“Gumbo:” A Tribute To Oakland

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19th and Telegraph Oakland, California


In this audio soundscape, Youth Radio poet and artist Shyra Gums compares Oakland’s diversity to a giant pot of gumbo, with beautiful, interesting ingredients. 



Wind, rain, dirt & sunshine were the only elements

that symbolizes Earth the best.

And the birth of life was an addition,

but who would have thought this pedigree

would explode into indefinable diversity?

It all became a surplus of foundations for the roots

of what went from abnormality to the colors of life

All of the ingredients were contained in this

fluorescent, metropolitan region

In this case it would be a big pot,

set stable and ready for everything to be thrown in

The rice, which represents the agriculture,

and natural growth of crops,

The shellfish, that represents the high access of water,

and the seas, where they came from,

and where natives were able to go to,

and use for the growth of nature that we observe today

The vegetables , which represents the strength of the soil,

where they grew from, and to provide for the birds,

So they can be strong enough to fly through tough winds

The meat, which represents the animals

and their ability to migrate through different habitats

The boiling water, which comes from the skies

and falls into what great bodies of oceans, rivers, and lakes we have,

and finally, the seasonings,

that represents the essence of the different states  the environment had had.

So as we walk through streets of buildings and skyscrapers,

we, as residents can taste…and enjoy…..the heart…of Oakland.

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