Modern Day Manifest Destiny, or Just Plain Old Getting The Hell Out Of Dodge

Teenager walks past the scene of the 100th homicide on 57th and Hilton. 10/15/2012
Teenager walks past the scene of the 100th homicide of this year on 57th and Hilton. Photo: Michael Holland, Oakland Voices 2012

This story has language that may offend some readers.

By Michael Holland

Recently I just lost another friend and neighbor. Not to violence or anything else newsworthy. I lost another friend to Contra Costa County. The promise of cleaner streets and more square footage was too much for my friend. He gave in. He completely uprooted his family and moved to Antioch.

He’s not the only one. I’m sure you the reader have lost someone to Contra Costa County. If you haven’t, that means you must have just moved here. In that case, don’t unpack. Leave. Go northeast, young man.

I know, I know –  that might not be the best way to welcome new comers, but the spiritual side of me wants to help whenever I can. Even if it means offending a few loyalists to The Town.

This city used to be the preferred destination for people trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. I was raised by my great grandparents, who came to the Bay in 1944. War time. They were part of The Great Migration. Back in those times, the Bay Area was booming in ship building and other manufacturing.

Now the only industry gas lighting the economy is computer software down in Silicon Valley, and if you don’t have the credentials to work in that field you are ass out. Oakland used to be a blue collar type town. We built things here. Now it is a ghost town for industry. Jobs are scarce.

Before my friend moved, we talked a lot about his new place, and one of the best reasons for moving: the street walkers. They still frequent the block that his family used to live on. He said, “There are no spots for hoes where we at now!”

Living in such close proximity to prostitution is also starting to take its toll on me. It is all over Oakland. My friend has daughters like me, and he cited the street walkers by his old house (47th ave. near International Blvd.) as the main thing that pushed him out to Antioch.

I joked with him that “20 years ago, we would have loved to live on the hoe strip!” We laughed, but it really wasn’t funny. I’m a father and the thought of my girls being exploited makes me cringe.

He also cited the shootings in East Oakland as a reason for his move to the scorched City of Antioch. Oakland has made national headlines within the last few years. From Oscar Grant to the three toddlers shot and killed. People have even been shot through walls. Emergency vehicles are always speeding to some crime scene. Sirens wind and roar in the background even as I type!

The sound of Crown Victoria cop cruisers can often be heard racing through the streets after shots are fired. Every few minutes, cars drive by with tremendous beat – Harley Davidsons with loud pipes – and all the gunshots.

Antioch is starting to look better and better!

With East Oakland seemingly spiraling out of control and a fiance reminding me that our child cannot grow up in Oakland and be safe, I decided to do a little research.

Currently, we are renting a 2-bedroom house for $1325 a month. In Oakley, there is a house  – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a 2 car garage – for 1375 a month.

“Honey, it’s time to pack!”

The whole concept of uprooting my family and moving to an unfamiliar place is intimidating. But why? The Southern migrants of the Greatest Generation did it, and many of them prospered.

Maybe in time Antioch will be the new Oakland. Given The Town’s rep right now, I’m sure the good people of the Oakley/Brentwood area aren’t too thrilled about Oakland’s undeniable presence in their city. Because, by now, don’t we all know someone up in there?


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Michael Holland is a 39 year-old slightly disabled man with a checkered past. “Remove all that,” Michael says, “and I am just your average, brutally honest Black man. I also am somewhat of a God ‘freak,’ although I don’t formally belong to a church!”

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