Scenes from the aftermath in Oakland:
stories of victims, survivors and healers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


So much has changed in the world and yet so much remains unchanged. The streets of Oakland are still capable of being depressingly violent. The country is still filled with white people willing to kill from hate. Or willing to trap busy delivery drivers inside their needlessly gated communities. Or willing to force people of color to choose between their jobs and their health or the health of their families. Or willing to let the poor and the elderly get sick and die to save the economy. It is certainly easy to understand the anxiety people feel who aren’t fortunate enough to be working right now. Or people who are worried about their small businesses. It is a very scary and uncertain time. It’s their willingness to act like assholes, arming themselves, threatening reporters, calling people tyrants and Nazis who are just trying to do their best in a crazy time, that I don’t understand. I believe in protest. But it’s like those protesting pandemic safety rules skipped a step, went straight to militant. I know these are two different topics: white people killing and harassing African-American people who were just trying to go about their lives, and white people overreacting to some pandemic inconveniences. But I also think there’s a lot of overlap between these two populations: how they love to pull out their guns and play soldier; how they love to play sheriff. Only it’s no game when they are 100% motivated by hate. I don’t usually feel that I personally need to apologize for these acts of white people. But these days I just feel…sorry.  - J. O’Brien