Photos: Berkeley revels in car-free buzz of Sunday Streets

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

People turned out in their thousands for Berkeley’s second Sunday Streets. There is no doubt that this city likes to go auto-free. Berkeleyside contributing photographer Nancy Rubin was there. (If you haven’t already done so, check out Rubin’s new photo project, Humans of Berkeley and the Bay Area, launched on Berkeleyside last week.)

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Daracia and Carl. Photo: Nancy Rubin

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

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Photo: Nancy Rubin

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Siciliana Trevino and Wendy Cohen at the Berkeleyside booth. Photo: Nancy Rubin

Update: 11.03.13: This photo essay was updated to remove a photo of young people making hand signals. There is a lot of speculation in the comment section about whether the signals indicated gang signs and in the interest of not accusing anyone, the editors have removed it.

Related:
Photos: Humans of Berkeley and the Bay Area (10.11.13)
Sunday Streets return to Berkeley for 2nd year (10.10.13)

Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas will be held in downtown Berkeley on Oct. 25-26. Two days of extraordinary conversations, engaging interactive sessions, and a great party. To attend the inaugural Uncharted, either apply for a scholarship or register for your tickets now

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  • bgal4

    actually, the color of skin does not change the question for me.

    I will share that one school safety officer told me Oakland Acorn gang using the V hand signal.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Let me add that I could easily imagine myself doing something similar when I was a teenager.

    I could imagine that there were some sort of obscene or insulting hand signs that we teenagers knew about and that we knew the grownups would not recognize. If someone asked to photograph us, we would have considered it very funny to make these hand signs while they were taking the picture, doing something illicit without their knowing.

    This is just ordinary adolescent high spirits, and there is nothing sinister about it.

    So I am just curious about what those hand signs mean. Based on Cammy’s response, I think her daughter knows that they do mean something, but Cammy’s not passing along the information.

    I don’t think they are Thizz (Ecstasy) hand signs. Search for Thizz hand sign, and you will find lots of things like this http://www.cafepress.com/+thizz_hand_sign_tote_bag,125180821 which is not similar to the signs they are making.

  • DisGuested

    >if this picture was 4 white kids the subject would of never came up

    Absolutely false, it would have.

  • emraguso

    Are you able to email me [emraguso at gmail]? I would like to follow up with you.

  • SicilianaTrevino

    You got us Ira! We were taking bets on who would appreciate $3 gift certificates to Games of Berkeley, Cakes & Purls, and Purple Kow. Free to spin, everyone wins!

  • bgal4

    and how does Mr Jefferson explain Obama calling Kanye a Jackass.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTt5Jj0k-pg

  • if looks could kill

    Ha! Yeah, that was a classic. I’m sure I don’t know what Cord Jefferson would say about it in this context but maybe there’s a clue in his concluding paragraphs, which also seem relevant to the reaction to those photographs:

    Kimmel may have just thought he was roasting another arrogant celebrity with his spoof; he almost certainly did, in fact. But looking at a black man’s assertion he’s been ignored [in the fashion industry] because of his race and social class, and then recasting that man as a child for laughs, is always going to be an affront to many people of color in America, people who have long said, “something’s wrong here,” and been told: no, you’re just sensitive. You’re crazy. You’re acting like a baby.

    I believe there are numerous valid reasons to criticize Kanye West, but his rant on Jimmy Kimmel Live is not one of them. You may think he sounded crazy, but it wasn’t a kind of crazy that was foreign to me—or, I’d assume, millions of other Americans. It was the crazy that comes from being stared at for daring to look different while eating breakfast with your mom. It was the crazy that comes from never knowing if you deserved to be kicked out of that bar. It was the crazy that comes from being the one person stopped by a cop amidst a sea of white people. “This is racist,” you might say to the cop. “Prove it,” he might say back. And at that moment, you can’t.

    Emphasis added.

  • Nick Mastick

    Sure didn’t take long for the uptight white folks to single out and make an
    issue AGAIN of Af/Am cultural idioms.

  • Nick Mastick

    My son did it too. Goof god! don’t people have more important issues to worry about?

  • emraguso

    Can you expand what you mean as far as “cultural idioms”?

  • guest

    inverted peace signs are a black thing? what??

  • Matthai K. Chakko

    I went to a bar mitzvah in June where the bar mitzvah boy and all
    of his cohort made hand signs similar to these four youth. They called
    themselves “The Jew Crew” as they made the signs. I did not feel
    threatened, even though the shul was in Oakland. I did not believe they
    were about to commit acts of violence, even though they all had
    different racial characteristics than I, a brown skinned man with a
    nose broader than most Western Europeans and short, black hair.

    I
    am not a gang expert, but I imagine the kids at Sunday Streets and at
    the synagogue were like me when I was a teen. A sense of belonging was
    important to me. So was camaraderie. Posturing or taking on performative
    behavior has been a part of teen culture for probably as long as there
    have been teens.

    But here, the black youth
    are described as members of a gang. It is not surprising. Automatically
    attributing violent or morally inferior characteristics to black people
    is intertwined into our nation’s birth story and our present, despite
    the popular election of a black president.

    This
    narrative justified slavery. It killed Trayvon Martin. It lives in the
    racial code of popular media and comments here when people talk about
    Oakland. It clearly exists in Berkeley, as this comment thread cruelly
    shows us.

    We believe Berkeley is different. In
    some ways, that is true. Our schools were the first in the nation to
    desegregate without a court order. Racial inclusivity and wanting
    success for all races is part of our goals for both our schools and our
    city. Our city logo honors that vision. Several on this thread are
    clearly welcoming and inclusive. Yet we as a community clearly have work
    to do.

    Our African American children, as a
    whole, do not perform at levels equal to white children. But we see here
    that even when they walk our streets during a community celebration,
    they are not necessarily welcomed as equals. Without any justification,
    they are seen by some as a threat. A rhetoric of violence is hurled upon
    them. That has an impact.

    It was painful to
    read this thread. I felt an immediate urge to go find these four youth
    and tell them that this is their city, too. I prayed that they have not
    seen nor heard of this comment thread, though I have no doubt they have
    elsewhere heard the racial malice spewed here. I hope they are in a
    place where someone tells them what I told the bar mitzvah boy at the
    party in his Berkeley home, “I am so proud of you. I love you.”

    Ultimately,
    creating the Berkeley we want is not about what I or any one person
    does. We must collectively question how we treat our black youth. They
    are our promise, not our menace. This challenge is in all of our hands.