Wisdom: The Takeaway From The Evicted Mothers in Oakland


Tuesday, two mothers who had been the subjects of an eviction battle were arrested for obstruction while law enforcement attempted to execute a judicial order for them to vacate. In case you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs, click here for more info. The upshot is that a “collective” of single homeless mothers occupied a vacant house that did not belong to them in order to have shelter for themselves and their children.

Of course, the company that owns the home began eviction proceedings shortly thereafter (around November) but in the meantime, tried to work with the mothers by offering them two months free to get on their feet (the mothers declined). Pre-dawn on Tuesday morning was the culmination of what I’m sure has been a major migraine for all involved. The eviction became more dramatic when the mothers attempted to barricade themselves in the property. 


I had been checking in on this story, off and on, for a few weeks. I have enough empathy to feel bad for anyone who doesn’t have a stable roof over their head. I also understand that California’s housing issues have reached critical mass and many working adults can barely make it once their rent is paid. I am sensitive to it all. 

The Takeaway

However, being a Black woman who cares about Black women and children, the biggest issue in my mind is trying to build a base of awareness for Black women to lessen the possibility that we will continually find ourselves in no-win crisis situations. I am concerned that the Black female collective, despite more than enough examples, is not learning the lessons we should have learned eons ago. 

With the poverty and STD rates the way they are within our demographic, it’s troubling to me that so many of us are still having children we cannot afford, having (obviously) unprotected sex with men who (clearly) don’t care to form a true commitment or family with us, and failing to make conscious decisions with our own well-being and future in mind. 

Yes, this sounds judgy and harsh. The reality is that life is judgy and harsh and that’s why those mothers weren’t able to use new age social justice lingo to convince the judge to allow them to continue squatting in someone else’s home. It’s also the reason that when we make certain decisions and do certain things, the natural consequences of those decisions can come back to bite us in the ass in the worst way. 

Black women have got to become wiser and use that wisdom in our own self-interest. Running around shouting, “Black Girl Magic!” doesn’t mean anything if you can’t use that magic to help yourself. Furthermore, I can guarantee that every last one of the fathers of those children has a place to lay their head every night, be it a correctional facility or an aunt’s basement. It’s time for Black women to stop handing men who won’t make sure you and your child are safe, housed, clothed, and fed a legacy.

If you already have a low-wage job or a salary barely commensurate with the cost of living in your area, why add another person to it? Why risk being in a situation where law enforcement has to drag you out of the only home your child has ever known? 

One of my friends, in discussion about the story, said, “Black men should be ashamed.” My response is that they never will be because Black women keep rooting them on. Every time you allow a man to saddle you with a child you aren’t ready for, you’re encouraging him. Every time you allow a man to lay with you without demanding protection, you’re encouraging him. Every time you allow a man to have easy access to you without making him prove up, you’re encouraging him. When your interactions with him implode (because statistics say they do at a rate of about 72%), it will be you incurring most of the damage. 

I sincerely hope those women figure something out. Now they are homeless again, but this time, a few now have criminal charges, and they still have children to raise. The adage is that we learn from our mistakes. I’m asking Black women to start to learn from others’ mistakes as well. 


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