We Are Still Here is a visual showcase of first-draft poems from writing workshops in Oakland public school classrooms. This project went through many iterations in its conception, its purpose, and its execution. When I began, I had one goal: I wanted to emphasize that despite stark economic disparities, a lack of educational resources, rampant gentrification, and countless other issues impacting young people in Oakland, my city was and is still a place of beauty before anything else. It is still home. And despite all of the forces trying to push us down and push us out, Oakland’s youth are still here.
The words featured are from writing workshops held in Oakland Technical High School and Skyline High School classrooms, led by 2019 Oakland Vice Youth Poet Laureate Eleanor Wikstrom and myself. The workshops were designed to counteract both the problematically overwhelming narrative of Oakland as a city of danger and violence as well as the necessary but equally overwhelming narrative of gentrification. Gentrification and intercommunity violence are but a segment of what it means to experience and grow up in Oakland, and I sought to find the parts of the narrative that we weren’t talking about. From the mundane to the profound, I wanted to hear what made this city home for my peers.
- 2019 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Samuel Getachew
Each visual will already be playing. If you need more time to read, or want to move forward or backward in the poem, you can pause in the top left corner of each slide and navigate in the top right. When you are finished reading, scroll to the next poem.
It is not recommended to view on a mobile browser.