Survivor-Led Mutual Aid Projects Flourish in a Time of Crisis
An article by Leah Harris (posted in MIA on March 30, 2020) / Re-posted 4/2/2020.
During the current coronavirus pandemic, the practice of mutual aid—defined broadly as the ways that people join together to meet one another’s needs for survival and relationship—has reached the mainstream. Yet often missing from major media coverage of mutual aid is any acknowledgment of its roots in movements led by marginalized people, including Black and Brown people, disabled people, mad people, and psychiatric survivors.
People relegated to the margins of society have long known that they can’t necessarily depend on systems for their survival. For example, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief emerged from New Orleans communities of color forgotten in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when public authorities responded to demands for help with automatic rifles.
As activist Reyna Crow from Duluth, Minnesota told Mad in America, “I have learned not through this, but previous crises that have affected me similarly for protracted periods of time, that it is those who have already been there I can turn to for real support. Systems aren’t effective or safe in my case. Community is the best way to try to ensure we all get our basic needs met.”