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World Champion Chef at Graffiti Pizza in Downtown Oakland

Graffiti Pizza is open Tuesday through Thursday from 12:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Friday from 12:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., Saturday from 3:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., and Sunday from 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. To contact them during business hours the number is 510-250-9303. For a detailed menu, please visit their instagram.

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Photo courtesy of Christy Price

Graffiti Pizza, a Black-owned restaurant located at 719 Washington St. is serving up specialty pizzas and more in the heart of Old Oakland. Opened in October of 2019 by Davina Dickens, she and head chef Matt Molina, a three-time world pizza champion, work together to create a mouthwatering experience that will be sure to make you want to come back for more.

The menu includes specialty pizzas with vegetarian options, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, calzones as well as a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Dining is available outdoors, for takeout, and through delivery services such as DoorDash and Caviar.

Graffiti Pizza is open Tuesday through Thursday from 12:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Friday from 12:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., Saturday from 3:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., and Sunday from 3:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. To contact them during business hours the number is 510-250-9303. For a detailed menu, please visit their instagram.

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Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project. With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

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As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help neighborhoods prepare for crises — hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics or unrest — and to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

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Advice

A Sampling of Dining Out Options for Thanksgiving Soul Food Around California

While many people enjoy preparing and eating that turkey dinner at home, some people prefer to outsource their feast. For those folks, here’s a small sampling of some soul food restaurants around the state that will be open on or around Thanksgiving.

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Minnie Bell’s sign and a pan of their typical fare: Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese. Facebook image and photo.
Minnie Bell’s sign and a pan of their typical fare: Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese. Facebook image and photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and with that comes greens, beans, candied yams, turkey (roasted and deep-fried), dressing, mac n’ cheese, sweet potato pie and all the other soul food “fixins” that make the holiday meal arguably the tastiest meal of the year for many African Americans. We can choose from a diverse menu of food options that we prepare at home, or we can try to enjoy those options dining out.

The city of Inglewood, for example, is hosting a drive-thru turkey giveaway on Nov. 23 with special guest Snoop Dogg.

The event will go from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is located at Hollywood Park. The goal is to serve 2,500 Inglewood residents with free turkeys provided by Don Lee Farms.

While many people enjoy preparing and eating that turkey dinner at home, some people prefer to outsource their feast.

For those folks, here’s a small sampling of some soul food restaurants around the state that will be open on or around Thanksgiving.

Minnie Bell’s (Emeryville)

Minnie Bell’s — a soul food truck in Emeryville up north — may not be open Thanksgiving Day, it will be open on the 23rd for those who want to celebrate a little early.

Founded by Fernay McPherson in 2013, “Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement” is born out of legacy.

“Fernay learned to cook from her great aunt Minnie and late grandmother Lillie Bell,” the website reads. “Fernay’s family arrived in San Francisco during the Great Migration as part of the relocation of more than 6 million African Americans from the rural South to cities in the North and West.”

Minnie Bell’s is located in the Emeryville Public Market at 5959 Shellmound St.

StreetCar (San Diego)

On Nov. 24, they will be hosting a Thanksgiving feast event.

“Bring your friends and family on Thanksgiving Day for a celebratory feast,” their flyer reads.

The event is located at 4002 30th St. and will go from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Founded by Ron Suel and RaVae Smith in 2014, StreetCar specializes in southern cuisine and features an all-day brunch menu.

“You will find classic southern dishes and Louisiana favorites,” their website reads.

ComfortLA (Los Angeles)

In Downtown Los Angeles, ComfortLA is an option for those who want to eat out this holiday as it’s open on Thanksgiving Day.

Located on 1110 E. 7th St., ComfortLA was once a pop-up restaurant founded by Jeremy McBryde and Mark E. Walker.

ComfortLA focuses on taking a clean approach to their menu, sporting a variety of all-natural soul food options.

“We use locally sourced, fresh and organic ingredients and healthier cooking methods to create top-notch, Southern cuisine including ‘Cousin Kina’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese,’ ‘Clean Mean Greens’ and our signature ‘Organic Not Your Average Fried Chicken’ with ‘That Sauce,’” it reads on their website.

They also have an Inglewood location, though that restaurant is not open on Thanksgiving.

Hotville Chicken (Los Angeles)

The last establishment on this list is Hotville Chicken in Los Angeles.

This restaurant is not open the day of Thanksgiving, but patrons can order ahead of time and pick their food up on the 24th.

Hotville, then known as the BBQ Hot Chicken Shack, was founded by Thornton Prince in 1936 in a segregated part of town.

Thornton’s great-great niece Kim Prince now runs the family business.

Their website boasts about how spicy their chicken is, as Thornton’s original recipe focused heavily on a fiery flavor.

“If you’ve never heard about Nashville-style hot chicken, it’s certainly time to get familiar,” it reads.

Prince’s focus is on community, as Thornton’s original chicken recipe “brought people together” even in a divided town.

Hotville is located at 4070 Marlton Ave.

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Activism

UC Academics Picket Campuses in Largest Strike of the Year

The post-doctoral scholars, teaching assistants and associate instructors, graduate student researchers, and academic researchers are represented by the United Auto Workers union in contract negotiations with the UC system. Bargaining between the disputing parties has been ongoing for months, and while UC officials recently called for a third-party mediator to address remaining issues, they are continuing to negotiate without one.

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Students on the picket line on Nov. 16, 2022. Photo by Maxim Elramsisy, California Black Media
Students on the picket line on Nov. 16, 2022. Photo by Maxim Elramsisy, California Black Media

By Maxim Elramsisy | California Black Media

Around 48,000 academic workers at all 10 University of California (UC) campuses went on strike Nov. 14, shutting down classrooms and research laboratories in the largest employee walkout at any academic institution in history.

The post-doctoral scholars, teaching assistants and associate instructors, graduate student researchers, and academic researchers are represented by the United Auto Workers union in contract negotiations with the UC system.

Bargaining between the disputing parties has been ongoing for months, and while UC officials recently called for a third-party mediator to address remaining issues, they are continuing to negotiate without one.

“When I was working in the lab, I worked 50-60 hours per week, and the salary was so low that every month I really had to think about if I would make it through the month,” said Neil Sweeny, president of UAW 5810, which is representing the striking UC employees. “I have two small children and my partner was a full-time student. We lived in campus family housing, and we went to the campus foodbank every month to make sure that we had food. This was while my research was bringing in millions of dollars in research funding for the University.”

The workers are demanding better pay and benefits, including wage increases tied to housing costs. Housing costs in California are among the highest in the country, especially in the Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

Aside from UC campuses located in the state’s biggest cities, many of the research university system’s campuses are in parts of the state that have relatively high costs of living, like Berkeley, San Diego and the Westside of Los Angeles.

“UC’s pay falls below all their self-identified peer institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale and even public schools like the University of Michigan where living costs are far less,” the union said in a press release on Nov. 17.

UC maintains that “on average, UC rents systemwide are 20-25% below market rates, with some campuses providing even deeper discounts. UC has offered wage increases for all UAW members which would further help them meet their housing needs.”

The aggrieved employees paint a different picture.

“Being a TA pays for tuition but there is no way I can support myself in this city with what they pay,” said Victor E., a PhD. student and teacher’s assistant on strike at UCLA. “With teaching, my own coursework, and my research, there isn’t really any time to pick up another job. This has resulted in me taking out loans just to live and eat here. This shouldn’t be the case. With the amount of work the university gets out of its graduate students, postdocs, and others, a living wage is a small ask…A number one ranked public university should be doing no less and certainly much, much more.”

Another priority for the workers is transportation costs. The cost of gasoline has gone up around the world and according to a statewide survey conducted by The Public Policy Institute of California, an independent and non-partisan research firm, 43% of Californians including half of lower-income residents worry every day about the high cost of gasoline and the increasing unaffordability of various modes of transportation.

The union wants UC to cover regional transit passes, and additional subsidies and incentives for taking public transit or bikes to work.

Recently, UC has offered to pay campus fees to extend “existing student-funded transit discounts,” to UAW members.

Although agreements have yet to be announced, on Nov. 17 the UAW reported that “parties made progress on issues related to Parking and Transit, Appointment Notification, and Paid Time Off.”

There continues to be a large gap between the salary asks and the UC proposals. On Nov. 18, a UAW statement said, “UC made another economic proposal to Academic Researchers containing 4.5% raises that do not match the rate of inflation.”

However, they did report progress in some other areas. “We have reached agreement on a few issues — such as health benefits improvements for Postdocs — which, while important, are not the major ones dividing the parties.”

As final examinations approach for students in the UC system, so does uncertainty. “UAW remains ready to meet for round-the-clock negotiations, but UC has not agreed to schedule sessions for the weekend,” a UAW release said. “Workers will be back on the strike lines Monday morning.”

Students, faculty and elected officials are showing support for the strikers. Some professors are cancelling classes, and some students are electing to walk out. California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon tweeted “Academic workers are essential to the success of all of our @UofCalifornia campuses. The UC must continue to bargain in good faith to reach an agreement with the @UAW.”

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