Have you ever noticed that when you voice an opinion about an issue that is highly controversial, people will either applaud you or try to tear you down? This occurs when people find an element in your words that they can relate to, which validates and enables that person to feel good about themselves, or when they have found an element in your words which highlights the very traits in themselves which they are deeply ashamed of.

We have serious problems in Oakland. And when one attempts to peel away the layers upon layers of racism, classism, bigotry and gender bias, in order to get to the root of the problem, one must have an extremely thick skin to shield oneself from the mind-boggling ignorance of those who will resent you for exposing the truth to the masses and forcing them out of their comfort zone.

Everyone is so preoccupied with being "politically correct" that we have strayed so far from the point we need to be, in order to enact the type of change our society desperately needs.

We have city officials whose political agendas are placed as a higher priority than doing what is best for the community, which they are supposed to represent. We have law enforcement that won't leave their prejudices and biases at home, and instead choose to take that perspective into communities of people of color and operate with an "us against them" mentality.

We have a school district that is failing to educate our children, and neglecting schools that have a higher percentage of children of color.

As a society we have lowered our standards in areas such as media, meaning radio and television. We've allowed ourselves to get so distracted, allowed our minds to become so dulled. We have become complacent about issues such as lyrical content and the content of reality TV shows.

We have ignored the environment, lost the respect we had for the earth, and have essentially turned out to be like a virus to this planet we call Earth.

Where does this leave us as a city? We are now in 2008, and you can travel for 10 minutes in one direction and think you are in a totally different city, when in fact you have never left Oakland! We turn on the radio and hear men rapping and singing about topics that have very little if none at all, positive value to it. And worst of all, these rappers are influencing the next generation of men and women.

We turn on the TV and you see men and women of color validating the very stereotypes that we as a people rally against. We have a public school system that spends the majority of time disciplining and not enough time educating.

What we have is a city that has failed to provide for its citizens. Wake up Oakland! Bring jobs back, educate our kids, clean up our streets, make the streets safe again, hold our police officers accountable for their faulty behavior, but most of all, make us proud to call this city our home.

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