ONN – Will Oakland Version Of The Battery SF Club Get Weird If A Lot Of Black Folks Try To Join? – video by the YouTube channel in the video’s upper left hand corner.
Will Oakland Version Of The Battery SF Club Get Weird If A Lot Of Black Folks Try To Join? The Question Of The Day.
Five years ago I visited the Battery SF Club at 77 Battery in San Francisco’s Financial District, had a ton of fun, and vlogged that it was what Oakland needed because my city has a tendency to be, well, “uptight”.
Fast forward to today, and what has change is first, the homeless problem in Oakland was just starting to be, well, just that. Second, a lack of affordable housing has pushed a number of Black Oaklanders either out of Oakland or to the streets of Oakland. And Third, the seemingly constant problem of police brutality came to a head nationally with the murder of George Floyd.
And finally, we have The Pandemic to make all of this just that much worse. And now, that has caused massive population shifts because of closures of businesses all over America. It’s estimated that as many as 20,000 people left San Francisco for Oakland, Berkeley, and the East Bay in 2020.
All of that brought Michael Birch to focus on purchasing The Bellevue Club on Lake Merritt and making it into a kind of “Battery SF East”, or I prefer “Battery SF Oakland”. How will the new Battery fit in with an Oakland that’s divided by class to such a degree that it’s warfare? And given that Black Oaklanders are disproportionally impacted by racism and classism, will the Battery find itself flooded with applications from Oakland Black folks, and then not select them for reasons of race?
The San Francisco Battery has a handful of Black members, and when i went the folks I ran into I knew were all white and in tech. Look. I am not the norm. For example, I was at The Twitter Launch Party at Mighty SF and so was my friend Cathy Brooks, who was also working for Loic Lemur on his LeWeb events in France. I could go on.
But, today, the number of Blacks in tech who live in Oakland has grown and a good set are venture capitalists. Some of my friends who are Black and in business in Oakland have been members of the Battery in SF and quit because they thought it was elitist. Will the Battery folks try and woo them back?
A lot of questions and because what Michael Birch is about to do should be regarded as a social test of Oakland’s culture in the wave of tech wealth that’s washing over it. Will tech change Oakland or will Oakland change tech?
And what does this development say about Oakland itself? In 2016, this happened to me:
Is that Oakland’s future? I hope not.
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