As we face one of the worst pandemics of our lifetimes, we know that our best chance of weathering the storm is to pool our resources and help the people in our communities that need it most. APEN is organizing a COVID-19 Emergency Community Stabilization Fund to make sure that the working class Asian immigrants and refugees in our communities have what they need to stay home and stay healthy during this pandemic.
As COVID-19 spreads, it’s become clear that this pandemic is a threat multiplier. The impacts and risks are dramatically different depending on who you are and where you live — whether you have a good job, access to healthcare, stable housing, and paid sick leave.
In Asian immigrant and refugee communities like ours, we’re experiencing increased racial profiling and xenophobia. Asian homecare workers are being interrogated, Chinatown businesses are being targeted and people are being assaulted in public places. Most are hourly workers, many have lost their jobs and those who are working can’t afford to take time off.
Waiting for federal or state government assistance is not an option.
APEN’s COVID-19 Emergency Community Stabilization Fund will distribute mutual aid directly to people in areas where we work that are experiencing the greatest need. Since 1993, we’ve built a membership base of Laotian refugees in Richmond and Chinese immigrants in Oakland. We maintain community-based offices in Oakland Chinatown and Richmond, California, offering year round programming for hundreds of working-class Asian immigrants and refugees. We are multi-generational and multi-lingual, working with mono-lingual people in Cantonese, Mandarin, Khmu, Mien, and Lao.
If COVID-19 has made anything clear, it’s that we are all connected – across borders, across class boundaries – and that the impacts and duration of this crisis depends on making sure that all of us have what we need to help contain this outbreak, starting with the people facing the greatest risks with the fewest material resources.
Our communities are already dealing with the day-to-day threats of poverty, racism, pollution, and climate chaos. While we work to meet immediate needs that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to organize for the Just Transition our communities need to survive and thrive.
In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to add our voices to the calls for free testing, single-payer healthcare, stable housing, paid sick leave, and good family-supporting jobs that would give us our best chance of containing this virus and stabilizing our communities. We’ll ask you to fill out the Census and register to vote by mail so we can build the public systems we need to weather the coming storms.
Right now, our working class Asian immigrant and refugee communities need all of us to step up so that all of us have what we need to make it through the pandemic.