The powerful examples of creativity, community building, and virtual advocacy that have abounded online throughout this pandemic are astonishing and life-affirming. The ability of artists, advocates, and organizers to channel hope and renewed purpose during this period of national struggle and grief have helped keep the rest of us committed to our own social justice pursuits.
We at The Opportunity Agenda are continually inspired by the experimental, often unprecedented, and sometimes radical projects that we have seen born amidst COVID-19. Below, we have included a list that is nearly twice as long as our typical Partner Stories roundup, which is testament to the incredible amount of work that our partners continue to put forth. Thank you, to all of you, who are helping us with essential guidance, providing us reason for joy, and allowing us to see new potential for radical change.
Color of Change released “Telling the Right Story on Race During COVID-19,” a new guide for effectively advancing racial justice. The resource offers help with communicating about the realities, causes, and solutions related to current attacks on health, economy, democracy, and future.
HARNESS, The Center for Cultural Power, The League, and IllumiNative launched Culture Surge, “a broad coalition of change makers working together in this vital moment for the survival of our communities, our democracy, and our shared future.” As part of the launch, Culture Surge hosted the virtual event, “Culture is the Engine to Protect Democracy,” featuring Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Ai-jen Poo, Cristina Jiménez (CC ’16), Yosi Sergant (CC ‘10, ’11), Favianna Rodriguez (CC ’11, ’12,’13), Allie Young, Tracy Sturdivant, and Marya Bangee (CC Alum ’19),
Comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh (CC ’16, ’17) has been hosting a five-week comedy writing class during this period of quarantine. Along with Karisa Kenyon, Zahra is also hosting “How to Write a Book Before Your 40th Birthday, Even When It’s the Apocalypse.” Check it out here.
PLUS1, headed by Marika Shaw (CC ‘19), launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to coordinate their efforts to support those most at risk from the pandemic. To increase outreach and support for the fund, PLUS1 is partnering with artists like Carly Rae Jepsen to raise funds through merchandise sales.
Lina Srivastava (CC ’16, ’17) published a piece in Ms. Magazine calling for new resources to close the gender gap and center women's voices and participation as we confront the current health crisis. “We can navigate our way to a better future if we broaden beyond listening to one small, privileged segment of the population. It’s time to commit new resources toward closing the gender gap,” she writes. Read the full piece.
Artists Caledonia Curry/Swoon (CC ’14) and Judy Chicago partnered with Jane Fonda’s Fire Drill Fridays, Greenpeace USA, NMWA and Serpentine Galleries, to launch #CreateArtforEarth, a global creative campaign to encourage art that addresses the climate crisis and inspires action. Learn more.
Caty Borum Chattoo (CC ’17, ’19) and Lauren Feldman have a new book out: "A Comedian and An Activist Walk Into a Bar: The Serious Role of Comedy in Social Justice,"
which focuses on the contemporary role of comedy in social justice. Through case studies, audience research, and interviews with comedians, social justice leaders and strategists, the book explains how comedy can engage audiences with issues such as global poverty, climate change, and immigration, and how activists work with comedy to reach and empower publics in the networked, participatory digital media age.
Ernesto Yerena (CC ’19) teamed up with CIELO to release Ernesto’s “Viva Yalitza” screenprint. Purchases will fund the provision of resources for undocumented Indigenous folks in the Los Angeles area who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bethany Yellowtail (CC ’19) has been supporting the efforts of the Orenda Tribe and Seeding Sovereignty to safeguard Indigenous peoples in the Southwest from COVID-19 impacts. Bethany is spearheading the production of 18,000+ masks. Learn more.
Jenny Yang (CC ’17) has been participating in various online events including: hosting a conversation and Q&A about battleground states and Asian-American voters; joining Rise Asian Pacific America to discuss the state of Asian-American life and rising anti-Asian sentiment; and supporting Eastwind Books through a comedy fundraiser. Jenny also joined celebrities for the #TakeOutHate campaign, which calls people to order and support Asian restaurants facing discrimination and mass closures.
Define American hosted its first Black and Gold Forum on May 5 to discuss creating solidarity and support for Black and Asian communities through COVID-19 and beyond. The event featured Jon M. Chu, Franklin Leonard, Prabal Gurung, and Nikole Hannah-Jones. Watch the recording here.
Tunde Wey (CC ’19) was profiled in The New Yorker in a fascinating piece, “The Case for Letting The Restaurant Industry Die,” on reimagining the future of restaurant culture, post-COVID. He says, "The only truly affirmative and sustainable response is a governmental response—one that’s universal, that’s agnostic of industries, at least initially and that focuses on developing a really robust social safety net."