By Janet Byrd
I hope you’re all staying healthy and finding some ways to take care of yourselves. We’re now several weeks in to our new reality of responding to COVID-19, with an uncertain timeline ahead. I want to thank and acknowledge everyone on the front lines of the response: the people that are picking, packing and delivering food; health care workers and personal care workers; shelter workers and outreach teams supporting people experiencing homelessness; government employees coordinating supplies, systems, and support around housing, shelter, food, small business, and other needs; and the advocates who are elevating the voices of those impacted and calling for a response.
I’m struck, as so many others are, by how starkly this virus is exposing the inequities and inequalities in our communities and in our institutions. For some, stay at home orders and school closures are an inconvenience and a challenge to adjust to new ways of doing things. For others, they are a threat to short and long term financial security, to health, and even to survival as income and food sources and access to care are shut off. Many people are raising up these inequities, and pointing out that the burdens and negative impacts fall most heavily on indigenous communities, black communities, Latinx communities, Asian communities, and other communities of color. Higher percentages of folks unable to work from home, higher unemployment, higher rates of infection, higher death rates in communities of color. People who are experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable.
How do we emerge from this? How do we recover? What will we do differently having seen the stark inequality we call normal so clearly? This recent quote from the writer Arundhati Roy inspired me.
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
Please join me, and the Neighborhood Partnerships team, in imagining another world and preparing for the fight, the work, to make it a reality.