Oakland continues to be the center of social change as members of the community call for investment into black communities in light of recent tragedies.
What's Going On
The lyrics of Marvin Gaye's song, "What's Going On," are truer today than they have ever been. Gun violence in Oakland has culminated in the sixth mass shooting in June alone. Community leaders are scrambling to provide peace for their people, but the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, economic troubles, and police violence is amplified daily as violence continues.
Berkeley Pastor Mike McBride says, "The state of emergency is the trauma, pain, and scourge of violence that is interpersonal in nature but is fueled by the trauma of our people."
Pastor McBride is among many community members begging Alameda county officials for money to put back into these ravaged neighborhoods and shellshocked people. They are calling for a $100 million investment into Black neighborhoods to support mental health care, rental assistance and boost small businesses.
What Will the Money Do?
The money is from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, a financial fund that will send billions to communities across the U.S. for pandemic relief. The Rescue Plan will help with vaccination efforts, rental assistance, education, and more – things that Oakland residents desperately need.
Community leaders and members of the African American Response Circle see their neighbors struggling and are experiencing some struggles. That's why the AARC sent a letter to the District 5 leaders outlining their plan for how the $100 million should be re-invested back into Black communities.
Like many Black communities nationwide, the pandemic has made survival more difficult than ever, and those most affected have no choice but to live with the increased violence in their area to the best of their ability.
Economic problems always affect the poorest and/or most diverse groups first, and the AARC is fighting for those groups to have the help they need.
The $100 million would be distributed as follows:
- $16 million will go to the expansion of a universal basic income program for families in Oakland
- $10 million in grants will be given to 40 Black-owned businesses
- $9 million will help provide over 1,000 Black residents with an hour of culturally competent weekly counseling for a year
- A down payment of $50,000 will assist around 250 people with other needs
All total, the AARC estimates that around $99 million would go a long way toward helping Black people recover from the pandemic, gun violence, and increasing economic issues.
So far, the AARC has not received a response from the Board of Supervisors in Oakland. Supervisor Carson told journalists that he acknowledges the plan and is looking very closely at its potential.
Other activists and Oakland-grown celebrities have voiced their support for change. Dr. Noha Aboelata, Founder and CEO of Roots Community Health Center, commented on the recent uptick in violence,
"It is having devastating ripple effects that can take generations to heal. […] The frequency of these shootings and loss of life is getting to a point where we're having to be desensitized just to cope."