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Standing in Community During COVID-19

Published on Mar 20, 2020

An update from Astraea’s Interim Executive Director as the globe fights the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dear Astraea community,

We hope this message finds you healthy and safe.

As the world moves further into these unsettling times and we seek to understand the full impact of the coronavirus on our lives, I want to send out a message of support from all of us here at Astraea.

Astraea stands in deep solidarity with all our communities and our movements. Some of our grantee partners have been dealing with the devastating effects since December 2019 and many in the Global North are just catching up to these terrifying realities. We particularly want to acknowledge those most impacted by the virus and the global public health crisis: the immuno-compromised, the displaced, the elderly, and all of those rendered vulnerable by intersecting oppressions, structural and historic exclusion from systems of care.

Like many other organizations, we have taken the decision to close our office in New York for now to protect the health and safety of our staff and do our part in flattening the curve. Our staff are working remotely, with many now juggling children at home and caring for loved ones of all ages. We have emphasized that self-care, community care, and everyone’s wellbeing is our main priority right now and that our queer feminist values must guide each step we take in response to this new moment. 

Astraea is deeply committed to supporting LGBTQI communities to heal, build, collaborate, and grow through supporting healing-based work that responds to systemic trauma. We also know that during moments of crisis, human rights and civil liberties are often the first to be eroded. This time is unfortunately no different. Migrants, sex workers, artists, folks working in gig economies, and those precariously employed are facing deportation, job loss, and unequal access to medical care. Black and People of Color communities who have been economically disadvantaged due to White Supremacy and the effects of capitalism have far fewer savings to lean on in times of crisis and will experience the brunt of the harm. Xenophobia and discrimination are already hurting Asian communities worldwide. Additionally, surveillance of vulnerable communities and abuses of state power in the name of ‘health and safety’ are increasing. Mutual aid, holistic security and digital rights are critical as we fight to ensure all communities have access to the information and resources they need. 

Now more than ever, we must support and build with our grantee partners across the globe who are on the frontlines of caring for their people and resisting roll-backs on human rights. We are reaching out to them to better understand their needs and how we can support them. As always, we recognize the criticality of providing unrestricted, long-term support to our movements so they can respond nimbly to changing conditions such as these. We urge all funders to do the same, and indeed, to deepen their funding support to respond to this crisis as it continues to unfold.

As we adjust to these current realities and understand what they mean for our work in human rights and social justice philanthropy, I want to share a few resources with you below that I have found helpful over the last several days. We’ll be updating this list as we gather more resources so please do take a look. 

Wishing you health, safety, and gentleness during this challenging time.

In solidarity,

Sandy Nathan, on behalf of Astraea staff and board
Interim Executive Director