In the wake of the COVID-19, the people of D.C. are mobilizing to launch and expand real grassroots mutual aid efforts.
Black Lives Matter DC is raising funds for the East of the River Mutual Aid Network in Washington, D.C. Our partners include Black Swan Academy, Peace House DC, Peace Fellowship Church and Stop Police Terror Project DC.
Black Lives Matter DC is a member-based abolitionist organization centering Black people most at risk for state violence in DC, creating the conditions for Black Liberation through the abolition of systems and institutions of white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism. We are located in Washington, DC,
This Mutual Aid Network is a grassroots, community-focused and -led ecosystem for folks in DC (District of Columbia) who are engaged in or are looking to plug in. We are collecting and purchasing supplies to make hygiene bags, purchase groceries and cleaning supplies and provide other support including small home repairs, school supplies, winter coats, assistance with utility bills, and other basic needs that our neighbors have. We are working to support as many of our neighbors who are housing and food insecure as many people as possible who need support East of the River in Wards 7 & 8.
We also support other individuals, neighborhoods, groups also doing mutual aid work as we are all in this together and it’s up to us to care for each other. Donations go directly to purchasing supplies for hundreds of hygiene bags (toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, deodorant, lotion and soap), baby and adult diapers and wipes, water, toilet paper, and feminine products. We are distributing these as safely as possible by making daily home deliveries, and distributing to our unhoused and housing insecure neighbors in the streets. Our hope is to fill the gaps where the government can’t, won’t or we don’t want them to. #WeKeepUsSafe
This work is critical as Wards 7 & 8 are majority Black and too many of us have bought into the tragic myth that Black people will not/do not get COVID-19 .
The reality is that those of us living East of the River face great systematic disparities in almost every facet of lives. Even before the pandemic, the depths of disinvestment East of the River has been devastating to our community, who are 92% Black and account for nearly half of the District's Black population. This includes a lack of real investment in our children, youth, and elders' well-being/health and safety, very few grocery stores offering fresh fruits and vegetables, the scourge of gentrification and the illusion of affordable housing, a deadly maternal health crisis, and a lack of a full service hospital that can handle the peak in this virus.
If you are new to Mutual Aid and want to know a little more, the Big Door Brigade provides the following definition:
"Mutual aid is a term to describe people giving each other needed material support, trying to resist the control dynamics, hierarchies and system-affirming, oppressive arrangements of charity and social services. Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions, not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on their representatives in government, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable."
Our neighbors East of the River will be impacted in greater ways than large parts of the rest of the district because of the disparity and inequality that has existed for so long. Wards 7 and 8 are in a healthcare dessert with only one deeply troubled hospital, serving 150,000 people with no trauma or OBGYN services. So Others Might Eat (SOME) provides a snapshot of some of the most serious issues faced on this side of the river:
1. Your access to grocery stores depends on whether or not you live in a high-poverty, majority-African-American section of the city. Of the 49 full-service grocery stores in DC, only two are located in Ward 7, and just one is in Ward 8. Those three stores east of the Anacostia River serve about 150,000 residents. In contrast, 10 full-service grocery stores in Ward 6 serve 82,000 residents.
2. Washington, DC, has about 700,000 residents. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 17% of the DC population is below the federal poverty level, which is now $20,780 for a three-person household:
- 9% are below 50% of the poverty level
- 20% are below 125% of the poverty level
- About 28% of African-American residents, 13% residents of Hispanic or Latino origin, and 36% of persons with a disability, are at 100% of the poverty level.
3. Approximately 41,000 households in DC are on official waiting lists for housing assistance. Their estimated wait time is more than 20 years.
This is why we are asking for your financial support. Our people deserve so much more. Please donate and share this with all of your friends, family and networks.
Black Lives Matter DC
Email: [email redacted]
- Sarah Lin
- Rachel Hemphill
- Marianne Comfort
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