Commentary, COVID-19

N.C. advocacy groups unite with southern neighbors, call for shared COVID-19 response

Today, the NC Justice Center, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, and other North Carolina groups joined fellow southerners in a shared vision for the region’s COVID-19 response.

Policy organizations, grassroots movements and scholars are collaborating to inform and hold accountable policymakers and stakeholders on the social and economic inequities exposed by the global pandemic. Further, as many take to the streets to express their outrage with police brutality and racism in our country, these organizations are committed to rebuilding an equitable South. The full list of partners can be found at SouthStrong.org.

COVID-19 does not adhere to geographic boundaries. The shared vision for the region’s response is based on respect, dignity, equity and justice to address the public health crisis and mitigate the economic fallout.

Communities must work together with the government for an accurate picture of what is happening on the ground and what improvements must be made as we address racism and the post-pandemic world. Coordination among neighboring states and strong public services are priorities, given the South’s history of structural racism and limited worker protection through discriminatory policies and practices.

“North Carolina’s well-being post-pandemic will depend on how we work together as a region to commit to people-first investments and policies that drive more equitable outcomes,” said Alexandra Sirota, Director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center.

“COVID-19 has laid bare the fact that it is on each of us — as individuals, communities, and states — to protect all of us. As the South, we must work together to ensure our future is one that truly leaves no one behind, regardless of race, age, how much money people have, or where folks live,” said Lynne Walter, advocacy and organizing manager of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

Each of the southern entities agreed to the below values for a response that is equitable, accountable, and transparent.

  • Health and Safety Reaffirming the respect for health and life by guaranteeing reasonable safety at home, at work, and in public life
  • Worker Rights Reaffirming the dignity of all workers by ensuring a livable wage, paid leave and the right to collective bargaining.
  • Quality Education and Childcare Reaffirming equitable, quality education and childcare by guaranteeing that resources reach all children
  • Just Disaster Response Reaffirming just responses to communities impacted by disasters, both natural and human-caused
  • Free and Fair Elections Reaffirming the need to create and protect opportunities for all people to participate in elections and influence public policymaking
  • Equitable Taxation Reaffirming support for an economy that works for all, fueled by a revenue system that asks those who make the most to contribute the most

Other N.C. groups that signed on include:

  • Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County
  • Cypress Fund
  • Equality North Carolina
  • NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina
  • NC Child
  • NC Justice Center
  • NC League of Conservation Voters
  • North Carolina Housing Coalition
  • North Carolina Council of Churches
  • Toxic Free NC
  • Carolina Jews for Justice
  • Coalition for Health Care of NC
  • North Carolina AIDS Action Network

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