You know you're from Oakland..., AC Transit passenger solidarity and #reading

>> Thursday, August 4, 2011

It was an interesting day at school Wednesday afternoon. Still dealing with the challenge of channeling the students' creativity into actually writing.

We started off having a discussion of the "You know you're from Oakland if..." Facebook phenomenon. It was an old trend rekindled. In fact, I even compiled a blog while working at AC Transit on this same topic.

At any rate, after the students recounted their generation's version, we transitioned them into writing them down. Sadly, many who were able to make them up off the top of their heads seemed unable to concentrate long enough to write many.

We also tried to unpack why would being from Oakland give people these shared ideas, experiences and culture. Conclusion: Smart children, just need better strategies to encourage writing.

* * *

On the AC Transit #40 from Fremont High to downtown Oakland, I saw another random act of bus passenger kindness.

A man walking down the aisle dropped $1. A woman said to him, "Excuse me. You dropped some money."

After he returned to pick it up, she half-jokingly asked, "How much is it? Shoot!" and started laughing.

The man then smiled and gave her the money. "Thank you," she said.

Despite much of the other craziness I've witnessed, and the reputation of AC Transit as a "ghetto on wheels," the passengers are god people.

* * *

It's hard to tell from the photo above, but I've nearly finished Manning Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

I can't say the jury is still out on this one–it's definitely, as author Karl Evanzz said, not magnum opus. There are major logical fallacies and some assertions that lack substantial evidence, but there are other points of the book that are informative.

I may attempt to write a review, although other more scholarly writers will be writing a "Black Writers Respond" critique later this year.



Joél Ramos August 14, 2011 at 12:17 PM  

I don't consider AC Transit a rolling ghetto. I have been riding AC Transit for over 30 years and NEVER had a bad experience. Sure, I've things happen to other people, but I've also seen bad things happen to BART, Muni, etc. But the majority of time, when I ride AC Transit, I meet kind-hearted people that are just trying to get by.

Lately a team of 5 teen-aged youth and I have been riding the 1 and 1R every day talking to people about the proposed BRT for International Blvd. We've spoken to hundreds of people, and have collected over 200 signatures in support of the project. People have given us their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Turns out that the folks on transit, (even at the back!) are just trying to get by, and though they may appear angry or empathetic....they are just disenfranchised. Once we start talking to them, though, they're ready to support a better system like BRT.

It's all in the attitude.

Reginald James August 30, 2011 at 12:36 PM  

@Joel - I completely agree with you re: the status of AC Transit. It's a fascinating place with people from throughout the world and from ALL walks of life. I was referring to the attitude of some people, particularly some choice riders. Some are simply afraid to venture onto public transit. And as you know, the complexion of the riders changes when one disembarks a bus and gets on BART.

As for the work you're doing with the youth in East Oakland, that's excellent. It's important that our young people are involved in building the system that they will one day ride, drive and manage. Being involved creates an investment in their community, as many of them are invested in the community. Keep up the great work!!!

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