Listen to Annette’s interview below!
Annette Miller is at risk of being displaced from West Oakland. Annette has lived in West Oakland all of her 49 years, and she has experienced a tremendous amount of change in just the last seven years. Gentrification is a part of her reality and she is fighting to keep some of what made West Oakland special alive. Annette is a mother, parent, community member, organizer, and a woman fighting for her property. Her struggle to get back her family’s home is a personal, emotional example of the major impact of gentrification on black people in West Oakland.
Annette’s fight for her property is rooted in loss and global greed. Annette’s misfortune began in 2008 when many of her family members passed away, her father among them. When Annette’s father passed away, the German bank that was receiving mortgage payments stated to Annette and her family that they had no right to the property because there was not a will. Even though her father died, Annette and her family continued to make loan payments, but, since there was no will, the bank purchased the home for $290,000. Annette has reached out to local groups, ACCE and Causa Justa:Just Cause, to help her get back her father’s property. Currently, the bank is willing to sell her the home that she has lived in all her life…for $400,000.
Even if Annette is able to get her father’s home back, the West Oakland she knew will not be there. Neighbors Annette knew for most of her life have been displaced and the African American faces she used to see on her block are now a rare sight. People that have moved into the neighborhood accost her dog with whistles and have failed to respect her as a resident of West Oakland. Annette would like to see more blacks own property in her community because she no longer recognizes the only place she has known all her life.
To Annette, Oakland means, “United, hope, change, and life….” Even though she is struggling to stay in her neighborhood, Annette holds onto hope. In response to the question of whether she will be able to stay in Oakland in the next ten to twenty years, Annette says in a hushed tone, “I pray. I pray. I pray.”