Our patience has been tested as we creep closer to a year enduring the effects of COVID-19, and certainly, we have all been impacted. Many of us lost our jobs, missed spending the holidays with our parents or children, spent too much time with our partners or spouses, stumbled through online school for our kids, got sick, or even lost a loved one. While we are all impacted by this pandemic, we know that the harm is not distributed equally nor is it a singular, isolated crisis.
Here in the Four Corners region, we reached a peak of a 13% unemployment rate in April. Others were forced to work at great personal risk, resulting in individuals and families getting sick from the virus. Nationally, we know that our communities of color are more likely to die from the virus. Dangerous and unjust working conditions, largely affecting our communities of color, exist nationally and right here in our region.
While we have seen unemployment rates decrease to just over 5% in October, missing a month of work over the course of this pandemic due to closures or personal exposure was devastating to some of our community members.
This second stimulus check will certainly be helpful to many, but will be far from sufficient for a significant number of individuals and families in our region. Additionally, many of our community members will not receive this federal support due to lack of documentation, current incarceration, or because they do not have Social Security numbers, bank accounts or mailing addresses.
These inequities require all of us to take action during this incredibly challenging time.
This month, many of us are going to receive our second stimulus check, dollars that we may be planning to put into savings or maybe use to buy something special for ourselves. For many of us, this check will not be needed for economic survival, but does provide us with the opportunity to make a choice to support economic and racial justice through the redistribution of these dollars to our community members who have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
My goal is to directly redistribute my money to community members for basic needs like rent, utilities and food. A portion of my check therefore went to Four Corners Mutual Aid. My hope is that all of us will consider what we need – and what abundance we can share.
The Four Corners Mutual Aid Network focuses on making sure that marginalized communities (e.g., undocumented , LGBTQI+, disabled, homeless, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities) will be able to obtain the assistance they need for rent, bills, medical supplies and other basic needs. This fund is part of a network of rapid response mutual-aid funds and long-term grassroots movement-building organizations under the umbrella of the Four Corners Mutual Aid Network.
While millions of people throughout the country will soon receive their stimulus checks from the federal government, or have already received them, many will remain unemployed, uninsured, undocumented or unsheltered while COVID-19 continues to spread. I am asking for those of us who do not need our check for economic survival, to pledge to redistribute our stimulus checks to people right here in our region who could use additional support and join the campaign to ensure that we all have enough to make it through this crisis.
Helen Katich is a nonprofit executive officer and grants manager. She is a member of the Four Corners Mutual Aid Network.