My name is Yvette Angela Assata. I am a radical Black feminist, birth worker, activist, anti-racist, a lesbian, and I do a whole lot of community organizing and a f**k ton of other stuff. Over the past 5 years, too, I’ve also been working on my PhD and I’m halfway done. My next steps are conducting on-site research, writing a dissertation, and then graduating. But it’s more complicated than it sounds.
Today is Monday, December 18, 2017 and it’s 12:14 a.m. Just about two weeks ago I decided I would convert a school bus to live in, and while I was at it, travel North America. The choice to move onto a vehicle was an easy decision for me because it fits my lifestyle. Besides living in the Pacific Northwest for the past near-13 years, seeing the increases in rent and gentrified neighborhoods, watch people not able to find housing (myself included) and literally pushed out of cities and into the margins, I’m anti-establishment and a wanderer to my core. Even if I could afford the sky high rents of a major city I wouldn’t want to pay them. I’ll admit that if I trace the genealogy of being nomadic I’d say it might stem from the fact that I think I was born a social scientist, but more-than-likely it’s because of a number of hardships and instability from being homeless, unhoused, couch surfing or moving around, for nearly half my life. This move would also aid in solving, to a good extent, my professional and academic woes since I have not been able to find funding in order to conduct research and become a Doctor. Building the *right type* of converted vehicle would solve a lot of those funding issues, just like that.
I really had some internal conflict about writing a blog about this endeavor. I went back and forth and back and forth, since parts of me didn’t want to write yet another blog (I write 3 others), and have folks all up in my conversion grill. I’ve written published and non-published work for personal, academic, and for organizations I’ve worked with, and up until a few days ago I decided I wasn’t going to chronicle this bus/vanventure. But then I changed my mind. For one, I knew I’d have serious regrets and wouldn’t get over it if I didn’t. I’m a writer at heart and quite sentimental, so taking a detailed step-by-step account of things is in my nature and writing fulfills my sense of being. Also, from where I stand representations of bus and van conversion dwellers — as far as those who convert theirs — is overwhelmingly white, privileged. As of now I hardly see any People of Color discussing conversions and I’ve only seen one other Black woman who has been living in her van, of her own volition. I came across her just the other day on YouTube, and was so excited about finding her I sent her a gift. [[Update]: Since writing this page I’ve found several others. I wrote about them here: Black Women Van Dwellers]. This blog will give me an opportunity also, to add my own critical spin on things.
Other than all that I’m excited about having a life on the road. My inevitable plans are to turn a school bus into a home where I’ll live until who knows when? I created Rated Rosa and when I think of buses, the radical, resistive, unforgettable, Rosa Parks, comes to my mind.
If you’d like to support my radical Black feminist, mobile, off-grid journey then here’s a few ways you can do so:
Buy me a gallon of gas: http://bit.ly/2DToOlD
Become a Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ratedrosa
Purchase Rated Rosa merch: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RatedRosa
Visit my Amazon Wish List: http://a.co/jexbyX