I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Oakland.
I found myself leaning towards the violence and negativity that surrounded this city in the early 2000s. It wasn’t a conscious choice. It was more like a survival tactic.
When I grew to an age where I could be more conscientious of my actions, love and healing came to me. I began my healing process in Oakland and began to rid my mind of the negativity around me.
Slowly but surely, everything started to make sense. I was no longer clouded by anger, hatred nor hostility. Even better, I realized that had I not been through the negative side of life, I wouldn’t have appreciated what would come after.
Oakland raised me, and I will carry The Town with me everywhere I go. The folks that came into my life in this city gave me nourishment and support and taught me valuable lessons. I won’t forget my experiences here and I am greatly thankful for them.
Oakland is a part of me.
Luis Montoya is a filmmaker and musician. He’s recorded music and directed videos for well-known artists like Big Rich, Liz Stefano, Zion-I, Flipsyde, and many more and has been featured on major platforms like Billboard. He’s a first-generation American citizen of Mexican descent raised by immigrant parents in Oakland.
Oakland is diverse and Oakland is proud. 'We Are Oaklandish' is a storytelling project created to highlight just that.
These are stories that shed light on the different experiences, memories, and opinions of the people in the city we all love. They are people who give our city its oddball spirit, its passion for justice, and its creative vigor. They lift us up with laughter, peace, nourishment, and authentic hard work.
They make us proud to call this town our home. They are Oaklandish.
Read more: We Are Oaklandish