“It feels like acceptance”
These words were said by one of my best friends as we walked through the street during the most recent First Friday in Oakland.
It took some convincing to get my friends out to Oakland. I had to give them a pitch regardless of whether they were coming from Richmond, the city, or simply just leaving from work. For most involved I was the only common thread, and they had no idea what type of night they were getting into.
After a quick beer at Drakes and a bite at Locol, we made our way on to Telegraph Ave. We strolled up and down the street admiring local artisans, adding more members on to our group, and of course checking out some amazing cars.
One of my favorite points in the night was mid-way through our adventure. There we were doing the Cupid Shuffle in the street a group of five or six of us around people we had never met before, had no common cause with, and would likely never see again. My buddy proceeded to request songs from the DJ and the next 45 minutes flew by. (Sidenote: the DJ later crowd-surfed and it was awesome)
Shortly after, the hunt for food was on. As anyone in the Bay knows, a car is simultaneously the most constraining and liberating possession you can have. Low and behold we found ourselves in Rockridge grabbing crepes around 11.
If at this point this seems to be another 20-something-year-old story of a night out, well the second half of the night was more intellectually stimulating and more divisive.
While all involved are highly educated, early-career folks our opinions on the matter of affecting change and creating the type of euphoric world we’d just come from diverged completely.
Part of this might be due to the fact that we work in different sectors (tech, government, and healthcare). But it also spoke to the need to collaborate with one another.
Questions circled around how to appropriately create the change one wished to see. Each sought to be in solidarity with the everyman but we each had very different methods.
Our tech compadre was more apt towards activism in the streets and taking the layman’s view — strength in numbers and through demonstration. Meanwhile our government buddy opted for a more covert method in meeting with people who sit on the 20th floor to affect policy. Perhaps I was the cynic in the room choosing to go about economic measures to drive change.
Each walked away from the evening having been heard and understood but I couldn’t help but wonder if we were simply playing a game of rock, paper, scissors. The question of who had the all-unifying 4th alternative and how to create it still lingers.
Between the shared drinks, dancing, and late night crepes we all felt accepted that night and certainly empathized with each others’ views. But why didn’t we brainstorm a common, unifying way to affect change from each perspective? Were we not ready to break from our respective bubbles even as we advocate for similar results? Was it enough to feel accepted?