On a chilly night last year, my partner and I were mugged at gunpoint in North Oakland by a serial mugger. He allegedly went on to hold up and shoot two men, one of whom did not survive.
The mugger was black and my partner and I are white. Almost without fail, well-meaning East Bay citizens have responded with something like: "I'm glad you're not making this an issue of race."
The thing is, they're wrong. I have made it an issue of race. Just not in the way they mean.
I have lived in Oakland for over six years and watched it gentrify at a breakneck pace. From Temescal to "Uptown" to West Oakland, again and again, historically African-American neighborhoods are claimed as "urban" enough for the well-heeled looking for a gritty bargain.
My partner and I live on the edge of Piedmont and Oakland in a residential and unhip area. We picked the location -- a mixed-class combination of apartment buildings and houses -- because we could afford the rent on our nonprofit salaries while avoiding surrounding neighborhoods undergoing gentrification.