Sunday, March 23, 2014

I am Oakland | 1

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I am Oakland.

A day laborer, un jornalero, working at night
stands in the middle of an intersection under cold rainfall
selling light-sticks to fans going to a game at the Oakland Coliseum.
I stop at the red light. He looks over at me, waves the lights.
He is only wearing a hip-length yellow rain-coat.
The rain, the cold, survival, cross-border love, family, community.
Oakland is my home away from home.

 I am Oakland.

An artist makes Oakland his place, his home, his art.
He brings Frida Kahlo, levity, busts open multi-cultures, paints, listens to music as he excavates images with his pencil, poetry abounds, friends surround him.

Day laborers need art; artists are day laborers, too.
Day laborers are artists, too; they make Oakland street corners into familiar places, into a community that serves community.
Both lead a precarious existence of dreams beyond survival.

I am Oakland.
Where are the Ohlone?
Where are the Hills?
Where are the Flatlands?
Where is Chinatown?
Where is uptown, downtown, Jingle Town?

Our hands are the same, our hearts pound for the same joys and against the same sorrows.
We are Oakland?
Can we make Oakland a place for everyone, rich or poor, young or old, white or black, English-only or bilingual, indigenous, homeless, murmurers, working class? Women house workers, young men in hoodies & fedoras?
Where are you in this beautiful contradiction of art and day laboring on someone else's land?
Who will come to stay a while and who will disappear?

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