Living While Black and Poor in Gentryville- A Story for Yuvette (Henderson)

Tiny - Posted on 10 April 2015

Mary-lynn /Oakland Houseless Resident

There are no words for how sad i am about the loss of sister Yuvette, killed by Emeryville pigs on February 3rd with war-style weapons  which is why i needed to write this story.

Tragically,  there are many Yuvette Hendersons and other poor , criminalized mamas and daddys like her and me living precariously on the margins of what sister Tiny calls Gentryville (Emeryville) much of which used to be a larger West Oakland until realtors realized they could sell more over-priced apartments and condos to young rich white people if they called it Emeryville.  Now all of our poor, black and brown bodies are in even more danger.

We are all profiled for shopping, walking, living while Black and Po’ in Gentryville. When we go into Home Depot or Starbucks, Office Depot or even the parking lot . There is always a possibility that we will be followed by a security guard, asked to leave or escorted off the “property”

Since the Dot-com boom of 1999 and increasing every year since, this neighborhood where many of us were born or have lived for years has become dangerous to our health. If any of us sit, stand, chill or park in the nearby park or leave our shopping carts, belongings or cars near the freeway overpass, they are always at-risk of being seized, towed or confiscated.

I can’t tell you how many times i have been followed by “loss prevention” agents out of Home Depot because i allegedly “stole” something when all i was doing was trying to use the bathroom. Questioned by pigs just for standing in front of Starbucks. Had all of my cans confiscated just for pushing my shopping cart past the great white wall of Hollis when it morphs into Gentryville

These are the hazards of being poor, houseless and of color in neighborhoods that used to be ours and now belong to whiter, richer people. Before I lived in West Oakland homelessly i lived in a home our family had lived in for 15 years until we lost it because the owner sold it to a housing developer for 3 times the amount he paid for it.

Poor NewsNetwork family recently did an interview with Luis Rodriguez on their KPFA radio segment about the connections between gentriFUKation, pigs killing us and us killing us. These connections are even more obvious in areas like gentryville and North Oakland where just looking "poor" can get you arrested or killed.

At POOR Magazine we always say eviction is death and gentrification is genocide. These are harsh terms but they are true, What ever happens to us peoples once we are outside. Either we are endlessly harassed, our bodies and lives are surveilled and/ or arrested andor we end up in prison.

The death of Yuvette took this ongoing harassment to another, terrifying  level I am so glad that the actions were done on Home Depot and Emeryville Pigs shop by BlackLivesMatter revolutionaries, Yuvette’s life was not in vain. Our lives as Black peoples do matter, but i just want to make one thing clear. Class matters too. There are countless middle-class black and Brown peopels who walk freely in an out of Home Depot and other stores in this shopping mall and are never harassed. stopped or even questioned. But if you happen to be seen as “homeless” or look poor ( whatever that looks like?) you are constantly collared, followed and harassed.

Yuvette was living while Black in Amerikkka but she was also living while Po’ and those of us still here, hiding on the margins of these gentriFUKed ( as we call it at POOR Magazine) neighborhoods  are clearly now in danger of being killed and like all gentrified peoples across Oakland and the Bay, we have nowhere else to go.

Marilyn X is a Poverty skola reporter with POOR Magazine who is a houseless resident of West Oakland. There will be a vigil and march for Yuvette this Sunday, April 12th at 3pm- at Extra Space Storage 3406 Hollis St Emeryville, CA 94608


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