By Randy Royster, President & CEO
COVID-19 and Inequality
The coronavirus pandemic put into stark relief underlying problems in our society: income inequality, racial inequities and a healthcare system ill equipped to deal with a sudden influx of very sick patients. These challenges, coupled with continued business shutdowns and loss of confidence in our economy, mean we’ll be dealing with the outcomes for years ahead.
So, too, women, Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color, are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19s effects in our community. They tend to work in the service sector in lower paid jobs without the ability to do those jobs remotely. Many live in multi-generational households – New Mexico has the highest per capita number of grandparents raising their grandchildren. Many have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus’ effects, like obesity and diabetes.
They also tend to rent their homes rather than own them. With New Mexico’s unemployment rate in double digits (as of this writing), and the uncertainty of extended federal emergency unemployment benefits, a potential wave of evictions is on the horizon, too. The pandemic has become a perfect storm of economic, personal and societal damage whose effects will be felt far into the future.
To come through this global crisis demands leadership willing to address these underlying and systemic ills. That’s why the Foundation continues our commitment to increasing investments in community-led diversity, equity, inclusion and more recently, social justice projects. These projects support meaningful community conversations regarding race, economic and social justice, and programs creating job opportunities for disadvantaged communities.
We will continue to do what a community foundation is built to do – dig deeper into the systemic issues affecting us by bringing people together to work together. Through partnerships with other like-minded organizations, donors and volunteers like you, we’ll find a way through this pandemic crisis.