Portraits of Oakland: Jenna Burton

In Black Oakland Renaissance on March 9, 2011 at 2:02 am


One day I was walking up the street with a buddy of mine. It was a beautiful Oakland Friday. We were heading to Pete’s Coffee to get our caffeine fix on when we saw a large gathering of young black people on bikes. Now, this was a peculiar sight for two reasons. One, a bike riding black man or woman is not usually considered the thing to be. And, I was looking at least twenty to twenty-five black folks. Two, I knew most of these black people. Some of them were even close friends.


They started interrogating me and my friend. “Where’s yo bike?” “When you gone ride with us?” This was in the middle of the street in front of a lot of people. I was being put on the spot. Once they told me that they were participating in a “Red, Bike and Green” event I told them I was starting my own club. “Red, Walk and Green.”


Soon after, they rode off into the evening, a crowd full of young black men and women on bikes laughing and yelling into the Friday evening air. It was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen. With such a simple and cool idea I was seeing an example of a hip, healthy and happy slice of young black Oakland. I told myself that day that I had to find who started this and put a camera on her.


In the clip above, Jenna Burton talks about being a transplant in Oakland. Like Michael Orange and Brandon Brown, she is not from California. She’s been living here for the last few years and has quickly found a niche in the Black Oakland scene. Not a pretentious one, mind you. “Red, Bike and Green” is a club that promotes health and togetherness around a Black bike culture. It’s a great idea and a perfect example, I think, of a Black Oakland Renaissance.


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