4.14.2009

Pray for the City of Oakland


I'm on record as saying that if I ever move from Philly, I'd like to retire to Oakland, California. With its remarkable diversity and gritty urbanness, it is the most Philadelphian of all West Coast cities. I don't plan to move or retire soon, so I have time to house-shop.

In the meantime, Oakland circa 2009 is a city in turmoil. A high-profile murder of a supine black man by a white cop at a BART station in January was followed by riotous protests and then the murder last month of four cops in one tragic incident.

Black-on-white incidents aside, the overwhelming majority of violent crime in Oakland is black-on-black. And this in a city that is often upheld as a model in urbanism, which has a flourishing black middle class and a pulsating cultural and progressive vibe to it.

A recent Economist article quotes a criminologist who says much of the killings are based on respect: someone disrespecting you warrants shooting at them, or you shoot at someone to earn "street cred" among your peer group or to establish your "turf." Meanwhile, families live, work, and play in this city of my favorite baseball and football teams from my childhood and potentially my retirement address. Pray for the city of Oakland.
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