Sunday, December 4, 2016

Many Perished in Oakland Fire

My heart goes out to the victims of the Oakland fire and their families. I grew up in the area where the fire occurred. It's a few blocks away from my high school. Many of the people are either poor, working class and/or people of color.  I noticed on social media that people were victim blaming because the warehouse, called Ghost Ship,  was used for a rave. They assumed people were using drugs and were therefore "asking for it."I don't care if they used drugs or not. Someone is hurt and devastated that their loved one died so tragically and probably painfully.


Oakland, San Francisco and Berkeley were meccas for artists. This was a community where you live out of the box and let your freak flag fly. With gentrification and rising costs in housing, we are losing artists. I know talented people who left the Bay Area because they couldn't afford to live here. And I have never in my entire life seen so many homeless people in Oakland. Times are tough. I'm not surprised artists have chosen to live and socialize in an unsafe place like this warehouse. Other spaces are unaffordable. Last I checked Oakland doesn't have an arts commission.

It's hard for me to watch some of the city politicians look saddened by these losses when they haven't done much to stop long-time residents from being priced out of their homes. Maybe Ghost Ship wouldn't exist if they helped poor folks. Don't get me wrong. They owner of the building needs to pay big time for this. Neighbors called the city with concerns about the building. The city didn't do anything enough in time and now it's too late. I heard through the grapevine from an inspector that the city doesn't pay as much attention to buildings in that area. I wonder if the residents being poor, working class and/or people of color have anything do with it.

There's a lot of blame to go around. But right now that's not important. I feel bad because a lot of people are grieving tonight and will be for a long time.

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