My Tukwila Is Not the Same

My Tukwila Is Not the Same

by Ruba Ayub

Every day, I take the A line to the Tukwila light rail station from my home, then walk from the station to work at an elementary school. On my walk, I pass new buildings—the kind you see in bougie areas of Seattle—expensive condos, law centers, and other expensive urban infrastructure usually over-policed ​​and built, black, brown, and owned. of immigrants. shops and community spaces.

In Tukwila, the very few immigrant-owned businesses that remain now pay large sums of money to owners to keep their doors open and their heritage alive. Many of these businesses struggle to keep up with the rising costs of rent, parking, food and childcare. As more generators come to my town, I see a higher percentage of homeless people on the streets. Every day it seems like more people have lost their homes to new hotels, police stations, parking lots and apartments. Most affected are black, brown and immigrant families who have been forced to move further south in King County, away from their Seattle community.

My community is disappearing – my Tukwila is not the same.

On my walk, I see American flags hanging from apartments, white people running as police cars guard them as their personal security, and white librarians watching black and brown youth outside and inside the library. On the streets, homeless people are forced to find respite on sidewalks, bus stops, and alleys in hot weather. Every day, I see cops on the street doing nothing but chilling in their cars, eating McDonald’s, or harassing and arresting Black and Brown homeless people. Once, I saw a homeless person having a seizure right in front of a police officer who did nothing but watch. I wonder what the police would have done if the victim was a white man or woman.

Arresting people for being homeless is a violation of human rights. People need shelter, safety, employment, food, stability, community support and money. Calling the cops on homeless people or harassing or stereotyping them because they don’t have a roof over their heads is neither helpful nor an act of kindness.

I don’t believe the police do anything for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), immigrant and queer communities except subject them to more violence. The police do not prevent crimes. They respond with violence when a white person is hurt or when white law is disobeyed. The police institution is built on violence and operates to maintain the status quo, to serve the wealthy and to perpetuate racial violence and support capitalism.

If you want to feel “fragility” for the people on the streets, instead be angry at the city council members who do nothing but make false promises to keep people home and safe. We must hold Tukwila city council members and all politicians accountable for breaking their verbal promises to defund the police and reallocate those funds and additional funds to social services made during the protests and marches . As a wealthy city funded by our tax dollars, the city must invest in free health care (mental and physical), housing, rehabilitation services, child care, food sovereignty, elementary and high education, and all pantries, community-based events, and healing spaces. We need free and affordable mental health services and housing for families, homeless people, immigrants, refugees, undocumented people, people escaping domestic violence, and seniors. We need medical treatment, rehabilitation and other services for people with substance abuse disorders. We need to build capacity for community pantries, community-led healing events and spaces for those seeking emotional and mental support. And we need to make an investment in our children’s education that could include free child care and after-school programs, as well as higher teacher pay and smaller class sizes.

I am tired of the fake sympathy and apologies from Tukwila Council members who do not keep their promises to serve the people but actively criminalize poverty and BIPOC people. I believe that we all, especially the BIPOC communities, deserve to feel safe on and off our streets. People must come first! For those who want to apply pressure and want to hold council members and politicians accountable for their words, you can ask council members to go out on the streets and see things for themselves, and demand that they start working on housing the homeless and families in need and focusing their voices to ensure we identify solutions to systemic problems like homelessness.

But because of the harmful actions of the Council, I personally do not count on the Tukwila City Council to change our city and do better for our people. My friends and I have been ignored numerous times by Tukwila city council members and staff. I’m tired of negotiating with council members who don’t care about people. Therefore, I choose to fight to bring resources to the community by writing this piece to call on council members to act now.

I, along with the people of the city, demand an investment in community care networks that are led by people from the community with first-hand experience of these harmful systems. The council must work to keep people in their homes. They should connect with community organizers and Tukwila residents and seek their input, ideas and beliefs as they work to shift decision-making power to the community. As I struggle to bring resources back into the community, I will continue to practice mutual aid and host community events and healing spaces.

I just want to scream my outrage – “No generators coming to my neighborhood!” If you’re a privileged person who works tech or luxury jobs, don’t come here. Don’t contribute to gentrification. Do not destroy the cultural traditions of our neighborhood. Do not control our choices and decisions. Don’t call the cops on our black kids. Also, police officers, stop wearing shoes in my mosque and surveilling black, brown, and Muslim people. Cop, stop harassing our people, quit your jobs and get out of our town! END THE POLICE NOW!

Every day, when I go to work and meet my children, I see the future in their eyes. They remind me that we collectively must do better for our children and future generations. We need to model for them what safety, protection and care look like. We must build a future that guarantees they will be able to thrive. We must continue for our future generations so they can experience peace and love in the community. Build a future where the community stays together, their families are fine, and I will remain their teacher.

My call to action is that housing must become affordable for families and individuals, especially for people facing homelessness and eviction now. Mental health resources and support services must be funded for homeless, BIPOC, immigrant and refugee communities now.

The war on the poor stops now.

Thanks to my friend and mentor Mateo Hernandez, Emmanuel Thornton (artist name @Jariim), Tru (organ name @FTP206), Anab Nur and Nura Ahmed for their comments and emotional support on this piece.

South Seattle Emerald is committed to holding space for a variety of perspectives within our community, with the understanding that diverse perspectives do not negate mutual respect among community members.

The opinions, beliefs and views expressed by contributors to this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of Emerald or the official policies of Emerald.

Ruba Ayub can be found on Instagram @rubadabest__. Ayub is actively composing poems for an upcoming poetry book. If you have any resource that will benefit Ayub’s community, please contact [email protected].

📸 Featured Image by Roman Bodnarchuk/

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