The 2016 Oakland Book Festival

While it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. Oakland can still put on a gathering which  reminds me while I have been living here virtually non-stop since 1992.

Last weekend’s Oakland Book Festival held downtown was a true local pleasure. It isn’t the largest book festival. It didn’t attract all of the A-list literati, and there were scheduling conflicts. I suppose the latter is a good thing because it means there lots of interesting topics.

My only misgiving regarding the festival was the lack of us. Where “us” means my black community. That’s not to say there weren’t any black folk in the house. I just wish more of us would show up at these things. These sorts of events take their programming cues from the communities which attend them. Know what I mean ?

Given the current climate around race.We can’t always stand aside aloof legitimately criticizing the oppressive racial climate which exists.If a genuine, grass-roots opportunity to be in community with a broad spectrum of the Oakland racial landscape makes itself available. It’s worth our while to take advantage of it. Most of the countries’ issues around race are BECAUSE we don’t spend time together. Not to mention that a day in community around books and interesting ideas is good day. No matter who you are.

Finally, unlike our neighbor who shares a northern border with us. We are the Oakland Book Festival, and  being about Oakland is way more valuable to me than being about the Bay area sometimes.


One thought on “The 2016 Oakland Book Festival”

  1. Didn’t go this year, glad to get feedback on it. Everything in Oakland is grittier than in Berkeley. However, this issue of more of us showing up begs the question: why weren’t more of “us” on the program? I noticed this year’s set list was far more Asian-inclusive and other-inclusive than African-American. Scanning it, I chose another venue that day. I wonder if others might make decisions that way, i.e. How much am I repped here? There’s so much to do in this culturally rich area that I expect in Oaktown the gritty factor. I go to UC for a play reading by Philip Kan Gotunda, cross the Bay to a dialogue on peace at USF, pop over to the Jewish Comm Ctr, SF, for Joan Osborne. I’d like an Oakland venue to be more about its own utter uniqueness. i.e. a panel of homegrown Af-Am authors. Yes, including moi.

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