Tenant – Oscar


Born in Cincinnati, OH
San Francisco resident since 1972

OscarI grew up in the Midwest in Missouri. My family did migrant work. It was really punishing on the body. One of the things that was a drawback in agriculture at that time was being an African-American. I came to understanding that the word “boy” does not mean, “Hey, come here. You’re part of the team.” The word boy in an essence was used as a method of kind of like zapping a person’s self esteem and consciousness. But I still had a chance to develop a sense of okay. Sometimes I feel like society’s trying to steer down a path, but it’s our responsibility to overcome whatever shackles that society tries to put upon us. I came out here in ’72. I did the whole military thing and then I jumped on a plane. I came out here and I just got busy. I went to work for BART. Then I worked for Bechtel International. This is the thing that really kind of crushes me just a tad – bigotry and isolation. Of all the states and all the places I’ve been in, California’s about the harshest, most racist. They go, “What? How could you say that?” I say, “You know what? It’s the truth. But they’re so smooth about it. They’re so smooth about it.” Once I became aware of the beast that I’m up against, I began to develop a method of dealing with the beast and not allowing the beast to consume me completely. As long as I don’t be completely consumed, I’ll be okay.