The Disproportionate Impact of the Epidemic

And What We Can Do About It

Dear colleagues and allies:   

These are difficult and challenging times for all of us, as we adapt to this unprecedented crisis. The virus itself does not discriminate—we are all vulnerable to it.    But the impact of COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting communities of color, poor people, the homeless, and those living with disabilities.  

This differential impact is due to the lack of equitable access to health care, which itself is the result of generations of organized oppression and racism in the US.   We all may experience fear or anxiety about COVID-19, and its impact on our daily lives. But some of us are fearing--and experiencing--prejudice, discrimination and racism.   

Asian-Americans, especially Chinese-Americans, have been the targets of individuals or racist groups--who, for the sake of political gain or desire for power-- stoke fear, bias, and blame for COVID-19.   Among African-American communities, there is justified concern about wearing masks due to racial profiling.   Cities including Boston are mandating a curfew and strongly encouraging people to stay at home, yet throughout the region there are numerous young people who are homeless.  

There is a saying in some African American communities, referenced widely during the 2008 economic crisis (brought about by predatory lending): “When white folks get a cold, Black folks get pneumonia.” This applies to other vulnerable communities, as well. The people who suffer the most are those who have no margin to buffer the impact on physical health, mental health, and economic dislocation.  There's already data to support this--and news organizations and governments are attending to what we already knew.

At JRI we stand--and act--in solidarity with the most vulnerable individuals impacted by this COVID-19 pandemic.  For people who are and have been subject to racism and discrimination we want you to know that JRI is here for you. 

We also are committed to working towards more equitable access to care, supplies and other resources to support you and the people you all work so hard to care for.  We must work with the progressive leaders of town, city, and state government--as well as law enforcement--to ensure that the focus is on support, not punishment.  

Some examples of our efforts: 

  • Obtaining funding to ensure individuals have the basic and necessary supplies such as food, cleaning supplies etc.   

  • As we move toward virtual ways of continuing to provide services we are gathering donations for technology for individuals and families to stay connected. 

  • Working with local officials to reach and support individuals in urgent need of assistance 

We are committed to ensure we are supporting our colleagues and we will continue to be  leaders in social justice  in our communities.   

On behalf of the entire JRI community--with special thanks to the JRI Diversity Advisory Group, which guided our thinking in this message:

Stay safe, and be well,



JRI Service Navigator

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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.