If you live in the East Bay you have most likely heard about SoOakland and hopefully you have been to one of their events! Although the parties are fun, great crowd, vibe and music - SoOakland is about so much more than events. The SoOakland movement has been a leader in putting the positive aspects of Oakland and its community in the limelight. There is so much beauty, culture and tradition that often goes unnoticed. Shayla Jamerson, Founder of SoOakland, wanted to change that.
SoOakland is an amazing, safe space for everyone, although it was created for natives and people of color to have a place to unapologetically celebrate who they are without criticism or scrutiny. “I’m just trying to be an example for the young black girls that are coming up in Oakland and feeling like their dreams are too big or unrealistic . Gentrification is hitting hard in Oakland and everyone is extremely sensitive and emotional about what’s happening to natives in Oakland. So it was very important that within the space you feel like home. SoOakland is a vibe.” says Shayla. People are noticing! Mayor Libby Shaaf even named July 30th as SoOakland Day!
Building the brand has not always been easy. Shayla’s circle would describe her as a spontaneous woman with a huge heart and the life of the party. Her passion and mother’s spirit keeps her going no matter what obstacles she’s had in front of her. The untimely death of her mother brought out strength, courage and fearlessness that Shayla didn’t realize she had. “I’m living out my life the way my mom wasn’t able to, so everything that I do is for her and the thought of her, her strength, everything she has gone through in life is motivation enough to make sure that I never quit.”
When fear or feelings of not being qualified come up, Shayla has positive affirmation conversations in the mirror “I tell myself that I’m smart. I tell myself that I’m beautiful. I tell myself that God placed me in this position for a reason. I tell myself that challenges are important and you will never know what you’re supposed to do in life if you don’t stand up to that challenge and take that risk.’ Shayla wants people to see a strong, black, confident woman who is not afraid to be who she is. If you ask me, that’s what I see! We are so excited to watch your journey Shayla, and to watch SoOakland grow! The movement recently had a SoAtlanta event and is also expanding to Houston and LA in the near future.
You can find out more about SoOakland and Shayla at www.sooakland.com or on Instagram @sooakland or @shaylabang1.
Thank you Shayla for putting smiles on so many Oakland faces and serving as an inspirational leader to women and people of color in our community. We can’t wait to see you at an upcoming event!
Written by: Chayla Gibson (Sol Sister)