by Lisa ‘Tiny’ Gray-Garcia, daughter of Dee, mama of Tiburcio
We live in tents cuz we can’t afford your scam called rent
Yeah rent is a lie
paid by us all
cuz we colonized
that it’s analogous to breathing
That someone owns mama earth
drumming it into us since birth
No, buying a small piece of her don’t make u safe
in fact, it just makes u party to the pillage and rape
All we need to do is work hard and get our own
no you don’t – that ain’t set in stone
all you weekday revolutionaries
wit trust funds and land stealing parents
who stay quiet in organizing circles
about where your money come from
and how u even have the time
to protest and walk liberaSHUN
All of us who save and save cuz thats all we been taught
bout to b safe
from scamlords and their endless lying ways
income property, rent increases, evictions
and interest rates
Banksters and real estate snakes
Buying and selling, pimping and playing
every single day
Yeah, I say, Cancel rent
And in the same breath
I say, UnSell Mama Earth
And the peoples who have privilege and trust funds and hoarded resources redistributing to those of us who don’t
so together we can all liberate whether we houseless or housed, indebted to bankkkster loan
Follow the lead of First Nations warriors
Like we do at Homefulness
who have protected Mama Earth since back in the day
Ending the reign of terror and Mama Earth rape
then we might be able to talk about being safe …
“Our landlord is telling us we will be evicted if we don’t pay the rent by April 1st,” said Merriam X, one of the indigenous refugees from the other side of the false borders who come to Homefulness for the Sliding Scale Cafe to receive free diapers, food and legal advocacy. “We are all afraid,” she concluded.
POOR Magazine jailhouse lawyers all went to work to support her and her family so they wouldn’t continue to be harassed by their scamlord who, just like many scamlords in this time, doesn’t seem to care about the state, county and citywide moratorium against evictions ordered since the shelter-in-place mandate began.
“I am living here with my daughter, Fatima,” one of the tenants of 3080 Richmond said as she described her struggle to pay rent in the middle of this pandemic. “We are out of work, and we have no money.”
The 37 tenants of 3080 Richmond are all hard-working people, some care-givers, small business people, contractors, working-class, very low-income. All were working before the pandemic and now are out of work and out of rent.
Alameda County put an eviction moratorium in place that requires the tenant to pay the rent in the future, which means eventually we poor people will face eviction cause if you don’t have the money now, you aren’t gonna have it in the future. But it does give protections to tenants to at least not be evicted right now.
“They are harassing tenants all the time with three-day notices, towing cars. It’s so wrong,” said Momi Palapaz, one of the tenants of 3080 Richmond , a poverty skola and organizer with Self-Help Hunger Program and POOR Magazine who helped to organize he building when they started getting this insane harassment.
Listening to Momi, Merriam and Fatima, I was reminded of me and mama’s lifelong struggle. “I don’t think we have enough for the rent …” When mama would say this, which she said so many times throughout my childhood since she lost her job and ended up on the street, my heart would start beating faster and I would literally become terrorized.
“Is there anything else we can sell?”
It was always the same story, we would pay the rent for as long as we made money in our street-based business and then something would happen. One of us would get sick, the hoopties we always had would break down and the cost to fix them would break us, we wouldn’t sell enough T-shirts on the street or a bill collector would find us.
Whether it was motel rooms or apartments, we would be kicked out ALL the TIME and end up back where we started, sleeping in our cars when we had one or on park benches, bus benches or shelter beds. This was my life from 11-22 years old. We tried everything all the time and worked really hard to get ahead and somehow, some way would end up outside.
And the original reason myself and three other single mamaz launched MamaHouse back in 2007 in the Mission District of San Francisco, as we had all been evicted, dealt with homelessness and were unable to afford the gentrification rents and this work eventually led to POOR Magazine launching Homefulness in Deep East Oakland.
“We are homeless with children, and these homes are just sitting here vacant,” said Dominque Walker, one of the powerful members of Moms4Housing who launched a full scale resistance to the hoarding of empty homes and the rent strike in East Oakland that happened before COVID-19 taking over abandoned houses that real esnakes were sitting on just to make money. Income property, they call it. Moms4Housing and ACCE are working now on a CancelRent campaign.
From the original Lords of the Land of feudal societies stealing indigenous peoples land and then charging them to live on their own land in their own homes or they would be evicted to settler colonial theft of Turtle Island, and genocide waged on indigenous peoples we have all been told this is the way to “make it” and meanwhile big and small “management companies” like Raj Properties, the “owners” and terrorizers of 3080 Richmond, continue to get away with abuse, mismanagement, harassment, uninhabitable conditions and on and on.
Together we are building a powerful movement of renters, homeowners and community members across the country to win homes for all. These demands are not just to help our communities get through this crisis, but to ensure a #DebtFreeFuture and healthy, safe, thriving communities for us all. These words are from the website from www.cancelrent.us. On April 22nd, they waged a national call to politricksters and communities to lift up this movement and are now organizing for May Day.
My only hope with movements like this is that they center, include and vision their work in the spaces where us very poor tenants dwell. Us tenants who, like me and my mama, were not “woke” or politicized, did not understand or overstand the inherent problems with Krapitalism (as I call it now) but are terrified of being evicted. This is what I call Poverty Scholarship; it goes back to lived, not just learned experience of struggle and that additionally all of the work surrounding land and rent theft be centered in First Nations honoring and recognition that indigenous peoples experienced this first form of removal, eviction and gentrification – called colonization.
“It’s OK if you don’t have the rent.” After years of evictions and homelessness, the only thing that “worked” for me and mama was meeting a landlord who didn’t evict us when we didn’t have the rent money. For the first time, our rent was canceled.
We are asking people to stand with the tenants of 3080 Richmond today, Monday, April 27, at 3 p.m. for a Zoom press conference. And then on May Day, Friday, May 1, 2 p.m., we’ll protest in drive-by caravans in front of the real eSnakes office of Raj Properties at 520 Van Buren in Oakland. For more information on the Zoom press conference or the May Day event, click here and go to www.poormagazine.org/calendar.