We’ve been interested in the creative and committed ways people are finding to to work for social justice in the middle of a pandemic, and we’re collecting descriptions of some of them here. These below came to us in response to our Physical Distance / Social Solidarity mask project, described in this post.
Anoosh: My company, Inclusive Futures Consulting, helps parents, educators, and institutions teach kids to understand identity differences and practice inclusion across identity lines. For my volunteer work, I coordinate the Yolo Rainbow Families parent and teen groups, supporting and advocating for LGBTQ+ families in my county. As a queer womxn of color, I emphasize intersectionality in everything we do. I am also the project manager of the ApoYolo Project, a program I initiated when our COVID-19 selter-in-place order began, which provides assistance to keep our Spanish-speaking immigrant families housed, fed, and safe during the pandemic. We have grown from only a handful of families in March to over 40 families in two towns as of August. I have participated in many BLM/anti-racism protests, and I helped organize a social media demonstration for people with disabilities to participate in during a concurrent in-person protest.
Ashley: My engagement with anti racist action includes listening and learning, and protesting, donating, and writing emails to city leaders. I’m also selling my art and donating the proceeds to For The Gworls, an organization that supports black trans lives.
Cedar: I am currently working on a student-faculty collaborative project developing EDI curriculum for first year art education.
Chloe: I have participated in protests here in Madison, and I have tried to foster honest, productive conversations with my friends and family about racial injustice and police brutality.
Conley: As far as actionable work against racism, there’s a lot going on in my hometown that I’ve been following. A racist monument (statue) of a confederate soldier is being voted to be removed, and I’ve been sending a lot of love and support to the brave friends and community members who are protesting its presence. And on a more personal level, questioning my family when they make racist remarks (conscious or unconsciously). And also when they downplay COVID-19 and the importance of masks.
Elizabeth: I have posted the attached sign in my front yard.
Ellen: My activism these days is primarily online, advocating for disabled and chronically ill folks through the pandemic, including mentoring people about their accommodations rights for work, posting on social media, etc.
Jalessa: I’ve been collaborating with graduate students through a new student organization, CIGO (Curriculum & Instruction Graduate Organization), and independently as a coalition with my department chair, and as a member of our graduate programming committee to come up with action items in our department. I am also in a second student group called POWER & have written a letter of support for Freedom, Inc.’s police free schools, which just celebrated a victory two weeks ago when the school board announced that police would no longer be in MMSD schools. I’ve also helped Freedom, Inc. in various actions they’ve been conducting daily to educate the community on the ways that policing is a gender justice issue, the benefits of community control, and what it means for schools to support the leadership, creativity, and wellness of young people.
I imagined a totally different atmosphere for my first summer in the Midwest, but it has been beautiful to see my scholarly community and the local/global community fighting to keep us all safe from biological, physical and psychological harm. Black lives mattering is not a slogan, it is a truth the world must reckon with and I continue to be energized by the unique ways people continue to show up.
Jane: I wear one of my Physical Distance / Social Solidarity masks every day in my job as a carpenter and home remodeler in Madison. Our job as carpenters involves a lot of safety considerations, and the pandemic has added additional layers to that landscape. I’m lucky enough to work with a group of people who are committed to building a safe work environment, but it’s important for all of us to remember that this can only happen through ongoing acts of mindfulness and intentionality. We carpenters alter, adapt, and react to physical spaces, but we all also have the ability to change our social spaces as well. I’ve also found this to be the most comfortable mask I’ve tried the and best suited to my work.
Jenny: I work at Wisconsin’s largest minority majority institution where I play a key role in administering CARES Act funds to help students facing disruption in access to income, healthcare, education and social support. I am very concerned about the emerging inequities in access to quality public education.
After seeing my neighborhood polling place on the national news in April and having my own lost absentee ballot become part of a Postal Service investigation, I applied to become an Election Inspector. I’ll be working the polls on August 11.
Kaite: I’m involved with #WeShallNotBeRemoved – a movement from the disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent communities, striving to be visible and ensure we are not forgotten and left behind during the Corona virus. We (often described as ‘vulnerable/with underlying health conditions’) are still asked to shelter and remain inside or with very limited movement ‘shielding’ while much of the population internationally are encouraged back outside, to work, to leisure.
Karen: I have a number of friends who are conservative Republicans. I think that the best thing I can do is just talk with them quietly and calmly about why so many of us are against the republican agenda and how to see things differently. Talking among friends, calmly and logically, rather than shouting slogans, or just saying that they are wrong. They listen. They ask questions. They rethink. I can’t claim to have “converted” anyone, but I do know that I’ve shown people sides they haven’t considered and they didn’t reject them out of hand. Needless to say, I don’t wear my “Fuck Trump” button when I do this.
Katherine: Steve has been attending workshops through Be The Bridge, a local organization working to raise awareness of racism and work for change in the current environment. He may begin another group through our church. Katherine has been researching local organizations that help address food instability including loufoodcoop.com and LACE.
Katrina: After making our donation, I also spent awhile reading about the organizations that you recommended, and their projects, and putting myself on their lists etc.
Marina: Supporting Freedom Inc.’s summer youth programs, specifically the very cool Freedom Youth Organizing Camp. Getting schooled by Nikoke Hannah-Jones and her brilliant writing, including her recent work in the NYT Magazine, “If true justice and equality are ever to be achieved in the United States, the country must finally take seriously what it owes black Americans” which lays out a case for reparations.
Megan: I’ve been donating to bail funds, soliciting donations, and supporting protesters.
Michelle: Fairy tales are dangerous, unless they are recognized as such. Some of the anger, especially of youth, is a result of being told fairy tales about the world, so I am making a conscious effort to call these out as they come up. In a capitalist economy, capital is necessary to participate. The idea that young adults or POC can have a farm if they simply learn about farming or work on a farm for awhile is a fairy tale. Capital is necessary to own a farm. Capital is no longer the result of labor – you can’t simply work and save money, unless you are earning a high wage. You can’t accumulate capital on a minimum wage job or even a job that pays the median income. The cost of education, health care, housing, cars, cell phone, etc. will lessen your chances of ever accumulating capital. Your labor will not result in accumulated capital. You must own capital – starting with a house – to generate wealth.
Sustainable agriculture research centers around the US are organized. We are part of a group called the Inter-institutional Network for Agriculture and Food Systems – INFAS. Faculty, staff, and students are working on justice and food sovereignty. We have a statement of solidarity and have been reaching out to students and faculty at Historically Black Colleges and through the Intertribal Agriculture Council to support POC as they work on agriculture and food sovereignty. We are looking for others to participate in committees and projects. Go to the web site to see if your university is involved and consider joining INFAS.
Nancy: I am engaged with neighbors in exchanging food across fences and keeping sane by talking, complaining, laughing…at a six foot + distance! We share the view of the world while sharing the view of our busy street. Sometimes a neighbor will walk by and join in. Sometimes there is a smoke. Sometimes a glass of wine. Sometimes there is the gifting of flowers or sage from the yard. It is a new public culture for us and our connections are growing deeper with each other.
Nanu: I have been attending a weekly social action hour through the local chapter of SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice). During the call, we are told about a few current activism actions that we can take (signing petitions, making phone calls, writing emails, making donations) and we do those actions on the spot. I try, less successfully, to follow up on other calls to action through the emails I receive from various social justice organizations. I have been reading books, attending webinars, listening to podcasts, and watching movies. I have learned so much, and I get more and more embarrassed by how much I didn’t know. Today, I attended a mind blowing webinar that talked about ways that technology has built in mechanisms that support and perpetuate racial equality. They focused a lot on the medical field. They also talked a lot about how the “child welfare system” is a policing system that is destroying Black families and communities.
Nicole: Applying for assistance, receiving assistance (!), observing gratitude, making videos, gardening, existentially freefalling. And loving my friends to absolute pieces.
Noel: My plans for this fall include attending BLM protests, volunteering for the Milwaukee DNC, working at a polling location on voting days, and bringing food to people who are in long voting lines, which I feel certain will again be a problem this fall in Milwaukee.
Osvaldo: As President of the Ecological Society of America, I am developing an anti-racism plan.
Sarah: During the Covid pandemic, I have been donating to my local food bank, have continued to protest for Black Lives Matter, have supported multiple activist groups and nonprofit media and oppositional political candidates and legal aid for protesters and inmates and detained immigrants/refugees.
I have also created some 15 or so Facebook groups, including a group for organizing/sharing info among faculty and staff at my institution who are being forced to return to teach and work face-to-face; I have also created 14 Facebook groups in support of parents pressing for a safe reopening of schools and promoting online start to school in solidarity with the teachers union which opposes re-opening while there are not adequate safety measures in place—These groups are also intended to be a place for sharing of information And support during elearning (and hopefully beyond) in my school district. I have also been elected to the executive committee of our new AAUP chapter at our university, which I helped create/promote. I have also written/signed/promoted open letters, petitions, etc on these matters, and attended and spoken at many hours of meetings. I’ve also supported vulnerable colleagues by posting their questions anonymously and pressing for their rights. I’ve also submitted many many many questions, challenges and suggestions to the administration of my university and of the local school system, as well as to the school board. I’ve also helped press on equity questions in the school reopening debate and urged linguistic inclusiveness (And proposed a pilot translation program). I’ve tried to center care for students who are vulnerable and emohasize resources for poor students, among other things, as we try to keep Covid from doing more damage. I’ve also worked on building community and connecting disenfranchised folks to one another so that we can share information and act in greater solidarity, which is incredibly difficult because people are so alienated and helpless. I’ve also given away masks taped to my front door to delivery folks for most of the epidemic, Supported others making masks, and donated masks online to essential workers.
Susan: During the Covid pandemic, I have been donating to my local food bank, have continued to protest for Black Lives Matter, have supported multiple activist groups and nonprofit media and oppositional political candidates and legal aid for protesters and inmates and detained immigrants/refugees.
DONATIONS INSPIRED BY THIS PROJECT WERE MADE TO:
THANKS TO OUR DONORS FOR HELPING TO FUND A SECOND PRINTING:
- Cedar Marie
- Diane & Jamie Ramsey
- Elizabeth Manne
- Helen Bullard
- Judy Sidran
- Karin Peterson
- Kay Jensen & Paul Ehrhardt
- Marc Silberman
- Mary Hark
- Michelle Miller
- Nancy Mithlo
- Nanu Clark
- Paola Hernandez
- Sabine Von Glinkski
- Sarah McKibben
If you would like to help to fund the next round of mask printing, you can do so via paypal (email@example.com), venmo, zelle, or check.