This is IFR’s policy/advocacy space to address the many issues that impact our Chicano/Latino/Indigena community.
IFR has often invited to participate as a thought partner in a wide variety of areas; in this regard, policy/advocacy has always been a part of IFR’s history. In another way – one that is about pushing forward with or without an invitation – we have rarely had the capacity or resources to undertake this work. Despite our limited capacity, we feel it is more timely than ever that the work of iPa’delante! begins.
It is impossible to ignore COVID-19’s disparate impact on Latinos in San Francisco and throughout the country. We know the reasons for this impact: as low-wage workers, Latinos are among the populations at highest risk for exposure to coronavirus. Whether working in the restaurant or hospitality industry in urban areas, or in the agricultural industry in rural areas, Latinos are forced to choose between poverty or exposure to coronavirus. Incidentally, COVID-19 is just the most recent health disparity facing Latinos and other communities of color. The irony is that many Latinos are considered essential, despite the lack of respect typically accorded this work. Income inequality, limited access to education, housing, jobs, and disparate treatment in the criminal and juvenile justice systems all contribute to these social determinants of health.
We must do more than simply name these barriers; we must change them.
Throughout our history in this country, the Chicanx/Latinx/Indigena community has always pushed forward in times of challenge. It is what gave rise to the iSi Se Puede! spirit. It is the personal and collective insistence that we deserve better. It is about refusing to settle in spite of challenges and barriers. This is critical because today, we are faced with a convergence of challenges.
We face a pandemic. Policy priorities, including budgetary ones, must take into account the unique considerations impacting Latinxs, African Americans, and all people of color. People of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Many Latinx workers are essential, but have limited access to healthcare, further endangering the health of Latinxs. Latinxs who are part of over 50 million people who are unemployed include immigrants who haven't had the benefit of unemployment, a stimulus, or other supports.
We face the horrible deaths of George Floyd and many other black and brown members. Their murders are powerful pleas to us to address long-awaited reforms and the tremendous trauma and increasing mental health issues throughout communities of color.
We face outright attacks on immigrant members of our community. As an agency providing mental health and healing services, IFR knows well the tremendous anguish that comes when parents and children are separated, much less caged and deprived. There are few greater horrors. We must identify where our strength lies to best impact this unconscionable situation.
We face an election in November. Many issues at the local, state, and federal levels will determine the direction of the above issues. Elections will not be our panacea, but who and how we choose can be helpful or harmful to addressing community needs. We must elevate our strengths in this area to make our voices heard loudly.
These are some of the issues iPa’delante! will work to address. We have limited capacity, and therefore, must be strategic about what we can do. Sometimes, we will defer issues to others to take the lead (as we expect to follow RTP’s lead on juvenile/criminal justice issues), other times we will be a supportive ally of other groups promoting critical policy reforms, and there will be times when iPa’delante! assumes the leadership role to move us forward. At all times, we will share information, and provide policy education on issues impacting our community.
We look forward to working with and hearing from you. Send us information on issues you feel are important, reports and studies on issues impacting our community, your own policy ideas, and thoughts on how we’re doing.
Until next time, iPa’delante!