Monday, June 2, 2008

Rockridge: Diversity

By Daniela, Alejandra and Brian

When we visited Rockridge, we didn’t know what to expect. This was the first time that we visited. We didn’t even feel that it was part of Oakland. When we got off BART (train), we realized that it definitely had a different feel to it. This area was very clean, and also very calm and tranquil.

Our group topic was diversity, and for us, Rockridge didn’t feel so diverse. But it was more diverse than Walnut Creek. When we were walking down College Blvd., we saw that the majority of the pedestrians were white, but not all. We went into many of the restaurants, stores, and boutiques that they had, and the majority of the people working indoors were white and Asian. We even went to a Taqueria called "Las Palmas Fine Mexican Food” and only one of the workers was Latina! The rest of the workers were Asian. When we were looking for someone to interview, we did see a couple of African-Americans. Still, it felt like the majority were white.

When we interviewed workers at Rockridge, about half of them said that Rockridge was very diverse, not only in its ethnic backgrounds, but also culture and religion. They said that Rockridge has many different races that make up that community, and that they do celebrate other cultures holidays, which makes them more united. In their opinions, they said that they have people in many different religions, such as Catholic, Buddhist, and Atheist.

On the other hand, the other half of the people that we interviewed said that their community is not so diverse, because you don’t see as much of some races. Many thought that the minority group there was African Americans. When we interviewed a women at a clothing store, she implied that Rockridge was very diverse, yet she said the there are not many African Americans in that area. We then asked her, “so, even though African Americans are rarely seen, you still consider Rockridge to be diverse?" She replied by saying, “That’s why I said it is not diverse.” This didn’t make sense to us, because she was contradicting what she said at first. This might also be because everyone has a different definition of what diversity is. Maybe that women realized that her definition of diversity was wrong. Or maybe she just wanted to say the right thing to a group of young Latinos.

We found evidence that Rockridge wasn't economically diverse, either. Overall, pretty much everything at Rockridge was very expensive, including food, clothing, jewelry, and groceries. We ate pizza at a small pizza place and even a single slice of pizza was hella expensive. A slice of pepperoni pizza cost $3.25, and a regular drink cost $2.25. It's supposed to be a famous place (Zachary's), but at “Pizza Man” in downtown Oakland you can get both a slice and s drink for about $3.00! We actually refused to buy a drink there and went across the street to buy a drink from another shop. There were many little boutiques with really expensive clothes, like this one place that we went to where they had a plain white t-shirt for $130! Don’t ask us why, but yeah, it’s true.

So that says alot about the diversity in Rockridge, that tells you that the people there are probably very wealthy and can afford to buy things like that. We also went to a jewelry store and - omg - you should have seen the pricetags on the pieces of jewelry. They had this beautiful, long necklace with a few pearls on it and little tiny diamonds for $8,000, and a ring for $1,000. Everything was so expensive. We asked the owner why everything cost so much and he started telling us about how their stones and pearls are "exquisite" and one-of-a-kind, because they come from different countries like Brazil, and Africa, and some even from the US. He went on to explain to us how the stones were found... The jewelry was gorgeous, no doubt about it, but of course only someone with alot of money could afford to buy something like that. It was funny because as I walked out, I told the storeowner, “okay bye! I’ll come back when I’m rich!” and he laughed.

In our opinions, there is not that much diversity in the economic class in that area. For example, stores that were that expensive would not survive in a place like Fruitvale or East Oakland. When we went to Rockridge, we saw a Mexican restaurant, but there was only one Latina making the food and the rest were Asian. The food didn’t taste the same, and didn't taste like Mexican food. There weren't that many "cheap" fast foods that we know from our area, like there were no Burger Kings or McDonalds. That also tells you a lot about the people in the neighborhood, about the health choices they make, their lifestyles and incomes, and perhaps even their education levels.


Anonymous said...

I really like how I can hear your personality coming out in these posts! Thanks for putting in details -- like prices of things -- so I know what "expensive" means and what "cheap" means to you. Also, I think you're right when you say that the woman didn't want to say the wrong thing to you. That's funny...but sad!

Sam, Australia

Nani said...

This was good it is funny how she contradicted herself about diversity. I was surprise about the price of the T-shirt not even here they are that expensive.

Mr. Moreno said...

Great report on the economic and ethnic diversity of Rockridge. I used to live there (I rented), and your post reminded me of what I saw, and still see, when there. Economics is probably the main reason that it is not racially diverse. By the way, at Cactus taqueria, there seemed to be only Latinos working there.

Anyhow, I loved living there! You can walk down the street to restaurants, bars, shops (although I never bought anything...except candy from Eddie's Liquors), BART, and more. But of the people I saw on my street (in the three years I lived there), there was one African American family and the rest seemed to be all White. Aside from the Indian man downstairs in my duplex, and the family down the street, I was the only other non-white person that I knew of. Nonetheless, everyone was nice and outgoing. My neighbors were great. And lots of people from outside the area came to trick or treat on Halloween (I even saw one of my students, who I gave some extra candy to). But the housing prices there are crazy, which is why I'll never live there...unless I hit the lotto.

redfishbluefish said...

Really interesting report. Gotta tell you though - Atheism is not a religion....(if you don't believe in God there is really no point to organizing a whole system for worshiping him, huh?).....

Love your work, guys...have a great summer!

Colleen from Australia

karen Marker said...

Thank you so much for the work you are doing here, as students and citizens of Oakland. I have just discovered this site, and am thrilled by your writing. I actually have lived in Rockridge for 22 years, where I've raised two daughters, and find your perspective very interesting. It helps me see my own community through new eyes.
Karen, Oakland