In recent months, members of progressive direct-action organizations have developed new systems for checking on their neighbors, dropping off food and medicine, providing protective personal equipment to incarcerated family members, and giving cash to those suddenly unemployed to meet immediate rent, food, and medical needs. At the same time, they’re continuing to press for workers’ rights and proper health care during the pandemic, as well as ensure access to federal stimulus money for individuals and small minority-owned businesses.
In so doing, these organizations are harkening back to their roots: people creating social ties by helping each other out, and those ties fueling collective fights for new systems and policies.
Combining mutual aid and direct action might seem like common sense, but in today’s corporatized and professionalized nonprofit world, this model had disappeared almost completely. Community-based nonprofits in the United States today are split into distinct silos, with service provision firmly compartmentalized in one box and direct-action organizing in another.