Below is a video taken by Xan West, who reports from her neighborhood of West Oakland for KQED’s ouRXperience, a blog on health issues written by community correspondents across California.

Because Occupy Oakland has so dominated the news, West stepped outside of her health beat and asked a handful of friends and acquaintances for reaction to the movement.

Her first question to all: Do you think people in West Oakland are involved in Occupy Oakland? West Oakland is roughly 50 percent African American; all seven interviewees are black and said they didn’t think African Americans in general were involved in the movement. Their reflections and analysis on the reasons why are included in the video below. Some of the comments:

  • “The items on the agenda of the movement, a lot of the people in West Oakland aren’t even concerned with. That’s why they’re not involved.”
  • “Most of the people I know in West Oakland don’t see the relevance of the movement. I think they see it as, fortunately or unfortunately, trust fund babies, people who don’t have to work, people who are already provisioned in this society. In some ways, it’s like good for them they can do that, but I can’t.”
  • “The majority of the people I’ve seen with this Occupy movement are just like people jumping to the new social networking site… It’s just the thing to do all of a sudden.”
  • “All the vandalism and stuff, that’s hurting Oakland more.”
  • “I really get angry and get tired of people who think ‘let’s go to Oakland and make a name for ourself.’ We struggle with so many issues — we struggle with violence, we struggle with education — the educational issue in this city is horrible. And we don’t have time to spend a lot of money on foolishness…”
  • “If you look at all the violence, there’s no violence without the cops.”
  • “If you’re going to occupy with the intentions of getting the attention of the one percent, occupying a poor place — they don’t care about that. The one percent doesn’t live in downtown Oakland.”
Video: West Oakland Residents On How They Feel About Occupy Oakland 21 February,2012Lisa Aliferis

  • John Seal

    Nicely edited to cast OO in as bad a light as possible. Please post raw video and allow us to draw our own conclusions.

    • There is a message for Occupy in this video. Can you hear it? The folks in this video are PRECISELY the folks we need on our side. Instead of getting defensive, how about some critical self reflection? How do we realign our message, tactics, and strategies so that communities of color in Oakland start to feel that this is a movement that is FOR and ABOUT them?

  • Xandysue

    John, it is easier to attack my journalistic integrity than to accept the very real reality that this movement may only be appealing to certain portions of the 99%.  This video was not offered to cast a bad light, rather point out complexities in hopes to create dialogue.


Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED’s State of Health blog. Since 2011, she’s been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for “Best Topical Reporting” from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor