The AMOR (Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance) Network, ARISE (Alliance of RI Southeast Asians for Education), DARE (Direct Action for Rights & Equality), The George Wiley Center, and PrYSM (Providence Youth Student Movement) announce the launch of a joint fundraising effort to support Rhode Island communities of color with immediate needs as well as organizing and advocacy for long-term change.
On Tuesday, five community organizations, based in Rhode Island’s low-income Black, Latinx, Southeast Asian, immigrant, refugee, and LGBTQ communities announced a one-stop option for community members and foundations seeking to contribute directly to frontline relief, direct action organizing, and systems change advocacy during the Coronavirus crisis.
Donations to the Rhode Island Solidarity Fund go directly to community organizations that are working nonstop to meet the needs of community members across the state most at risk for infection, mortality, mental health struggles, and economic devastation from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions on movement and life. “Our organizations prevent the eviction of low-income renters, ensure those facing deportation have lawyers, correspond with those currently incarcerated, support their loved ones, and fight alongside folks with criminal records to take down legal barriers to stable housing and employment,” explained Kiah Bryant, DARE’s Managing Director.
Organizers of the Fund explained that they came together in this time of heightened anxiety and threat to their communities because of experiences like that of Dawn M, of Pawtucket.
“We are a family of seven: my husband, myself, my four children and one year old grandson,” explained Dawn. “My oldest daughter is currently expecting her first baby in September. My family has been shut off for six years with no heat and hot water. We have applied for heating assistance twice in those years with no luck as they wanted us to come up with $900 to pay towards it before the gas company would turn us on. But $900 is our rent payment so it’s pay rent or have heat. We have tried to work out a plan with the gas company to no avail. We have a $9,000 bill that got racked up due to a broken heater and they want us to pay our regular bill plus $200 towards the old balance if we get turned on. How is this possible?
“We use electric skillets, a counter top oven, and microwave to cook with so we can still cook like normal people,” continued Dawn. “We use the electric skillets to heat up water which we then pour into a five gallon bucket we keep near the bathtub until we get enough hot water to take a bath. We also use the microwave to heat water up for a bath. It’s very hard to keep good hygiene when you have to do that because it is time consuming but it’s what we have to do. We have an electric heater we use for heat. It only does so much and with no hot water makes it hard when the house is cold and you have to heat water up for a bath. We put bubble wrap on the windows to help keep some of the warmth in but the heater only does so much.”
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The newly launched Rhode Island Solidarity Fund website puts these organization’s work in a broader context. Before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, structural racism, racialized capitalist exploitation, patriarchy, heterosexism, and ableism debilitated low-income communities of color, forcing them to struggle just to survive, let alone thrive. The pandemic has crippled lives and the economy so completely because those in power prioritize the maintenance of their wealth and privilege at the expense of the lives of working people. The global capitalist system has also been shown, time and again, not only unable to navigate disasters and crisis in a way that protects the lives of the majority of people, but also to precipitate so-called “natural” disasters. This oppressive system will be with us once this crisis passes, or becomes the new normal, and the organizations that have come together in this fund will be there to organize, create, and set the example for a new system and a new world that puts all people’s lives above the wealth and privileges of a few.”
A donation to the Fund will:
● Support immediate COVID-19 relief efforts in historically marginalized communities across Rhode Island, including legal defense funds for community members facing deportation, eviction defense funds for low-income tenant households, weekly food donations for hundreds of families, financial support for local religious and cultural institutions who have lost essential revenue, pay college access costs for low-income students from communities of color, and pay utility restoration costs for dozens of low-income households.
● Support local and state advocacy for essential public health policies and economic recovery,
● And help build local networks and resilient systems that sustain low-income communities of color for the long term.
To give to the RI Solidarity Fund:
Checks should be made out to the Providence Youth Student Movement. Please specify on the check that the donation is for the “RI Solidarity Fund.”
Checks can be mailed to: 669 Elmwood Ave Suite B13 Box B13 Providence, RI 02907