Follow Up From the Frontlines: Raising Funds for Black and Indigenous Lives

By Charlotte Cevallos Biren

COVID-19 has put pressure on the world’s health systems but the impact of the disease is hardest felt by the poor, people of color, and Indigenous Peoples, who have faced generations of discrimination and economic inequality. Like nearly everything else in the world, our Community Action Grants program adapted out of necessity to the rapidly unfolding new reality created by this pandemic. Thanks largely to matching donations from RAN supporters, we provided $57,720 to support critical Indigenous and Black-led efforts.

Navajo and Hopi Relief Fund

watercolor by Charlize Branch
Artist Charlize Branch’s (17 years old) watercolor depicting volunteers

The impact of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation has been exacerbated by long-standing economic and racial injustices and decades of extractive industries, without adequate protections, that have left generations exposed to dangerous pollutants. With fracking wells, coal mines, coal-powered power plants and 523 abandoned uranium mines claims, the Navajo Nation’s water supply and land are effectively poisoned, the elevated levels of uranium causing sickness, liver disease, and even death. Because of this, there is a disproportionate number of elderly, diabetic, asthmatic, and cancer-afflicted individuals throughout the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation. RAN funding went to provide food, water, cleaning supplies, PPE, and other essential items to Navajo and Hopi families that are most at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Supporting the Movement for Black Lives

Black Lives Matter
RAN remembers those lost to police brutality. Say their names. Black Lives Matter.

We also stood with Black communities across the U.S. being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, economic crisis, and police violence. Black communities also are impacted by decades of environmental degradation from fossil fuel and petrochemical plants that emit harmful pollutants and leak hazardous waste, making the health impacts of the pandemic even worse. Funds to the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) will support their Black-led local partner organizations advancing their vision of building a better future for Black communities in the U.S. to move our country — and the collective work of our movements — forward.

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watercolor by Charlize Branch