Prioritize Georgians' health and safety #openforlovefirst
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Attn: Governor Brian P. Kemp, Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
We are Georgians building families, futures, businesses, and movements. We are dedicated to civic participation by and voice for everyone in our state, with intentional inclusivity for our most silenced communities- people of color, our homeless sisters and brothers, immigrant and refugee families, LGBTQ+ folx, young people, currently and formerly incarcerated people, and the many of us who are ‘othered’.
As of June 10, 2020, there are now over 53,248 confirmed cases and a staggering 2,285 Georgians who have died of COVID-19. We shine light on the fact that Black and Brown people are falling ill and dying in disproportionate and still-rising numbers due to deeply-embedded systemic inequities which have kept so many of us in poor health and poverty, with few options for resources and support.
The economic pains of the novel coronavirus are severe and widespread, but the same folks in our communities who are most physically vulnerable are again the hardest hit economically. Do not ask us to bear this burden too: why should we choose between staying home and safe or going into work to keep our jobs? Why expose our essential workers to more contact and risk?
You must ensure that our people are kept safe, and you must look to Georgia’s global leadership in the health community to determine the best approach to moving forward through and beyond the pandemic. If we are thoughtful and careful now, we have a chance to lay groundwork to ensure that the “normal” we move forward to is better and safer than it was for so many of us before COVID-19.
It’s time for your administration to follow the guidance and pleas from so many varied communities- faith, activist, health & science, business, and political alike. We Georgians call on you to immediately take the following actions to ensure justice:
- Reinstate the highest expert-advised levels of community health & safety protocols, including increased testing and privacy-conscious tracing measures.
- Provide dignified aid and sustainable healthcare for Georgia’s most health-vulnerable populations including women of color, homeless communities, and seniors.
- Create data transparency regarding COVID-19’s impact on communities of color.
- Implement grant (non-loan) financial support programs for individuals and families to enable us to prioritize safety, and for nonprofits and small businesses to ensure we are able to continue to provide critical services and pay essential workers justly.
- Implement voting protocols which ensure safe, inclusive, and fair elections free of any poll taxes (monetary or otherwise) so that our voices are not silenced.
- Vocally and unequivocally reject racist rhetoric and actions against Asians, Asian Americans, Black, and Brown people.
- Stop and reverse unnecessary incarceration and detention.
We make ourselves available to you, and urge you to include community input as you determine next steps.
And to our fellow Georgians: The above list includes critical actions for our elected officials to take on the path to becoming open for business in a safe manner. Right now we can open our hearts to the plight of our most vulnerable - if you’re able to, stay home to stop the spread and keep them safe. Let’s open new channels of dialogue, collaboration, and resources - seek out, create, and act on the countless opportunities to help each other.
Right now, let’s open for love.
Kevin S. Sinha
Black Male Initiative
Chapel of Christian Love
Georgia NAACP Youth & College Division
Grove Park Lives
Hank Stewart, Poet Laureate
Lindsay Street Baptist Church
Love Beyond Walls
MLK March Committee
Neighbors for More Neighbors Metro Atlanta
Operation 50 Speaks
The Stewart Foundation
The letter above to Georgia state officials is supported by the listed co-signing organizations and individuals. Together, we work on community-led organizing and empowerment efforts across our state. We strive for equity and justice through and in civic engagement. We encourage all Georgians, elected officials across the state, and supporters beyond to amplify this message and implement plans which prioritize the safety of our most vulnerable folks.
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