News & Opinion » Letters & Guest Essays

Letters for the week of October 7-13

Readers sound off on Nextdoor, racial profiling, and banking industry attorneys investigating Oakland councilmembers


"Racial Profiling via," Feature, 10/7

Nextdoor Responds

We founded Nextdoor with the belief that when neighbors start talking, good things happen. Four years and 77,000 neighborhoods later, we continue to be amazed by the enthusiasm and passion that neighbors have to make their local communities stronger and safer.

The vast majority of interactions on Nextdoor are positive, but recently Nextdoor has been at the center of a few press articles, including one in the East Bay Express, about a very difficult issue facing our neighborhoods today: racial profiling.

We are incredibly saddened that some neighbors have used Nextdoor in this way. Simply stated: We consider profiling of any kind to be unacceptable. Our product is about fostering healthy conversations amongst neighbors. We explicitly prohibit profiling in our guidelines. Further, if we are notified that a member has violated these guidelines, we will take action and prohibit them from using Nextdoor.

We consider profiling of any kind to be unacceptable — and the opposite of being neighborly. Moving forward, we are creating ways to remind members of these guidelines when they post in the Crime and Safety section. We are investigating better techniques for keeping divisive discussions productive, and we are partnering with conflict resolution experts for training and product feedback. This is an important cause for us and we won't let up.

Of course, one of the best ways to combat profiling is simply to get to know your neighbors. Racial profiling and other unneighborly behaviors often arise from not having relationships with those around us. Many neighbors tell us that they are using Nextdoor as a vehicle to create the change they want to see in their local communities. Let's use our common bonds to come together, engage in constructive dialogue, and end profiling once and for all.

Nirav Tolia, co-founder and CEO of Nextdoor (reposted from

Spurred to Action

Thank you for this article. I am white and my wife (who is also white) is on Nextdoor and has told me about these posts. I haven't joined Nextdoor because I didn't want to get involved in aggravating comment threads. This article made me realize that by not taking part, I am taking advantage of my white privilege. I am a mom, and if I had a black child I think I would feel that I had to be involved for my own child's safety. I would want to know who in the neighborhood is profiling him/her, and other people of color, and might make a call that could create a dangerous situation for my kid. So, I am newly resolved to join Neighbors for Racial Justice and start making my voice heard on Nextdoor to support those who are trying to keep neighborhoods safe from police and private security violence.

Rebecca Peterson-Fisher, Oakland

Whites Are the Real Victims

Nextdoor is overwhelmingly used as a soapbox for militant activists and classifieds. Most of the racism I read on Nextdoor is scapegoating of white people. Amongst my circle, we call the site PoisonousNeighborNextDoor. Not surprised the Express chose a BS narrative.

Matt Chambers, Oakland

Profiling Is Rampant

The covert and not-so-covert racial bias detailed in the article is still rampant in our culture, and certainly in the hills area of Oakland. It's not restricted to Nextdoor; the neighborhood listservs and National Crime Prevention Council groups have been operating this way for years and it has done material harm to the African-American residents in those neighborhoods. What I find most helpful about this piece is that it really goes to great lengths to interview people involved and discusses the fears, the anger, and the damage that this fear and suspicion cause. I'll rejoin my listserv; I left it in disgust a few years ago after being annoyed by precisely this kind of behavior from some of the members.

Rick Davis, Oakland

In Berkeley, Too

It's not just Oakland, I've lived in North Oakland and South Berkeley for sixty-plus years. We also have Nextdoor in Berkeley, and I'm a member, and we have the identical situation here. At least 20 percent of the communications on Nextdoor consist of alerts for "suspicious" persons of color.

I personally know of one instance where a call was made to the Berkeley Police Department by one of our newer white neighbors —on a Black senior citizen who supposedly "had something going on in his house." The police came to the man's house, had him down on the ground with a gun to his head, ransacked his house, took him to jail and kept him there two days before releasing him. This happened on Harmon Street in Berkeley. Since our neighborhood has become more gentrified, the Berkeley police are more aggressive and as quick to profile Black residents as the Oakland police. We own three houses in Berkeley and I've been stopped twice in the last year and asked "am I on probation or parole" for nothing more than being a Black man walking in my neighborhood. It's crazy.

Reginald Pates, Berkeley

And Richmond

This stupid crap pops up in my neighborhood in Richmond as well. And people are all "if you see something, say something! Better safe than sorry!" It's not as common as described above, but I've had to pipe up more than once. I'd rather be a "pc police" than a bigot, but maybe I'm just cray-zay like that.