Giving Compass' Take:
- Denzel Tongue discusses how the Black community in Oakland, California is fighting for housing justice in the face of gentrification.
- What are the root causes of gentrification? How are housing justice and racial justice connected? What can donors do to help achieve housing justice?
- Learn more about housing justice.
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My family’s history is deeply shaped by our nation’s history of discriminatory housing policies.
I’ve written about my grandfather’s story and about how redlining affected my family. But I never fully explored how this legacy continues to impact the housing situation of my family and many others. The legacy of redlining and housing discrimination has exacerbated California’s already devastating housing crisis for the Black community. As a result, California’s major cities stand to lose community members who have made some of the biggest contributions to our state’s rich culture.
At the heart of all this is one simple question: Does every Californian have a right to remain in the city that they call home?
My family history on my mother’s side is relatable for many African Americans. My grandfather, Dave Campbell (from Galveston, Texas), and my grandmother, Lillian Lane (from Memphis, Tennessee), both hailed from the South. Like many Black folks from their time, my grandparents and their families moved to the West Coast to escape the crushing racial prejudices of the Jim Crow era. My grandmother arrived in 1943, and my grandfather arrived around 1950. This mass exodus, known as the Second Great Migration, shepherded thousands of Black families to regions like the Bay Area, where they hoped for a better future and more opportunities.
Sadly, in California, many of these families faced redlining, discrimination, and police brutality. Nonetheless, they settled here, helping to shape the Bay Area’s trendsetting culture, politics, and distinct sense of identity. In the decades that followed, Black residents in Oakland, where I live, created things as varied as the Black Panther Party to the musical and countercultural hyphy movement. They led America’s fight against South African apartheid, thanks to the leadership of Congressman Ron Dellums. Black Oaklanders also set down roots by building churches, opening popular small businesses, and even creating an annual festival that helps all Oaklanders understand the role Black cowboys played in American history. The Black community in my beloved city of Oakland has often been on the forefront of radical and cutting-edge politics and culture.
Read the full article about housing justice in Oakland by Denzel Tongue at YES! Magazine.