Why is CARE at Work an important initiative, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and growing movement for Black Lives?
When we look back to the history of organizing in times of crisis and see Black workers rising for justice and dignity, we’re reminded of the power we have to create change. We know how powerful Black workers’ experiences have been to organizing for change in our communities and our society. When a crisis hits, it’s often Black communities that bear the brunt of the impact. We know this from the 1992 Uprising, Katrina, and the 2008 recession that built recovery on the backs of Black workers in the public sector. We also know we’ve made it through social and economic crises, generation after generation, because of our courage, resistance and resilience in the face of unjust policies and practices that seek to undermine our health and safety, and erase Black workers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black workers are putting their health and safety at risk to lift up dangerous working conditions and protect their coworkers, neighbors, and other consumers as we all scramble to stock up for weeks, maybe months, of uncertainty and isolation. Right now, workers in communities across California, the nation and the globe, are generously giving what they can and showing up where they can to care for and protect each other. Many working class Black folx—individuals whose lives are more dictated by systems than humanity—are constantly navigating survival amid complex, compounded traumatic stress disorder, and are simultaneously locked out of systems and disempowered by debilitating policies that prioritize profit over reparations. Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbate the inequities that are deeply entrenched within our criminal legal, education, social service and healthcare systems.
The movement for Black Lives raises the demand that intentional interventions are necessary to address such detrimental Black disparities. This is particularly challenging in an anti-affirmative action state like California that has essentially outlawed intentional inclusionary remedies for Black folk.