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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Ms. High Sadity

 

December 20, 2011

I was sitting there in my favorite Chinese food restaurant being judged every second. Snide comments were made on my choice of entrée, my sense of humor, and how loud I blew my food. It got so bad that I lost my appetite. I was so annoyed by the woman who sat across from me that I honestly considered throwing my won ton soup in her face. It had the potential to end up like a bad episode of the show Blind Date but I kept my composure. I made solid conversation with her until it was time for me to go. I walked her to her car and told her to take it easy and wished her good luck in life. After that first date I never returned her texts or called her again.

 

It’s fascinating because I spent a whole portion of my adult life thinking I deserved to marry some high-class chick who went to private school her whole life and never lived in the ghetto. I used to think that’s what I was striving for. In retrospect I have never been more wrong in my life. I have always had serious problems with people who are condescending in nature. It doesn’t matter how pretty or accomplished a woman is, if she has a nasty attitude I don’t want to be around her.

I still can’t believe that woman. As educated and successful as she was in the end she was socially retarded. She has no idea how to treat a human-being. And though I haven’t kept in touch with her I can bet that she is still very lonely. It’s ironic that a person could put all of their energy into establishing a career and lose their ability to have positive interactions with everyday people. If that’s the price that one has to pay to make it to the top then I am completely ok with struggling down here in the hood. I guess it could be a lot worse.

-YB