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Community Care During COVID-19: A Message To and From AAPIs

AAPI FORCE-EF
Mar 17 · 6 min read

“Movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass.”

-Grace Lee Boggs

As we’re facing a once-in-a-generation crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important now than ever to center human connections and be a part of a movement for community care. This means that while we are experiencing physical distance from our communities, the compassion and love we have for each other remains strong.

During this crisis, our communities are being targeted and scapegoated, with GOP politicians referencing COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” and numerous incidents of hate crimes against Asians. We’ve seen this before. Throughout history, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been oppressed, harmed, and even killed due to our race. But time and time again, we have prevailed from these hardships by taking care of each other.

We come from peoples who have survived and flourished despite war, colonization, and environmental catastrophe. As working-class Asian American immigrants, refugees, and Pacific Islanders, our people have survived and thrived by putting community care over individual needs. We see this in elderly folks who sacrifice their time in retirement to raise their grandchildren. We see this in community members pooling money together to form community-based loan systems to combat discrimination from banks. When employers won’t grant workers adequate time off, we see workers sharing their sick leave with colleagues so that they can care for themselves and their loved ones.

We have been trained to adapt an individualistic mindset that tells us that we have to fend for ourselves. But we must remember that during the most devastating moments, community care, not hyper-individualism, is what allows us to prevail.

Despite experiencing physical isolation, we’re witnessing the power and beauty of compassion and community care. We’ve seen neighbors offering to watch each other’s children as schools close, community members delivering groceries for elders, loved ones celebrating birthdays via video chat and organizers collaborating to push for policy changes that would protect our most vulnerable populations.

Due to safety concerns about congregating in person, we may not be able to show care through physical convening and touch, but there are other ways to show love:

  • Reach out and talk to elders and immunocompromised people who are housebound and who may be experiencing loneliness from social isolation.

As an organization working to build power amongst working class AAPIs, we recognize that working class communities will be some of the most heavily hit during this crisis. Workers such as servers, sanitation workers, manicurists, etc. may experience financial difficulties due to a cut in hours.

Here are resources for undocumented Californians:

Here are resources to help with labor issues:

It’s especially crucial right now to stay informed and avoid spreading misinformation. Here are some resources in English and other languages to share about COVID-19:

English

Hmong

Marshallese

Traditional Chinese

Simplified Chinese

Vietnamese

Korean

Tagalog

Cambodian

Japanese

Lao

Punjabi

Other resources:

This is the time to come together — not physically, but through our actions. Community care doesn’t just look like participating in mutual aid or donating funds — it also looks like adhering to physical distancing regulations. By exchanging a trip to the gym or a night out with friends for a quiet night in or a celebration via video chat, we are actively working against the spread of the virus. We are all capable of contracting and spreading the virus, but we are also all capable of keeping our communities safe. We will do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will demand that our government protect not just us, but the most vulnerable in our community. Even if we’re not out on the streets protesting, we are still looking out for each other and fighting for justice.

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AAPI FORCE-EF

Written by

AAPIs For Civic Empowerment-Education Fund (AAPI FORCE-EF) is an alliance of community organizations building the political power of working class AAPIs in CA.

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