Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Housing Homelessness The privilege of breathing

The privilege of breathing

How can you shelter in place when you have no shelter?

-

As you sit under your roofs 

And complain about the soot 

Watching Air Quality index 

Soar to the roof 

I must remind all of you living in places

To shelter safely 

of so many of us still outside

Evicted behind the lie of rent — the myth of success 

The hoarding of stolen mama earth & all those real eSNAKE papers and pay-ments 

Hiding in doorways, car seats, bus benches 

Without a place — away from your sheltered eyes

While fires rage outside

And you close your windows and doors

Heeding the warnings of sheltering in place 

So many of us can barely breathe no longer having the privilege 

Of sheltered safe space

In the colonial terror launch centuries ago- 

Poor people made poor by colonial theft and the lie of ownership 

Continue to slip in and out of your fake lie called Non-profiteering 

And Business improvement Districts

Shelter Beds and vouchers 

Saviors and Charity complex

And most of all the LIE OF RENT 

And once again we are all left to ask 

How do you shelter in place when you have no place ?

How do you housed peoples/poltricksters continue to practice the violent act of looking away?

I don’t want your pity 

I don’t want your crumbs 

I want to close a door, shut a window and share the privilege of breathing one more day to come 

  • The privilege of breathing by tiny

“I cant breathe,” I would sputter out to the USC hospital emergency room window clerk. Me and mama were in the waiting room sometimes up to 24 hours waiting to be seen for an asthma inhaler refill. But most of the time we were there to breathe the cool air-conditioned hospital air  because we couldn’t breathe outside. 

People living on the streets are demanding a safe place to shelter in place.

We were houseless in LA, we stayed in the back seat of our Hooptie (old car) at the time, and when that car was towed, wherever we could hide, bus stations, park benches and sometimes even shelter beds. If it wasn’t for those waiting rooms, I am convinced I wouldn’t be alive today. 

As people nervously watch the AQI index rise, due to our new reality of mega-fires, caused in large part by endless and rampant development that causes the destruction of natural watersheds and  clear-cutting of our healthy forests and trees to build more and more housing in places there should be no housing, I ask you all to think of all of us outside your windows and doors unable to “shelter in Place” stay indoors, close windows, not do outdoor activities.

Because we have no shelter, no doors to close, no windows to shut, and no ability to not be outdoors cause we live outdoors in dusty ash-covered tents, lean-tos and tarps. 

In this very real apocalypse, we are all struggling with a new privilege, the privilege of breathing. Which, in addition to the crisis of clean water to drink for poor and indigenous peoples across Mama Earth, is a very real emergency. This takes environmental racism and classism to a whole other level.  

As we have witnessed in the COVID pandemic, mayors across this stolen land, from San Francisco to Las Vegas, refused to open hotel rooms for houseless people so we could be safe from this deadly virus, hoarding hotel rooms while more and more houseless people struggled on the street. Even when a Shelter in Place mandate was released, it never meant to include people without a place. 

To me it is significant to point out that as we are also living through the multiple pandemics called poverty, police terror and COVID, we are also living through the pandemic called colonization, which under krapitalism must have more and more products, more and more development to keep the wealth-hoarders and land stealers happy, the poltricksters paid and the industrial wheels turning. 

Me and mama bounced around the entirety of LA basin struggling with the same shit that’s in the air under these fires now in places where un-regulated factories, oil drills, and refineries, endlessly churned and produced, causing conditions to be so serious as to scar my lungs for life. These 21st century mega-fires aren’t any different they are just the culmination of 527 years of colonial terror on Mama Earth and her Earth peoples. 

In the end thanks to a landless, homeless peoples movement, self-determined model, with guidance from First Nations elders, this poor daughter and mama is safe to close a door behind a manifested vision we homeless peoples call Homefulness.

But my mind, body and soul is constantly on the streets sharing masks and resources with fellow houseless folks, and I am constantly working to get into the ears of wealth-hoarders and land-stealers trying to share models of immediate and emergency land liberation and radical sharing so everyone has the privilege to shut a window, close a door and breathe.

Tiny and other formerly houseless and currently houseless poverty skolaz at POOR Magazine are releasing a demand to open motel and hotel rooms to houseless peoples so they, too can have a place to shelter in right now. To contact Tiny to get a copy of this demand or bring her into your organization, school, or encampment you can reach her at www.lisatinygraygarcia.com or @povertyskola on Twitter.

More by this author

On homelessness, no more about us, without us

People who have lived unhoused and in poverty need to be part of the official policy conversation.

The privilege of breathing

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