Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Today, while walking around Fruitvale, we were sure we were going to get lots of interviews for the fact that there were lots of people who were walking in Fruitvale. We didn’t expect to get rejected so many times, like we did. Some of the people who we asked to interview rejected us after we told them we would be recording them.
When we went to Fruitvale, it was very different from Walnut Creek because in Walnut Creek it was very clean. In Fruitvale, it was dirty. There was trash in the ground, tagging, some of the buildings were destroyed and they were almost falling apart. There were a lot of homeless people in the streets and most of them seemed drunk and wasted. There were also a lot of security guards around, and, in some of the places, there were pretty gardens and nice trees, flowers blooming and big tile mosaics on main meeting area.
Despite that, the Fruitvale district is a great place. They have a lot of store and food places. It is a very busy place and there are a lot of people to talk to. The BART (train) is right there, so are the buses. There is nice branch of the library, with a lot of different books in Spanish and English. One cool thing about the library is that they let the teens who visit there write on this big piece of paper, like graffiti. We think that people should visit the Fruitvale district in their spare time to get some good food.
Fruitvale is a place that we are used to. The majority of the students here have to drive pass it everyday when going to school, or even live there. When asking to interview people, we did get different types of reactions -- reactions that were unexpected.
In Walnut Creek, we thought that people were giving us bad reactions because we are a group of non-white minorities in their town, but now we don’t think that was the case. In Fruitvale, we were receiving rejection after rejection -- in our own hometown! We asked ourselves why. We blend in perfectly in that environment, so why were people not willing to talk to us? We realized that people have different reasons. Some were too busy working, others were scared of their boss and didn't want to take time to talk to us, others were afraid of getting deportated, and others just didn’t want to to be recorded. Although we did feel more comfortable at Fruitvale, we were getting similar reactions as we did in Walnut Creek. So we understood more about people in Walnut Creek, but we still felt more respected at Fruitvale.
On our way to Fruitvale we saw a lot of Latinos waiting in there usual corners to see if they could get hired as day laborers, maybe for construction. Most of them are always there in corners, close to the Goodwill store, waiting for cars to pull over and offer them a job for the day. They don't have work documents, so they can't get work except this way.
Walking a couple streets down we saw a group of African Americans outside of a shoe store. When we finally got to Fruitvale we saw a lot of Hispanics and African Americans, few Asians, and about three white people. The people who mainly worked in the Fruitvale area were Latinos and Asians. The people who worked in liquor stores and smoke shops were Arabs.
Before we started this project, we didn't pay attention about diversity in Fruitvale. Our opinion of diversity actually changed. Before, we assumed it was diverse because most of the people weren't white. But when we really took a look around the area, we saw that the majority were Hispanics, and that's not diverse. Through this project, we changed our minds and decided that diversity means about an equal amount of every race. At first, if we saw our own race, and no whites, then that was diverse to us. Our definition of diversity changed by simply walking down our own neighborhood.
The food diversity at Fruitvale is very different compared to our visit to Walnut Creek. Fruitvale is a community where there are more Mexican restaurants as well as some fast food places like Subway. On almost every corner, you see people selling Ice cream, fruit or things like that in order to earn some money for themselves or their family. In Walnut Creek, you don't see that kind of stuff. In Walnut Creek, you would hardly see restaurants that would sell Mexican food, or even people out in the streets trying to sell some kind of food. Here, at Fruitvale you will also see liquor stores, and at Walnut Creek you would hardy see liquor stores. Although the majority of places at Fruitvale would sale Mexican food, you will at least see one other place in where you would find other types of food.
Another thing that was very common in Fruitvale was that we saw alot of Latinos selling ice cream and fruit on thestreets at Fruitvale. This is normal to us, but we realized that this is something that you will never see in Walnut Creek. This also shows that there is not a lot of diversity in economical class in Fruitvale. Most are lowor maybe middle class, when in Walnut Creek everyone was wearing expensive suites and riding new cars. In comparison to Walnut Creek, there’s a big difference in Fruitvale not only in the diversity of race, but in diversity of economical circumstances, culture, environment, and much more. In Fruitvale there was not diversity in the type of jobs. Most of the jobs are in local stores, and small restaurants while in Walnut Creek you see industries ranging from Indian Food to Wine shops. Yes, wine!
Obesity: At Fruitvale, we could see a lot of obesity. Knowing the community, we think that the main cause for obesity is that people around there don't really know about how what you eat, and how much you eat makes you gain weight. People make unhealthy choices.
Accessibility: During our visit to Fruitvale, we could see that there is some accessibility for handicapped people, but not enough. Not all streets have ramps in the sidewalks for wheelchairs. How do they get around Fruitvale without going into the streets or getting run over?
Fast foods and farmers markets: While walking in the Fruitvale community, we could see that there was not enough farmers markets that sell organic food and healthy foods, like in Walnut Creek. One thing that we could see in the Fruitvale community was that there were more than 10 fast-food restaurants for example, McDonald’s, Jack In The Box, Pollo Loco, and fast taco restaurants.
Health stores: In the Fruitvale community, there are not a lot of Health Stores, but there are about three Health clinics that help people with no health insurance, or people who don't have a lot of money, but even though these clinics try to help, people don’t attend them a lot because they think they might pay a lot. There should be more information given to the community about being healthy, and it needs to be in Spanish and other languages.
The Fruitvale Community has a majority of Latino food, but there are other types of food to try. The majority of people seem eat what is common like McDonalds, Jack In The Box, Tacos from the taco trucks, and Chinese food.
There seemed to be only one Japanese restaurant in Fruitvale, and they are very new. The owners try to convince costumers to try their food, because they didn't seem to have a lot of business. The business owners accept that the locations of their restaurants aren’t that safe, but they still like their community and they just try ways to stay safe, like closing early. The customers would mostly be Hispanic, since that is the majority of people who live in the Fruitvale district. There was also a pastry shop that specialized in New Orleans-style pastries that is really popular.
When we asked the interviewees to tell us what would they miss if they left Oakland. The most common response was hamburgers and burritos. The prices in Fruitvale are affordable to anyone in this area, who are mostly low-income workers. Our research showed that Fruitvale is about 94% are Hispanics, 1% Caucasian, 3% African American, and 1% other. We were surprised about the percentage, but knew that Fruitvale is mostly Latino.
The first impressions you have of Fruitvale in Oakland are negative. The buildings are not nice, and the streets are dirty. In Oakland, people feel there are a lot of safety problems. In some parts of town, a lot of people don't feel safe walking in these streets, especially at night. Like any big city, there is drug dealing, prostitution, theft, and murder.
While walking down International Boulevard towards the Fruitvale district, we saw about two or three police cars drive by. Even though there are police driving around, it doesn't feel like they're doing their job. It feels like that because when something really wrong is happening on the streets, they rarely stop to check to see if everything is okay. It also takes them a while to arrive at a scene when something has happened. In Fruitvale, we also saw some security guards at a lot of shops that we went to. They are there because it is not rare for a store to be robbed. They need that extra security to feel safer and to keep the robbers away.
In Fruitvale, we wanted to interview more people about the violence in Oakland. There is a fire department on Derby Street, and our teacher, Mr. Lee, told us that we should go to the fire department. We nocked on the door and a fire man came out. When we told him about our project, he invited us in so that we could interview the group of them. They were just sitting at the station doing little things, waiting for a call to go to a place where there was an emergency. We started to ask them questions, and sat and visited with them for about twenty minutes. The bell rang for them to go and help someone who had a drug overdose, because they needed the Paramedic there. Much later, when we were back at school at the end of the day, the firetruck pulled up in front of the school. They asked to talk to the principal, and they told him that they had met us, that we told them about our school, and they were impressed with us. They said that they wanted to work with our school next year to set up more internships for our school (we are a health and bioscience school), and even wanted to give a scholarship to us! The principal was very happy about it, and we saw that there are many good people in our city, and good things can happen, too.
In Oakland, in our neighborhoods, a lot of people know us. In Walnut Creek, it seemed like everyone didn't really work together or get to know each other. Something new we learned is that a lot of people in Fruitvale are concerned about their safety and how Fruitvale is a new target zone for robbing people's businesses. A lot of the business owners felt that the police don't care about them, and always try to ignore something that happens because there are so many problems to deal with. The lady we interviewed told us that in Walnut Creek the police come right away when they are called. That doesn't happen here. Maybe because we are a bigger city than Walnut Creek and don't have a lot of police officers to deal with everything. The positive side of Fruitvale, though, is that all the people that work there try to work together to prevent crime. Mostly all of the businesses all have security guards.
We think that, generally, the news just says the negative stuff about Oakland, and not really any good stuff. They should look at the positive side of Oakland because there aren't just bad things here. There are a lot of good things to experience in the East Bay.
In the Fruitvale, you see a lot of people wearing really old and worn clothes; and for a lot of them, those are the clothes they go to work in. We met the owner of a liquor store today, and she looked like she was dressed for bed in her baggy t-shirt, cut-off jean shorts, and flip-flops. Usually, that’s not how we'd picture the owner of a store. That’s a huge difference from all the business attire and polo shirts we saw in Walnut Creek the other day.
You can definitely see the difference in economic status when you compare the kinds of cars that people drive. Earlier, we posted the report on the lady in Walnut Creek that owns two Bentleys and a Mercedes. In Fruitvale, you’d be lucky to have a car that works at all! Usually the nicest car on the street is a used one! And people wonder why Oakland residents try to fix up their scrapper cars with 20in. rims and all that kind of crap.
Some jobs we saw were people working in different shops. Some people work in a shop where they sell different kinds of dresses; other people work selling Ice-cream (Paletero Man). We also saw some people that own their own stores, like one man that sells different types of snacks. He sells chips, drinks, cookies, doughnuts, water etc. There were two different stores where they sell fancy dresses for prom or Quinceañeras. A Quinceañera is a "sweet fifteen" birthday party for Latina girls. Obviously, they wouldn't have a lot of stores selling Quinceañera dresses in Walnut Creek, but here in Fruitvale there are a lot of Latinas, so there are a lot of Quinceañera dress stores. In those stores they also rent tuxedos for special occasions.
In Fruitvale, a lot of people sell on little carts; some sell churros, ice cream, tacos, fruit, or other snacks. In Fruitvale there are also jewelry shops, and restaurants. Most of the restaurants are Mexican food shops, but not all of them. We couldn't find any expensive restaurants. Almost all of the restaurants were for people who couldn't spend a lot of money.