Oakland, We Hear You!

| November 19, 2013 | 21 Comments

Dear KQED Pop Loyal Readers:

Earlier today, we ran a post about things to do in Oakland that has generated a LOT of feedback. We hear you! When we ran this, we read it as a tongue-in-cheek piece on the state of the Bay Area. We know the writer and knew her intentions. However, on further review, clearly we got this one wrong. We understand why people are offended by this and we are truly sorry that a lot of people felt hurt and slighted.

After reviewing the post and feedback with a senior editor, we have decided to remove the paragraph that was offensive.

We are very grateful for your feedback and will keep it in mind for all future posts.

In response to your requests for a more researched story, we wanted to share a piece KQED News did recently about the realities of gentrification in Oakland:

Bay Area Authors, Activists and Listeners Weigh In on Gentrification“Gentrification,” and its loaded meanings in debates over race, class and displacement, is getting tossed around a lot these days. Recently, Forum asked some authors and activists in the Bay Area to share their take on gentrification and what it means in the Bay Area.

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We also wanted to share these pieces that were brought to our attention about great places to eat in the parts of Oakland the earlier piece didn’t discuss:

Flavorhood Oakland | FuseBOXInexplicably, my car slid sideways across College Ave into the path of oncoming traffic. The guy on the radio (live 105) shouted “There’s broken glass all over 9th street…” seconds before the station went dead. All the way down College people were streaming out of their houses, faces tight.

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Flavorhood Oakland | Taqueria SinaloaMaybe it’s just me. I’m tired. The news used to energize me and spur me into action, not make me want a long winter nap. But things seem so bleak now, with our dysfunctional government (controlled by slack jawed fanatics hopped up on personal ambition and bigotry) handing over the crown jewels, the welfare of the american people, to the robber barons.

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We want to thank everyone for their feedback. Keep it coming!

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Category: The Internet

About the Author ()

KQED Pop is a daily blog edited by Emmanuel Hapsis and Lizzy Acker that critically examines the social and cultural impact of music, movies, television, advertisements, fashion, the internet and all the other collective experiences that make us laugh, cringe and cry. We focus on local, national and international experiences with a Bay Area lens. We don’t do reviews.
  • anonymous

    This is tacky back-pedaling. If you read it as toungue-in-cheek, then you are unfit for the work you do within your community, hence your re-routing a convenient article about Gentrification as bolstering/cred.

    I am wondering why it was important to keep the article up at all
    and not make deliberate apologies to the communities of East and West Oakland?

    Making amends is apology with heart and willingness to make it right.
    I would ask that of the author.
    If I was KQED, I would fire YOU and scrap the blog, if I was convinced of my own integrity.

  • Suzanne Vyborney

    Dear KQED Pop – The fact you “knew her intentions” still does not justify you publishing Serena Cole’s offensive article that grossly misrepresents Oakland – I’m assuming an editor actually read her article before choosing to publish it? Vague statements about good “intentions” are meaningless because what matters here is impact. Shame on you for publishing such a poorly written and researched article just for some page clicks. And Serena’s ignorant, offensive and quite frankly racist/classist opinions about East and West Oakland aside, her article is STILL very disrespectful. Serena lives in Oakland but only “out of poverty and a lack of direction” and the graphic showing “It’s fine, seriously” – that is incredibly patronizing and disrespectful to the place so many of us love and call HOME. Oakland is more than “fine” and anyone who thinks otherwise is more than welcome to leave. The tongue-in-cheek analysis should be left up to someone who actually knows what they’re talking about doesn’t think Piedmont is the only place to go in Oakland. The real apology I’d like to see is from the writer Serena Cole – she owes the city of Oakland and its residents an apology. And maybe afterwards she’d like to spend some time at Oakland City Council meetings as well as volunteering in the regions she so blithely maligned.

    • brookish

      exactly. ignorance is no excuse.

  • Tonya

    I don’t think you ‘hear’ us at all. This was nothing but a half-assed attempt to 1. “apologize” 2. get more click views. You’ve created controversy at our city’s expense and it is not amusing or appreciated. You want to make amends? Take down the blog post all together. Don’t contribute to the defamation of #Oakland joking or otherwise. Instead of reposting a ‘gentrification’ article…Why not talk about the effects of classicsm and RACISM that is creating a divide within Oakland and the Bay Area. Instead of a half assed apology..why not do and be BETTER. Start by giving your so called ‘journalists’ and editors cultural sensitivity training. Sounds like it’s sorely needed.

  • Ivy Schlegel

    Everything I’ve seen of this, from the decision to publish the piece to this completely tone-deaf non-apology, makes me question the values and experience of your editorial team. Given the complexity of gentrification and the emotional quandry many of us find ourselves in, there are layers of dialogue to be had about migration from San Francisco, the fierce history of Oakland, how people make their way through learning about race, class, difference, and a million other topics. You could have chosen to publish a love letter to Oakland, but instead your author submitted a banal list of places she patronizes, book-ended by disorienting classist ennui about how much she doesn’t really care about Oakland or even like it. Beyond the piece itself, when faced with criticism from your readers and subscribers, you first saw only the feedback which conformed to your values and mindset ( the “missing” locations from the best of list). Then, in deciding to only remove the offending paragraph without acknowledging the range of feedback from readers, you sidestep race and class, reframing through a privilged lens of “Oops! Don’t mind my dust!” Lastly, you offer us a serious article on gentrification not from your pop team but from your news team. Somehow I don’t think you are grasping the complexity of the topic, nor do you see gentrification and displacement as an issue that would appear anywhere else besides the news. What I read here today wasn’t “I’m sorry for the privilege I carry everyday in my new home of Oakland,” but “Sorry – Oakland isn’t my responsibility.”

  • brookish

    “we are sorry that a lot of people felt hurt and slighted.” Not sorry that you ran this horrible, clueless, racist dreck, but you’re sorry other people were hurt? Classic non-apology apology. Tongue-in-cheek racism and classism is not excusable. If you regret the fact you let this awful article be published, just say so. And remove it. Airing opinions that are NOT horrifically biased does not achieve balance.

  • earinsound

    “The views expressed in these posts are those of the writers and do not represent KQED.” Well, they do whether you like it or not.

  • Roberto Santiago

    I remember my family history of giving to KQED. Why would we do this? I know I’m not going to support this kind of lax “journalism,” wishy washy fake apologies, or east bay bashing. No more pledges for you KQED, not until you do better.

  • Jean Quan

    Thank you. People need to remember that Oakland is more than robberies. True, robberies in Oakland are up 24 percent over the past year, with armed robberies up 45 percent, but it is completely irrelevant that virtually all these robberies are committed by one group of strong supporters of the Democratic party, my voters. Come to Oakland, violent crime rate only rose 16% to 1,993 per 100,000 residents, more than triple the national average, so it is a great place to live if you like some excitement and fear in your life, plus very high taxes. Oakland is heaven. Come here (we need your money to continue these success stories).

  • Erika

    Again, the real Oaklanders, love Oakland, and know of the reputation, and yes there are issues, but that is why we are not happy when the “writer” of the article, is semi-happy to live here. Maybe you can help her move to another city. Sorry, I am still offended, it is going to take a while for us to recover. I listen to segments, about Oakland, and the high crime, but it is a big city, but not everywhere, everyday….still pissed off. Erika

  • Eric Arnold

    what a lame “apology” no excuses for this whatsoever. just racist and wrong. ashamed to read this in 2013.

  • Marleen Sacks

    I am dismayed that you have edited the blogger’s post because it “offended” some Oaklanders (and probably non-Oaklanders). Since when must journalism be completely inoffensive? I am offended that you have censored a person’s writing because it did not meet your standards of political correctness. For the record, the “offensive” paragraph had to do with the writer advising others to “stay out of East and West Oakland.” First of all, it was kind of funny. It was meant to be funny. It was also, for many people, good advice. Yes, I can see how some people were offended. But lots of comedians are funny because they deal with sensitive issues that might make people uncomfortable. The blogger might not be Louis C.K., but the politically correct vitriol that the post generated was completely unjustified. Sorry, but much of East and West Oakland is incredibly crime ridden, and I completely agree that coming home in one piece is not “elitist.” Shame on you, KQED, for censoring viewpoints that not everybody agrees with.

  • Erika

    Sad apology, because of comments, you had to delete part of the article, and with the other comments, you originally thought it was OK to send out. I am very disappointed. Be respectful, and unless you really care, stay on your side of the bridge. It is OK to leave this great city of Oakland a little secret.

  • ContessaBooty

    The author comes across as earnest in her cluenessless and NOT tongue in cheek. You may have removed AN offensive paragraph, but certainly not THE offensive paragraph. The rest of it is plenty offensive, racist, clueness, and even Berkeley bashing. I’m embarrassed that Ms. Cole is at all a representative of Oakland.

  • martinsnapp

    It wasn’t only offensive to Oaklanders. Did you read what she said about Berkeley? Congrats to KQED for achieving the impossible: Undoing all the goodwill toward San Francisco because of Batkid in less than a week. Now we can go back to thinking of you as a bunch of elitist douches. Your “apology” is a day late and a dollar short.

  • William Bishop

    I cancelled my membership. I still give to KPFA, but KQED has become the radio station of SF and Silcon Valley and does not represent the rest of the Bay Area fairly.

  • Truthbot

    Kqed can eat a bag of dicks.

  • William Bishop

    Evidently, my call for people to drop their membership until they take down the post was offensive enough to KQED that they took down my post. Again, a call to Oakland residents to cancel their memberships until KQED takes down the post, and hire people who actually know and care about this city to report on it, not some hipster who lives here only because she is too poor to live anywhere else.

  • Dan Silvert

    You guys don’t get it. It wasn’t the paragraph in question (which I missed) which is the crux of the problem, it’s the hoity toity, dismissive crap strewn throughout the rest of the article.

    I just moved from the Piedmont Avenue area to the Elmwood district of Berkeley, so I’m not just crying over sour grapes about not being able to live “somewhere nice.” The author of the previous piece just wrote a really shitty article.

  • Oh word?

    Your non-apology is nearly (though not quite) as offensive as the original article – the definition of “sorry if you were offended”, not “sorry we published some racist, classist, incredibly offensive tripe without thinking for one second about how incredibly problematic it was.”

    What do I love about Oakland? The fact that enough people love it to call you (and your “writer”) on this bullshit.

  • Marissa

    I was raised on KQED. It was a refuge from the muck and cheap entertainment that pervaded American news and television. KQED has historically differentiated itself with its new content and and public affairs programming – “designed to appeal, above all, to a viewer’s intelligence.” On a related note, I find censorship in theory to be the bane of news media, and to back pedal and “censor” an offending paragraph in Cole’s is distasteful in itself (on an aside, the entire post was offensive to me)–my contention mainly is: how did this content escape the editors in the first place? It displayed a complete void of perspective and distilled very complex issues in a very shortsighted, misguided manner. It was something I’d expect to see on Fox News, SF Gate, or Huffington Post. Miss Cole, why not write a whole series of posts in this vein: “Don’t bother going to Detroit. Seriously, I know someone who got mugged there and I heard it’s dangerous.” or “East LA is a wasteland, and people who live there are obviously slumming it to be cool.” or “I recommend you only frequent businesses that happen to be owned by privileged caucasian people.” It’s irresponsible “journalism”, if you can call it that. So I fault not Miss Cole, who is obviously quite ignorant in her own right, rather the editors who curate these posts. Censorship is shameful, yes. But it is your job to ensure you adhere to the mission of KQED, to nurture the demographic adversity of its listeners, and to ensure public programming continues to be the sacred and widely respected forum it has been for decades (and mind you, one that is entirely listener-supported).