your house? A: My house is a busy house. And when my cousin James comes over, we have to go in my room and close the door, and – to make sure none of – none of them run in my room, ‘cause they like to run around a lot, so I tell them, “Go outside with – take all of that outside, or else y’all go lay down.” So then, after, they go outside. They just have fun playing and then they come inside and take a nap.

Q: Okay. Describe a typical dinnertime at your house. A: A specific dinnertime would be... 8:00 to 8:30.

Q: 8:00 to 8:30? A: (nods his head)

Q: And what would you guys usually eat? A: We usually eat a lot of vegetables.

Q: Alright, vegetables, alright, that’s good. Umm, Is there anything that you would like to add? Like any shout-outs or things that you’d like to tell them. A: Mmm, to always stay in school and never give up, and don’t – don’t care about what nobody think, ‘cause it’s all about you. In life. Q: Oh okay, any shout-outs? A: Mm, shout-out to my cousin Anayis, who’s always helping me, and my dad and my mom, and my uncle David, especially.

Q: Okay. Alright, thanks for letting me interview you. A: Thank you.

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ANTHONY MACK

How will you know [if] what you’re doing is good, or wrong? And how will you, just, know [if] what you’re doing can help your community?

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

ANTOINE CHATMAN III

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

JARVIS HENRY

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Q: Pancakes, huh? That sounds great. Umm, my next question is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Huh?

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Umm... playing in the jumper.

Q: Playing in the jumper, okay. You like to do flips and stuff in the jumper? A: Yeah.

Q: Me too. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm...

Q: Smart. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Um, that it’s named after... Martin Luther King.

Q: Okay. Who would you name it after? A: Hmm?

Q: What would you name it? A: Umm... Oakland California Middle School, I mean...

Q: You said Oakland California Middle School? A: Elementary School.

Q: Oh, Elementary School. Can you please share a time, uh, that you felt proud of your culture? Or proud of yourself? A: Umm, wait, felt proud of myself?

Q: Yeah, share a time that you felt proud of yourself, like when you were very happy with something you did or someone else did. A: Like, when me and my football team won the Super Bowl.

Q: Just the first three words? A: Strong.

Q: Okay, umm, If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be A: No fighting.

Q: Alright. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Um, smart.

Q: What is it like being an African American man? Well, kid? A: Umm... it’s like having fun.

Q: Strong? You have two more, or is that the only one? A: Umm... yeah.

Q: Alright that’s good. Um, Can you please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Umm... a community is a neighborhood.

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ANTOINE CHATMON III

Q: My name is Jarvis Henry and I’m with the African American Oral History Project and I’m just going to ask you a few questions – Oh, and it’s December 14th, 2012. Umm, oh, and we’re at the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. My first question is, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Umm… I ate pancakes.

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Q: Having fun? A: Yeah.

Q: Umm, what is something that gives you hope? A: Football.

Q: Football? Alright. Do you have any adults that you could open up to? A: My mom.

Q: Your mom. Alright, um, If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Umm, read better.

Q: Read better? Okay. Umm, Where do you feel safe and why? A: Hmm? Q: Where do you feel safe and why? A: Umm, umm... at home.

Q: Okay, uh, what is your greatest strength? A: Wait, I don’t understand that question?

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Like, what is your greatest strength, what is something that you are strong in? It can be, like, you’re strong in football... A: Yeah, football.

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Q: Umm, who is the most successful person that you know and what makes them successful? A: Martin Luther King

Q: Okay. Umm, what is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: A scary movie.

Q: A scary movie. Uh, who is your role model and why? A: Like a person?

Q: Uh, it can be a person or, um, a cartoon character, a superhero... A: Nick McFadden.

Q: Okay. Um, what do you need to be happy? A: Umm, my family.

Q: Okay. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Umm... like... no fighting. Q: No fighting at home? A: Mm-hm.

Q: What are your dreams for yourself? A: Like, growing up to be a professional football player. Q: Okay. What team would you play for? A: Did I play for?

Q: I said what team would you play for? A: Like, the Raiders.

Q: The Raiders? That’s good. What do you love about Oakland and what would make Oakland even better? A: Umm, what I love about Oakland is... um, it’s a lot of, like, a lot of houses and... I could tell about, like, why it’s good now.


Q: Okay, umm, what is something that you’ve learned from your dad? A: Money.

Q: To get money? That’s a good lesson. Um, what is your greatest achievement? A: I don’t understand the question.

Q: Like, what is, like, the greatest thing that you’ve ever done, like the proudest moment in your life? A: Umm... having, like, a surprise party.

Q: Surprise party? Like, for your birthday? A: (nods his head)

Q: Umm, what advice would you give to other kids? A: Umm... don’t act up in school. Q: That’s good advice. When you get older, would you want to have any kids, and if so, how many? A: Hmm?

Q: Do you wanna have any kids when you get older? A: Do I wanna have a kid when I get older? Q: Yeah, do you wanna have a kid when you get older, like, become an adult and have a wife? A: Umm, yeah. Q: Yeah, how many would you like? A: Two. A boy and a girl.

Q: Okay. Can you please describe your neighborhood? A: Umm... It’s a lot of kids and... sometimes it’s violence. Q: Okay, umm, do you feel safe there? A: Yeah.

Q: Yeah? If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: No violence.

Q: Alright. Umm, when you look around your neighborhood what do you see? A: I see a lot of houses.

Q: Alright. What is one thing people will be surprised to know about you? A: Umm... that I’m a singer. Q: Okay, umm, you like to sing? A: (nods his head)

Q: Um, do you have any final shout-outs that you would like to make before we end? Or any advice that you’d like to give to all the people? A: Umm... no violence and stay in school. Q: Alright, thanks for letting me interview you. (Interview ends with Antoine being asked if he will sing a song. He chooses “Shoo-Fly-Pie” and sings.)

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: ANTOINE CHATMON III

Q: Okay, um, what would make Oakland a better place? A: Umm... no shootings. No violence.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

DAMARIA SIMS

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

CASEY BRICENO

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Q: Your name? A: Damaria.

Q: Damaria, what’s your last name? A: Sims.

Q: Can you spell that for me? A: My name? Q: Yeah, full name. A: D-A-M-A-R-I-A.

Q: And your last name? A: S-I-M-S.

Q: Okay. Damaria, today I’mma ask you a couple questions. First question is, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Nothing. Q: You didn’t eat breakfast today? A: (shakes head no)

Q: I bet you was hungry in the morning then, huh? A: (shakes head no) Q: Naw? You don’t usually eat breakfast?

A: I do.

Q: Alright, well, second question is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: When I first started doing back flips.

Q: When you first started doing back flips? Oh, how was that? A: Fun.

Q: It was fun? Okay, umm, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: (shrugs shoulders)

Q: You don’t know? I’mma just go to the next question. What are the first three words that come to mind about yourself? A: That I’m awesome and I know how to do a back flip... and I’m handsome. Q: Umm, who taught you to do a back flip? A: Nobody.

Q: You just did it on your own? A: (nods his head, then looks off camera) My brother right there.

Q: That’s cool. Umm, If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: My behavior.

Q: Behavior? Why would it be that? A: ‘Cause I’m bad all the time.

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: DAMARIA SIMS

Q: Hi, my name is Casey Briceno, today is December 14th, 2012. We’re here at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. I’m here by – brought to you by the African American Oral History Project, today I’m interviewing? A: (nods his head)

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Q: Oh, I mean, like, not just about you, I’m talking about the school... A: Oh... people that be bad, umm, tell, uh, tell the principle. Q: Umm, alright let’s see, next question. Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?" A: Umm. Q: You don’t know what your community is? A: Oh, it’s dangerous.

Q: Dangerous? Why you say dangerous? A: ‘Cause they be shooting around my house and in the world.

Q: Dang, that’s crazy. Umm, Have you ever felt – has there ever been a time when you felt ashamed about your culture? A: Nope.

Q: Nope? Umm, What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Fun.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: You said fun? A: (nods his head)

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Q: Okay, umm, do you plan on going to college? A: (nods his head) Q: Yeah? Do you have any school in mind? A: (shakes his head no)

Q: No, not yet? Okay, umm, what gives you hope? A: Jesus.

Q: Jesus gives you hope, that’s good, umm. Do you have any adults you can open up to? A: Any what? Q: Adults, you can open up to? A: Adults?

Q: Yeah. A: My mom, my dad and my family.

CB. That’s cool umm, What makes a man? A: Intelligent? I don’t know. Q: Intelligent? A: Yeah.

Q: Okay. Umm, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: My hair. Q: Your hair? You don’t like your hair? A: Nope, ‘cause it’s curly and nappy.

Q: So what, you would wanna cut it or what? A: No, my mom already cut it. Q: Okay, umm. Where do you feel safe at? A: (shrugs his shoulders)

Q: There’s nowhere around where you feel safe? Your home, you don’t feel safe? A: Oh! Yeah. The police station.


Q: Okay, umm, What is your greatest strength? A: What do that mean?

Q: Like, what – like, what can you do well? What is the best thing that you can do, how about that? A: Back flips.

Q: Back flips, that’s your greatest strength, alright. A: I’ll do one right now!

Q: Alright, how about after the interview? A: Alright.

Q: Okay, umm, Who is the most successful person you know? A: My mom, and my dad, and my sister, my brothers.

Q: Okay, what makes them successful? Whichever one you wanna pick. A: They love me.

Q: Okay, sounds good, umm, what is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: It was gunshots... and I was playing outside. Then they start shooting.

Q: And it was, like, right – right in front of you? A: No. I just heard it.

Q: Oh, okay, what was your first reaction? A: And it was a drive-by.

Q: Dang. What was your first reaction, just running? A: (nods his head quickly) Q: Yeah, sounds scary, okay, umm... A: You heard that? Sounded like gunshots...

Q: Oh, I didn’t hear it. Okay, umm. Who is your role model and why? A: My brother.

Q: Why your brother? A: ‘Cause sometimes he do good and sometimes he do bad.

Q: Umm. What do you need to be happy? A: My family.

Q: Your family? That’s good. Umm, if you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Them to stop shooting.

Q: All the drive-bys and stuff? Alright. What are your dreams for yourself? A: To get an education and stop being bad.

Q: Sounds good. What do you love about Oakland? A: That it [has] got swimming pools.

Q: What would make it even better? A: I don’t know... If my family lived, uh, around me.

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: DAMARIA SIMS

Q: Why the police station? A: ‘Cause, if somebody try to come take me, the police will arrest them.

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Q: So they don’t live around you? A: Not, uh, not everybody.

Q: They live far? A: Think some of ’em do.

Q: Umm, what do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That they not Negros.

Q: Okay, umm, when you say that, what do you mean by that? Like what? Like they’re not slaves anymore? A: Yeah.

Q: Umm, what have you learned from your father? A: He [is] the one that taught me how to do back flips.

Q: Umm, what is your greatest achievement? You know what I’m asking you? A: Yes.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Oh, okay, so what’s your greatest achievement? A: (shrugs his shoulders)

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Q: You haven’t achieved nothing? You haven’t accomplished some.. A: Oh yeah, I almost know how to do a back flip with no hands.

Q: With no hands? Okay, umm, describe your life in 10 years. A: I don’t know.

Q: You don’t know? Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years, what would you like to see yourself doing? A: In college.

Q: In college? A: (nods his head) Getting a – whatever it’s called – a degree. Q: Getting a degree, okay. Umm, what advice do you – what advice would you give to other African American youth? A: I don’t know. Q: You don’t have no advice for them? A: (shakes head no)

Q: Alright. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: I already said that.

Q: You did? I said community at first, I think. Yeah, I’m talking about neighborhood, like, your block, street... A: For them to stop shooting people. Q: Okay. Do you have anything you would like to add to this interview? Anything you wanna say? A: I’m sad because my cousins got shot, both of ‘em, well, one of ‘em shot his self. Q: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. That’s all you have to say? Well, thank you for your time, I appreciate it.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

DAMION SIMS

INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

JARVIS HENRY

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: DAMION SIMS

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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Q: My name is Jarvis Henry and it is December 14th, 2012, and I’m with the African American Oral History Project. Could you please say your name and spell it for me? A: Damion. D-A-M-I-O-N. Q: My first question for you is, Damion, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: Chicken.

Q: Umm, my next question is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Football.

Q: Football, you was playing football in your younger years? What position do you play? A: Quarterback.

Q: Quarterback, oh, really? Okay, that’s wassup. My next question is, what are the first three words that come to your mind when you think of African American men in Oakland? A: That they’re good.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: They’re good? Okay, you got two more things that come to the top of your mind? A: (shakes head no)

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Q: No? Okay, my next question is, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: That I’m nice and I do good things for my brothers and my sister.

Q: Oh, right on man. My next question is, if you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: The cafeteria food. Q: Okay, what would you wanna eat for lunch? A: Domino’s Pizza.

Q: Domino’s Pizza? What kind of pizza? A: Cheese. Q: Cheese, just everyday for lunch? A: (nods head and smiles)

Q: Alright, umm, my next question is, please share a time when you felt proud of your culture? A: My culture? Q: Your culture. A: Uh... when I do good things.

Q: When you do good things? Okay, alright. What kind of good things do you do? A: I do my work, stay in class, and don’t get in lots of fights. Q: Alright, that is good. Please complete this sentence, “Community is...?æ A: Good. Q: Good? Do you plan to go to college one... A: Yes.

Q: Alright, why? A: I wanna go so I can get a good education and be a football player.


Q: That’s good, that’s wassup. My next question is, have you ever felt ashamed of your culture and if so can... A: No.

Q: Alright. Do you have any adults that you could open up to? A: Yes.

Q: Who? A: My – my mom and my dad.

Q: Okay, umm, is there something that gives you hope? A: My family.

Q: Alright, my family gives me hope too. Umm, can you describe what makes a man? A: Not being scared.

Q: Not being scared? Okay, that’s a good man trait. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: To throw farther... my arms. Q: Say it one more time. A: My arms.

Q: Alright. Umm, where is a place that you feel safe and why? A: My home because nobody breaks in it at night.

Q: Okay, umm, what is your greatest strength? A: What?

Q: What is your greatest strength? What makes you strong? A: Family. They support me.

Q: Oh, family? Okay. Um, who is the most successful person that you know and what makes them successful? A: My dad and he likes to do stuff with us.

Q: Okay, what kind of stuff does he like to do with you guys? A: He likes to take us outside and take us to the skate park.

Q: Okay, alright. You like skateboarding? A: (nods head) Q: What tricks can you do? A: 360, Kick-flip, Ollie... Q: Oh, for real? A: (nods head)

Q: Okay, that’s wassup. Um, What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? A: When they shootin’.

Q: Okay. Who is your role model and why? A: My dad, because, he, uh, helps us with our homework a lot.

Q: Umm, what do you need to be happy? A: Nothing.

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: DAMION SIMS

Q: Okay, do you know what college you wanna play for? A: Cal. Berkeley.

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Q: Nothing? Okay, good. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: My house.

Q: You would change the house that you live in? A: (nods his head) Q: Would you make it bigger? A: (nods his head)

Q: Uh. What are your dreams for yourself? A: Being a nurse and going to, uh, play football.

Q: Okay, what team do you wanna play for? A: Cal. Berkeley. And when I’m older I wanna play for San Francisco.

Q: Oh, okay, the 49ers? A: (nods his head)

Q: Do you – what do you love about Oakland and what would make Oakland even better? A: I like Oakland because it’s fun, and what I would change about it would be people stop shootin’.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Uh... people know how they did good stuff for us.

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Q: Okay. What have you learned from your father? A: Lots of tricks from my dad. Q: You said lots of tricks from... A: Like folding paper airplanes.

Q: Oh, okay. What is your greatest achievement? A: Football.

Q: Football? Okay. What advice would you give other African American youth like yourself? A: Uh, stay in school.

Q: Alright, that’s good advice. When you get older, do you ever want to have kids? A: Yes. Q: Okay, how many? A: Two.

Q: Two? A boy and a girl? A: (nods his head)

Q: Can you please describe your neighborhood? A: Uh, where I live it’s kinda like where they come shoot.

Q: Okay. What do you see when you look around in your neighborhood? A: Not that much, just people walking around.

Q: Alright. Do you feel safe there? Why or why not? A: I don’t, because the shooting.

Q: If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? Oh, I asked that already. It would be shooting, huh? A: (nods his head) Q: Umm. Is there anything that you would like to add before we end, just to like give a shout-out or anything? A: Uh, no. Q: No? Okay, alright. Thanks. Thank you.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

KITO GREEN

INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

JARVIS HENRY

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: KITO GREEN

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

393


Q: It is December 14th, 2012. My name is Jarvis Henry and I’m with the African American Oral History Project and we’re at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School.

Alright, can you please say your name and spell it for me? A: Kito Green. K-I-T-O G-R-E-E-N.

Q: Alright. My first question for you is, what is the first thing that you ate today for breakfast? A: Umm, umm, Frosty Flakes.

Q: Frosted Flakes. Okay. Umm, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Um, I really don’t know.

Q: You don’t know? Okay. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about yourself? A: Umm, I’m smart, active and fun.

Q: Okay. If you could change one thing about your school what would it be? A: To make everybody stop being mean.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Okay. Please share a time when you felt proud of your culture. A: Um, when I was born I was proud of my culture.

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Q: What is it like being a young kid in Oakland? A: Umm, fun, ‘cause we get to do different sports and do everything while you, umm, young.

Q: Okay. Do you plan to go to college when you get older? A: Yes.

Q: Okay, what college – do you know what college you want to go to? A: Um, I wanna go to Cal.

Q: Alright. Have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: Um, yeah. Q: What is something that gives you hope? A: Umm, I really don’t know that question.

Q: Do you have any adults that you can open up to? A: Yes. Q: Who? A: My auntie, my mom and my grandma.

Q: Okay. What makes a man? A: Um, to be smart.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Um, to be, umm, umm, fun and to let people be my friend and don’t be mean to people.

Q: Okay. Where do you feel safe and why? A: Umm, I feel safe in my heart because, umm, I got people who care about me.

Q: That was a good answer. What is your greatest strength? A: Umm... basketball.

Q: Basketball, okay. What is the – who is the most successful person that you know, and what makes them successful? A: Umm, my, umm, aunt, because, umm, she help


Q: Alright. What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? A: Um... nothing.

Q: Alright. Who is your role model and why? A: My cousin because umm, he umm, went to college and got a degree.

Q. Alright. What do you need to be happy? A: Um... don’t know.

Q: If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Umm, to change, umm, my house?

Q: Change your house? You wanna make it bigger? A: Yes. Q: Okay. What dreams do you have for yourself? A: Umm, to umm, be a – to be in the Navy. Q: Oh okay. Why do you mean, like, be in the Navy and fly, like, on the Navy ships? A: Yeah. Q: Like the jets and stuff? A: Mmm-hmm.

Q: Okay. What do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: That they are – that they are good and... they ain’t gonna hurt you.

Q: Okay. What is something that you’ve learned from your dad?

A: Umm, that... I learned from my dad – is that, umm... I forget.

Q: Forgot? Alright, what do you love about Oakland? A: Umm, that it got fun places and, uh, and my favorite baseball team made it to the playoffs.

Q: Okay, what would make Oakland even better? A: Umm, to umm, be nice to each other.

Q: I know that’s right. What is your greatest achievement? A: Umm, improving in football and basketball, and my cursive writing.

Q: Okay. What advice would you give to every kid to help them? A: Umm, to don’t be a sin to other people, just be nice and... don’t let people name – uh, be mean to – when they say you can’t do nothing.

Q: Alright. Can you please describe your neighborhood? A: Umm, I live on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, umm, at 14th and 15th street and... and that’s how I describe it.

Q: What do you see when you look around? A: Uh, people driving, going to the malls and stuff.

Q: Umm, do you feel safe there? Why or why not? A: I feel safe because I got people to support me. Q: Okay. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be?

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: KITO GREEN

me with my homework if I need help and [she’s] the one who made me go to afterschool.

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A: Umm, to stop all the, like – to stop, umm, all the meanness... in my neighborhood.

Q: Alright. What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you? A: Umm, that I’m a great student.

Q: If you could have one wish, what would it be? A: It would be, umm, to change the, umm, every body into being nice, and caring, and respectful.

Q: Alright, do you have anything else that you would like to add before we close up? A: Umm, no.

Q: You wanna make any shout-outs to anyone? A: Huh?!

Q: Make a shout-out, to someone you know? A: Umm... no.

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Q: Alright, thanks for your time. A: You’re welcome.

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

CASEY BRICENO

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: MARCUS HENDERSON

MARCUS HENDERSON

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Q: Hi, my name is Casey Briceno. Today is December 14th, 2012. We’re here at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, and I’m here on behalf of the African American Oral History Project, and today I’m interviewing? A: Marcus Henderson.

Q: Can you spell that for me please? A: M-A-R-C-U-S H-E-N-D-E-R-S-O-N.

Q: Okay, Marcus, umm, the first question I’mma ask you is what did you eat for breakfast? A: Cereal.

Q: Cereal. What kind of cereal? A: Flakes.

Q: Frosted Flakes? A: Yeah.

Q: Sounds good, umm, okay, second question is, what is your favorite childhood memory? A: Umm... when I was first playing basketball.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Okay and how was that? A: Good.

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Q: Did you win A: Um-hmm.

Q: Okay. Next question is, what are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? A: Umm... today?

Q: Like, in general, like what comes into your mind? A: Umm... well... about helping people and... umm... like... people in need, that need your help, like the poor and stuff. Then... that’s basically all.

Q: So if you could put it in three words it would be, like, help and people in need and what would be the third one? A: Happiness.

Q: Happiness? Okay, sounds good. Umm, why does that come into your head, those three words? A: Well... because they’re important, you need people by your side, always.

Q: Umm... what are, what are the three first words that come into mind about yourself? A: Smart, happy, hoping.

Q: You say hoping. Why? Why do you say hoping? A: ‘Cause I hope that everybody has a good life.

Q: Sounds good. Umm, if you would change one thing at your school, what would it be? A: Mm, stop getting mad at each other.

Q: Why? Is there a lot of people getting mad at each other at your school? A: Because, umm, well... because people keep on, probably like, bullying... and we need to stop that.

Q: That’s a big problem in elementary school.


Q: Um, please complete this sentence, “Community is...?” A: Community is... about, like, picking up trash and um, like if somebody sad, make them happy. If, like, if, um, somebody thinks something’s hard you can like, help them. And if somebody’s crying, don’t like... Make them happy again.

Q: What type of dreams? A: To umm...

Q: Like, what is your dream? A: Oh, to be in the NBA. Q: The NBA? A: Mm-hm.

Q: What team would you like to play for? A: Lakers.

Q: The Lakers. What position? A: Hmm?

Q: Um, what is like being a young African American man in Oakland? A: Well, you can still, like... run fast, keep up with your friends, and... learn things that’s new, that come to mind.

Q: What position? A: Point guard.

Q: Do you have any college in mind? A: Cal.

Q: Yeah, that you can open up to? Talk to? A: Mm-hmm, my mom and dad, and sometimes my uncles, and my brothers, and sisters.

Q: Okay, um, do you plan on going to college? A: Yup.

Q: Cal. A: Mm-hm.

Q: Okay... have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: (shakes head no) Q: Okay, um, what gives you hope? A: Um, dreams.

Q: Point guard. Okay, umm, do you have any adults that you can open up to? A: Adults?

Q: Okay, umm, what makes a man? A: Mmm... to help one in need... like, if somebody falls down, push them back up... and to take blame for it if you did something wrong.

Q: Sounds like a true man, um. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Um. Not to get angry at people if it, like, a

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: MARCUS HENDERSON

Um, please share a time when you felt proud about your culture. A: Hmm, when we didn’t have to be slaves no more.

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mistake. Like if they do something, really bad to you, you’d have to umm, tell a teacher or something like that.

Q: Okay, so you would change that about yourself? A: Yeah, because, I don’t really tell the teacher that much.

Q: You don’t? Why not? A: Because people call me snitches sometimes.

Q: That doesn’t mean you’re a snitch, that just means you tell them ‘cause it’s tough. A: I know. Mm-hm.

Q: Well, um, let’s see... where do you feel safe? A: School. Q: At school? A: Yeah, ‘cause of the teachers.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Umm, what is your greatest strength? Like if somebody were to say, “What do you most like about yourself?” What would it be? A: Umm, eating right.

400

Q: So you eat right? A: Yeah.

Q: That’s good, um, who is the most successful person you know? A: Um... Jackie Robinson. Q: Um, okay, uh, What makes him successful?

A: Because he was the first black person to make it on a white person’s team and they, he didn’t say anything back, like, when the people did something bad to him.

Q: That’s good. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? A: When I broke my arm.

Q: Broke your arm? How did you break your arm? A: Well, umm, I accidently fell and I hurt my arm. Q: Were you running? How did you fall? A: Um, I was jumping and I was doing this little stunt.

Q: And, did you break your right arm? A: Left.

Q: Your left arm, um, who is your role model and why? A: My dad and my brother because they’re always telling me to do my best.

Q: Um, what do you need to be happy? A: I’m already happy ‘cause I have a family and a home.

Q: That’s good, um. If you could change one thing about your home, what would it be? A: Umm... people not leaving all the time. Q: Oh, are there, there’s a lot of people leaving at your house? A: Mm-hm.


Q: You wanna be a musician? What, what uh, instrument would you like to play? A: Saxophone, or trumpet, or electric guitar.

Q: I can dig it, um, what do you love about Oakland? A: Great community.

Q: Um, what would make it even better? A: Not that many bad people doing things, or something.

Q: Okay, you said, I’m going back to that other question that you answered... A: Yep.

Q: You said that your teachers make you feel safe. What do they do to help you? A: They always watch out for me.

Q: In like, in what way? A: Like if I’m at recess, and people like, start bullying me, they would always come, and fix the right things.

Q: Okay, um, going back to that other question. When I asked you who was the most successful person you know? I mean, like, a person that you know, that you met. A: Oh, like, that I know?

Q: Yeah that, like, that you met, like maybe your uncle or your dad, or someone. A: Oh... mom. Q: Your mom? A: (nods head)

Q: What makes her so successful to you? A: ‘Cause she always helps me with everything I need.

Q: Okay, um, and another question, you said people were leaving your home, all the time, uh, who? A: For, like, business.

Q: Oh, for business trips? A: Mm-hm.

Q: Um... A: Oh, and college, for my brothers and sisters.

Q: Oh, he goes to college? What college does he go to? A: My two brothers and two sisters.

Q: What colleges do they go to? Do you know? A: (shakes head no)

Q: Um, I’mma go to the next question, um, what do people need to know about African American men in Oakland? A: Young people? Like younger than me?

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: MARCUS HENDERSON

Q: Okay, uh, what are your dreams for yourself? A: Um... musician.

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Q: No, like, people. People around. A: African American, umm, that they’re grateful... and they have, like, sometimes, some people have a hard time.

Q: Okay, um, what have you learned from your father? A: Never to give up, and keep on pushing, and... to always try your best.

Q: Okay, um, what is your greatest achievement? A: Mmm, playing in tournaments in like L.A., and um, Reno, Las Vegas, basketball. Q: Oh, you played out there? A: (nods head up and down)

Q: Cool. Um, describe your life in 10 years. A: Ten years?

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Mm-hm. A: Have a house, have a car, umm, be grateful, and um, pay taxes if I need ‘em.

402

Q: Okay, um, what advice would you give other African American youth? Like, maybe around your age. What advice would you give ‘em? A: Don’t get angry at people that try to hurt you ‘cause you can always just... back off and go tell a teacher.

Q: Okay, um, uh, If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Umm, about my neighborhood?

Q: Yeah. A: Okay, umm. Well, I don’t even – I don’t know what I need to change? Um... I guess, like, cleaning... environment-thing.

Q: Okay, and do you have any other, umm, do you have anything you would like to add to this interview? A: Umm... Q: Like, anything you wanna say? A: No.

Q: Alright, thank you for your time, I appreciate it. A: Okay, see ya.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G , J R . E L E M E N T A R Y S C H O O L INTERVIEWEE

MARKAI PENN

INTERVIEW DATE

D E C E M B E R 14 , 2 012 INTERVIEWER

JARVIS HENRY

TRANSCRIPTS: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: MARKAI PENN

INTERVIEW LOC ATION

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

403


Q: Alright. It’s December 14th, 2012. My name is Jarvis Henry and I’m at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School and this is the African American Oral History Project. Alright, can you say your name and spell it for me? A: M-A-R-K-A-I.

Q: Can you say it? A: Markai.

Q: Alright, my first question for you is, what did you eat for breakfast today? A: I ate a waffle.

Q: Waffle? Okay, sounds good. What is your favorite childhood memory? A: Uh, what?

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: What is your favorite childhood memory? A: I can’t remember.

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Q: Alright. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about African American men in Oakland? It can just be the first three words...If you don’t have ‘em, that’s okay. Wanna skip that one? Okay. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? A: Having homework every day.

Q: Oh yeah, that’s a good one. Umm. What are the first three words that come into mind when you think about yourself? A: Nice... talented...

Q: Great. One more…are you athletic, do you like to play sports? A: Yeah.

Q: What sports do you like to play? A: Basketball.

Q: Basketball? Alright, do you have a favorite team? A: Yeah. Q: Which one? A: The LA Lakers.

Q: Oh, okay, with Kobe Bryant? A: Yeah

Q: Alright, that’s good. My next question is, what is it like being a young kid in Oakland? A: It’s, like... it’s, like, okay though.

Q: It’s okay? A: Yeah

Q: Alright. Do you plan to go to college when you get older and continue your education? A: Yes. Q: Alright, um, have you ever felt ashamed of your culture? A: No.

Q: No? What is something that gives you hope? A: Mm... thinking about my family.

Q: Your family? A: Yeah.


Q: Who? A: My mom, my dad and my brother.

Q: Okay. What makes a man? It could just be one thing… A: A graduate. Q: A graduate? Like, from college and from high school? A: Yeah.

Q: Okay. Um, if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? A: Being addicted to my video games.

Q: Oh, okay, alright. What’s your favorite video game? A: Mortal Combat.

Q: Mortal Combat? Oh, I play that. Who’s your best character that you like to use? A: Scorpion.

Q: Alright. Um, where do you feel safe and why? A: I feel safe in my house because... there is nothing going bad in there.

Q: Okay. What is your greatest strength? A: Lifting weights.

Q: Lifting weights? Alright, umm. Who is the most successful person that you know and what makes them successful?

A: My brother because he got A’s and B’s like my dad.

Q: Okay. What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you? A: Watching Celebrity Ghost Stories. Q: Who is your role model and why? A: My, like, now, what is role model again?

Q: Like, a role model can be, like, a superhero, or someone that you look up to? It’s okay if you don’t have one. A: I don’t.

Q: What advice would you give to other kids? A: Um, like the gifts I give to kids?

Q: Can you say that again? A: Like, what kind of gifts do I give to kids?

Q: No not gifts, like advice, like, what is some good advice that you would give a kid... A: Stay good and do your homework every day. Q: Do your homework every day? Alright. What is something that people would be surprised to know about you? A: That... I could do a lot of stuff, like, doing gymnastics and… and that’s it.

Q: That’s it, alright. Can you please describe your neighborhood? Like, what do you see when you look around?

TRANSCRIPTS: DOWNTOWN OAKL AND: TERRELL TOLIVER

Q: Alright. Do you have any adults that you can open up to? A: Mmm, yeah.

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A: I see… like… I see old houses and… next door is, is another house, which like, reminds me of another house I used to go to.

Q: Okay. Do you feel safe in your neighborhood? Why or why not? A: I... do because… there’s nothing going bad out there.

Q: Alright. If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be? A: Like, seeing – seeing trees grow and… and, and plants being - plants being watered. Q: Alright. So, more trees and more plants? A: Yeah.

Q: Alright. Umm, If you could have one wish, what would it be? A: To… get like… get a game when it’s not even – even out yet.

THE GRIOTS OF OAKL AND

Q: Okay, alright. That’s a pretty good wish. Mm, how do you like your school? A: It’s good, like… I get a lot of good grades.

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Q: Okay. Do you have anything else that you would like to add before we close? A: No. Q: Alright. Thank you for your time.


THANK YOU GRIOTS!


gri·ot

/grēˈō, ˈgrēō /

An African tribal storyteller who perpetuates the oral tradition and history of a village or family. Oakland has long been a home to an inspiring, courageous community of African Americans with a wide range of life experiences. We are a City that has produced countless African American leaders, from judges and mayors and members of Congress, to social justice heroes, to great artists, scholars and athletes. Instrumental to the success of African American men as been the central role of education, which continues to demand our continued support.

We are inspired by those who excel, but we are also inspired by those who persevere. Oakland is also home to a community that refuses to be marginalized, and who demand to define themselves and their own destinies. Many have also faced decades of great hardship and tragedy. Their resilience, their determination to overcome generational violence and poverty, is among the great unrecognized stories in the history of our nation.

This project and others like it are an opportunity for us all. In listening to these stories, we begin to unlock the great promise of Oakland and its renowned diversity. We learn from one another. We come to understand and love one another. We begin to overcome prejudice and callousness, and we become fuller human beings. We find that humility and compassion lead us to tremendous strength. The young men who tell their stories in this volume have given us all a great gift. It is a reminder that life in Oakland is a constant opportunity to learn and to rise together. Let us take their inspiration to heart, and let us cherish the lives of all our neighbors in this place we call home.

JEAN QUAN, MAYOR

City of Oakland

The African American Oral History Project is a collaboration between Alameda Count Health Care Services Agency Center for Healthy Schools and Communities, Oakland Unified School District’s Office of African American Male Achievement and Story For All.