The United States is a country of staggering disparities, many of which have been put in stark relief over the past year amid compounding crises. As the coronavirus pandemic has maintained an unrelenting grip on the country, Black and Latino people have been nearly three times as likely to contract COVID-19 than white people and twice as likely to die from the virus. Unemployment has soared to historic levels, rendering millions of people unable to afford food, rent, or other basic necessities. Meanwhile, more and more people are getting involved in organizing and activism amid a nationwide uprising sparked by racist police brutality.
Against this backdrop, where large swathes of the country feel abandoned by the government, the concept of mutual aid is quickly gaining mainstream recognition. Mutual aid is a form of solidarity-based support, in which communities unite against a common struggle, rather than leaving individuals to fend for themselves. While underserved communities have long organized mutual-aid networks, in the past year, the groups have proliferated across the country, and the concept has increasingly gained mainstream recognition. Neighborhood mutual-aid networks, such as Crown Heights Mutual Aid in Brooklyn, have cropped up to deliver groceries for people especially vulnerable to coronavirus. Meanwhile, existing mutual-aid groups like the For the Gworls, which supports the Black trans community, have received an influx of donations to provide rental assistance, funds for gender-affirming surgery, and more.
As mutual-aid groups have received increased attention, questions (and in some cases, confusion) have arisen: How do you get involved in mutual-aid efforts? And how does it differ from charity? Here’s a quick guide to what mutual aid is — and isn’t — plus steps to get involved.
[Read more from The Cut]