For weeks I was obsessively reading the news. I know pregnant women are supposed to stay away from news about violence, but Oakland crimes are always on the front page. Early in January, there was a 10-year old named Christopher Rodriguez who was shot in the stomach while at a piano lesson on Piedmont Ave. which is in a “good” neighborhood. His mother was parked outside waiting for him. At the same moment when Chris was practicing on keys, a 26 year -old man held up the Chevron next door. The robbery ended in a shoot-out where the stray bullet hit Christopher. He was rushed to the Children’s Hospital where the doctors stated that he would be paralyzed from the waist down.
In Oakland like other highly condensed urban areas, crime can be crazy. Innocent children are often in the crossfire. But I do have a choice right? No one is forcing me to live here. Originally when I moved to Oakland as a twenty-something back in 2000, I was drawn by the diversity and potential of this city. But when you’re about to have a child, views change. My husband and I went back and forth for days about whether to move out of Oakland. But did we really want to move to the suburbs like Walnut Creek or Moraga?
I couldn’t even imagine that because I grew up in San Francisco. Maybe I’m naïve, but growing up with a diverse population, I’m talking class and ethnicity is key for me. It’s a love/hate relationship that I have with Oakland. But for my child, I think about his safety. I’m still undecided on how long we’ll be in Oakland. Maybe things will change and it will be a perfect place to raise a family one day. But until the annual homicide rate drops below 100, I’ll go back and forth about our permanent residency.
In the meantime, we moved to a “better” neighborhood right on Lake Merritt. So far, the baby and I feel pretty good about it.