Video: COVID-19 and the Political Determinants of Health

Event Recap

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Click here for an archive of event info. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the underlying forces and the overarching narratives of race, gender, and class inequality that have been the bedrock of the US experience since Day One. Instead of providing the public with reliable information about the pandemic and a credible plan to defeat it, the pronouncements from the White House have engendered distrust in government and in science. This fourth Livestream event in our series features public health experts, political scientists, and social justice activists exploring the current and historical trends in US political life that have led the country to this moment of reckoning—and what’s at stake for public health and racial equity in the upcoming election.

Transcript

Speaker 1: (singing)

Speaker 2: China is battling a new and rapidly spreading respiratory virus.

Speaker 3: The number of coronavirus.         

Speaker 4: 1,000 cases of the coronavirus, of course.

Speaker 5: Coronavirus.

Speaker 6: A deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Speaker 7: In 2020, a previously unknown coronavirus emerged, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, overloading healthcare capacities, and sparking fear as scientists struggled to understand the behavior of the new virus. As the virus swept around the globe nation, after nation reluctantly went under lockdown in an effort to save lives and flatten the so-called curve.

Angela Merkel: [German:] Since German reunification, no, since the Second World War, there has not been a challenge for our country.

Speaker 7: The US, however, took a different approach.

Dan Patrick: I don't want the whole country to be sacrificed.

Brit Hume: He is saying for his own part that he'd be willing to take a risk to allow the economy to move forward, which seems to me to be a fairly reasonable viewpoint.

Tucker Carlson: Yes.

Altenier Baker Cook: I think that's unethical, to ask people to sacrifice themselves.

Speaker 8: The first iteration of that was trying to care for older people. That's shifted quickly to, "Older people will be willing to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the economy."

Speaker 9: Parts of the society look for scapegoats, start thinking about who is actually expendable.

Speaker 8: We have manufactured scarcity. We're actually aggressively promoting scarcity, and then we're actually telling the story to help people turn on each other. Our scarcity right now is compassion. The calculation by Trump, and maybe right Republicans, is that if the economy is still closed, it'll be harder for Trump to win re-election.

Donald Trump: Now it's our time. We must sacrifice together because we are all in this together and we'll come through together.

Brit Hume: Those of us who are 70 plus, we'll take care of ourselves, but don't sacrifice the country.

Rahwa Neguse: Welcome. Welcome, welcome. Welcome to those of you who are tuned in to the fourth installment of the Rise up for Justice Series. Today's discussion will focus on COVID-19 and the political determinants of health. We thank you for joining us in this very lively discussion. This is going to be an interactive discussion. My name is Rahwa Neguse. I'm the Executive Director of Healthy Black Families. I'm honored to be moderating this wonderful panel discussion. We have amazing discussions we're going to have. As I mentioned, this is very interactive, so those of you who are inquisitive and curious minds, have your questions ready throughout the time together. We're going to make sure we have a chance to bring you in.

Rahwa Neguse: I also want to be very mindful of where we are in acknowledging his historical time in history. We are in the middle of a global health pandemic. We are also among a national uprising on systemic racism. We're having many conversations, courageous conversations that we have not had before. We are also clearly seeing the disproportionate impact of this coronavirus on black and brown indigenous communities. We're also noticing the multiple factors and implications that COVID-19 is having on economics, on health, and other factors, and how politics and policy makers exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

Rahwa Neguse: We're going to explore all of that together this afternoon. We have a wonderful panel here. Before I introduce the panel, I want to acknowledge and thank the co-sponsoring organizations, the Othering and Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, the Berkeley School of Public Health for making this event possible. I also want to acknowledge that we do have Spanish translation services for today's session. The team at the Othering and Belonging Institute believes in language justice, which includes the right we all have to communicate and to share our own stories in our own languages.

Rahwa Neguse: Language justice entails a commitment to creating multi-lingual spaces where everyone can show up as your whole self and participate fully. Sometimes, like everyone participating in the same space, and using the tools and the practices offered by language justice, and interpreting so that everyone could be part of the conversation equally. Sometimes, such as this afternoon, it looks like presentation happening primarily in one language while interpreters work to include folks who use other languages, in this case, Spanish. For today's session, we'll be interpreted into Spanish by Jen Hoffer and Shayla Hong. They work with Antenna Los Angeles, the collective dedicated to language justice, advocacy, and practices. You can learn more about their work at AntennaLosAngeles.org.

Rahwa Neguse: As I mentioned, today we have a wonderful panel of community organizers, activists, political scientists, public health experts. Every one on the panel is an expert in their own right and has graciously decided and willingly accepted to join us this afternoon for a really robust discussion. With that, I'm going to introduce each panelist. We're going to go on for a really lively discussion. We're glad to have you here. As I mentioned, keep your questions. Get your notepad, or make sure you pose your questions with a chat. We'll make this as interactive as possible.

Rahwa Neguse: First we have Ann Keller PhD, who's an Associate Professor of Health, Politics, and Policy at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Dr. Keller received her PhD in Political Science from Berkeley and her BA in Math Political Science from Indiana University. Anna's here to join us for a wonderful discussion. She's currently a Principal Investigator of Grant Funded by the National Science Foundation's Science of Science Innovation Policy, studying public sector responses to CRISP-R, CATH-9, and automated vehicle innovations. She's also researching the effects of hyperpolarization on executive branch agency capacity and studies the management challenges involving and responding to infectious disease outbreaks. Welcome, Ann. Yeah, absolutely.

Rahwa Neguse: Next, we were hoping to have Dr. Hector Rodriguez. He's not here to join us, but we have a wonderful substitute here, and she is Alein Haro. She is a Doctoral Student and Research Fellow in the Health Policy PhD program at the University of California Berkeley, who aims to develop avenues for change in health policy and healthcare practice to improve equity. Eileen is a UCLA NPH and MBA graduate whose area of study focuses on the manner in which immigrants navigate through the health sector, despite federal laws that limit their healthcare access. Most recently, she conducted immigrant health research at the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor Employment. She also worked with the general Mexican consulate in Los Angeles to explore how local agencies collaborate along with the consulate. Her research interests include legal status as a social determines of health, health policy, and structural racism, and seeks to use her training to effectively address health inequalities and enables structural changes across the nation. Welcome, Eileen, to the discussion.

Alein Haro: Thank you for having me.

Rahwa Neguse: All right. Next we have on panel Axel Fuentes. Axel's Executive Director of the Rural Community Workers Alliance also known as RCAA, and leads all organizing and education initiatives for workers and community members. RCAA protects the rights of the most vulnerable demographic groups in the area, beginning in Milan, Missouri. The goal of RCAA is to build and strengthen the engagement of low wage immigrant refugees working their local communities, secure improved community health systems, also ensuring workplace safety for food industry workers. In April 2020, RCAA made headlines with a lawsuit against the Smithfield Foods pork plant in Milan, Missouri. RCAA and one courageous anonymous worker raised concerns about Smithfield's failure to protect workers against coronavirus, even while other plants were closing due to tremendous outbreaks. Thank you for your work and welcome, Axel.

Axel Fuentes: Thank you so much for having me here.

Rahwa Neguse: Yes. Okay, great. Our last panelist here I'm going to introduce is James King. James is a state campaigner at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California. He has led his campaigns for early release of San Quentin inmates in jeopardy of contracting COVID-19. Prior to joining the organization, James worked to build recognition of the value of people who are being held in carceral spaces. James is a writer and an organizer, having written numerous op-eds and a weekly blog that gave a first person perspective of the true impact of mass criminalization and living within the prison industrial complex. As an organizer, he founded a think tank of incarcerated people who were passionate about criminal justice policy and built relationship with multiple California criminal justice reform organizations. Welcome James, to the discussion.

Rahwa Neguse: Okay, great. We have a wonderful panel here, very broad in experience and expertise, so wonderful to have you all join us. The first question, I want to direct it to James, specifically about your work in California, with the Ella Baker Center. I understand that a State's Appeals Court found that state officials acting with deliberate indifference to the health of San Quinn inmates, where 75% of them have tested for COVID, positive for COVID, and 28 unfortunately, have died. The court took the unprecedented step to order that at least half of the 2,900 prisoners be transferred to safe facilities or be released. James, tell us about your organizing at San Quentin and what this decision means.

James King: Thank you. I just left San Quentin State Prison, where I was a resident, in December of 2019, just prior to the onset of the pandemic. I was there for about six years. One of the first things that I and many people in our community ... When the shelter in place took hold in March and we started to understand the significance of this global pandemic, we realized that people at San Quentin State Prison and every prison throughout the country, but San Quentin State Prison in particular, were in particular danger due to the severe overcrowding.

James King: For instance, I lived in a building which was called West Block, which was designed to house about 400 people, but always had close to 800 people, the entire time I was there. There was no ventilation, and in fact, the windows are welded shut. It's largely concrete box in which contagion and diseases traveled through very, very quickly. There was a, I think it was in April, a really good friend of mine, a journalist at San Quentin named Juan Haines was on Democracy Now. He said, "If coronavirus enters into San Quentin, I know I'll get it." He did, in fact, later become one of the people infected by coronavirus, as did occur with 75% of the population.

James King: This happened because on May 31st, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was trying to deal with what was the largest outbreak at the time at California Institution for Men, another prison, by doing a mass transfer, sending 120 people from that prison to San Quentin in an attempt to keep them safe. They hadn't tested those people prior to the transfer. A number of them were infected. Within two weeks of the transfer, over 1,000 people at San Quentin had become infected.

James King: Public health officials weighed in and other experts, some of whom were asked in by the Federal Receiver and the CDCR to come up with a plan, came together and said immediately, "The thing we need is a 50% reduction in the population, as a foundation to start to create safe conditions." We were in communication with people that we knew inside the prison, and they expressed to us the things that they felt were needed, to keep them safe. They agree with the assessment that the population needed to be reduced dramatically. They asked for very reasonable things, like hand sanitizers and masks. They asked that the COs, who were the primary people who were carrying the virus around the prison, not be as free to move from various sectors of the prison and they asked for increased access to be able to find out how their loved ones were doing, and to be able to communicate with their loved ones, either telephonically or through some type of video.

James King: Our state, California, eventually came up with a plan that will release 8,000 people throughout the state, out of a total of over 100,000 people who are incarcerated in California, less than a 10% reduction. That was the extent of the response that occurred by CDCR. On October 20th, First District Court of Appeals came out with a decision that said that because CDCR ignored all the warnings about the need to reduce the population at San Quentin, it amounted to deliberate indifference.

James King: As for what the decision means, I'll say it was a very reasonable decision. Just as with any congregate setting, you should have the right to physically distance. It's the only way we know of, to minimize our potential to become infected. It's why we're doing this virtually. People who were not sentenced to die by COVID-19 should not, should be protected from and allowed to physically distance, as well.

James King: We say it's a partial victory though, because it still leaves CDCR the option of perhaps doing transfers. I just want to state that every prison throughout California is overcrowded, so there is no solution to safety that starts with taking people from one congregate setting, overcrowded prison, to another congregant setting, which is an overcrowded prison. We need physical distancing and reducing the occupancy rates at every prison. It's a partial victory, but there's still more work to be done.

Rahwa Neguse: Absolutely. Thank you, James, for your work and all that you're doing. Absolutely, I think what COVID-19 is doing unfortunately, is enhancing, exacerbating pre-existing conditions. We know that prior to COVID, as well as currently, the prison industrial complex has had a huge burden on communities, particularly communities of color. Thank you for all the work that you're doing. It's really critical, especially at this time. We salute that. We salute you and your work at the Ella Baker Center.

Rahwa Neguse: I want to move on next. If there's any questions from the audience, feel free to drop it in the chat. We'll make sure we include your voice, as well. Next, I want to move on to Axel. Axel, I understand you do great work in Missouri, particularly supporting workers and workers' rights. Tell us about your organizing, particularly in the meat packing industry in Missouri. I know you also had a court victory that we would like to know more about, so if you can share that.

Axel Fuentes: I've been organizing workers in this area for about 12 years, and during those 12 years, day after day, I've been listening to workers and I hear really terrible stories. As most of you probably know, meat industry, meat processing jobs are one of the most dangerous jobs that exist. Always the working conditions in these meat processing plants are bad and are poor. There is just very few protections for workers.

Axel Fuentes: At the beginning of the pandemic, in specifically, in this area in this pork processing plant, the workers were attending every single day, like normal, like nothing was happening. It was in the middle of April and the company was not taking any kind of measures to prevent the spreading of the virus and no, even proper PPE, personal protective equipment. It was like nothing was happening, like no pandemic or nothing. The workers didn't have any other options, more than getting together and approaching management to see if a management could take some measures, but they still were ignored. Even going to the media still, the company was not taking any measures. It was only until we file lawsuits, obviously where workers involved in this. Even when only one anonymous worker sign it, the lawsuit, filed a lawsuit with Rural Community-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:23:04]

Axel Fuentes: At the lawsuit, filed large lawsuit with Rural Community Workers Alliance, I'm aware more work is actually involves in this. And it was until then, if they when the lawsuit was filed, it was when the company started to take some measures, just putting hand sanitizer in... In the entrance of the building of the company, but they started to do some physical distancing in the cafeterias, but never did in the work line until today, is still workers are suffering working shoulder to shoulder. And actually today I have this sad news of one of the workers, personal friend, passed away today.

Axel Fuentes: And just because the workers are still working shoulder to shoulder out there. And they have been increasing the speed of line to making the workers to work even faster than workers do not have enough time to go and wash their hands. They don't have enough time to go to clean their mouth when they is sneeze, or when they are coughing, and has been really difficult to address these issues. And Rural Community been trying to address, approaching the company about the work has been doing in many cases also, but instead, just in the last few weeks, the company ended even programs that they were having before to keep for example, people with diabetes staying away from the plants.

Axel Fuentes: Now they are getting this workers back to work, and still the pandemic exists. The virus is still there. And as you hear, meat processing plants became in the hotspots. And a lot of people are dying, and a lot of people are getting sick. And obviously that put on risk all the communities too where these plants exist. It will take me probably a whole day talking about conditions and talking about this situation that the meat processing plants are facing out there. Unfortunately, we do not have much time, but that's why we are doing.

Axel Fuentes: We are organizing the workers to stand up for their rights, and have to come together and address their needs and concerns either in the workplaces or in the community where they reside too, because there are a lot of needs. And I have to mention that, a lot, actually the majority of workers of the food industry, especially meat processing plants, they are immigrants, or refugees, or people of color. Thank you.

Rahwa Neguse: Thank you for your work Axel, for sharing all the amazing and really important organizing work that you and your team are doing. I'm curious to know how do you bridge across the various races and nationalities working in the packing industry, in the work that you do around organizing?

Axel Fuentes: Well, yes. Meat processing plants usually work people from different countries and different races. And to give you an example just with this things, when the pandemic started. It's meat actually promoted that they were implementing physical separations. But, yes they did in the cafeterias, but never in the work line. They did in the corporation offices, where it's not where the immigrants or people of color are working. But in the areas where people of color are working, they never took the steps of physical separation.

Axel Fuentes: We've been handling them. We've been doing kind of racial solidarity, gatherings and approached the community also to advocate for workers, but in the reality, if you see the work lines, most of the workers are either Latinos or Burmese or Africans or Asians. And the physical distancing never reached in that area there. It's basically an act of racism that they are not separating people in work line.

Rahwa Neguse: Well, thank you for the work that you're doing. I think it's clear based on what you're sharing. Also what James shared earlier is that particularly right now in the middle of this pandemic, marginalized communities are really being left behind. Thanks for all the work you're doing. What I want to do now is bring in some other panelists here, and I think very clear based on what we're experiencing, what we're hearing and seeing, also what was highlighted in the video real, before we actually began discussion is very clear that the U.S government has failed in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rahwa Neguse: It's very clear that this pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing conditions, particularly racial, class and gender inequalities in our society. For those of you who are joining us, we are discussing COVID-19 and the political determinants of health. I'd like to throw this question out to any panels who would like to take it. But specifically, James and Mark brought some great points in, ask all around specific examples of marginalized communities that have been left behind.

Rahwa Neguse: And clearly we're organizing, community organizing has come in and to fill the gap where government hasn't. This one is really is talking about how the American people experience these inequalities, and the root causes behind the disparate impacts of this pandemic. I'll open that up for whoever like to weigh in.

Alein Haro: Thank you. I would like to take this one. One of the root causes behind the differential impacts of the pandemic, is really inequitable access to resources. And these are things such as, living in a neighborhood where air pollution or refinery is nearby, or living in a food desert, or a food swamp, even things such as lacking access to... Medical care. And these are all factors that really increased risks of chronic conditions, spare themselves risk factors through COVID-19.

Alein Haro: And communities of color are more likely to be structurally vulnerable. Free points were brought up earlier regarding workers, and one of my areas of work right now is looking at the conditions under which essential workers are literally risking their lives every single day. They are more likely to have regular contact with people while at work, and also on their way to work. And what we did through a collaboration between Kelly Kia and the Institute for Governmental Studies, was survey close to 9,000 California voters across the state.

Alein Haro: And we, they economized Essential Workers versus Born Essential Workers, to look at their experiences while they go out into the field and continue on day to day life. And immigrants were more likely to be essential workers, along with other people of color, including Latinos, Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans. Essential workers in California are more likely to be employed in low wage industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, childcare, and in residents elderly care. The rate of infection in these industries is proportionately higher compared to jobs where employees can work remotely.

Alein Haro: And one of the very striking differences between essential versus non essential workers in California is that, individuals who could not work from home are more likely to report that falling sick with COVID-19 is a very serious problem along with not being able to access medical care, and also not being able to pay for basic necessities. In reality, individuals don't have the ability to decide whether they can stay home or, because they have to provide for their families. So, really, it's a combination of exaggerated finding more insecurity, and the need to work that has really impacted communities of color across the state and across the nation.

Rahwa Neguse: Absolutely. Thank you Alein for giving us that context. I think it's really important to understand how we got to where we are present day and the root causes. I really appreciate that frame. I'd like to bring Dr. Ann, and if you want to comment, it looks like you wanted to take some of that as well.

Dr. Ann: Yes.This as well, I think that what Alein was saying in terms of thinking about the root causes that sort of bring us to a place where part of Americans are very much more at risk from COVID than others. Alein enumerated some of the things like more exposure to industrial processes and pollution, more food deserts. And thinking about the root causes of that, these are really political choices that America made around policies around redlining, where the Federal Government decided not to insure housing loans that would go to communities of color beginning in the new deal in the 1930s.

Dr. Ann: And we... Here we are almost 100 years later, where we still have incredibly segregated neighborhoods and communities in the United States. And once you have redlining, a number of things spring from that. I think we're learning about in a really new way during COVID, that we've lived with these realities obviously for 100 years, but I think we're seeing them in a fresh way. Seeing that, seeing environmental justice, environmental injustice, people, communities being disproportionally exposed to pollutants and toxics and hazards in their environments. There are a number of policies sort of follow from who gets-

Rahwa Neguse: I want to stop you briefly. You have some amazing things to share, if you could just slow down just a bit for our interpreters who made the request, so they will capture all that for translation.

Dr. Ann: All right. Good time to take a pause. Once you segregate people by neighborhood, you're set up for a number of other structural things that can happen, where some communities experienced substandard housing. For example, lead in paint or lead in pipes, in houses. You begin to separate quality of education by neighborhood. And I think the things I'm saying are not surprising. I think we've probably heard these things before, but enumerating them together and seeing how they set us up for the COVID experience we're having is really important.

Dr. Ann: Environmental injustice, substandard housing, education, also we can bring policing into this. A number of examples of how communities of color and communities that have fewer opportunities for access to the economy, and for high wage jobs set us up to see the kinds of racial injustices around COVID that we're seeing. And one thing that has struck me since the beginning of the pandemic is that, pandemics, I think whenever they hit societies, they hold up a mirror to society and reshow society in great relief who they are.

Rahwa Neguse: Absolutely. I mean, I think you said it so eloquently, and I think that's really important that, I think absolutely where we are in this time, it's just putting a lens directly at the various intersections that we're already preexisting, right? And you've named them very well. The other panelists as well have clearly enumerated what the issues are, what the disparities have been, who the marginalized communities are, how we got to that point historically, what the root causes are that led us to where we are today. And fortunately, we're at this crossroads at this moment in time. That's why this is a really important discussion, for those of you have any questions, please be sure to drop it in the chat so we can bring you into the conversation.

Rahwa Neguse: This next portion, and you know what, it open up to any panelists who would like to weigh in. But this is really more so around the intersection around public engagement slash civic engagement and policy, how it affects us on an everyday basis, right? We understand policymaking how it takes place, there's civic engagement, and there's also some may say is quite different, which is public political education that happens in various communities. And so, I want to pose this to the panel, which is how essential is it that the public is aware of how policy impacts everyday life? So open that up.

James King: One of the things that I would say, particularly as it relates to policy and civic engagement, we're in the midst of an election season and there is a strong push for people to get out and vote, which is a great thing. But I was troubled earlier this year to see legislators and policymakers saying, well, "The greatest tool that a citizen has at their disposal to influence policy is the right to vote."

James King: I don't think that that's quite accurate. And as an example, I would suggest looking at the balance that you receive in the mail. How did we come to have those choices? How do we come to have those particular sets of initiatives that we are to vote on? How did the candidates come to the candidates and how did everything get narrowed down to this ballot that arise for you? And so like, in particular giving the example of the ballot initiatives themselves, people have come up with things that they feel like will make our society better.

James King: They organized around it. They did the signature gathering in order to get it placed upon the ballot. And now they are doing the work to gain support for the ballot initiative, or to oppose the ballot initiative itself. That type of engagement is essential for a healthy democracy. And so, I think that we're going to have the type of world that we engage with and that we create. And that engagement and creation can not be merely limited to just voting. You have to not only stand up for the things that will make your community and your social economic and your life better, but then engage with others and bring them into the conversation.

Rahwa Neguse: Absolutely, very well said. It looks like we have a few audience questions I want to make sure to bring in here, to make sure we're engaging those who are tuning in. We have a question for Rebecca Arce, which is, "How are you partnering with environmental groups to decrease our meat consumption to save the workers and the planet? There are commonalities that could create a push for reform." It looks like this is probably be a question to Axel. Axel, can you take that one?

Axel Fuentes: Yes. I will take it. We've been joining forces with environmental groups and unfortunately, the meat production now it's really massive. And is controlled by just few corporations, and which also represents a big threat to the environment. Because if you see now where the peaks have been raised, where the cows are being raised or the chickens, are actually in confined in the spaces, which creates a big environmental problems for the communities.

Axel Fuentes: However, it's really hard to make the communities to do not accept this kind of... The word for this is K for the Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Because a lot of these communities are also isolated, and a lot of the communities are also under the financial programs. And people are believing too much in this corporations. A lot of the people are believing that the corporations are being the solution to the financial crisis in this isolated communities, which is not true.

Axel Fuentes: And to give you an example, when the pandemic it started in meat processing, workers were forced to go back to work claiming for shortage of meat, which wasn't true. Because a lot of the meat was actually being processed West for export. United States was not suffering of shortage of meat. And you hear the government issuing an executive director, sorry, an executive order to keep the meat processing plants open. With environmental, well, I understand that a lot of people are becoming probably vegetarians, but we still we are going to have people that eat meat.

Axel Fuentes: The problem is the way how we are growing, how we are producing this meat. It seems is becoming now in massive amounts, so it is damaging a lot to the environment, is damaging a lot the health and safety of the workers, is damaging the planet, and it's also damaging health of the consumers. Because, due to produce so massive or so much food, these companies are using hormones. Now you see chickens being at ready to get this ladder in 40 days that are being inflammated through hormones. So yes, this is a big problem, but I think it's because the food production is laying on just few hands, in just few corporations. And that's a big problem.

Rahwa Neguse: Thank you Axel. I mean, I really appreciate the intersectionality that you're sharing around the environment, public health, the animals, safety and overall wellbeing, which is really crucial. And I think it really goes to show that when we have a society that prioritizes people over profit, or a capitalistic structure over the public, we come to this experience that we're currently having in our society. And it looks like we do have another question from the audience here. This one is coming to us by way of Sherrie Anne, "Since COVID-19 can live on surfaces, if a worker is a carrier or is infected, does the meat become infected?" Sounds like this is also a question for you, Axel.

Axel Fuentes: Okay. Last thing that I hear from some doctors where I've been in conferences before, they said that there is not evidences that the virus can go through the food. But, it does represent a problem for the workers, because they are touching the meat on the conveyor belt. Let's say if someone is coughing or sneezing, and that virus falls on the surface of the meat, that meat is going to pass in several hands, in many hands. And never know which worker is going to put the hand just right on the virus and then maybe touching the face, or probably touch in the nose. Because remember that in meat processing workers are exposed to a lot of humidity, are exposed to a lot of chemicals, are exposed to a lot of sweat, are expose to water, to feces, to blood.

Axel Fuentes: A mask is not actually enough to protect them. Actually right now with the masks, there is a problem with a lot of the workers present that the masks are getting wet and they cannot breathe. Even when there is doctor says that there is no evidence that you can pass the virus through your mouth eating the meat, but it can pass it on the surface. And this, that's why a lot of the workers are getting infected because, either they can touch that surface or they are also crowded there in sneezing. That could be my answer because that's what I hear from workers, but I don't know if anybody else hear anything different. Thank you.

Rahwa Neguse: Thank you Axel. What I'm seeing coming to the surface here is really the role of corporations, as well as the role of government. This next question is going to really touch on those themes. So as...

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:46:04]

Rahwa Neguse: So, this next question is going to really touch on those themes. So as we know, we are hours away from a presidential debate. We are weeks away from a general election, which is going to have clear implications of what's going to happen next. So there's a debate going on about the social contract between government and the citizens and the residents of this country, or lack thereof. So how do you see, and this could be any panelist could take this question, how do you see the proper role of government in addressing public health, social welfare, and economic inequality? The second part is, what role have corporations played in undermining the social contract historically and today? Who would like to take that one? It's a two part question.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: I can begin and I'll let others fill in anything that they feel that I've missed. I think the social contract between governments and society vary a great deal across countries and in many... United States is the richest country in the world, and yet does the least among rich countries in terms of supporting those most in need. In fact, but to reflect on that, the United States provides a lot of support for the wealthiest. It's almost as if we have the social contract turned on its head here in the United States. I think that's worth reflecting on. Why is it that we provide such excellent health care for people who are wealthy and then provide substandard healthcare for people who aren't? Why do we provide such excellent education for people who are wealthy, but substandard education for people who aren't?

Dr. Ann C. Keller: In most other, for example, in European countries that we would think of as our counterparts, they tax their citizens and they use that money, they use that tax base, to make sure that there's a floor beneath which no one can fall. I think that the United States has failed to provide that. I'm going to pause. I can weigh in on where I think a corporate story factors in here, but let me pause and let other panelists join.

Rahwa Neguse: Thank you. Anyone else want to weigh in on this particular question?

Axel Fuentes: I probably can say something. Regarding the role of government, see, at this moment, for example, in meat processing plants, there is pretty much anything that can be enforceable for COVID-19. Government never actually enforces something. We have lawmakers that, at this moment, many months after the pandemic started, we still don't see... Workers do not have even a place where they can file complaints. In our community up here or in this plant, there was an OSHA inspection about four months ago, probably, and we still have no hear. Or also this problems, also it comes from who is leading the government. I'm don't want to lean to any political party up here or something, but when you don't have a leader that is actually taking the proper steps to protect people, obviously the rest of the institutions are not going to take. And the corporations, if you see, they've been lobbying.

Axel Fuentes: They've been putting a lot of money in order to keep the profits going on and they've been putting the profits before the people. So it doesn't really matter if workers are dying or if people are dying, people of color or whatever, even corporations that are handling big buildings or renting apartments, they are still evicting people regardless of if that person is going to die. So I think it is not really a way how the government is doing the proper things to protect people from the COVID-19. Especially in meat processing plant, you see that workers are thoroughly hopeless right now because there are nothing that is enforceable. Yes, CDC came with some guidelines, but are actually only voluntarily. The companies decided if they can implement or not. At this moment, physical distancing, for example, is not being enforceable. So the workers still shoulder to shoulder, and there is not a policy that's forcing the companies to implement physical distancing. It's the same in other industries too, maybe construction or maybe sewing shops, et cetera. So we don't really have a strong policy-making right now that the workers can feel like a base to file complaints.

Rahwa Neguse: Yeah. I think that's a great... Sure.

Alein Haro: Thank you. Going back to safety standards to protect frontline essential workers, I think that what we have seen in California among farm workers is that there have been clusters of infections in these farms. Oftentimes farm owners or the broader companies do not inform farm workers of the infections that are taking place within the workplace. So we hear about their status as being essential and vital components of the food production pipeline in the U.S., but simultaneously the federal government is actually proposing a pay cut for farm workers who are in the U.S. working with the H-2A Visa. This would really just exacerbate the inequities that we see among farm workers right now. The conditions in which they work are very dangerous. They do not have access to a site where they can clean themselves. They are typically transported in very crowded vans.

Alein Haro: One of the things that the California legislature recently passed, one of the bills, is AB-685. What this bill does is that employers are now mandated to inform their employees and also local county health departments of any employees who become infected the COVID. One of the primary reasons why this became a bill and eventually a policy in the state is because farms and other employers were keeping this information secret from their employees and people were getting infected on the work site and also taking the virus over to their communities and to their families.

Rahwa Neguse: Great. Thank you for that, Alein. So Dr. Ann, do you mind weighing in on the second part of that question, the role of corporations and how they undermine the social contract?

Dr. Ann C. Keller: I'm going to take a broad view here because some of what I study as a political scientist is the way that science informs public health in general. So I'm going to step back a little bit from COVID to begin. But we see in the United States, I think tobacco companies are the canonical example of this, where there's a public health threat. People are increasingly smoking or in the 20th century, people were increasingly smoking, and physicians were starting to notice an uptick in lung cancers, initially. We now know that smoking causes a variety of health ills, not solely lung cancer, but that was the first signal. Tobacco companies mobilized very effectively to counteract any story that connected smoking with ill health. They were successful at undermining a public health story around smoking for decades. So I raised that as the canonical example because I think most people are familiar with it, but we see this in environmental protections, in worker protections, in consumer protection.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: We often see corporations trying to shape the scientific record about the kinds of things that are harmful. So that's a longer term way of, essentially, undermining public health, if you try to sow confusion or doubt about what are the things that we face that are harmful, and I think the examples that we're seeing here of corporate behavior is less of a long-term strategy. It seems to me that some of it is, it seems really wrongheaded in the sense that if you try to protect your workforce, that seems like that's going to get you through COVID over the long-term better than if you act like people that are working for you don't have COVID or that you don't share information about that so that people can protect themselves. So we're seeing, I think, two different dynamics. There's this long-term effort to undermine public health stories about how people can best protect themselves, that we see playing out over decades.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: But I think we also tend to... And I think that the behaviors come from the fact that corporations are most motivated by protecting their market share and by protecting profits, and that often leads them to decision making, sometimes, that's counterproductive for those very corporations. When you think, coming back to the question about what is the role of government in the social contract, we often want governments to step in and help corporations do the right thing. In the United States, I think we have very weak regulations. We have weak capacity for governments to limit corporate behavior, and so we're seeing some of that play out now in both the cases that James and Axle are bringing before us.

Rahwa Neguse: Yeah. Absolutely. Those are all great points, and I think absolutely the the role of big industry, right, and the example you gave, whether it's big tobacco or big soda or whatever the case may be, unfortunately, the public pays the price because of profit being priority. We see it all too often. I think if there's any other panelists want to weigh on this, otherwise I'm going to bring in a couple of audience questions.

James King: Yeah. I just wanted to-

Rahwa Neguse: Do you have something, James?

James King: Yeah. I just wanted to add one thing to what's been said and that's that I think it was early in the 20th century, there was a decision. Mr. Henry Ford tried to pay his employees a higher wage than his stockholders thought he should. They sued him for it. The case was decided that his main responsibility was to the stockholders and to the stakeholders and that he had a responsibility to maximize profits because of the contract he had made with them, as opposed to the contract he had with his workers. Since then, corporations have been on this path and on this journey of maximizing profits at the expense of workers' rights, and there's been that tug and pull ever since. One of the things that the pandemic is really bringing into relief is that a living wage and having just basic resources in your life are super impactful for public health as a whole.

James King: I also just wanted to flag that, in my opinion, the unemployment fund that the federal government had funded for a number of months, we could look at that as a model for what universal basic income could have and would do for our society, and just give an example of one role that government can play, in that if it helps create a basic standard of living, then people are healthier as a result. I just want to flag that, yes, our response has been horrible over the course of this year, but if it had not been for that basic income, how much worse could it have possibly been as well? So just naming that as well.

Rahwa Neguse: Absolutely. There's clear relationship between economics and the political positioning in which we're in and how that impacts the public, so thank you for those points. So there are a couple of audience questions I'd like to bring in here. We have Maya Talavera and her question is, "Do you think that when a vaccine becomes able to be distributed, will these communities, people who have been disproportionately affected, prioritized? Or will they continue to not be at the forefront of access to protections?" Anyone want to take that question?

Dr. Ann C. Keller: I'm happy to take that, but if somebody else would like to go first, I don't want to be the first one out of the gate. Do any other panelists want to respond? Okay. So I do think that, in this moment that we're having, I think the public health community is really focused on the disproportionate impacts that black, brown and indigenous people are experiencing during COVID. I think there's a really large focus on trying to make sure that the people who are most at risk are first in line for vaccination. I think, although perhaps I should back up one step and say healthcare workers are likely to be the first people to be given access. So that in setting up a priority for vaccination, it probably will begin with healthcare workers. But then thinking about who in the community is most at risk seems like the most logical way to support this. There's, I think, a couple of things to think through is that even when a vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, it won't necessarily mean there's enough vaccine to go around.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: It's very likely that there will be guidance and the lines will be open for people based on some assessment of who needs to be protected, and in what order. So the CDC created some guidelines about that, and the National Academy of Engineering, Science and Medicine just wrote a report that is thinking through how to equitably distribute vaccines. So, a lot of thought is going into this. I think that there are some complicated issues, though, if you think about the long history of well-earned mistrust, in some sense, that communities of color have with the medical establishment and with public health. I don't think it's enough to say that counties will make vaccine available to the communities that are worst effected by COVID, because communities that are worst effected might not trust that the vaccine is safe and effective.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: So I think that in order for this to happen in a reasonable way, I think that we should be already beginning conversations around, who's developing the vaccine? How far along are they in the process? So that communities of color who are experiencing the worst parts of the pandemic, understand whether the vaccine is something that they're going to feel comfortable with. So I think there's a two-pronged question. I think people would very much like to see vaccination go to those who are most impacted, those who are most likely to experience transmission. But I think it's not a straightforward conversation because there's a really negative history. I'm referring, I haven't said it yet, but I'm referring to Tuskegee as the canonical example here of how the medical community and the public health community has been very racist in the way, historically, they have approached communities of color. So I think that adds a very important factor to think through. Where vaccine is made available and how people are informed about what their choices are is going to be a big part of that story.

Rahwa Neguse: Yeah. Thank you for raising that point, Ann. I think that's really well taken around how equitable vaccines will be distributed, the process in which they're being tested, and also the historical just unfortunate acts in which black and brown communities primarily have been quote-unquote, "guinea pigs" for these trials, which has led to disproportionate health impacts even further. There's a great book by Harriet A. Washington called Medical Apartheid, a history of experimentation of black folks, pretty much from colonial times until present, which clearly enumerates, not only syphilis study, the Tuskegee syphilis, but all the many other unfortunate testing trials and quite clearly clear, direct harm to black communities throughout the history of the society and this country. So I think that's a great book for those who want to know about why folks would have apprehension or hesitation to vaccinations.

Rahwa Neguse: So I think we have another audience question that's going to be coming in here. Okay. We have Melissa Elliott, and Melissa is asking, "How have each of you looked at your own communities and the disproportionate impact rate of infection and seriousness of symptoms for people of color who also live with disabilities?" I'm going to pose that to the panel. Should I call on someone?

Dr. Ann C. Keller: Yes.

James King: I'll just say quite plainly that in California state prisons, you're four and a half more times more likely to be infected if the virus enters in and twice as likely, two times as likely, to die, as the infection and death rates in California's general population as a whole.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: So one thing I've been paying attention to in my own community is that in California, we have a tool called CalEnviroScreen, which is a tool that was created to try to map exposure to pollution and toxics. It's a very interesting mapping that also brings into, not just exposure to things like particulate matter and ozone and other pollutants and potential toxics and hazardous waste sites, which are what I think was the initial focus of CalEnviroScreen. It also tries to measure unemployment, poverty, lack of access to high quality education in neighborhoods across California. One thing that I noticed in looking at that map... And if you just go to CalEnviroScreen, you can find the map and look at it yourself if you haven't seen it before. It's a really powerful and interesting tool.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: If you look at a map of CalEnviroScreen and... It shades communities from green to red, based on how many exposures they have and how many social factors, essentially social determinants of health impact them. So a community that's shaded red experiences more poverty, more substandard housing, less access to education, more exposure to pollutants. Whereas a community that's shaded green experiences less of those things. And if you hold up a map of CalEnviroScreen, if you put up a map of CalEnviroScreen next to Alameda County's dashboard for COVID transmission, they look remarkably similar. So in that sense, I feel like we can... I guess that there's two things to say.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: One is that it reinforces how much we are, through public policy and through choices, creating communities of haves and have nots. But also, I think that means that we have some guidance and some tools for how to address, for example, how to think about addressing COVID in ways that are anti-racist and trying not to recreate those same patterns. So it becomes an opportunity to try to lift up our communities and support those who are most vulnerable. We can do that through making sure that testing is available in the communities that are experiencing the most transmission, and once a vaccine becomes available, I think we can try to make sure that the communities experiencing the highest transmission and illness and disruption also are getting access early on in that pipeline.

Rahwa Neguse: Great. Thank you. So we've had some really great-

Alein Haro: One thing?

Rahwa Neguse: Sure, Alein.

Alein Haro: Before you move on. Thank you. I-

Rahwa Neguse: Please.

Alein Haro: Thank you. This question reminded me of the experiences of undocumented immigrants across the U.S. and particularly in California. Undocumented immigrants are now eligible for the CARES Act stimulus checks, and also for unemployment insurance. So early, we talked about the importance of...

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:09:04]

Alein Haro: Assurance. So early, we talk about the importance of having a safety net where, if we lose our jobs, we can rely on this income to keep providing for families and meeting basic necessities. But when it comes to mixed status families and undocumented immigrants in the US it's been really, really difficult to address these challenges. I think one of the policies from the federal government that has also exacerbated the current inequities among immigrants is the public charge ruling. And just fear of becoming a public charge for using public benefits, including Medi-Cal here in California.

Alein Haro: And I think it's really, really important that moving forward, we address conditions that leave behind people that are most vulnerable. I think the unemployment rate in California is still really high. And just making sure that undocumented Californians have access to a safety net that they can rely on, also is very important. And just the impact of such financial insecurity and many to work is that in San Francisco alone, Latinx immigrants are, actually, 20 times more likely to test positive for COVID than non-Latinx immigrants. So, this really does have an effect on health disparities and just exacerbates health inequities.

Rahwa Neguse: Absolutely. Thank you for that point. So, we've been speaking at length now and having some really great, robust discussion of the challenges, the obstacles, the disproportionate impact of COVID, and what that means politically, economically, and in many other ways that are impacting disproportionate disadvantaged community members.

Rahwa Neguse: So, we are at a pivotal time in history. We are less than two weeks away from an election. Early voting has already started. We are seven months and counting into this global pandemic. There's a lot happening. And I would be remiss if we don't end this conversation without clear solutions, and call to action of what we can do as individuals, as community members collectively. And, however, we find ourselves, the role that we play in society, what we can do to actually be closer to paving the way for a smoother road ahead.

Rahwa Neguse: So, I want to ask is each panelist spend about a minute or two, provide some clear call to action steps for our audience to take away with them this afternoon.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: Do you have an order for us?

Rahwa Neguse: We'll start with you. Axel.

Axel Fuentes: Thank you. Well, if I get focused in the meat processing, or in the food production, I will suggest consumers to learn what's beyond the package of meat, in this case, that you are buying on the store. Because behind that package of meat, there is human blood. And there are human lives behind that, because the way how the food system is working now.

Axel Fuentes: And another thing is that I think people should be smart, or have to use the wisdom to choose who are going to be voting for to run the country, or to public offices. Because, in many cases, a lot of the people tends to vote even against their own interests, even because there is a popular guy running for office, or just for one aspect that this person is touching and people go for that. And, let's say for instance, immigration, for example, a lot of the working people are thinking, "Oh well, someone is now against immigration," but are forgetting about the working conditions. And I think it's something that we have to find a balance, and think what's best for people? What's best for us? Know what's best for one specific thing. And that's what I will say.

Axel Fuentes: And also, in consumption, for example, of food we are tending to buy every day from the big corporations, and that's why the big corporations are growing more, and more, and more. And the smaller business are dying, and dying, and dying. And our economy in the local areas is getting bad. It's not growing because the economy is going away from the local communities. In our communities, that's what I suggest for everybody who is listening on this. That's my final thoughts. And let's think with equality, and not with racism. I think that's something that we cannot stand anymore, to act with racism. To act because this person is of color. To judge someone for the color of the skin. We have played that. Thank you.

Rahwa Neguse: Thank you, Alex.

Rahwa Neguse: I'd like to turn it over, now, to James, if you can weigh in on that question, call to action?

James King: Thank you. First follow the #stopSanQuentinoutbreak, #releasesnottransfers, #bringthemhome. Secondly, go to the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights' website, you'll see the campaigns that we are working on that are focused on decarceration and diverting the resources that went into incarceration into communities, low-income communities, and communities of people of color. Final thing that I would say is contact your local legislators, and ask them to support a reduction in the levels of incarceration in our state prisons. We need to bring them below 50%. And, also, ask the legislators to weigh in on stopping ICE transfers. Once a person has finished their time, they shouldn't be transferred to ICE to another congregate setting as well. Thank you.

Rahwa Neguse: Thank you, James. Alein, call to action steps?

Alein Haro: Yes, thank you. I think it's really important that the public is aware of how policy impacts their everyday lives. Really the conditions that are here are not natural. They have been created by a series of policy decisions either at the local, state, or federal government levels. So, I think it's really important that we exercise our right to vote. There are very important propositions on November's ballot. So, don't forget to vote. Really, policy shapes where we live, our community environment. What we have access, or do not have access to. Quality education, and even who gets to vote. So, if you have that right, please make sure that you vote.

Rahwa Neguse: Great. Thank you. And then Dr. Ann, can you weigh in on this one?

Dr. Ann C. Keller: Yeah. I think the call to action right now is so pivotal in part because we're in a very extraordinary political moment. And I think one of the things that we haven't really touched on yet is how Americans sort of seeing COVID, and seeing its disproportional impact, and then seeing police violence as it's played out in May, we're all aware of the protests that have been sparked by that. And what I just want to say is that Black Lives Matter started as a movement, I think, in 2013.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: But what happened after COVID, sort of the overlap of these tragedies has really expanded the numbers of people who are standing up for justice in a way than, we were seeing before. And I think there's sort of been an exponential increase in the numbers of Americans who said that they support Black Lives Matter. Initial accounts of people who were protesting in June suggest this is the largest social movement that the United States has ever experienced. Where it counts just to protests in the US in June the estimates are somewhere between 15 and 26 million people showed up. And that doesn't even count the people who were protesting in other countries because of what was happening here in the United States.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: And why do I raise that? I think that means we are going to see people who are mobilized around this election. And that may or may not change who is governing the White House and how the pandemic plays out from here on out. It may not change which party is control in Congress. And so, sometimes because of that, I think voting can feel like it's fleeting, or it's not enough. But it's, certainly, important to do so. And so, I'll really encourage people to vote.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: But I also want to just really highlight these stories that both Axel and James were telling about community level organizing, organizing in the workplace. And both of them have stories about how citizens themselves through organizing were able to bring things to the courts. And terrific outcomes have not yet emerged, but you can see that they are able to push things in the right direction through that. And many of the root causes that we're seeing play out that led to people protesting are things that are governed locally. So, getting involved in your own community's conversation about policing, and what policing should look like is something that people can have access to.

Dr. Ann C. Keller: Getting involved in local organizations, working for environmental justice is very important. Getting involved in local organizations, thinking about education and educational opportunities. And I know that we all are very busy, and it's hard to find time to contribute to those things. But it doesn't mean giving up all of your free time. It means choosing where you feel most motivated, and then finding the organizations that you can join, writing your representatives, and telling them what you care about most. And keeping that activism going. So, it's not just voting in the presidential election, which of course I hope everyone does, and vote all the way down your ballot, even though it takes a long time because who's in the state legislatures and who's running city governments will help shape whether or not we can take this moment, this social movement, and we can really make it be a moment of transformation.

Rahwa Neguse: Absolutely. Thank you for that, all of you, for your clear positions, your perspective. All that you shared during this really robust discussion. I think the call to action items are very clear, and really help us, as audience members, to understand we all have a role to play. And what I want to leave everyone with before we close out is that everyone has a part to play. Whether it be just starting by asking simple questions, as in why are there food deserts in my neighborhood? Why have the businesses in my community been divested and are shutting their doors left and right? Why are the public schools in my neighborhood consistently short on budget and doing funding cuts? What is the reason for that? I think when we start to have an inquisitive and a curious mind to start by asking the why, and the how we start to follow the path and the bread crumbs, if you will, as to how policymaking shapes our everyday lives.

Rahwa Neguse: As we know, has been clearly communicated during this session this afternoon, that COVID-19 has clear implications economically, and education-wise, health, politically, and many other ways. So, this is just a portion of the discussion that we can continue to have at length.

Rahwa Neguse: I'm honored to serve as the executive director of Healthy Black Families. We have tons of advocacy work we do primarily around parent engagement, community engagement, ensuring that our housing rights are in place, and families are not displaced. Is shoring information around healthy eating and nutrition, education, and understanding the food ecosystem, and how big soda and big industry has impacted, and has led a lot of communities to having food deserts, et cetera. So, encourage you to tune in to the work we have there.

Rahwa Neguse: I also encourage you all to tune in to follow up with the work that's happening, that Axel is leading, that James is leading. I absolutely echo your point, Dr. Ann that the work that's happening around community organizing is essential. And it goes to show that the people actually do have the power. And we don't want to lose sight of that. And I think it's easy to get frustrated, overwhelmed, and feel helpless because of all that's happening on the political landscape. Because when we watch these debates, we're not sure if this is a reality show happening in real life, or whatnot. And that really creates a lot of hopelessness for our communities. So, I want to encourage us to know that we have the power. There's great work that's happening on a national level, locally, and regionally. Yes, we can vote, and we should vote, but it doesn't end there.

Rahwa Neguse: So with that, I'm going to thank all of our panels for being here with us. Axel Fuentes, James King, Dr. Ann Keller, and Alein Haro, thank you for being with us this afternoon. We're going to close out soon. And the way we're going to close out is going to be really creative, and incorporating some arts, which I think is really essential in community engagement work as well. So, what we're going to have is we're going to have a poem that's read to us by Gerald Lenoir who's a strategy analyst at The Othering and Belonging Institute. And I understand that Gerald is a author who's recently released the second book entitled United States of Struggle: Police Murder in America.

Rahwa Neguse: So, Mr. Gerald was going to read to us a selection of his poetry. And following that, we're going to have a video clip of a rap entitled Quarantined, which we actually showed at the beginning, for those who were with us, which is the first single of the rap group, true SSS Freeze 32 and Gucci Great, which are young, two 11 year old rappers from Seattle, Washington. And after that, we will be closing out. So, thank you all for being with us this afternoon and let's keep the conversation going.

Gerald Lenoir: Thank you, Rahwa. And thank all the panelists for their contributions.

Gerald Lenoir: My contribution is a poem called Rise Up, Rise Up, Rise Up. The coronavirus is out of control. It seems there's no end to the death toll. The police are still killing us. The economy is still failing us. The system is ailing. It's totally corrupt. It's our duty to rise up, rise up, rise up.

Gerald Lenoir: Don't believe the falsehoods from the White House. Pay no attention to the Twitter rants and shouts. Keep your hand to the sky and your eyes on the prize. Don't give in to the pandemic of myths and lies. Now, it's time to resist and rebel, defy and disrupt. It's our right to rise up, rise up, rise up.

Gerald Lenoir: We rise up to challenge the viral explosion. We rise up to confront racist commotion. We rise up to fight for true liberation. We rise up to struggle for a new narration. We rise up to repair, reconcile, and reconstruct. We're organizing to rise up, rise up, rise up.

Gerald Lenoir: We rise up for our past, present and potential. We rise up for workers who are all essential. We rise up for shelter in a new homestead. We rise up for red roses and daily bread. We rise up for a seat at the table, and a full cup. We're coming together to rise up, rise up, rise up.

Gerald Lenoir: In the streets we rise up. In our tweets we rise up. At the ballot box we rise up. At the ship docks we rise up. On the mural walls we rise up. On the field of football we rise up, rise up, rise up.

Gerald Lenoir: Against the brute and the beast we rise up. For justice and peace we rise up. Against ICE and the police we rise up. For our values and our beliefs we rise up. Against tyranny and duplicity we rise up. For our people and posterity we rise up, rise up, rise up! Thank you.

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