8. New York Times: Our Year of Mutual Aid
Mutual aid has always been around, but over the past year, it seems to have gotten more visible. Every time I open any social media app, I see posts with short descriptions of people in need and their handles from Venmo, CashApp, PayPal, and other similar apps. Most of the posts I see are from Black people—many of whom are women, femmes, nonbinary, trans, and queer people. I donate when and where I can.
I’ve been living in the suburbs for the past few years, but most of my friends from cities were organizing mutual aid funds in their neighborhoods, donating food, time, or money, anything they could spare throughout the pandemic.
Maira Khwaja, Trina Reynolds-Tyler, Dominique James, and Hannah Nyhart, who are all organizers in Chicago and wrote this story, define mutual aid as “blur[ring] the categories of ‘recipient’ and ‘volunteer.’ We engage in mutual aid because we think we owe one another more than the tepid support our institutions provide.” While mutual aid might be more visible because of social media, and more needed because of the pandemic, it “has long been a way for communities to survive hostile systems. To call on a neighborhood mediator before calling the police, to raise your children alongside their play-cousins like a village, to cook for your neighbor who falls ill — these are not new concepts. Black, immigrant and Indigenous communities, especially, have long known the necessity of relying on your neighbors instead of calling on the state.”