Racial justice in times of crisis

Nearly one hundred years ago, W.E.B. DuBois predicted that the problem of the 20th century would be the problem of the color line. Were he writing today, DuBois might well conclude that in the U.S., the problem of the coming century will be the problem of the color-bind.”

- Kendall Thomas, Racial Justice: Moral or Political?

For most of 2020, the world has been living in a pandemic driven crisis. We’ve been absorbing information and dissecting truths as we take important decisions that affect our safety, livelihood, health and a sense of normalcy.

Data shows that since the crisis reached the United States (as of April 28, 2020), funders have committed $9.1 billion toward COVID-19 response, established approximately 587 funds, and distributed more than 2,200 grants. 

The numbers seem impressive. There is a lot of talk about post COVID-19 relief for vulnerable communities. But does that sense of achievement diminish when we apply a race and equity lens to it? 

The amount of good will and rapid response to COVID-19 across the world is encouraging. But altruism, a charitable heart, and doing good in general alone haven’t solved the inequities that exist across layers of our society. 

Racial disparities during COVID-19

For generations, disparity and inequity have existed among us like old friends. The onset of COVID-19 further highlighted the gaps in employment, access to health care, wages, housing, technology and more. THe IMF is now warning that the COVID-19 crisis will increase economic disparities. It’s widely realised that these inequalities are closely linked to race in the United States. Just looking at a few recent facts paints us a picture.

A New York Times article reveals the overrepresentation of non-white women holding essential jobs.

Even historically, business owned by people of colour has been difficult to obtain capital for from traditional banking systems. Today that’s even more magnified. The efforts of the government are failing to reach minority-owned businesses. Let’s look at an example-
The new Payroll Protection Program is launched to save small business owners from the pandemic induced crisis. It has the humble feature of offering forgivable loans to those who keep their employees on a payroll. But around 96% of black owned businesses are sole proprietorships. This means that they don’t have employees, which makes it even more difficult for them to get a loan clearance.

Moreover, states and cities around America have started to publish data that reveals racial inequalities amongst confirmed coronavirus cases and related deaths. Corona is killing Afircan Americans at a rate that’s 3 times higher than white people.
In fact in New York City alone, the virus is killing black and Latino residents at twice the rate it's killing white residents. In a report released April 8 by the city, officials revealed that the COVID-19 death rate for Hispanic residents was nearly 23 per 100,000 people, and for black residents it was 20 per 100,000 people. The death rate for whites and Asians was 10 per 100,000 and 8 per 100,000, respectively. 

Racial Justice: Beginning of a new era 

Choosing to remain colorblind during the pandemic only gives way to conscious and unconscious bias to nurture. One has to address the gap amongst our communities as they rehabilitate from the pandemic, and developing discussions and awareness around it influences distribution of resources among marginalised groups and communities. 

And to our happy surprise, the world has been giving, and talking. 

New York times recently in an article highlighted how many organizations that work for the cause of racial justice and are on the frontlines of anti-racist policy and advocacy have recieved expanded funding. There are a few approaches that Racial equality advocates are pursuing in order to develop a lasting commitment to racial equality. These include sustained commitment in grantmaking, volunteering, investing in black communities, etc.

Some unprecedented trends have emerged amidst the 2020 crisis that are quite interesting to observe:

ActBlue, the leading site to process online donations for Democratic causes and campaigns, has experienced its busiest period since its founding in 2004, far surpassing even the highest peaks of the 2020 presidential primary season. (ActBlue confirmed that racial justice causes and bail funds had led the way.) The site’s four biggest days ever came consecutively this month as it processed more than $250 million to various progressive causes and candidates in two-plus weeks, according to a New York Times analysis of the site’s donation ticker.

And on June 2, the collective action day that was known as Blackout Tuesday, ActBlue doubled what had been, before this month, its one-day record: raising $41 million in 24 hours.

As New York Times mentions, some of the leading black and racial justice groups declined to comment on the scope of their windfalls, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, whose name became a national rallying cry.

Similarly, Color of Change, which already promoted itself as the largest online racial justice group in the country, quadrupled its membership from 1.7 million to 7 million people in recent days.

These are just some of a few examples that highlight the growing awareness and conscience of America as a nation. 

As history has shown us time and again- in times of crisis, new eras arise. But the only way to watch them change the course of history, is to join in, and contribute as a population.

What’s happening to causes like racial equality in America today hold immense potential. But like all waves, the momentum of this movement is at the mercy of its advocates. The more we care, the more it grows. Every little step counts. 

You can contribute to the cause of racial justice. Volunteer now from your home with foundations working towards racial equality, and choose from a variety of causes.

A Thousand Colors of Justice

A picture is worth a 1000 words, and we want you to design those 1000 words on racial equality and share it with the world. A thousand colors of justice aims to create a library of illustrations spreading the message of racial equality and justice for nonprofits working towards the cause. Get your creativity going and help in creating a collection of illustrations for these nonprofits. Your submissions will be used by nonprofits across the globe in their social media, print media and other marketing channels.

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