Oakland: Through a Tourist’s Lens

On March 14, the correspondents of Oakland Voices and Sacramento Voices came together in Oakland to meet and discover the city.  While driving through Oakland, we stopped at historic  places that contributed to the evolution of what we now know as Oakland.

St. Augistine’s Church, site of the Black Panther Party’s first free breakfast for children program

We saw where the Black Panther’s started the free breakfast program for school children on 29th Street, Mills College, off of the 580 freeway, El Otaez restaurant on International Boulevard, and the area Oaklanders consider deep East Oakland.

Sandra Muniz tried to look at her hometown the way a tourist might see it.

On the bus, I tried to have the lens of a tourist and Oakland seemed beautiful and sad to me.

Oakland has a rich history and diverse culture, with murals, the parks, the schools, and the people.  Like my Oakland Voices colleague Sergio Martinez said, “the best place to buy tacos is Sinaloas taco truck.”

However while looking through the tourist lens, I saw trash,  closed businesses and vacant lots.  But this is my home, my new roots and my family.

Going on the tour made me love Oakland even more because the city includes so many ethnicities, from their churches to their temples, from the street to the avenues, from the food to the languages.

Lastly, the tour made me appreciate the opportunity to see Oakland in another light with different people who are having similar experiences as Voices writers.

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My mom came to the United States in 2000, while my dad was already here six months before my family arrived. We came for the American dream, however we were not notified that the individual has to survive, struggle, and cope in this land to reach the dream. Although we had to go through hardships to reach the position we are in now, everything we struggled for was worth the wait. At times I'm upset over the sacrifices we had to face as a family. For example, I was not able to protect my brother when he was bullied or advise him to protect himself from gang bangers. As kids we didn't comprehend why our parents were unable to help us. But as you get older, you understand that in those days not even your parents could help because they were in the same position as us kids.