This Year's 'Most Code Switch' Halloween Costume: #ChristopherColumbusing : Code Switch "Oakland is the new Brooklyn." "It may seem sketchy but you should try this taco truck." "I only get my kombucha from Whole Foods." "The rent in Harlem is so cheap!"
NPR logo This Year's 'Most Code Switch' Halloween Costume: #ChristopherColumbusing

This Year's 'Most Code Switch' Halloween Costume: #ChristopherColumbusing

Ah, the fine art of Columbusing. Code Switch has explored the subject in the past:

If you've danced to an Afrobeat-heavy pop song, dipped hummus, sipped coconut water, participated in a Desi-inspired color run or sported a henna tattoo, then you've Columbused something.

Columbusing is when you "discover" something that's existed forever. Just that it's existed outside your own culture, nationality, race or even, say, your neighborhood. Bonus points if you tell all your friends about it.

Why not? In our immigrant-rich cities, the whole world is at our doorsteps.

This year, my good friend N'Jeri Eaton, a documentary filmmaker who lives in Oakland, decided to make this practice the subject of her Halloween costume. N'Jeri goes big every Halloween — previous getups include a "Gangster Raptor" and Sharknado — but this year's choice was influenced by the growing frustration she and other East Bay friends feel over the San Francisco-ization of Oakland, as Uber and other tech companies eye the city's under-populated, architecturally appealing downtown, "authentic" vibe, and affordable-by-comparison residential neighborhoods.

With that in mind, N'Jeri donned a poufy velvet tunic, stuck a feather in her imperial-chic cap, and unleashed a parody hashtag on Instagram: #ChristopherColumbusing. She planted flags all over Oakland with messages for other would-be pioneers ready to discover — and devour — the fruits of Oakland:

N'Jeri in full imperial regalia. Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton hide caption

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Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton

N'Jeri in full imperial regalia.

Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton

A #ChristopherColumbusing example. Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton hide caption

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Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton

A #ChristopherColumbusing example.

Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton
Courtest N'Jeri Eaton
A #ChristopherColumbusing example.
Courtest N'Jeri Eaton
Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton
Another #ChristopherColumbusing example.
Courtesy N'Jeri Eaton

I asked N'Jeri a bit about the inspiration for all this. "Nothing is secure in my life, not my apartment and not my office building," she said — she lives in a rapidly transforming neighborhood south of Lake Merritt, where rents are skyrocketing, and her employer is struggling to find new digs after Pinterest took over its old building. "There's a thin like between Columbusing and gentrification, and I wanted to find a costume that spoke to that without feeling heavy-handed."

You can check out the rest of the photo series on Instagram, where, N'Jeri notes, a picture she posted deeming Sacramento "the new Oakland" has locals in a panic. One wrote, "Stop telling people about Sacramento. I have to move there when the Bay gets too expensive, and I can't have other people moving there first and driving prices up."