White Folks Facing Race: Advocacy and How All Things Connect
[This is part of my White Folks Facing Race series, originally written on April 15, 2020 to an email group created for community members in the Washington, DC area.]
This week, I’m trying to catch up some things and give you some things to read in your copious free time (ha!).
Advocate with your Virginia legislators to request that the Virginia Department of Social Services activates the policy option to waive the asset limit and increase the income limit for eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This doesn’t require legislative action, but our legislators can share what they are hearing from their constituents and get this policy option activated. This program is not accessible for people who are undocumented, but it is still a valuable tool for many families who are going to need financial assistance to buy food.
Support democracy by supporting equitable voting options. Consider the recent news about the US Post Office and its solvency and how that single organization could be the lynchpin to mail-in voting (and absentee voting). It’s all connected and voter suppression is a key function of systemic discrimination. Pay attention and advocate for equal access and information for all populations who are eligible to vote. Governor Northam made some recent moves to support this.
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I really appreciate the sense of mission and purpose in this statement from the Legal Aid Justice Center:
“In light of current actions taking place in Virginia due to the coronavirus pandemic, we must ensure that low-income residents of our Commonwealth do not shoulder increased risk, bear extra burdens, experience discrimination, or get left out of supportive measures.
“Without a state mandate for paid sick leave, many low-income residents cannot afford to take time off work to self-isolate or care for others without risking losing their homes to eviction or seeing their utilities shut off. More than 500,000 children statewide rely on free or reduced-price school meals to maintain nutrition, and families may be unable to access the technology needed to access virtual instruction. Adults and youth held in Virginia’s prisons, jails, and detention centers are particularly vulnerable to the spread of disease and deserve to be protected with adequate sanitation and medical care or, if possible, be released. Immigrant and undocumented community members need equal access to any relief programs and should not be forced to avoid seeking medical treatment due to their status and fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This is just the beginning of a long list of issues that our clients and communities face every day, but with the rise of this statewide emergency, the need for immediate action is even more acute.
“State and local officials should move swiftly to implement measures to protect all Virginians, with special care to ensure that every person in the Commonwealth gets the message and that no one, regardless of income, location, or immigration status, is left out. They must work with advocacy organizations and community groups who are on the ground identifying the needs of Virginians facing huge and possibly life-threatening obstacles in this time of crisis.”
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- Local non-profit R.E.A.D. has started a fundraiser to help get books into students’ hands.
- Headspace is offering some content for free.
- Lots of yoga studios are offering free online classes.
SYSTEMIC RACISM AND PANDEMICS:
- The NAACP released “Ten Equity Implications of the Coronavirus Covid-19 Outbreak in the United States” (PDF)
- The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’s “Coronavirus is Disproportionately Affecting Black People” (April 11, 2020)
- Charles M. Blow’s article “Social Distancing Is a Privilege”
- The Daily podcast’s “‘I Become a Person of Suspicion’”
- Tracy Jan’s article “Two black men say they were kicked out of Walmart for wearing protective masks. Others worry it will happen to them.”
- Royce Dunmore’s article “How Coronavirus Affects Black People: Civil Rights Groups Call Out Racial Health Disparities”
- Sheri Fink’s article “The Hardest Questions Doctors May Face: Who Will Be Saved? Who Won’t?”
- Natalie Escobar’s podcast “When Xenophobia Spreads Like A Virus”
- William Horne’s article “In the hands of racist officials, the covid-19 pandemic may be a weapon.”
- Felice Leon’s video “Your Racism Is Showing: Coronavirus and the Racist History of Pandemics”
- Reis Thebault, Andrew Ba Tran, and Vanessa William’s article “The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate”
FOR STUDENTS, PARENTS, TEACHERS:
- Coshandra Dillard’s article “Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus”
- Teaching Tolerance’s article “How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism”
- Cory Collins’s article “Teaching Through Coronavirus: What Educators Need Right Now”
- Embrace Race’s article “Supporting children in the struggle against covid-19”
- A local illustration of how an unhappy event in someone’s life can lead them to continue on to do great things.
- The March 18 Restorative Arlington webinar is available online (slides and recording).
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture has an online learning portal available for free.
Stay healthy and safe.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.