VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Black communities in B.C. are working to raise money during the COVID-19 pandemic as health experts report the virus is disproportionately killing Black Canadians.
A mutual aid fund for COVID-19 organized by the Black Mutal Aid BC has raised more than $100,000 in just over two months to provide micro-grants to people in dire straits the ability to “survive.”
According to the co-founder of Black In BC Mutual Aid, Jahmira Lovemore-White, governments did not provide aid to Black communities, since the issue was relevant to people in the community, and she and her colleagues took actions.
She says as the virus escalated before quarantine and self-isolation was issued, many people in the community to reached out for help.
“We have a lot of people reaching out in our personal circles, not knowing how they’re going to either make rent or choosing between utilities or food
childcare issues,” she says.
Originally when the Black In BC Mutual Aid was created, Lovemore-White says the initial goal was to raise $30,000 although soon after the fund made over three times as much.
“We were doing $150 micro-grants, and that’s what we were sending out to folks, which is a very small amount of money, but it was a good way for us to make sure we could get everyone,” she says.
“To this day we’ve disbursed money to over 100 people. We’ve already sent out about 15,000 [people] which is awesome and we have a lot more people that are waiting for funds right now.”
Currently, the province does not have data that addresses ethnicity or race, only information about patients’ age and sex.
And Lovemore- White says the lack of race base data is a by-product of a colorblind society in Canada which is detrimental and is “shameful that in 2020 these things are still an afterthought.”
“Our society tends to see itself as post-racial, which is not true, but it’s a part of this whole narrative of being Canadian and not being American. And so all of our health data is very much tied to household income, as opposed to racially which really leaves a lot of people out on alerts.”
And Lovemore- White adds the lack of this data is not just critical of COVID-19.
“There are there are a lot of other things that end up being left unknown because we don’t know how it affects people differently,” she says.
“We know that people of different racial groups have their differences in our society that things are not equal things have never been that way. And so to expect that to, to be the same within healthcare, is short-sighted.”
Although Lovemore- White is happy that governments are starting to recognize the hole in data.
She adds that a push for race-based data collection is also essential for other communities like the Indigenous people in B.C.
“Actually collecting this data will help more than just Black folk and helps us all we need to know what is happening with all communities so that we can actually get to the root causes and fix them for a better B.C.
In terms of the next step, Lovemore-White says organizers are still unclear, but they are working to continue equitably supporting people and will consult the community to move forward.
-With files from Vanessa Doban