WASHINGTON, April 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — 54 years ago, the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered as he begged this nation to address poverty, racism, and militarism. It is shameful that today we have 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this nation.
Even in a global pandemic, there hasn’t been a systematic assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on poor and low-income communities. COVID-19 data collection does not include data on poverty, income, or occupation, alongside race and pandemic outcomes. The Poor People’s Pandemic Report addresses this knowledge gap and exposes the unnecessary deaths by mapping community characteristics and connecting them with COVID-19 outcomes.
The findings of this report reveal neglect, and sometimes intentional decisions, to not focus on the poor. It is further evidence why we have called for the President to meet, at the White House, with a diverse delegation of poor and low-wealth people, religious leaders and economists to put addressing poverty and low wealth front and center.
This report shows why we must have a moral meeting in the nation’s capital, bringing together a Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls on June 18 as a declaration that our movement cannot wait any longer. We will intensify and embolden our agitation for this nation to have a Third Reconstruction that fully addresses poverty, racism, ecological devastation, denial of healthcare, the war economy, and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism.
We must shift the moral narrative; we must put a face on this human abuse; and we must build power and refuse to be silent anymore.
This devastating report shows that even after more than 2 years of this pandemic, we have not had a systemic assessment on poverty and income, across race, and impacts on covid-19.
But we have seen these impacts on the ground, in the Poor People’s Campaigns across the country
So, when I asked my brother Jeffrey Sachs, with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a network of economists, researchers, and scholars, if we could partner with them to do what hadn’t been done, he agreed. And with our policy director, Shailly Gupta Barnes and our public health team, led by Dr Sharelle Barber, they worked together to dig into this and identify what we wanted to look at – poverty, income, race, geography, insured status – and put the faces, facts, figures together.
The findings we will hear today are shameful and will shock us, because, as a nation, we do not talk about poverty. Yet in the pandemic, we will hear that there have been 2, 3, 4, 5x the deaths in poorer communities as in richer ones.
We must talk about this! We cannot say that this is because of individual choices or behaviors. Something deeper is at work – systems that prey on the poor, poor white people and poor people of color.
We encourage everyone here to walk through the data after this conference and take the time to see what has been so far unseen. The findings are so contrary to a nation that claims first and foremost to establish justice and certainly contrary to the call of God to care for the least of these.
Remember, this unnecessary death happened while we gave corporations 2 trillion dollars to keep them alive and the richest Americans saw their wealth soar. It’s a gross example of what Naomi Klein has called the “shock doctrine,” when the wealthy exploit tragedy to increase their own profits while poor people suffer.
This report shows that a poverty-producing and sustaining system was also a death-dealing system. Within this analysis, we can see that it did not need to be this way, if only we were honest about poverty and systemic racism, and the systems of violence that allowed this tragedy.
We are not here to celebrate this report, but to mourn the extent of the loss and to realize how much of has been unnecessary.
This is the painful truth we must confront before we can ever heal, before we can confront these systems of gross injustice and before we can live into the promise of this nation.
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SOURCE Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival