I’ve heard so much about SoOakland and had been wanting to link with the collective for a while. Imagine my amazement when I found out that SoOakland isn’t a huge group of people but instead is ran by an Oakland Queen on a solo mission to help preserve the original Oakland culture. I recently sat down with ShaylaBang – the founder and curator of SoOakland – to discuss her movement and her vision. This woman is doing so much for the Bay Area culture and I hope that after reading more about her story you’ll be as amazed and moved as I was.
Shayla “ShaylaBang” Jamerson is an Oakland native who, as many of us have noticed, sees the current change that is happening in Oakland. Gentrification is a serious problem for Oakland right now, and residents who have been in Oakland throughout generations are becoming unable to afford to live here anymore. They are being displaced and forced out of their homes. SoOakland was created to counter this change and keep the Oakland culture alive and thriving.
I wanted the SoOakland Collective to be a movement about breaking stereotypes amongst each other. This is a movement about peace, unity,community, and just learning to live and love life. I want this movement to be about recognizing Oakland’s fashion, spirit and our ability to network with each other and help one another build our community. Its a movement about being proud.
The SoOakland movement started back in August of 2015. She had a welcome home party at the #RegularsOnly space and was amazed to see over 500 people come out to welcome her home. She realized the influence and power that her voice had and wanted to use it for good. So, October came around and she threw a Halloween party at the #RegularsOnly space – which is in West Oakland – and people partied until 2:30am.
“I was blown away! We were in a neighborhood that at one point people would have been afraid to come too. People kept coming up to me telling me how thankful they were that I was doing this. I was receiving emails from attendees who were on cloud 9 because they hadn’t been to anything in Oakland in a while where they actually felt safe amongst love and great energy. I was so happy to know that and I knew that my movement was doing its job of breaking stereotypes. I knew it was time to create something that brought back those nostalgic feelings of growing up in Old Oakland, where the city was filled with beautiful black and brown people.”
Ain’t nothing like getting that old thang back in your life, and that is exactly how she feels about Oakland. She loves her city and the memories that she has of love and community. She wants to bring that feeling back. Pre-tech boom Oakland. The Oakland where people were willing to care about strangers and support one another.
“We are all likeminded individuals who all want the same thing out of Oakland so therefore the energy through the space is magnetic. We all share a common goal and that is for Oakland to be for the people again, the people who helped build it and also created substance and recognizing that this is the land of the Black Panthers and don’t you forget it.”
“If we get rid of all the people who were here than Oakland won’t have any culture and it will be just another city surrounded by people who are built on greed and money and not on feeling and respect.”
Success for her looks like what is currently happening in her life. Living and breathing something and watching it blossom. Success doesn’t equate money but instead is an internal feeling. For the first time in forever, she feels successful in the here and now.
In 2016 she hopes to continue to build her brand and establishing a positive reputation for Oakland. It is a one woman show and she is working very hard to remain consistent and making sure that the movement is here to stay.