Rat Food

With the fear of a migrant caravan of around 2,000 or so people from Central America coming to seek asylum in the US, our president has decided that to protect the American people from the invading herds, we need a giant wall along our southern boarder. A wall so important that the current administration is calling this a “State of Emergency“. The dog whistling president Trump is using to fire up his already xenophobic, fanatical base is commonplace in this country. From the founding of this nation we’ve always been weary of the “other”. You can go back to the 1800’s and read about “invaders” coming to the United States. From the Catholics, to the Chinese, the Japanese and so on. The hate filled rhetoric is always the same. Take a look at this letter to Chinese immigrants from 19th century:

We invite you to give a thorough investigation of the STEAM LAUNDRY BUSINESS of the country; in doing so you will find that not only does it GIVE EMPLOYMENT TO A VAST NUMBER OF WOMEN, but a great field of labor is opened to a great number of mechanics of all kinds whose wages are poured back into the trade of the country.

If this undesirable element “THE CHINESE EMIGRANTS” are not stopped coming here, we have no alternative but that we will have California and the Pacific Slope’s experience, and the end will be that our industries will be absorbed UNLESS we live down to their animal life.

We say in conclusion that the CHINAMAN is a labor consumer of our country without the adequate returns of prosperity to our land as is given by the labor of our people to our glorious country. Our motto should be:

Pioneer Laundry Workers Assembly, K. of L. Washington, D.C.

I don’t want to get into a long diatribe about the history of dog whistling and immigration. I could go on forever, and THAT will be the subject of another entry. I want to pivot to A REAL state of emergency in the US. One that doesn’t talk about walls and invaders. Our homeless problem.

Survive no shelter
Survive the starvation
Survive the poison
We are all poisoned
They got us trapped like

Verse 2 from the Bitter Lake song, “Rat Food”

As I have mentioned before, I live across from one of the largest homeless encampments in the city of Oakland. Nestled in the bowels of the lower bottoms of West Oakland, CA. I have seen this thing grow exponentially over the last few years. The camp looks like an outlaw city. Made of rubble filled with mostly older people. The rising tide of gentrification has forced these people out of their homes due to rising housing costs, coupled with an inability to find adequate employment to live on, you have quite a disaster on your hands. People living in burnt out cars and RV’s, graffiti covered tents, pallet houses, shopping cart dwellings, all existing among a rising sea of trash. People are still attempting to exist in this post apocalyptic nightmare of humanity. Forging a life, somehow, by any means necessary.

Life is now a war zone, and as such, the number of people considered disposable has grown exponentially, and this includes low income whites, poor minorities, immigrants, the unemployed, the homeless, and a range of people who are viewed as a liability to capital and its endless predatory quest for power and profits.

Henry Giroux

In the land of plenty, this is no way for people to live. It is inexcusable. It is immoral. It’s just wrong. But…it IS America. The social safety net for the poor, a population that’s growing faster than the middle class is shrinking, is eroded. Lost in the of cacophony of prosperity gospel and American exceptionalism, we can’t see this true “State of Emergency” within our own boarders. I see it everyday. I see it when the cars fly down the street and try not to look at the encampment. The encampment has become a small city. It’s a very sobering sight. Seeing a man attempt to have pride in his situation sweeping the front area of his tent house as rats scurry about. The real scourge “invading” this country is poverty. It’s the growing wealth gap. It’s the richest man in the world not paying taxes and receiving a refund. A refund, when Americans, due to the President’s tax cut will be receiving LESS of a refund. The invasion that we must build walls around is the invasion of inequality in our lives that makes it so that over 7 million Americans are 90 days behind in their car payments facing repossession.

To the people not from the neighborhood that see the homeless encampment, the people that live there are rats. A useless rodent who’s existence needs to be terminated. They are the inspiration for this song.

Rat Food.



I scream/sing play guitar in Bitter Lake and host the This is Revolution Podcast. Oakland, CA born, Richmond raised. Words and thoughts from the Lower Bottoms.

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Jason Myles

I scream/sing play guitar in Bitter Lake and host the This is Revolution Podcast. Oakland, CA born, Richmond raised. Words and thoughts from the Lower Bottoms.