Leaders in the Black community are pivoting to digital and sustaining their position on the frontlines during this global pandemic. Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) hosted countless a tele-townhall meeting on Friday, March 20th, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Black Americans and the initiatives taking place to supplement and support marginalized citizens during this health and economic crisis.
Mandated social distancing has caused countless shelters to be closed, forcing transient citizens to the confines of the streets with lack of sanitization privileges and safety. For vulnerable homeless populations, Black Caucus is proposing money for aid and temporary housing conditions, such as paying for hotel rooms, for them to stay to slow the rate of transmission for the virus.
Health professionals Dr. Hilton and Dr. Bell from UVA provided eye-opening information on the critical nature of COVID-19. They reported that an estimate between 160 million Americans to 210 million Americans will be infected by this virus before December.
“So why should this matter to Americans and for the sake of this call washes mattered to the black community. Well, because it’s not only causing a health crisis but a financial crisis, the United States made up about 325 million people with 82% of those people live in urban areas.”
Not only is COVID-19 a health crisis, but a financial crisis. With millions of Americans out of work, many questions are arising in regards to Black business and the sustainment of Black wealth within the community.
Dwight Evans of CBC, Pennsylvania discussed the importance of seeing this crisis as an opportunity for Black Americans to put on their entrepreneurial hat and work on maintaining the aggressive fight to build and implement wealth by keeping the Black dollar circulating. The CDC is working to ensure that supplemental dollars are available to various firms and not just in loans.
“And it’s unfortunate, you know, that there’s a crisis. But I think real crisis is an opportunity, particularly around the development of black businesses. And the aspect of the importance of what black businesses mean, around this critical time.”
COVID-19 pandemonium rendered many businesses in jeopardy; thousands of Americans have lost their jobs and put their families at risk of vulnerable financial situations. Fatima Goss Graves, CEO of National Women’s Law Center, weighed in on the matter: “It’s clear that any public health crisis will exacerbate the sorts of inequalities that are already present around gender and race and economic lines and assertive investment right away to stabilize the economy, and put families at the center is what’s going to be critical.” Proposals of funding for paid sick leave and prorated amounts for part time workers will help stabilize the economy for Black Americans.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries disclosed information on legislations Preparedness and Response Appropriation Act, an emergency $8.3 billion dollars allocated to health care institutions as well as government aid institutions, along with the Corona Response Act which provides an additional $1 billion in nutrition security initiatives for programs like snap and WIC for student breakfast, student lunch, senior nutrition programs, as well as for food banks. The aggressive approach for funding is focusing on a bottom–up approach to economics for the Black community as it relates to providing assistance to distressed employees. Low income individuals and families to work in families to middle class folks and to seniors, and to small businesses will all be affected by the increase of financial aid.
“Now is the time for state lawmakers to be pushed to open up as many avenues as possible to ensure access for all Americans and in particular, for African Americans and other communities of color who have historically disenfranchised.” Krista Clark, who is the President and Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.
The Congressional Black Caucus is proposing significant funding to the community service block grant, which is a category of funding that provides resources for nonprofit organizations. Their organization and aggressive actions for the welfare of the Black community are not slowing down any time soon.