Montclarions Too Distant From Oscar’s Death

Oaklanders rang in 2009 with our first killing, amplified for the world to see.  There’s plenty to say about Oscar Grant’s terrible demise, the BART cop, the inflamed protests, more orderly rallies – and seeing justice served.

In peaceful Montclair, we seem to be appropriately horrified by the killing and relieved the BART cop will be tried for murder.  But is that really enough?

Oscar Grant Rally

As I meet folks around Montclair Village, there’s not a high level of outrage here.  While I genuinely believe that people care, there’s a certain and clear distance from the goings-on.  Here’s an unadorned list of our reactions and behaviors:

  1. The action’s just a few miles away.
  2. We make sure not to drive downtown.
  3. We check the news obsessively.
  4. There’s chatter about this murder and its aftermath.
  5. Everyone feels safe in the hills, anyway.
  6. Everyone goes about their regular, daily lives.
  7. We talk about patronizing downtown businesses.
  8. We are hoping the BART cop gets put away.
  9. We don’t really do anything about the events.
  10. And we accept this is Oakland life.

Wow, reactions from residents are almost…like Israelis.  Yes, there’s a war going on with Hamas in Gaza.  We are in Tel Aviv and just know these things happen.  We continue with our lives, because we live like this.  It’s a bit of a metaphorical stretch, I admit.

But have we become so accepting of greater Oakland’s ills that we sort of ignore them in our daily lives?  Maybe there are some important lessons to learn, because we haven’t really entered the post-racial Obama heaven.   We could keep up the spirit of giving and helping, beyond the holidays.  Every small gesture helps.

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How Oakland Looks To Hip San Franciscan

Let’s take a moment to smile about how Oakland looks to a hip San Franciscan and her friends.  This now-former Yahoo employee commuted from San Francisco to Sunnyvale daily, and decided to map her commute a while ago.

You can see the length of her daily drive and world view, in a thick blue line running 36 miles along 101S.   It’s a classic and traffic-filled journey that she endured for many years.

Perception Of Oakland

The ex-Yahoo displayed the whole Bay Area map, and began annotating areas beyond the commute.  A friend joined the game, and described an unknown and unexplored East Bay:  The mysterious land to the East.  Here be Berkeley and Oakland (and dragons).

I wonder how often some San Franciscans leave their tip of land and head east?  Maybe Marco Polo should be shipped out on an adventure, to find the shortest routes to spices.  I swear there is already a there, there…we’re here and willing to conduct trade.

Perception Of 94611

Then our commuter pointed to the Oakland Hills again, singling out what appears to be our 94611 zip code:  This is the mysterious section known as “French Oakland.”  They speak in an entirely different dialect over there.

At least we all speak the same language, right?  I could not have described our world any better than this hip chick, who has only passing interest in our city.  Touche.