The Privilege of Breathing in Poverty

Tiny - Posted on 11 September 2020

(Listen to the podcast of this piece piece by clicking here)

The privilege to breathe in poverty 


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 peoples 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.  We were houseless in LA, we stayed in the back seat of our Hooptie (old car) at the time and when that car was 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 devil-opment ( as I call it) which 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 comes 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 witnessed in Covid19 Mayors across this stolen land, from San Francisco to Las Vegas refused to open motel 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. 


So in addition to wealth-hoarders hiding their trust funds and wealth behind the privilege of benevolence and CONfusion, the realEsnakkes and CorpRAPEshuns conctinuing to rape mama Earth, the poltricksters like SF Mayor and more who refused to let proposition C be manifested until this week making sure more housing for poor people was delayed in being built, I also must ask housed activists and organizers hiding the privilege of your salaries and incomes and homes to stop creating more powerpoint presentations and strategy sessions and grant guidelines and realize that we are there in this moment and one of the ONLY things that matter right now is radically redistributing this stolen and hoarded land and wealth so more people can even have access to breathe and stay alive.


To me it is significant to point out that as we are also living through the multiple pandemics called poverty, poLice terror and Covid19, we are also living through the pandemic called colonization, which under krapitalism must have more and more products, more and more devil-opment 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 thats in the air under these fires now in places where un-regulated krapitalist 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. 


1st Peoples (who were long silenced by middle class wite activists in the “environmental movements”) have warned, spoken, taught and lived this prayer medicine for Mama Earth, and yet more “ugly houses” are flipped, more politricks are spit and more of mama earth and Mama Ocean is stolen and destroyed. 


In the end thanks to a landless, homeless peoples movement, self-determined model, with guidance from 1st 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 these fires and breathe.  To contact Tiny to get a copy of this demand or bring her into your organization, school, or encampment you can each her at or @povertyskola on Twitter 



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