The Coronavirus Cure: Self Determination via Economic Empowerment
Before the Coronavirus arrived to the U.S. we knew that the:
• Virus attacked the lungs,
• Underlying illnesses (asthma, diabetes, high BP) increased COVID mortality
• Transmission is fueled by overcrowding.
We also knew that in the Bronx, we have
• High rates of those comorbidity, and air pollution levels fueling asthma
• Overcrowded housing and a lot of residents forced to take mass transit to low paying jobs (eg grocery stores) without healthcare benefits
• An over-policed population overrepresented in crowded jails and prisons.
Yet none of our local elected politicians raised these issues or fought to bring the necessary resources to protect our people even though most have been complicit for decades in creating these conditions. In fact to this date, they remain silent.
NY is the epicenter of the pandemic and within NYC, the Bronx has the highest COVID- related death rate (10.6 per 10,000 followed by Queens at 9.3), highest percent of fatalities with underlying illnesses at 91% (followed by Queens at 74%), and the second highest rate of infection at 165 per 10,000 after Staten Island. For years, we have ranked as the unhealthiest, most economically deprived (with 60% of NYC’s “very-low” income residents and 25% of our neighbors consistently facing food shortages) and as having among the highest rates of asthma. It’s no surprise that when facing a virus that attacks your respiratory system and preys on the most vulnerable that we are once again disproportionately overburdened by an epidemic. So why are we being ignored? Because we are predominantly Black, Brown and poor and lack self-determination. How do we gain self-determination? By becoming economically empowered which prevents you and your family from being stuck in crowded mass transit or housing with poor nutrition and healthcare, and at risk of falling victim of the criminal (in)justice system.
I have lived in this district over 60 years and know that depending on politicians, who choose their job and party allegiance over our wellbeing, is not the answer. My plan to economically empower ourselves is concise and to the point:
1) Transfer ownership of NYCHA apartments so residents build equity
2) Develop employment opportunities for youth (as I did through the first ever urban Job Corps) and secure funding and protection for small businesses (I am a small- business owner)
3) Continue to fight for criminal justice reform as I have done through Discovery for Justice which I co-founded and successfully overturned NY’s Blindfold Law
4) Modify the Jones Act to get rid of the $1.5B annual tax burden on Puerto Rico As Bryan Stevenson said ‘The opposite of poverty is Justice.” Help us overthrow politicians in the Tuesday, June 23rd primaries for Congressional District 15 and prescribe yourself the best cure to this pandemic and the social ills that plague us.