Despite what the corporations, politicians, and rich elite would have us believe, the coronavirus is not the “great equalizer,” but is instead exposing all of the cracks in societies that value money and power rather than ensuring every person has enough to live. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stocks her $25,000 refrigerators (yes, multiple) with dozens of expensive ice cream pints in an effort to be relatable, celebrities complain that quarantining in their mansions is like being in jail or prison (looking at you, Ellen), and corporate CEOs argue in favor or reopening the economy, real people around the world have lost their jobs and/or are struggling through homelessness during this pandemic. We are not all the same, and to insist otherwise is incredibly insulting and obtuse. My family and I are lucky enough to still have jobs and incomes while approximately 47% of Hawaiʻi residents are now unemployed (an increase of 44% since the beginning of March), so I want to donate my stimulus check once it arrives. A one-time $1,200 stimulus check for most people in America (excluding undocumented immigrants and people who file joint taxes with them, college students and/or young people whose parents claim them as dependents, people without social security numbers, people with some types of debt) is literally not enough for anyone unemployed or furloughed to pay for rent, bills, groceries, health care, etc., and because most states haven’t adopted rent or mortgage moratoriums, the possibility of mass evictions is staggering. According to the Washington Post, “The federal Cares Act passed at the end of March included a hold on eviction action until late July, with no one being put out of their homes until late August — but the federal rules only apply to properties that have government-backed loans.” Because of the American government’s mishandling of the entire response to COVID-19, especially in regard to ensuring people don’t financially drown without assistance, we must save each other.
(Most people are truly struggling to stay afloat (always, but especially now), so GoFundMe is a great place to start looking if you want to help others with your stimulus check (here’s a massive one right now that’s dedicated to helping immigrant families) and checking in on family members and friends who you personally know are in need is another way to support using your extra money. I like to think about everything I consume and what I would be devastated by if they no longer existed, such as local restaurants, independent bookstores, small movie theaters, etc.)
I haven’t yet received my stimulus check, but when it comes, I intend to split it among several different organizations and mutual aid networks. Russian anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin is credited for defining mutual aid in his 1902 book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, saying, “[M]an is appealed to to be guided in his acts, not merely by love […] but by the perception of his oneness with each human being. In the practice of mutual aid, which we can retrace to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support not mutual struggle — has had the leading part.” Essentially, mutual aid networks (here’s a list of all the claimed ones in America) are not charity, but rather community-built organizations or small groups where people share resources and give to one another in order to meet everyone’s needs. Mutual aid networks are especially important during the coronavirus as capitalism fails the majority of struggling Americans (as it always does, read: We Have Always Needed Socialism). Members of the Hawaiʻi chapter of DSA created Coronacare Hawaiʻi where people can request assistance and resources while others who want to help are assigned tasks to which they may complete or contribute.
The Hawaiʻi Foodbank is a certified member of the Feeding America network collection of food pantries, soup kitchens, foodbanks, and shelters. As unemployment stays stagnant or continues to rise, foodbanks across America (and in the world, really) need as much financial assistance as possible. Donating food products is always helpful, but giving money is important as the nonprofits can use it to purchase what’s low in supply or especially needed for families.
Ideally and realistically, all people should be freed from prisons and jails around the world because most will become infected and possibly even die from the virus while COs and wardens spread the infection throughout their communities (The Appeal is heavily covering the transmission in most U.S. facilities). Unfortunately, the decision to release people en masse is mostly left up to governors, mayors, judges, and state supreme courts. One of the main organizations I’m going to donate my stimulus check to is the Hawaiʻi Community Bail Fund (find a bail fund near you in the Bail Fund Network Directory!) in the hope that those dollars will be used to set people who can’t afford their bail free from cages. Of course everyone should be free, not just people who are too poor to bail out, but it’s easiest to start will small steps while convincing non-abolitionists that every cage must be emptied.