Protect our Communities, Not My Wealth: Solidarity during Pandemic

I’ve been making a series of exhausting decisions that I’m calling the “corona calculus.” Can I go get groceries if it means being less than 6 ft away from the cashier? Can I support my friend who is physically healthy but struggling with depression by seeing them in person but does that mean I can’t be in the same space as my other friend who is immune-compromised? Did I buy enough potatoes/toilet paper/hand soap this time in case they’re out next week? Should I get more than one or does that mean there won’t be enough for everyone? 

I’m hearing this constant struggle with uncertainty with everyone I’m talking to these days.  We are also struggling with a reflexive scarcity response – in this daily experience of so much uncertainty it’s natural to want to grasp and hold onto anything that gives a sense of stability and control, especially money. 

When I’m spinning out in “corona calculus” I take a deep breath and remind myself that we’re all in it together and that this is a truly “all hands on deck” moment; we are connected and I don’t have to do this alone. I ground in the fact that as someone with access to class privilege and wealth I am safely housed, fed, and employed and will continue to be so. I remember that lots of folks who are poor and working class who don’t have that kind of security are giving generously right now from their savings and/or wages. I think about what action I can take now so that everyone can be safely housed, fed, and have their material needs met. 

I remember that even as we are all practicing individual risk management and “corona calculus” during this outbreak, there are decisions that no one should ever have to wrestle with, like choosing between health vs income, risking deportation by going to the hospital, or risking losing a job by prioritizing caring for children or elders. Unfortunately these impossible dilemmas are the norm under capitalism and the stakes have grown unbearingly high during this pandemic. 

While we are all impacted by this pandemic, we know that the harm will not be distributed equally. Resource Generation is in solidarity with poor and working class people, people with disabilities, people with chronic illness, the elderly, incarcerated, houseless, and undocumented people who are disproportionately at risk and impacted by COVID-19. 

In this time of the federal government spending $1.5 trillion dollars to bailout Wall Street and massive corporations lining up for their own bailouts, we are in a fight between opportunistic disaster capitalism and a transformative progressive vision of universal health care, canceling student loan debt, universal housing, free utilities, universal basic income, and decarceration. We know which side we’re on and we’re ready to meet this moment by practicing interdependence and taking collective action. 

Here’s what you can do right now: 

1. Give big, give now, and give to social justice. Keep your existing giving commitments. See if you can double them. At this moment, some funders are making plans to give less, while others are giving an additional year of general operating support on top of their existing grants – can you or your family foundation make these types of expansive choices? Most grassroots organizing groups don’t have much savings to weather an emergency of this magnitude. Help fill the gap and continue to give big to long-term grassroots organizing. Don’t know where to give? Check out the Emergent Fund’s People’s Bailout

2. Give to rapid response and mutual aid funds. In addition to your organizational giving, hit up those cash apps, GoFundMe’s, and community foundations and social justice funds (like Headwaters and Social Justice Fund NW) that are organizing rapid response funds right now. If you’re able, redistribute any money you’re saving from working from home, your tax refund, any bailout checks from the government, or from refinancing your mortgage. Anyone who is salaried or who has inherited wealth right now has an immense amount of comparative privilege and security – set aside a percentage of your income to give to gig workers, artists, contract workers, incarcerated people’s commissary, and hourly wage workers.

3. Signal boost and support any policy demands that support a people’s bailout. As much as we need to lean into mutual aid, structural problems call for structural solutions.

4. Organize. This is a massive collective wake up call. People everywhere are looking for meaning and solutions. Amidst the beautiful outpouring of mutual aid and community support there is also a rise in anti-Asian violence, racism, and xenophobia, and people and institutions attempting to benefit financially and politically from this crisis. We all have a dad/uncle/financial manager who is more concerned about the losses in the stock market right now than threats to people’s health and livelihoods. How are we reaching them at this time and organizing our families? This is also the time to bring in more young people with access to wealth and class privilege who are seeing the cracks in capitalism and are looking for a political home – keep up your (virtual) house parties and recruit! 

I’m grateful to have the Resource Generation community to keep me grounded and clear during this time. Now is the time to practice everything we have learned, care for and rely on each other, and share our abundance with others. – Iimay Ho