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‘COVID at the Margins’ begins Monday

 

Discussion series to focus on communities of color

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — A new discussion series on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color — and how faith communities can address the problem — kicks off Monday on Facebook Live.

The new series, “COVID at the Margins,” opens with a 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time discussion on the experience of black communities. Christian Brooks of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness (OPW) will moderate.

“Our call to action is two-fold,” said Brooks, OPW’s Associate for Domestic Issues. “We are asking Presbyterians to move to action now, whether that be to donate, whether that be to help out at their local shelter, food bank, food pantry, whatever the case, but also mobilizing Presbyterians to talk to their members of Congress and see what ways they can change the structures that are in place that have historically put these communities at the margins.”

Monday’s guests will include Rachel Ollivierre, who will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on black immigrants in the Northeastern U.S., such as those working in home health and other essential areas, and Rev. Roslyn Bouier, executive director of the Brightmoor Connection emergency food pantry in Detroit, a city that has been deeply impacted by the coronavirus.

The new series is a joint project of OPW, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, the Office of Racial and Intercultural Justice and the Office of Immigration Issues.

The series, which is expected to continue through June, will feature segments on the Latinx community, Native Americans, the LGBTQIA community, immigrants and farmworkers, with a focus on people who are either directly impacted by the crisis or who walk alongside them. The second segment will focus on Asian Americans and Asian immigrants who’ve encountered pandemic-related racism.

Christian Brooks, left, will be the moderator of the first segment of the new discussion series “COVID at the Margins.” She is the Associate for Domestic Issues for the Office of Public Witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). (Photo by Rich Copley)

“We really want to know what’s happening and take it to a human level,” Brooks said. This series “is going to help us to get the word out about what people are actually experiencing, but also it will help us to understand how we can help. We are going to be calling Presbyterians to action.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is still emerging; however, current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.”

That concerns the Rev. Denise Anderson, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s coordinator for Racial and Intercultural Justice.

The Rev. Denise Anderson is coordinator for Racial and Intercultural Justice in the Presbyterian Mission Agency. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“We are in a time of crisis, which tends to thrust people into survival mode and turn our focus inward,” she said. “In easier times, antiracism work was already something that was too easy to ignore, particularly for those (who) are not impacted by it. It can seem like the last thing one should avail themselves to under these circumstances. Yet, this is exactly the time we should be paying attention to these matters, because COVID-19 is laying bare and even magnifying inequities that have long existed in our society. Inequitable outcomes for people of color are even harder to ignore now. We want to take the opportunity to say, ‘This is what we mean when we talk about structural racism.’ COVID-19, sadly, is providing perhaps the best example of what we’ve been teaching.”

To view the first segment, “Black Communities’ Experience with COVID-19,” on Monday, go to facebook.com/PCUSAWashington.


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