What does it mean to be a brotha? Is that a term based upon skin color or ethnicity or is it an understanding of common goals? We are in a war that’s being fought on two levels. One is the immediate problem with COVID-19. The other is the systemic problems that lead to a disproportionate number of deaths among people of color and the poor.
If we are brothas we need to support each other in this war at both levels. We need to support each other in measurable ways, not just throw around cultural symbols. We need to start by asking little things of each other.
If you are a friend you will wear a mask because it protects you from me and me from you.
We need to believe in and support the idea of one justice indivisible. If you don’t know what I am talking about a starting point would be The 14 Principles listed at 4comculture.com.
The Spokane School District Board of Education wants to name several new school buildings. It would be nice if two of those schools were named after people of color. You can nominate someone: Nomination Link. I have nominated Frances Scott and Ruben Trejo.
You need to have an online presence. You need to let your other brothas know what it is you stand for. One simple way to do this is to participate in online posting and messaging at Facebook.
Let’s become civic activists. Participate in local social justice organizations or engage in new methods of non-violent action that include physical, virtual and hybrid actions.
We each need to develop a social justice budget. It would be nice if you would donate on a regular basis to the things that you believe in. Let me suggest that you make a donation to anybody or any group that you choose, but do it in the name of Spokane Brothas. The reason I suggest doing that is to build a power base that would be respected. I would suggest a budget that would express your volunteer time as well as your cash contributions. For example a budget of $100 a month could include:
Volunteering: 7 hours a month at the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would be about a $50 in-kind contribution. What if you showed up to volunteer in a Brothas T-shirt?
Send a check to the Black Lens. About $4.00 a month buys a subscription.
Contribute to an informational issue campaign. For example about $16 pays for a MailChimp service that will send your message to a mailing list of thousands that you have built. In times of quarantine and isolation you have to find ways other than community meetings to deliver information about your issues. You could buy a yard sign with your message or issue or candidate.
Give $20 to local and/or regional progressive organizations or blue political parties – to the same organization/s every month so they can feel your presence.
Give $10 to national progressive organizations or blue political parties – to the same organization/s every month so they can feel your presence.
If we only had 14 brothas contributing at this level this would be $1400 per month or $16,800 per year. Imagine what would happen if we had 100 brothas.
Your comments are welcome. If I haven’t heard from you by June 12, I will assume you are not interested.
Chef Avont Grant from Spokane based No-Li Brewhouse has a passion for food and community. Despite the mandatory shut down of the restaurant, Chef Avont continues to cook good things up for the community including helping to raise over $17,000 for Big Table in support of Zome staffing – and using their kitchen in the mornings to make nutritious meals for Logan Elementary School. No-Li is also providing emergency meals to those unable to receive support from food banks, schools and other services during the COVID crisis. We asked Chef Grant to share with us one of his favorite comfort food recipes that we can all make at home when we are on lock down. Take a look at Chef Grant’s Meatloaf recipe here ! In between community building and creating dishes in the kitchen, Chef Grant was kind enough to share with us what’ he’s doing to stay sane while everything is – well – insane!
How do you stay positive and creative during this time? I cook, because it makes me happy, it takes my mind off the outside world…even if it’s just an hour or two! I like experimenting in the kitchen and coming up with concoctions. Since I was 9 years of age I would cook with whatever we had in our bare cupboards and refrigerator…a lot of the time it wasn’t much! But that was the thrill of it; making something out of nothing. Growing up poor on the south-side of Chicago was tough, so I spent most of my time in the kitchen. I guess you could say the kitchen is my happy place! How can people support local businesses and restaurants during this time? Set aside a couple of days a week to order take-out from local restaurants. Try to buy big portion type meals, especially if it’s a local Asian or Italian restaurant. Meals that consist of some type of noodle or pasta are the best because they can be divided up into two meals. These meals freeze well and are easily reheated on the stove top!
Homelessness is a national issue. This photo was taken in Washington DC September 2017.
This point-in-time count is a snapshot of people who are homeless in Spokane, counted by local teams on one night in January, a statistic that is limited by a variety of factors and not considered the complete picture. Because more homeless people were in shelters, and fewer were outside in hard-to-find places, it was easier to get a count, according to McCann and city officials. That might apply particularly to the chronically homeless, who are more likely to use emergency shelters.
In particular, the city’s super-tight rental market – with an estimated vacancy rate of 0.7 percent – makes it very hard for people to find affordable housing and pushes the homeless numbers upward. Nearly 500 people are qualified for federal housing vouchers but can’t find a place to use them in town, said Dawn Kinder, the director of the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services Department.
This year’s count showed:
1,090 homeless individuals, an 11 percent increase over last year. Eighty-seven percent of all people counted were in shelters. Around three-quarters of those were in emergency shelters, and one quarter were in transitional housing.