I am Black history. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently as the last days of Black History month drifted away. But Black history isn’t just one month out of the year, it’s every day.

by Pacita Rudder

I am Black history. I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently as the last days of Black History month drifted away. But Black history isn’t just one month out of the year, it’s every day. When we talk about Black history, the conversation is usually around African-American leaders who helped shape the civil rights movement. As a Black woman with African/Caribbean heritage, born and raised in England, those conversations don’t fully represent me. Nor do they encapsulate a vast number of Black revolutionaries who helped change or influence Black lives around the world. People like Olaudah Equiano, Mary Seacole, Harold Moody, William Cuffey, Kwame Nkrumah, Bussa, Yaa Asantewaa, Jamaica Kincaid. This narrow celebration also doesn’t encapsulate so many more people who don’t get recognition or praise. The every-day people who overcome white supremacy and micro-aggressions by the hour. People like my mum. My grandma. My sisters. My brother. Myself. In honor of them, I wrote something about my experience of Blackness:

The house I grew up in was small but cozy. Snuggled in the corner of a cul-de-sac, I felt safe there. I had spent years in that house, running barefoot in the soil, eating raspberries that weren’t quite ripe. I would lay on the grass smooshing raspberries onto my face, my braids picky and untamed getting tangled with the grass. I would regret this later when my mum would have to undo the braids, ripping a comb through knots and re-braiding my hair tight to my scalp. I would hold back tears and grit my teeth through the pain, letting a few exclamations exit my mouth. She felt harsh in those moments. Like a big bad monster with no feelings. But that’s the way reality works; things aren’t always as they seem. We all learned how to braid from my mum, each sister passing it onto the next. Except it seemed to skip me. Somehow, I couldn’t get my hands to twist the strands one over the other, making sure that the hair laid flat to the scalp. My fingers wouldn’t flex and bend the way I wanted them to. They were stiff and hard and unwilling to bend to the pressure of my mind. I gave up and continued to lay in the dirt, letting nature mess up the perfect braids crafted by gentle fingers.

When I think of Black history I think of Black hair. I think of the many fingers that have slid through my cotton ball hair. Fingers that have slid through and got caught in the knots, the shea butter coating their hands. The Black fingers twisting Black hair from generation to generation. Through the oppression, the degradation, the tears, that one act of love remains a constant. My mum worked multiple jobs, more hours than she should have been working in a racist system, but I could always count on those fingers twisting my hair into chains of love.




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Oakland Rising and our collaborative partners are united in our vision for a city that embodies health, happiness, safety, and equal opportunities for all. Our goal is to create a model of progress and sustainability that showcases the possibilities for American cities in the 21st century. We are committed to dismantling the barriers of racial, economic, political, environmental, and educational inequities that have divided us, and instead, embracing the collective strength found in our city’s diversity. We firmly believe that Oakland can achieve its full potential when every resident, student, and bus rider has the ability to shape our city’s future. This vision is attainable and we are determined to realize it through our collective actions, whether it’s through voting, meetings, or call to actions.

Every year, we release a Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform (VIPP) which outlines the annual policies that we and our eight partner organizations prioritize in order to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice in the Town. Our collaborative’s agenda encompasses a range of critical initiatives, from expanding affordable housing to creating a more equitable democracy through campaign finance reforms. These priorities are designed to provide vital protections and innovative solutions for the most vulnerable members of our community. As we continue our efforts to promote these policies, we hold conversations with thousands of voters, lead and co-host impactful town hall meetings, educate and mobilize residents and voters, and undertake various other initiatives.

To gain a deeper understanding of our commitment to resist, protect, and advance in this political moment, we invite you to explore our 2023 Vision, Issues, and Policy Platform. Together, we are making strides towards a more equitable and just Oakland, and we remain steadfast in our pursuit of change, one vote, one meeting, one march at a time.

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