Op-Ed: We Are Our Neighbors’ Keeper

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By Boku Kodama

 

The Post Newspaper last week featured two bold writers who I commend for their insights and call to action.

 

Too often in Oakland we hear a lot of rhetoric and yet conditions remain stagnant. James E. Vann, “20 Steps City Council Can Take to Stop Displacement in Oakland Now” and Richard Wembe Johnson “The Poor Matter Too” wrote thoughtful pieces that require greater distribution.

While Oakland may be fortunate to have an emerging robust economy with Uber, Kaiser and Sunset Publishing in its midst, those who have lived in Oakland in its bleakest times fare no better in its best of times.

 

If we don’t see the contradictions of this condition, we’ve lost our humanity; our sense of moral justice, and our natural rhythm as human beings.

 

We may be richer with money but we’re poorer for how we continue to treat those we consider of having little value to the Almighty Dollar.

 

What we need to do is change what we value.

 

Our duty as a society should be to care enough to give a helping hand up and build a culture of mobilizing everyone affected so that we’re all rising together as a community, contributing to those who came before us and acknowledging its importance to this point in time.

 

Today must not be isolated from yesterday. A culture of inclusion comes with action, not more sympathy. What we have today is a new form of segregation, elitism and cultural ignorance.

 

Unless we strike back and generate awareness, we will default to it as our new norm.

 

No matter how educated, righteous or technically sophisticated we consider our path, if we allow a significant population to reap nothing more than greater debt and fewer options, we are no better than the barbarians who slaughtered many in their paths.

 

Today, we do so with money.

 

If Oakland does not first accept its contribution to this problem and then formally take action to rectify it, our prosperity will be tainted with the stains of greed over goodness.

 

Yes, it’s great to have Oakland prosper again but we need to be vigilant of correcting our course, a course that is clearly directed away from Doing-The-Right-Thing to Wall Street 2.0.

 

While many of us believe we’re doing the right thing, I would caution you to take a good look around at your neighbors across Oakland and then decide.

 

Boku Kodama is an entrepreneur with 19 startups over a 40-year period.. He will re-launch his Urban FIRE entrepreneurship training program Feb. 13 in partnership with the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center and the Oakland Housing Authority.

 

His contact is [email protected]

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