Last year, when I told friends I was moving to the Bay Area, they would all respond with equal parts joy and jealousy. "The Bay? Man, you're going to love it. The weather, the culture, the politics -- they've got all that." When I told them I was going to be living in Oakland specifically, the responses started to sound a little different. "Oh shit, The Town? You better watch your back." While folks were still down with the left-leaning, hip-hyphy, biracial baby that is the city of Oakland, they also made sure to tell me that this baby would jack me for my stroller if I wasn't smart.
But those were just scare stories. Right? Growing up in Washington, DC in the mid-90s, I'd seen both the reality and the exaggerated stereotype of the "murder capital." Violence at my high school and in some neighborhoods was all too real, but it was also an excuse for suburban commuters and absentee politicians (in this case, Congress, which controls DC's purse-strings) to disinvest from those same schools and neighborhoods, creating further inequality and violence.