Quila Johnson

Listen to Quila’s interview!

People in Oakland tend to have a certain “go-getter mentality,” says Quila Johnson, who has lived in Oakland for more than two decades. Living in this one of a kind city has helped her to appreciate the strength and independence she sees in her fellow Oaklanders. And having been raised in a biracial, bicultural household led her to acquire an independent and rebellious spirit of her own.

Although Quila laments the “state of disarray” she observes in parts of Oakland—for instance, the mental illness and drug abuse, and the lack of fathers—she does not look kindly upon gentrification and does not see it as a solution to the city’s problems. Instead, one of the ideas she has for improving the lives of Oaklanders is quite practical: Give people jobs removing garbage from blighted neighborhoods where illegal dumping is a problem. Why not solve two problems at once by improving the quality of living in Oakland and giving people jobs? When your living environment is clean, your mentality changes, she says.

It’s because of creative and thoughtful residents like Quila Johnson that Oakland is unlike any other place in the world.