COVID-19 is bringing racial disparities into stark relief. In Oakland, the Equity Indicators Report released in 2018 showed that Black residents have significantly less access to medical services and health insurance and lower baseline health compared to white people. These deep underlying inequities are being dramatically exacerbated by COVID-19.
Many Black Oaklanders cannot work from home and/or do not have paid leave. Others have to choose between working to pay rent and possibly infecting their high-risk family members. In general, COVID-19 will have particularly devastating impacts on Black elders and Black people who have chronic illnesses or disabilities.
CRC is collaborating with Black medical practitioners to attain the most up-to-date and accurate public health information on COVID-19, along with recommendations on how to best prepare. This will inform the creation of culturally appropriate, relevant, and accessible videos, distributed via our social media channels, which have a large following within the local Black community.
Prioritizing elderly, immunocompromised, and disabled Black community members, we also plan to distribute “coronavirus readiness kits” and immune-boosting care packages at locations where essential services are provided. The kits will include hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, immune support supplements, healthy pantry items, and fresh produce. We will be coordinating distribution through our deep community relationships and networks, and partnering with key community-based organizations like the Black Housing Union.
Everyone in our community, especially elders and those who are chronically ill, will be safer when more people have accurate information and essential resources to prevent the spread of the virus. As we engage in this work, our deep relationships within our community will help us to keep a pulse on emerging needs - and, as a small, grassroots organization, we will be able to respond nimbly to those needs.
Funded by Oakland, CA (April 2020)