The front-line heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic have many faces. In addition to those in clinical environments, there are countless more essential workers exposing themselves daily to this new threat. From grocery store employees and gas station attendants to custodial and environmental services staff, these individuals are coming face-to-face with this disease without proper personal protection equipment.
Among these essential workers and their families, an overwhelming number are minorities who do not have access to masks, nor do they have the means to purchase masks to protect themselves. In communities such as St. Louis, Missouri, African Americans are dying in disproportionate numbers. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, many of the pre-existing conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension, heart conditions, obesity and asthma) that make coronavirus deadly for some individuals are “disproportionately prevalent in the African American community.”
• More than 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan (as of April 9, 2020) were African Americans, compared to Michigan’s total African American population of 14 percent.
• All 12 deaths that can be attributed to coronavirus in St. Louis, Missouri, were African Americans.
• The Center for Disease Control reported on April 8, 2020, that during March, 33 percent of individuals requiring hospitalization for coronavirus were black, compared to the overall 13 percent of the African American population in the U.S.
How the Deep South Movement for Creative Youth Foundation is Fighting Racial Disparities and COVID-19
In the throes of this pandemic, the inequities that exist in our nation today become even more pronounced. People of color and vulnerable communities are being hit harder than ever before. From lack of access to health care, transportation and economic stability, even simply sourcing and purchasing a mask to prevent contracting this deadly disease is proving to be a significant challenge for many.
The front-line jobs that so many minorities and African Americans hold do not allow for telecommuting. They are not able to stay at home to practice social distancing, and many employers are not fighting to provide masks to protect their employees.
This is not ok. But these heroes do not have to be alone with this. You can help.
The Deep South Movement for Creative Youth Foundation is a 503(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization, with a mission to provide an environment where young people in southern communities can access materials, equipment, and spaces, through which their creative gifts can be explored, developed and made ready for the market. Founded by Brianna Etheridge in early 2020, the organization is based in Columbia, South Carolina. Brianna has also launched a for-profit enterprise, Bri L. Designs, an activewear and swimwear brand that is also based in Columbia.
Currently operating out of Brianna’s family home, the Deep South Movement is seeking donations of time, talent and funding to support the expansion of its mask manufacturing efforts, which are specifically targeted to equip these front-line workers and at-risk populations living in our nation’s most vulnerable communities. The Foundation is moving its operations to a larger, more suitable location (while following all social distancing guidelines), and seeking materials, sewing machines, and individuals to sew masks.
To date, the orders we have received are out pacing our production capabilities. We are relying on civic engagement—people like you—to help us protect those who are serving the public throughout this dangerous time in order to make ends meet.
Support the Deep South Movement for Creative Youth Foundation’s Mask Initiative today.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We are prioritizing getting masks into the hands of the estimated 7.2 MILLION African Americans living throughout Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. To do this, we need your help.
We appreciate your donations.
• For monetary donations, we'll include a card that recognizes you or your organization, so that our mask recipients can see who has pitched in to keep them safe.
• For in-kind donations of fabric, sewing machines, and other supplies, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We pre-approve all in-kind donations to ensure that the materials we receive meet specific quality requirements and can be used for this project.
• If you would like to participate by sewing masks, please send an email to email@example.com. We will send you a template and detailed instructions for quality assurance. We can also send volunteers packs of materials and return shipping labels, based on the number of masks you would like to make. You can either do this on a volunteer basis, or we do have a limited ability to compensate you for your time.
• Our website is currently under construction. More information coming soon!