With the rise of cases of COVID-19 in metropolitan Atlanta, closures of colleges, universities and school systems throughout the country, cancellation of events, and the advisement to limit travel, the Partnership for Southern Equity’s (PSE) senior leadership team have decided to serve the equity ecosystem remotely and close our offices until 9:00 a.m. on Monday, July 6, 2020 (updated). We will assess a possible extension of our office closure as COVID-19 circumstances evolve.
Although our mission to advance racial equity is critical to realizing a more healthy society on many levels, the well-being of PSE’s staff, our respective families and the community-at-large comes first. We will continue to work utilizing the virtual and communications technology at our disposal. We will follow the interim guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prepare and prevent the spread of the illness in our respective communities, and in the local and regional communities in which we serve.
As you already know, COVID-19 has exposed many inequities in our healthcare system and civil society. As a racial equity organization, we understand that this pandemic is hitting low-to-moderate income communities of color the hardest because of the historical and current effects of structural racism. And it doesn’t stop there. Rural communities throughout the American South are also at risk because of the decision of people in power not to expand Medicare and close hospitals. Clearly, policies centered on politics and not the people are doing more harm than good.
Recently, the state’s business community celebrated a decade of growth touting low unemployment rates and strong manufacturing, service, and tourism industries, which rely heavily on low-to-moderate wage jobs. These are the same jobs that are impacted the most by COVID-19. Remember the single mother trying to make ends meet by working two or three minimum-wage jobs just to afford childcare. Remember the waiter at your favorite restaurant who will miss more than a month’s wages because she cannot go back to work. Remember the senior citizen who is afraid to leave home out of fear of being infecting with minimal food in the fridge.
Please direct anyone you know who’s struggling to dial 2-1-1 (United Way 211) from their phone to find the help that they need. Also, we encourage everyone to share/donate to organizations/people that work with vulnerable populations.
During this period of social distancing and the heroic effort by healthcare workers to “flatten the curve” (updated), I am reminded that in our work to advance justice and shared prosperity for all we have to make healthy choices and to care with and for one another.
Onward towards equity,
Nathaniel Q. Smith, Jr.
Founder and Chief Equity Officer