Rags To Rooms: Deecolonize Academy Final Essay 2020

Tiny - Posted on 05 January 2021

By Kimo Umo

In my life I've been asked to remember my experience of being formally homeless. To be honest there have been times I've forgotten about this fact, a truth I struggle to cope with. With a society like the United states we americans tend to glamorize certain aspects like being rich over being poor. 


In the earlier years of living in the bay area I was at the age of 6 homeless on the streets of san francisco. My mom Linda who was in her mid 30’s had been going through what she describes as ‘’the hardest time of her life.’’ She had just herself and I enrolled into a homeless shelter, called the hamilton. 


My mother had lived in actual shelters for 6 months, which were dangerous for the distribution of narcotics and actions more devious than the devil, while I lived with my grandpa in stockton. After the six months were up my mom got a house in oakland, and i moved back in, as well she had a new boyfriend named carlos who helped financially but still wasn't enough to stop us from getting evicted from oakland. 


Since I was a toddler at the time, my day consisted of waking up at 6’clock, getting my bag ready empty of any school supplies, and a golden peanut butter sandwich which was better than the ham sandwich which is the opposite of sweet, as well as being cold as a rock. Even though I didn't like the sandwiches all the time, it was still better than starving.


My life would be like this for the next year from 2007 to 2009, my mom would struggle to find housing but eventually struck gold and was able to get into a program that helps families in homeless shelters to get them access to public housing, for example me and my mother ended up getting a house in one of san francisco’s ghettos known as Hunters point.


On january 29, 2008 while at the shelter, my mom and I were waiting for one of the staff, we had been accepted into the public housing projects in the southeast end of the city. It seemed like my mom and I were preparing as if we were preparing for a covert mission, preparing gear in the night with wool blankets and clothes.


We all gathered our thing’s together and proceeded into the van, we were accompanied by multiple families who were just as traumatized as the other people. Like midnight riders and the rubber hit the road people were getting dropped off to their own luxury project neighborhoods and projects.


Oddly enough all these people were just like Mom and I. They didn't have a place to go until now, maybe they were somewhat abandoned by someone too, it’s hard to believe their were so many people who had the same predicament as me, and yet I was off to my own home, as my mom put it ‘’We had just won the lottery ticket.” The struggling had paid off finally. 


When the van arrived to its destination, mom and I were out of the van swiftly. We were off our voyage and it felt refreshing as if we were unloading into a country like Cuba, a big container ship disembarking from a long time at sea, when sailors are adrift for long periods of time, one may begin to miss the land back home.


The house was a two story building, it was conjoined with another house as if a row stacked on top of each other, as if they were stairs . My mom couldn't be any happier, we arrived at the house and were hastily able to get some sleep. The shelter did not provide any beds, so we just slept on the blankets. It was the safest i felt in awhile, and I bet it was for my mom too.


I slept so soundly at night not even the bang of a stick of dynamite could wake me. It was the next morning and I awakened to a bright warm yellow morning of english muffins and peanut butter, my first bite of the food was gooey but delicious. I even met some of my first friends at a bus stop nearby. A little white boy with his mom just like me said hello and turned out to be my neighbor.


The next 11 years I still feel the effects of my past and how I survived because of my mother’s determination to not be raised in her hometown of Stockton, she says boys my age die of common causes like being entangled with gangs or drugs. Those aspects are still around me in my hunter's point, but it’s more tame.


Life for now is about trying to better myself and those around me. It starts usually with yourself, remembering being homeless makes me humble. Not that i like being homeless, but i do understand it’s hard and for any it can be a death sentence. 


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