Earlier this decade, I lived a few years in the Bay Area, or more precisely, the East Bay. Alameda, to be more exact. To be even more anal for the sake of this diary, I lived in a house in what locals call the East End of the island, a conclave of Craftsman homes lining streets named after Ivy League schools. I was, by virtue of street address, associated with Cambridge University, a school I had had the pleasure of visiting in the 1990s, and using its anthropology library.
One thing on the East End of Alameda was not like Cambridge University: there were no black persons to be found on Cambridge Avenue, in Alameda in the East Bay, Bay Area, California. No blacks were living there, not passing through, not knocking on doors selling religion, and not offering yard work.
This seemed strange, as I'd largely lived overseas and blacks -- not African-Americans -- were common in U.S. military enclaves abroad, and many Africans were at that time migrating to Europe.
Now, onto the Bay Area, and a current issue regarding (shhhh!) blacks in Antioch...
Alameda, California, is separated from the Bay Area and the rest of the Continental United States by an estuary ranging from 40 yards wide to, I dunno, a cultural chasm-wide.
It is a place that touts its roots as a pleasure town, or a historically-important ferry town, or a town where everyone works. It touts itself as a safe town, with a ridiculously-low crime rate compared to crime-ridden (and culturally-superior) neighbor Oakland.
Alameda brought the alleged-cabin of Jack London down from Alaska and installed it along the estuary to bring in tourists. London, as a kid, lived there and studied in Heinold's crooked-floor bar on the estuary-front. So the story goes, and no one goes any other way than to repeat it.
Alameda has, to the thanks-be-to-god of both locals and Defense Department personnel, separated itself from the national defense network (or "military-industrial complex," if you read Gore Vidal). Still, the town has a July 4th parade (with or without gay advocacy floats, depending on the cultural climate of the year, or the weather, or the willingness of the GLBT community to give a shit about Alameda).
The chasm between anti-nationalist progressivist attitudes more prevalent among the white elites of Berkeley, and the thoughts about benefits of a national military history by Alamedans are glossed over, by and large, on July 4th and most of the rest of the year.
Alameda tries to have a Main Street for people to walk down in the evenings after work, but the rents are so expensive that shops keep going out of business, to be replaced by shops owned by newer and more-optimistic small-business wannabes. So far as I know, only the Wienerschnitzel has a guaranteed spot on Park Avenue.
So far as I know, not the Wienerschnitzel owners nor anyone else has missed the sailors of the military-industrial complex, or their money, in Alameda, since the federal government decided that Alameda Naval Air Station could be done without.
As a German-born Bavarian of true ethnic heritage as a Germano-Hawaiian-American (thank Gawd I'm not "Scotch-Irish," as so many preternaturally-drunk American morons stupidly claim), I know that the Wienerschnitzel in Alameda never made a decent Wienerschnitzel in the whole, corporate history of that culture-stealing corporate chain. Bavarian pigs wouldn't eat that Scheisse.
And so, as the Wienerschnitzel on Park Avenue is a culinary fraud, so is the idea that Bay Area liberals tolerate newcomers, outsiders, the down-and-out, or the "Other." But I'll get to attitudes about crime in Antioch in a moment.
The crux of this Antioch argument is this: unless you're a landed immigrant from Missouri who comes ready to espouse all tenants held sacred and dear to the last batch of Bay Area immigrants, which are: you are white or nearly-so, so let's build something progressive by way of abandoning our Okie roots; or, let's rebel against Minneapolis-St. Paul by opening a rubber cafe; or, let's do something New York, but on North Beach; or, let's meet at a biker bar near the 101, then your motives and morals are suspect, and so are you, to your treacherous core.
All other ideas -- ya know, those Midwest or Southern Red State ideas, like pushing Beanie Babies, or starting a franchise copy shop, or Gawd forbid, getting perms for a Wal-Mart -- are anathema to the the current attitude, which is: we don't want that white shit around here. And in Antioch, we don't want that pit-bull walking shit, or that R&B shit, or 22 rims shit, either.
The business attitude in the Bay Area is quite tolerant, nonetheless, so fear not, newbies. It's not at all like a shooting gallery, for migrant Okies, who run from "bear" to "bean queen," looking for solace. Not at all aggressive or fraudulent, at least not like that. Because, it's liberal and tolerant, ya know?
But. There cannot be a more massive fraud going on -- or has gone on for decades -- in the BA socio-political arena -- than that of the Bay Area resident welcoming with open arms The Other.
I'll get to why in a sec -- or maybe I did already. Nonetheless, here's a preview: Antioch.
Antioch, California. It's in the news right now. Google it.
Now, where was I? Oh, here. On the publicly-funded help-a-brutha up attitude of Bay Area white-hats.
Sure, there are publicly- and privately-funded social programs in the Bay Area. There are homeless shelters. There are drug rehab programs. There is medical marijuana for those who may or may not not actually need it (everyone who needs medical marijuana really needs it). Best of all, there are very well-meaning public servants going into mean streets and meaner housing projects that Malcom-X baseball cap-wearing white-skinned Bay Area residents never bothered to hear about, much less visit; and these angels bring food, medicine, counseling and comfort.
They bring comfort while cheese-sniffing, upper-class Bay Area liberals suck down the latest red wine sensation from Nuevo Bumfucke and fill out their SOMA Help Fund tax deductions on their 1040s at antique desks in the Berkeley Hills.
So Alameda, California, that little island where I used to live, separated from the rest of the USA by a stinky estuary, doesn't have a serious race problem. The history of the island, from made-up Gold Coast getaway, to Military-Industrial Complex for insane Nuke-em-All warmongers (ahem), to everyone-here-works-and-flies-an-American-flag-on-July-4th, hasn't really demonstrated a tolerance for "them" or "they" who don't work, party all the time, own pit bulls, and go all Section 8 on black peoples' asses.
No race, no problem.
Shame on you, Alameda. And shame on you, Oakland, for not sending your people to Alameda to shop, eat and make noise. Or walk your pit bulls.
Mexilad's comment embodies much of what I understood of the attitude of some people in the Bay Area, as a resident in Alameda in the early part of this decade. MSM gives much time to the Bay Area as a cup of liberal tolerance tea, but the Bay Area I understood, merely by leaving one of the bridges from Alameda, or traveling via the Webster Street Tunnel into the East Bay, was much different. For that matter, Alamedans I talked to were pleased -- even superior-sounding -- about their status and their ability to live "normal" lives so close to Oakland. The racism was more overpowering than a burning cross at a Bob Marley concert.
So, to get to point (finally). Antioch.
Probably-better-off Antioch residents are upset about the increase in crime, noise, pit bulls (?) and other African-American detritus (like the increase in Section 8 housing?). They clearly feel their neighborhoods are going downhill to some kind of po-boy-Augusta-Jawja clime (or more accurately, they worry about their precious property values). After all, normal, equality-loving Bay Americans, when push comes to shove, care about nothing more than the bottom-effing-liine. Antioch blacks -- and everyone else -- be damned, because the thick-waisted white California Okies in the neighborhood are stressed, mind you. You all. Ya'll.
All the Democrat platforms in the the USA don't mean a hill of beans to these Antioch residents, who bought into a half-assed American Dream of over-priced, half-built "homes," sucked like cheap whores on a, well, you know, bizarre notion of a Pleasure Paradise in California, with liberal attitudes for all and malice for none ('cept for them black-owned pit bulls; why couldn't they just have Golden Labs like the rest of us, don't cha know). You can't blame them tighty-whities for their lilly-assed naivety, except you can. Because when you fork down half a mil for a cookie-cutter POS house with half your house being a two-car garage, you can't really ask for much more by way of services, because you spent your capital on, well a garage and some golden lab dog food.
When the mortgage-rubber hits the road, all those religiously-expressed professions of equality and welcoming the Bay Area is famous for (or at least has been touted by the MSM, which means they are false and overrated), disappear into this Antioch bullshit.
So, dKos readers with enough stamina to read so far without throwing up or wandering off to watch Two and a Half Men, welcome to Antioch, California, the latest flash-point in an us-on-them race war that has has gone underground for so long that many people forget it ever existed, or that it was never finished.
'Cept this war is white-on-black, not the media-obsessed Affirmative Action war that has been practiced to death on certain MSM outlets ever since the first black man got hired over an equally-qualified white man back on, what, December 25, 1967.
Liberalism as practiced by well-housed whites in the Bay Area is not Liberalism -- it is a fraud, practiced by many locals so long as economic times are good and, apparently, blacks are few (or at least only appreciated when they live, make music and stay in Oakland). When reality (as in crime, as in an economically-busted state, as in Antioch) slugs a liberal in his Manipura chakra, he is confounded, dumfounded and ready to "red-line" the offending party (who, in the case of Antioch, is going to be a black person).
The early commenters at SF Gate seem ready to string up the nearest Section 8 outsider on the nearest exit sign to Lone Tree Way.
It's like all the liberal, tolerant attitudes espoused by any white Bay Area, Malcom X-cap wearing liberal matter only as much as his or her property value. It's like anyone who thinks different should expect a courtesy patrol from one of the Bay Area's finest uniformed police officers.
The perceived liberal attitude of the Bay Area belongs to, is possessed by, and is hoarded over, and controlled by whites alone. All others need not apply (Asians of a quiet mind are tolerated and often appreciated). Blacks, Africans, and South Asians (I mean continental South Asians, ya know: India and Pakistan, for geographically-ignorant college-educated, bleeding-heart Bay Area denizens who might think I'm writing about the Viet Mien) are also tolerated but their presence will be accepted so long as their bodies, their thoughts and their goals are willingly co-opted by whites who can gain a college paper, a small-press book, a political T-Shirt, a radio show (any self-proclaimed liberal SanFran radio loudmouth up for a trip into the Red States?), or a pleasantly stimulating conversation over a carefully-selected wine, or even a discussion about Bangladeshi micro-economics during a chance meeting at the Berkeley Bowl.
Which means, except for some hard-working Bay Area social workers going into those mean streets and those meaner housing projects, any dream of equality in the Bay Area is a fraud like the idea of that Alameda Wienerschniztel making a real Wienerschnitzel. Antioch shows us that.