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Knowing What To Fix -- A Black or Latino Mayor in Oakland Would Do Better - From The Pacific News Service

These blog entries are from Oakland kids between 15 and 16 years old, and written very recently. It gives a great view to how Oakland's young people look at its politics, who can make a difference, and why.

JJovan Parnam,
YO! Youth Outlook, Nov 04, 2005
It would make a big difference if the new mayor of Oakland is either African American or Latino because they might understand where our people are coming from, how our situation is.

I live in Oakland on 35th and Foothill aka 'Tha Dirty Thirties." My neighborhood is like a mini Mexico because a lot of Latinos live there and all the Mexican stores are out there too. There's only a few Asians on my block, only four houses are owned by blacks -- the rest is Latino.

Since I live in a diverse neighborhood I know a lot of different people.

One of my Latino friends I kick it with is Ernesto, 15, he lives on the same block that I do. I met him outside when I was little because I used to go outside and play, and he did too. One day we just started playing and sharing toys with each other and I still kick it with him until this day. He's like family to me.

Another Latino friend is Victor and he is 16. I met him at Calvin Simmons
Middle School when I was in the sixth grade we had a couple of classes together and he sat next to me and we had to do a project together. The funny thing is a long time ago when I was walking down 35th he was walking the opposite way and when he was passing me I tried to jack him for his Gameboy but he didn't give it to me so I kept on walking.

I have always been around Brown people and I know a lot of them. I also know some of them don't like black people. When I used to go to my friend Victor's house people used to always look at me funny and say things in Spanish about me -- like they'd want me to get out of their apartment building. One guy started throwing eggs and banana peels at me out of his window and telling me to "Get the f--k out of there!"

I have also learned that they go through some of the same things black
people do -- like the police thinking if you're a gang member if you are hanging out on the streets.

I know that a lot of them don't choose to be gang members but they are born into families who are already gang members -- like their uncles and fathers and cousins – so that's the path they follow.

Conflict between black people and Mexicans doesn't happen in my neighborhood as much as it used to. But on an everyday basis the Latino gangs fight each other. I've had one or two conflicts with the bangers but it's not like an everyday thing.

The people I kick it with are real cool they like family to me and we are very diverse. I don't hang out with just one race of people. In our click it's like four blacks, one Latino and four Filipinos. We know a lot of people in our neighborhood but I hang out with them every day, all day.

The mayor's race coming up next year will include Ron Dellums, a black former Congressman and Ignacio De la fuente -- a Latino City Councilman from the Fruitvale District, down the street from my house.

My friends and I don't even think about political things but I'm a little interested. I am curious because Ron Dellums is a black man who cares a lot about the African American community and if he were to win and become mayor there could be a lot of changes not just for black people but for all poor people.
I feel a black Mayor would help the blacks out a little more than everyone else and a Latino Mayor would help the Latinos out a little more. That's not bad. It would be bad if they were traitors like Condoleezza Rice. It would be nice if someone who went through what we're going through could be mayor then they would know what to fix.

Jovan, 16, is a student at Met West High School and an intern at YO!

Young Immigrants On The Oakland Mayors Race
Editors Note: YO! asked youth from the Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation Newcomer Program at Fremont High school in Oakland if they thought a Latino Mayor would make a difference in their lives – these short essays were translated from Spanish.
Ricardo Beltran Moran, 14

Having a Latino Mayor will affect my life because if he is Latino he can help those who don't speak English.

I don't know anything about Ignacio de la Fuente and since I don't know anything about him I don't know how he really is. He could be a racist or corrupt. If he is a good mayor he could help the people who do not have papers by giving us drivers licenses and medical.

Christian Rivera, 15

I think a Latino Mayor will know what Latinos need since he himself is Latino. I think A Latino mayor will help Latinos get licenses and better pay at work and help us with getting papers.

Liliana Rojas, 15

I believe that a Latino mayor will help the Latino community because since he is Latino he can help the rest of us move forward. I think that a Latino mayor could better the opportunities for Latinos and help us get drivers licenses, citizenship, better jobs, medical assistance and other things that help our wellbeing. But I do feel that sometimes politicians can be corrupt because when they are in a position of power ambition gets to them and instead of bettering the situation they make it worse

Fatima Rosibel Borjas, 15

I think a Latino Mayor would do something for the community because he is Latino and he would want to see his community doing well without gangs and other bad things. But sometimes I feel that it is better for me if politicians aren't Latino and are American because I am Latina and I know my people. When we are in a position of power we are embarrassed by our own. Even though there are times that Americans want to help the community Latina because they see they are the most in need, sometimes Americans are not thankful for what we do for them and they think that just anybody would do it. They act like this even more when they are in a position of power and just want the money of the people and don't care about the wellbeing of everyone. I don't get involved in politics and I don't even like to know about politicians because the politicians killed my father in El Salvador.
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