The year “2020” sounded futuristic for so long that many of us had heralded its arrival in January as reflecting a new moment. As it turned out, we know that the many shocking incidents of this year have demonstrated how much we remain weighed down by our past. Our nation’s fissures and failures have been revealed, within our public health system and weak social safety net, and our centuries-long struggle against white supremacy.
Yet our resilience and power has also been further revealed. Organizers, activists, and community members across the city and country have all been rising to meet this moment. Since March, TakeRoot’s teams have conducted over 100 virtual tenant meetings, trainings, workshops, and clinics involving more than 2,000 people. With our coalition partners, our Housing Justice team is helping coordinate the biggest mass rent strike in New York City history. We are in court remotely, advocating for justice as our Workers’ Rights team has recovered or obtained judgments totaling over $2 million for its clients.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged New York City this spring and continues through winter, is continuing to have a devastating impact on communities of color. Two centuries of public health research show that the most basic influences on people’s health are their living conditions: their housing, education, working conditions, and their access to clean air, water, nutritious food, and affordable health care. In the past, epidemics of cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and influenza struck the poor much more often than the better off. Here we are in 2020, with our advances in knowledge, technology, and societal wealth, and we still haven’t yet made nearly enough progress toward health equity. TakeRoot Justice is fighting for equal access to everyday basic needs, like shelter, healthy communities, and just working conditions.
This spring, we stood and marched in solidarity with families and communities mourning and rising up for justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other Black lives extinguished at the hands of persistent lethal police terror. As a member of Communities United for Police Reform, TakeRoot Justice continued to support the work of community-led campaigns to increase police accountability and combat discriminatory policing. Through our work and lived experiences, we know that the socio-economic exploitation of Black people is indelibly connected with the physical violence we experience as part of a wide-reaching system of racial oppression. It is in discriminatory housing practices, in unequal economic opportunities, in predatory lending and consumer practices, in gentrification and the recolonization of communities of color, in law and immigration enforcement. We partner with Black-led, grassroots organizations across New York City to advance liberation and invite you to stand with us. We will keep going, we will work shoulder to shoulder as we rebuild our city to new heights of fairness and shared power. We will build for change.
Together, in our own hearts and collectively across distanced visits and computer screens, we have waded through the trials and burdens of 2020. We have each channeled despair into determination, sadness into storytelling, and fury into power. We won’t stop and we want you to join us.
In power, solidarity and connection,
The Team at TakeRoot Justice