Oakland, CA — I grew up in Oakland's Fruitvale district, a primarily Latino community. Things in my neighborhood are changing rapidly. The way it’s going, I’m afraid the hometown I recognize won’t be around much longer.
On my drive home the other day, I noticed a mural that read: "Gentrification drives the color out of the community."
I see this everyday in Oakland. So many of my family members and friends have moved out of The Town to surrounding suburbs, like Antioch, Stockton, and even Modesto, because they can’t afford the rent.
I’ve watched as local businesses shutter, replaced by storefronts that don’t cater to my community. A Mexican restaurant my family frequented closed, only to become an artisanal beer garden. Bougie bars and restaurants dot the streets. They seem out of place in a neighborhood where many locals struggle to afford a cheap meal. Sometimes, it feels like these businesses come into our communities, only to exclude us.
Oakland is my home and I can’t imagine leaving. But it hurts to see the culture I grew up with fade away. Because when the people who built this community leave, they take Oakland’s spirit with them.