Author Archives: Xan West

About Xan West

Xan West is currently the senior producer of Childhood Matters and Nuestros Niños (Spanish language), two parenting radio programs that air throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Xan holds a BA in Broadcast Journalism from American University's School of Communications. She has worked extensively in talk radio for outlets such as XM Satellite Radio, NPR and Pacifica. In addition, she has produced programs including Interfaith Voices, All-American Talk Radio, Prison Abolition Radio and many more. She is thrilled to have interviewed people as wide ranging as Mumia Abu-Jamal and Eminem. A proud Oakland native, Xan has lived in the Foster-Hoover area (more familiarly referred to as “Ghost Town”) of West Oakland for the past six years. This is the area directly southwest of the MacArthur Maze, bordering Emeryville. She has worked in community organizing in West Oakland with organizations such as Critical Resistance and People’s Grocery. Also, for two years, she was a teacher at Westlake Middle School, serving the West Oakland community. Her favorite offerings in West Oakland are Mosswood and DeFremery Parks, the Black Dot Café and Nellie’s Soul Food Kitchen. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening with children in the neighborhood, and running and hiking through Oakland.

Video: West Oakland Residents Respond to Occupy Oakland

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Editor’s Note: Because Occupy Oakland has so dominated the news recently, Xan West stepped outside of health reporting and produced the short video below. She surveyed friends and acquaintances for reaction to the movement. The seven people West interviewed all … Continue reading »


West Oakland Gets Disaster Ready

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Most of the nation recalls watching their televisions as Hurricane Katrina flooded and ravaged the shores of New Orleans. While for many residents of West Oakland, preparing for an emergency can fall to the bottom of a list of needed improvements, Hurricane Katrina was a frightening reminder that when catastrophe hits, it particularly impacts the most vulnerable communities. Communities like West Oakland already grappling with poverty and a lack of resources are often least able to respond to large-scale disasters.


Oakland Struggles with Fighting Violent Crime

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The murder of 3-year-old Carlos Nava in East Oakland, as well as a bloody summer, has once again brought Bay Area urban violence into media headlines. Yet residents, law enforcement and city officials continue to have opposing views on how to change the epidemic of violence in Oakland.


Coping with Violence, Healing Trauma in Oakland

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There is a direct biological correlation between childhood trauma and adult disease, according to Dr. Nadine Burke, Director of the Bayview Child Health Center. Burke is actively attempting to change this outcome. She believes that stability, exercise, mindfulness and other coping mechanisms can reverse the effects of chronic stress and trauma in high-violence places like West Oakland and San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point, where Burke’s work is based.

“I am a strong believer in the mind-body connection,” says Burke. “Particularly in stressed communities like West Oakland or Bayview there is less access to healthy food. But you actually need lean protein and all the nutrients that are found in vegetables and fruits to be able to create neurotransmitters, so you can have a healthy mood in your brain.”


Health Effects of Living in Violent Communities

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“When you have something that makes you really afraid, that fear response actually has effects on your body and the more times that happens the more significant those effects are,” says Burke. “When you are living in a community where that may happen quite often – or you’re a child living in a household where that is happening all the time – that can be really harmful to all of the body’s different systems.”

In low-income communities like Bayview/Hunters Point in San Francisco and West Oakland, children often suffer from trauma in the form of domestic violence, addiction, incarceration of a parent and many other stressors. Even children from relatively stable homes are often unable to be sheltered from the violence that is right outside their doors, as well as the stress of poverty and racism. Burke says these stresses have long-term health effects on children and those living in violent areas.