“The only way to survive is by taking care of each other.” —Grace Lee Boggs
In the past year, it has become increasingly clear that while we must keep fighting for structural change, our communities are our greatest resource for survival—and ultimately, liberation. While mutual aid networks have a long history in the US, the concept and practice of mutual aid gained mainstream recognition during the pandemic.
These networks—some new, some rooted in deep radical traditions—often work in response to multiple crises at once, and pivot to care for the most vulnerable when new crises emerge. In New Orleans, for example, a group called Southern Solidarity was formed, guided by Black feminist liberatory thought and inspired by the Black Panthers, to deliver PPE and food to unhoused people.
In Oakland, CA, in response to violent crimes against Asian-Americans since the start of the pandemic, residents and local nonprofits launched “Community Strolling,” a community foot patrol based out of Oakland’s Chinatown. As an alternative to increased policing, the group’s presence is a very real display of interracial and intersectional solidarity.
Most recently, winter storm Iru left millions of people in Texas without power in freezing temperatures—the result of a federally unregulated, aging fossil fuel-based power grid that could not hold up to the cold weather, despite decades of warnings to update the infrastructure. As the power went out across the state and people died without aid from institutions—mutual aid networks sprang into action to create warming shelters and provide food.
These efforts are just a few examples of what is possible—of a world where people have the resources and the support they need to be safe and free. In the words of author and organizer Grace Lee Boggs, our challenge is to engage in “two-sided struggles that not only say ‘no’ to the existing power structure, but also empower our constituencies to embrace the power within each of us to create the world anew.”
In community and solidarity,
Tiffani, Christina, Anna, and Tanya
Featured image: captured by Joyci Xi at a #LoveOurPeople action in California’s Bay Area.