“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
In Louisiana, African Americans account for 70% of the COVID-19 deaths. In Wisconsin, so many African Americans are dying that the governor has called it “a crisis within a crisis.” COVID-19 is taking Black lives and highlighting the systemic issues in our society that have led to this point. Historic racial inequalities in access to quality health care; communities that have literally been redlined into bad treatment; underlying health issues caused by lack of access to healthy food causing heart disease and diabetes; and so much more, have all led to a horrific reality: that this virus is revealing the impact of structural racism on Black lives even as structural racism uses this virus as a weapon to end them.
In light of the current crisis and it’s grave impact on our community, we are launching a new initiative – #wellathome. Our #wellathome campaign is a new space on the website. Here, we will be offering resources on how to check your symptoms, information on self-care, work from home tips and even some immune-boosting recipes. But there’s more to this crisis than wellness, and more to staying well than not getting sick. The revelations of this crisis are also an opportunity to address the issues that it highlights. So in addition to health information, we will be providing tips on how to stay engaged around legislation and the current fight for a more equitable nation that will address this virus and our community’s ongoing healthcare needs. Our campaign will be informed by guidance from the World Health Organization, so you can rely on us to only share clear and factual information guided by experts. We will also be guided by our own backgrounds in public policy (Jeanine Hays, is a graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law and a six-year veteran of the fight to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in California) and African Diaspora Studies (Bryan Mason, holds a Master’s Degree in African Diaspora Studies from UC Berkeley, and another in Theology and Philosophy from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley) to provide you with legislative, historical and social information that you can rely on.
In addition to this new campaign, we are launching a host of new content on the website and our other social media channels. Two weeks ago, we began opening up our content by taking down the pay wall on digital versions of AphroChic Magazine. And over the next few months, you’ll be able to come back to this space for even more articles and videos that inspire and educate. Our approach to design has always been to look past the objects in a space to see where history and society intersect to create the story of the people who live in it. Now we are expanding this conversation beyond design, to see the intersections of economics, policy, philosophy, art, music, literature and more in forming a culture and creating a community. To do it, we will be bringing together some of the greatest intellectuals in our community, to bring their thoughts to a single platform designed to reach the people that they represent on a large scale.
We are living in an extraordinary moment. Our world is changing daily. The entire globe is gripped by the collective experience of trauma, loss and grief. Like all extraordinary moments, this one calls for a new paradigm, a new way of seeing the world, ourselves and each other that learns from the mistakes of the past to ensure a better tomorrow. From #wellathome, to AphroChic Magazine, the One Story Up Podcast, and a host of new content, we ask you to join us in imagining a new future where Black lives are full and rich, uplifted, celebrated, and not left to the wayside, ignored and unseen by the same inequitable systems that victimize and oppress them.
We were recently asked what our advice would be to students are who graduating in 2020. What could we offer that would be helpful or reassuring to them? Our advice is that we need them. We need a new generation of artists, writers, composers, designers, architects, engineers, policy makers, health care experts and more to help us plan for a new future. We need their voices. Not voices guided by what’s trending, but talented, unobstructed voices that are focused on creating a new world – one that is inclusive, equitable and that offers human rights for all. We will need them to help us shape a new culture and a brighter future. AphroChic is meant for them; it is meant to highlight them, encourage them, and provide them with a space to share their new vision. It’s for you; to inform, inspire and to remind you that the world needs your contribution, too. It’s up to us to create the world that we want to live in, and the time to start is now.
Here’s to a brighter world ahead,