Akoma Outdoor Market at the Black Cultural Zone in East Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

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February is kicking off with Lunar New Year, a holiday marking the first day of the lunar calendar that’s celebrated by many people around the world, including right here in Oakland. February also marks the start of Black History Month, when we celebrate Black culture and its vast contributions to society.

While we’re all eager to resume hanging out indoors among friends and strangers, Alameda County is still not quite out of the current omicron-fueled COVID surge. Until transmission levels drop further and public health officials adjust their guidance, we encourage everyone to take precautions if partaking in indoor celebrations unmasked. 

Don’t forget that as of today, the city of Oakland is requiring proof of vaccination to enter certain businesses like restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment venues, coffee shops, and other public indoor spaces. 

We’ll continue to only highlight online events and outdoor activities geared to individuals or small circles of loved ones until the surge is past us.

Email your questions and comments to azucena@oaklandside.org, and if there’s an upcoming online event you think we should feature, fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

Lakeside Chat #15: What Darwin Would Like to Have Known

The Rotary Nature Center Friends at Lake Merritt is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the lake as a wildlife refuge and providing education about the natural world to Oaklanders of all ages. One of the ways it does this is by hosting “chats” about nature and all things science. This weekend, the Friends are tackling the question: What recent scientific discoveries would most interest and surprise Charles Darwin if he were alive today and updating his classic 1859 tome about evolution, The Origin of Species? Join Darwin scholar and UC Berkeley psychology professor, Dr. Frank J. Holloway, on this virtual chat. You can also browse past Lakeside Chats on YouTube

Friday, Feb. 4, 7 p.m., register online, Zoom link will be sent via email.

Congolese dance class

The Oakland Public Library just unveiled the lineup for its third annual Black Culture Fest, “A Celebration of the African Diaspora.” The series of virtual and in-person events runs throughout the month and offers something for everyone, including this virtual dance class taught by local educator and arts advocate LaKiesha Golden. The class will incorporate Soukous, a type of Congolese dance music, and Ndombolo, also a music and dance style popular in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Don’t miss your opportunity to learn about these music genres and dance moves from the African continent. 

Saturday, Feb. 5, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., free to Oakland Public Library members, register online

Skateboarding classes for East Oakland youth

Skate Like a Girl, a nonprofit that promotes an inclusive skateboarding community through leadership and social justice education, is leading a free, four-week skateboarding workshop for kids 8 to 12 years old, at the 81st Avenue Library. But hurry: Only five of the 15 class spaces were left at the time of publication. 

Saturday, Feb. 5, 19, 25, and March 5, 12 p.m. to 1:15 p.m, call 510-615-5812 to register, 1021 81st Ave.

Black Joy on Wheels

Get your preferred set of wheels and join this 8-mile bicycle ride that starts at City Slicker Farms in West Oakland and stops at Brooklyn Basin’s Township Commons before heading back to the farm. You might even catch Stomper, the Oakland A’s elephant mascot, riding along on this under 30-minute ride. The event is being put together by Black Joy Parade, a nonprofit that celebrates Black culture with events and a yearly parade, the next of which is scheduled to resume in person on Feb. 27. 

Sunday, Feb. 6, 12 p.m., free, register online, meet at City Slicker Farms, 2847 Peralta St.

Akoma Outdoor Market (Black Love Market)

Head over to Liberation Park in deep East Oakland to support local vendors by purchasing produce, locally made gifts, and food at Akoma Outdoor Market, which takes place on the first and third Sundays of every month. You can also bring your roller skates or just enjoy watching others skate while you shop at Liberation Park’s outdoor rink, or learn about community resources available for families at one of the market’s information tables. 

Sunday, Feb. 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., free, Liberation Park, 7101 Foothill Blvd. 

Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.