NovoMetro

Education in Oakland

Lessons from Oakland

Posted by novometro on January 10, 2007

The fracas that threatened to spoil Mayor Ron Dellums’ public swearing in ceremony Monday bore more than a just an undertone of racial tension. The last of a dozen public speakers calling for Ignacio De La Fuente to surrender the City Council presidency was a black man, who accused Mr. De La Fuente of favoring Latinos over other races. The East Bay Express wrote that part of the hostility directed at Mr. De La Fuente stemmed from the perception that he had blocked the “city’s dying black political machine” for the past eight years.

Not so long ago, journalist and NovoMetro friend G. Pascal Zachary wrote about Oakland in a paper for Comedia, the United Kingdom-based think tank that sums its mission with this question: “How do we identify, harness, promote and sustain the creative, cultural resources that are present in every human settlement if we look deeply enough?”

Titled When Immigrants Revive a City and When they Don’t: Lessons from the United Statesthe paper argues that Oakland attracted immigrants largely because political leaders put aside race politics in many instances when they could have pandered to racial and ethnic constituencies.

“The rush of African American newcomers constituted a kind of rehearsal for the mass immigration to Oakland of the 1980s and 1990s. African Americans, having only recently supplanted whites as Oakland elite, proved secure enough to share power with immigrants. This is a different racial and ethnic narrative than in cities where blacks are a large but still distinct minority. In Oakland, white flight left blacks in charge, opening the way for the emergence of a diverse political coalition.”

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