During the pandemic, thousands of people have had to ascend. Ascend means to rise up to keep going to thrive in any situation that comes against you. Many have lost loved ones, friends, co-workers, church members, and community activists due to the coronavirus, COVID-19.
I spoke with a few friends, local artists, and healers, and asked them, “How have you ascended through this pandemic while living in Oakland?”
Tyrice “Recie” Munson
The trajectory of my wellness business has sky-rocketed while in this pandemic, which is still shocking. I’ve felt so overwhelmed by the support of the Oakland community. Initially, I thought teaching yoga would decrease due to not being in a studio, but it actually increased. I’ve been able to host outdoor classes, wellness events, and various virtual events. On the other hand, my career as a registered nurse remains up and down. It goes through the motions of this pandemic. One quarter is well and one quarter is chaotic. I can say that I felt very supported by my respective communities through it all.
Tyrice “Recie” Munson, Millsmont
Before the pandemic I was working four part time jobs while being the primary parent to my two kids. I barely slept or had time for anything unscheduled. Like many people, the pandemic has forced me to stop and reevaluate just how much my time is worth, and so I decided this was the perfect (down) time to discover how I can work less and make more money. I decided to learn a new trade which would pay more.
Ashley Butler, East Oakland
I slowed down and began working on projects that I’d put off. I wrote a book. Created a blog. Replaced the carpet in my home. Appreciated moments of sitting on my back porch soaking up the sun. Call people when they’re on my mind. Hug my family and friends even more. I realized, time is the greatest commodity we have. Be selective of who and what is worthy of it.
Gigi Mcqueen, West Oakland
I’ve ascend because of the community. Being pregnant during the pandemic I knew I needed to call in a close circle of loved ones I could depend on. If we could all find a relatively safe way to go to target then I knew we could find safe ways for me and my family to be supported. From porch drop offs of food, receiving weekly body work, having a supportive partner, and receiving out of hospital midwifery care, I was able to ascend through so many challenges that even outside of the pandemic Black pregnant people face. I knew I couldn’t be isolated during this time. I am thriving because of the collective community care I received.
Sumi Franklin, West Oakland
I have ascended through the pandemic by focusing on ways to remain creative and contribute to the community. I was able to work on an album by moving my studio to my living room while also sharing files with other musicians, artists, and producers through the internet. I was able to adjust my performances online by finding ways to be creative and engaging with zoom performances. I end. Created an outdoor event “Black Music Matters” which focused on highlighting social justice issues, celebrating Black music and doing safe outdoor socially distanced concerts.I stayed contributing to the community by being active in protest for social justice and finding ways to engage and support people in need during this difficult time. As a commission on city of Oakland Cultural Affairs, I helped organize town halls on Black and Asian solidarity, support for venues during pandemic, and artist advocacy. I was also heavily involved as a governor on the board of the Recording Academy’s SF Chapter. Lastly, bringing a teacher at Oakland School for The Arts helped me stay engaged with youth and supporting them during the pandemic.
Kev Choice, Lake Merritt
Toni is part of Oakland Voices’ 2021 class of Community Correspondents. Talk of the Town highlights the voices of Oakland residents.