9 April 2020

Lessons From Mutual Aid During the Coronavirus Crisis

Amid a disaster like COVID-19, the culprits of some of the worst abuses of power are the very systems and structures that we often turn to for leadership. The abuses can be committed with calculated awareness, such as when US Senators privately sold off millions in stocks while publicly downplaying the threat of the virus. Other times, institutional aid efforts unintentionally create ripple effects that disproportionally and severely affect vulnerable communities. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, shelter-in-place policies and the curtailment of public services have devastated families with precarious employment and people without homes.

Whether harm differs by being intentional or structural, it is the same in one critical way: Top-down, centrally managed systems of power can end up creating havoc due to the lack of their understanding of local communities.

Read our Research Director Samer Araabi’s full article in SSIR.