Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is 'The Bay' An Island?

How Fetishizing the Bay Area Hurts Our Movements and Communities (an excerpt):

"Queers use markers as code to communicate with each other. White queers sometimes use markers that are appropriated in problematic ways. In this case, the bright colors and spandex wasn’t troublesome in and of itself—it was that this homogenous group of white people (a dominant group) was occupying public space in a big way and in direct relationship to the violence of gentrification in that neighborhood. The answer isn’t to not ever wear spandex or be fabulous. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m excited, as white queers, to find solutions that aren’t punitive while we figure out how to create markers and communicate with each other in ways that don’t harm or alienate anyone."

"I want to think through the ways people (and sometimes organizations) speak about “The Bay” in a way that flattens and makes organizing cultures and frames of reference inaccessible for a lot of people, especially people who grew up around here."

"For young white people, Oakland is a cool place to live. Berkeley is not. I’ve lived in Berkeley and know a good crew of folks who do. When young white people tell other young white people we live in Oakland, we are affirmed and admired. When folks say they live in Berkeley, it’s not so cool, and sometimes comes with a smirk or raised eyebrow. What in our imagination makes Oakland cool? The mystique of danger? Gentrification? The political history? Brown people? What does this say about who we really think lives where?"

The above are only excerpts of a larger flow and argument, please click the link at the top to read Savannah's whole work and to consider the conversation she is trying to begin.

And while this is specific to the Bay, I doubt we're the only area where these or similar politics are playing out.

Speaking only for myself, she's touching on some issues here that have stuck in my mind as a Bay Area "native" for years; things I have yet to resolve for myself and would be really interested in working with others to figure out.