What’s dope about Oakland & San Francisco is that it’s a breeding ground for living with creative & radical collectives. That really excites me as a poet & warrior bc I want to live in community, so that we can continue to build on n on n on n.
I can’t afford to live on my own with Zi. Fiscally, it wouldn't be empowering. Living paycheck to paycheck isn't sustainable for me emotionally, nor physically. I want to save & continue to build on my plans for personal & collective liberation. I know that I cannot do it alone. I know that I don't want to do it alone.
It’s out there. Living debt & worry free is out there. Trust, people are doing it without being millionaires or even middle class. There is enough room in this planet for all of us to share & to live abundantly. I believe that. But, it can only happen with the right kind of togetherness. We are all in this together, some fail to see the benefit in that or fail to see that we are in this together, altogether.
Love is not just a feeling. It’s ultimately an act. It takes a lot of material and ego-logical sacrifices to love & transform this man-made-capitalist-without-integrity machine. We often tend to lean on our own understandings & not think of the collective or what is the focal point of living—& I can tell you that for me it is not money or materialism. Money is just a means to an end.
To me abundance is not about my collection of books or kicks. Abundance is eating the best foods, drinking the best herbal teas, & laughing with loves ones over it all. Abundance is writing & getting to spend time with my daughter. It is bike riding & dancing every night. It is stretching & walking in the forrest. It is not working half my life, so that I can afford a big house with a big back yard.
Abundance is peace & being stressed about money is not abundance or happiness. That is why I believe that all babymamas should consider living in community or if not, consider yourself a slave until you retire & your kids resents you bc you were too stressed to be a fully present mama.
My journey to find collective housing has been very discouraging. Oakland is overpopulated with young, single, without kids folks—that is the image you get when you think about collective housing. Most folks see kids as a buzz kill & do not want to live with other people’s children bc they feel like the can’t get high, drink, or party with children around. Although, as a Afro-Dominicana, I grew up & slept through lit house parties.
I don’t know what is happening to the times, but I also get a general sense that folks are afraid of kids too, which makes me believe that people’s sense of community is skewed bc the fact is without children, there can’t be community. All communities are a conglomeration of people from all ages. So, it makes me unsure if folks really understand the idea of building equitable communities. I am also unsure if folks are interested in keeping Oakland black for the long haul. Providing housing for a black mama will help in that endeavor, since we birth black babies…
Don’t get it twisted, I am all for allowing folks to define what they want their home to look like, however, what that looks like shouldn't be defined on what people cannot change about themselves, like parental status or race. Denying housing to someone who has a child is illegal. Denying housing to folks who are black is illegal, but folks do it all the time.
Besides, how would you explain to a seven year old that they cannot live with you because you have some sort of kid-phobia. You wouldn't, right? But this is how my experience goes...
I am on Craigslist or on a Facebook housing group & I introduce myself. I get a response, people are really excited, they are feeling my vibe. They are down to show me their place, until we converse a little bit more & they see I am a mama & then I get turned down.
It happens every time.
Folks just tell me that they don't want a kid in their house explicitly, or hit me with the this room isn't for two people, or they are light sleepers, or they think their house isn't fit for kids... & I want to respond, but the street is? Then I want to say, how the fuck you know what’s best for my kid? Seriously? Ahhhhh. But, whatever it's “their” home & after those kinds of conversations, where they say that not having children in their home is a choice. I go on to tell them that it is a fucked up choice.
It is one thing for you to decide to not have a child. It is completely another thing to deny me housing because you don't want a kid in your home. What gets me mad about people is that they will be outside rallying for black lives matters, but won’t let a child in their home. It just sucks to be in a position to make a difference, but not take it bc of the misconceptions of who you are & who you portray yourself to be. Don't be rallying for us. Don't be out there talking about getting love & acceptance for all & all this humanity mumbo jumbo, if you cannot see the value in providing a safe space for us—black people.
How can you have a collective house that doesn't allow children? How does that make sense for the world? Can you honestly tell me that you care about blackness without talking about babymamas? Lets be clear. How are you gonna save the hood without our wellbeing ? Oh, I know. You tell me to go stand on a line & ask for assistance from the very system that tears us down...
The housing search got to the point where I decided to quit. I texted my friends in Oakland who were helping me with the housing search by forwarding me openings that they came across. I thanked them for their work, but asked them to stop sending me leads unless they were screened with folks that were okay to house a mama & her baby. I just couldn't be told no again. That shit was breaking me wide open.
I had three days to leave. My homies were searching high & low for me via Facebook & I just gave up until Josh emailed my friend & told them that he had a room for me & Zi.
I am now squatting in West Oakland, sharing space with folks who don't resemble my hue-story. & even though it hurts a little to know I've been denied housing by those who share my skin. It feels good to know I have a home again with chill ass folks. It feels good to know that Zi & I are still here. & I am trying to always remember that we matter, that black lives matters.