The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience



What splits the projects from that side of Shawmut is Massachusetts Avenue. Once you cross Mass Ave, you’re no longer where the hood is, or where the Spanish or Black people are. Look at how nice that looks. Why are we so different if they’re only a block or two apart – they’re down the street. We’re separated by Massachusetts Avenue. What do you see that’s different? What can you point out? And now, you tell me why there is such a difference? This is Boston Housing.

They need to watch us, but they won’t do anything about what they see. Very ironic. They say that they don’t see, but you have the camera that’s right where all of the drug dealers are, and all of the kids they are dealing to are always there. You know how many shootings are around here? When I first moved here, three people died the same week, murdered.  My friends, I saw them die. We don’t really talk about it, ‘cause it’s like, normal to us.  My friends died in my face; that I’m used to. It’s not normal, but I see it as normal, because I’m used to it. 

In the shelter, everybody gets a cupboard. That’s one person’s cupboard. They don’t have any food, and they live in the shelter. It’s sad. Literally nothing, not even a speck, and I was just so surprised. I didn’t say anything, ‘cause I felt so bad. And she has a son. I don’t know what he eats. I give her food all the time. I feel bad. I’m not going to let her starve, or her son starve.

Nobody at my college knew that I was in the shelter, and once people started finding out, they were like, oh my gosh, Tami, you’re in a shelter? Oh my gosh, you’re a mother? I’m the only parent in my program at Northeastern. Only parent. And they like, look at me differently ‘cause of that. Oh, you’re a mom? I didn’t know you have a kid. I have a son, not a kid. I hate that. You’re in a shelter? Oh my gosh, I feel so bad for you. Don’t feel bad for me. I’m doing really fine. You see me here, right? In college? Don’t feel bad. 

I’ve been in the projects since I was four. I was raised in the projects all of my life. If I were to tell my professors that I grew up in the projects, they’ll probably, look at me differently.  They judge. They all do. Even if they don’t want to, they do. The mayor, you hear him say all the time, you have to help your own community. You have to help your neighbors, right? So they make us feel like we can’t leave, but when we don’t leave, we don’t have a future here, either. What are we supposed to do? It’s not fun to be in the projects.


My daughter, she loves this restaurant. And I told her, I don’t have a lot of money, but when I get some money, I’ll take you. And that day, I think it was a Friday, she came and I showed her the money. She said, “Oh mommy, now you have money, so we can go out.” This food isn’t healthy, but it’s the only place I can afford to take my kids because I don’t have the money for a better restaurant.

My daughter has some difficulties reading, but she’s doing well. We waited like five years on a list to get her into a Newton school to go through a program. In the beginning, it was difficult, because other children there, they are White, and Tiana was a different color. And she always asked me, in the beginning, mommy, why am I a color? I said, Tiana, a different color does not mean we’re different. We’re the same. But, the children got used to her. Sometimes, she had play dates.

I don’t like an empty freezer.  I don’t like an empty freezer because I’ve been where my freezer was completely empty.  It’s like my pockets are already empty.  Why does my fridge have to be empty too?  So I’ve just cut out certain things, like no company for dinner.  And I nibble.  Me and my daughter, we’ll eat that for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. That rice will last us for a week and it won’t be the same rice.  It’ll be white rice today.  I’ll put some stuff on it and it’ll be yellow rice.  I’ll put some canned peas in it to stretch it out. 



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