Is Oakland turning Brown?
Our city council always talks proudly about Oakland as a green city yet increasingly our town seems to be turning brown. An article in today's Tribune "Fruitvale's African-Americans sense declining clout" lifts up the reflection that the historically dominant African-American population in the Fruitvale district is disappearing or turning brown, being replaced in large part by Latino and Asian (predominantly Chinese-American) populations.
A quote from a resident in the article states "These residents say they see signs everywhere of what they describe as black being eclipsed by brown." I too remark such changes. The church I serve as pastor distributes food twice a month. 6+ years when I came here to serve the dominant population in those that were seeking food assistance and help were African-American today it is visibly Asian and increasingly Chinese speaking. Now that could be the result of several things: 1) it confirms the browning theory of Oakland, or 2) it's our context and immediate neighborhood, or 3) it's a result of the populations and people that know about food ministry, and/or 4) it's a combination of all of the above. Another large reflection of this browning is what I notice every time I go down and around Eastmont Mall: increasing numbers of signs and notices in Spanish in what was historically one of the large African-American Centers of our city.
Sociologists and urban planners remind us that cities are living things AND I wonder what that means for Oakland.