CENTERING RACIAL EQUITY DURING THE PANDEMICTO BUILD A JUST FUTURE
Partners in Change (the Partnership) is a coalition of POC-led, POC-serving, community-based organizations and community leaders across King County and Washington State. We work to build racial and social justice in the County and State’s response to the COVID-19 crisis as well as long-term equity infrastructure, bubbling up the voices and needs of our communities to decision-makers. The Partnership reaches small and micro-organizations serving undocumented, migrant, farmworkers, incarcerated, detained, houseless, disabled, refugee, immigrant, multilingual, LGBTQIA+, Native, and low-income communities of color.
The Partnership simultaneously works on the ground meeting needs as well as in the
legislature changing systems. We also work to gate-break, building the capacity of our
communities and serving as a bridge between County and State resources and the folks on the front lines.
The Partnership reaches people from diverse ethnic groups across the County and State, and represents speakers of these languages: Spanish, Hmong, Lao, Khmu, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Khmer, Tagalog, Arabic and Oromo.
Beginning in response to the inequitable placement of quarantine facilities in low-income, limited English speaking communities of color, the Partnership has grown to become a leader in COVID- 19 response work. The Partnership anchors our response to the pandemic in the knowledge that even as our communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, over-represented in cases, deaths, job loss, and income loss, our communities are exceptionally resilient and best equipped to understand what we need.
According to (new and incomplete) data from King County public health officials, people of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, particularly among Latinx, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Black communities. On April 24th 11 of 24 (or 46% of) COVID-19 cases in King County had limited English proficiency, even though communities with limited English proficiency represent 25% of King County’s population, showing the disproportionate effects the virus has on immigrants and refugees.
The Partnership has created a strategy that responds to these disparities and drives five specific categories of work: 1) Power for Communities of Color (Advocacy), 2) Front Line (Immediate Needs), 3) Network and Communications, 4) Systems and Reporting (Anti Hate and Bias) and 5) Inclusive Communities.
To date, the Partnership has: led calls with key State and County decision-makers to
advocate for rent, income, and food assistance for our communities; established weekly
meetings with the Governor’s Office advocating for technology and internet access for
our kids, assistance for undocumented communities, and other key policy priorities;
organized public meetings with State Superintendent Chris Reykdal; and partnered with
Attorney General’s Office to address hate and bias crimes, particularly against our AAPI
Looking forward, the Partnership is actively pursuing:
- Establishing food and rental assistance programs for undocumented, immigrant, refugee and low-income communities of color;
- Disbursing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to our communities, particularly equipment made by immigrant and refugee seamstresses;
- Offering translated public health information in 60+ languages;
- Financial support for small and micro-nonprofit community organizations to have resources and infrastructure to respond to the need and take care of our community members during this current and future emergencies;
- Leading and ensuring the equity and racial justice frameworks within public health;
- Mapping out technology, hardware, and internet desserts throughout the state:
- Mapping cultural, ethnic, and linguistic assets of CBOs statewide to facilitate engagement with government agencies;
- Ensuring kids have the necessary technology and internet connection needed to continue their virtual education; and
- Increase advocacy presence at all levels of government to propose and guide ongoing and future response to current and future emergencies.