Oakland playwright Chinaka Hodge on the gentrification of her city and Oscar Grant

May 20, 2014

Playwright Chinaka Hodge writes, sings, studies, directs plays and teaches about Oakland. She went to school in New York and Southern California, but her artistic work has always focused on her hometown- more recently on the gentrification she sees happening in Oakland, while native Oaklanders, she says, continue to live in poverty.

Hodge's latest play is called Chasing Mehserle, in reference to Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who killed Hayward teen Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART Station in 2009.

In her play, a fictional character, Watts, has been agoraphobic since seeing the Rodney King beatings as a child. He makes a New Year’s resolution to finally leave the house on January 1st, 2009, the same day Grant is murdered by transit officer Mehserle. Chinaka Hodge came by our studios to talk about the play, and a changing Oakland.

Click the audio player above to listen to the interview.