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Mama Cheryl's Story

By: Meiriely Amaral

Mama Cheryl Canson’s story is one of resistance. She spoke on Po' People's Revolutionary Newz Hour: Keeping the "A's" even if Poor Peoples Cant Stay on April 13, 2021 (listen here) about her experience at Canyon Rim Apartments in San Diego. “While we’re fighting a pandemic we’re fighting amongst each other, and that’s really a saddening thing and we don't realize the solution to a lot of our issues is unity” - Mama Cheryl Mama Cheryl has been living at Canyon Rim for the past 2 years. When she first moved in she got a lot of glares and stares, and there was a lot of racism and prejudice. She is Black and the neighborhood had few people who looked like her, and ever since moving in she’s been getting harassed. The goal of this has been to get her uncomfortable enough to move. Some of her neighbors have used glares and mean mugs to show their displeasure of her moving there and becoming their neighbor, but Mama Cheryl is going to stand because she is not ashamed in her Blackness. She was thinking about moving, but then she got connected with the San Diego Tenants Union. They have stood with her united, and let her know that she’s not alone, fighting side by side with her. Mama Cheryl has a history of mental illness in her family, which sometimes leads to loud moments and that’s just something she deals with. Sometimes she’s told neighbors in the past about this but it’s a catch 22 - do you let your neighbors know about your situation or do you not for fear of targeting. None of these things can change, not her race nor her mental illness, and Mama Cheryl is not going to fight against that. “I am what I am ... I’m sure you’re proud of who you are but I’m not bothering you, Ima let you be who you are and be proud of who you are, you know, but allow me to do the same” - Mama Cheryl There was an initial complaint made against Mama Cheryl, and legal aid was initially representing her, but it was the San Diego Tenants Union who was able to find mistakes in the original complaint. Shout out to the tenants union in San Diego!! People united can conquer anything. Since this complaint wasn’t answered in time, it was rendered invalid. It’s still unclear to Mama Cheryl the exact details of the process she is in, but she knows she is waiting for a court hearing. She got together with the tenants union and knocked on doors, together they were able to empower others by being united, showing her fellow neighbors that if they should experience or were experiencing any of the things she was, that they were not alone.

In the pandemic, there are laws preventing landlords/scamlords from using lack of payment to evict people, so these scamlords look for other reasons to evict people. Mama Cheryl was paying her rent electronically, but they blocked her access and wouldn’t accept her rent, so they clearly wanted her to move for other reasons. When that initial complaint was filed, the poLICE came to her door to “investigate”, and it was clear that the noise and arguing that was complained about didn’t exist. The only explanation for how this has gotten so full blown is that the office has been discriminating as well. Especially because in a building of 197 tenants or so, where she was open from the start about her mental illness history, they could have placed her in a more accommodating space around more tolerating neighbors, but they chose not to listen to her. Mama Cheryl is in good hands in her resistance, and in her unity with the people through the tenants union.

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