Issue 154
March 25, 2020
"I don't call it social distancing, I call it physical distancing because we need each other socially"
Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Art by Janelle Krone

? Physical Distancing. Social Solidarity. ?

Our reality has shifted. Secluded in our homes, the pandemic precautions ask us to focus on the individual, on our personal routines, our actions and interactions, and to retreat inward. COVID-19 has interrupted our daily lives, and while for some it’s as simple as working from home and continuing to collect a paycheck, for others, those holding on by a thread, it means being at risk of losing everything. Now more than ever, all of the cracks in our unjust systems are exposed, and many of us are likely to fall through them. In this week’s memo we’re refocusing our energy on the we versus the I and how we can continue our work of social justice in a time of social distancing

Last week, the NYS Labor Department received 1.7M calls and more than 2.2M website visits as hundreds of thousands of NYers lost their jobs. While new policies are rolling out making it easier to attain unemployment benefits, freezing student loan payments, and suspending bank and credit card fees, for many, not working is not an option. For undocumented residents, who don’t qualify for unemployment and will certainly not be receiving a check from the federal government, the future is even more uncertain. It has also become painfully clear who’s really essential to keeping the City running: working class people. This crisis has only magnified the glaring inequality in this country and the need for radical progressive change!

A federal stimulus package is being negotiated right now and it needs to bail out real people. As we speak, corporations are lining up to capitalize on this crisis. But who is lobbying for the working class? For the 1st time, universal based income and universal healthcare are being seriously considered by congress. We need to seize the momentum and ensure that these aren’t momentary gains but long term wins. The House Financial Services Committee chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters, and which includes some of our faves like Rashida Talib, Katie Porter, and AOC, have created a progressive framework for a stimulus package that would actually uplift working people. These interventions were already necessary before this crisis hit and are now critical to the survival of this country.

We shouldn't just wait for the government to come to the rescue. We each need to do our part!

-- Continue to fight for justice! Check out this amazing list of  COVID-19 Advocacy Action Items for simple ways you can support our vulnerable populations.

-- Donate. If your income hasn’t been disrupted, make donations to help the most vulnerable among us. We recommend Emergency COVID Relief for Sex Workers in New York or Food Bank for NYC

-- Support small businesses. Buy gift cards to your favorite spots. You’ll be helping them get money in the bank NOW and giving yourself a treat for later!

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