Faith in the Ghetto (An East Oakland Photostory)

So I recently hit the avenues and backstreets of Oakland, CA to take some pictures for The Oakland influence: Three Women from Oakland, CA share their thoughts wisdom and hope for the future (a creative project that I’ve been working on for the better part of 2012. Hopefully it’s coming soon) and as I searched tirelessly for beautiful black women to photograph I realized how faith-based my Deep East Oakland community is. As a matter of fact even the door to my home has a cross with the words “He Is Risen” inscribed on it. Which I never noticed until my Jewish friend pointed it out a few years ago. At any rate while I put the finishing touches on The Oakland Influence I thought I’d share a few depictions of faith in the ghetto.

The landlord of this apartment complex is apparently very outwardly Christian.

This apartment complex is part of the infamous Macarthur strip, however, one may think it was in the Holy Land based on this very outward display of Christian faith.

A little religious humor.

I found this clever poster on a home in the backstreets of East Oakland. I really wish that I had come across it in junior high school though. It would have made me feel good to know that even though the young ladies never looked twice at my nerdy self, Jesus still loved me.

Angelique represents!

Here we have a young woman who was literally raised in the church. So I decided to take a picture of her in front of her 2nd home.

Though shalt not kill.

I really liked how this mural flips the biblical passage Though Shalt Not Kill. Obviously it’s very important and unfortunately the message is extremely relevant in East Oakland.

 

When people discuss the identity of East Oakland they often speak of sideshows, drugs, police brutality, and crime but if they really knew the area they would be more inclined to incorporate faith into the conversation. The flatlands of Oakland is a very spiritual place that I was only able to show a small piece of in this blog; but maybe one Sunday morning you can come see it for yourself. There  are more places of worship than there are liquor stores, hair salons, and barber shops in this area that has been given the dubious title “Baby Iraq.” Even though my community is neglected economically we never neglect our Lord and Savior.

Amen

PS Be on the lookout for The Oakland Influence featuring journalist Niema Jordan, founder of Outdoor Afro Rue Mapp, and Emergency Medical Physician Evelyn Porter.

Peace and thanks for reading.

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Feeling Grinchy :-(

    December 19, 2011

     There’s nothing like Christmas time to remind me that I’m broke as hell. I mean it’s not like I could ever forget with my good for nothing hot water heater that blows out every other day and the suspicious partial power outages that disable half of my lights and my television for hours at a time. I know I live in the hood and the reality is that well—people in the hood tend to be broke. I’m not ashamed of this fact and I haven’t allowed it to make me stagnant either. I’m still working hard while trying to get a hold of that one missing piece of the puzzle that will land me a full-time job with benefits. And of course I’m still passionately pursuing this writing thing. But meanwhile it really sucks to see dozens of commercials about I-phones, I-pads, Cadillacs, and a bunch of other crap I can’t afford. It tends to stress me out a little bit.

After all Jesus Christ was a humble dude who wore sandals and normal everyday attire so how has it become customary to celebrate his birthday by spending all your money on designer clothes at some overpriced department store? I don’t know it just all seems so lame to me. Everyone is lost and no one seems to care. The worst part is that I am a huge part of the problem. If I had a few thousand dollars to blow on presents this year I wouldn’t even be composing this piece right now. I would probably be at some bar downtown with Christmas decorations in the window drinking with friends and buying brandy and eggnog for some chick because I like her smile. Oh the hypocrisy of it all. Why must Christmas be about complete and utter excess? How do we rise above this foolishness?

Wow I feel like the Grinch and Scrooge rolled into one. I need to get a grip, LOL.

-YB